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Maryland can't help themselves against Tribe

There were many interesting quotes offered up after Wednesday night's loss by Maryland Coach Gary Williams and his players. They lost, and obviously they weren't happy about it. But here was the common and telling theme that stood out:

"They didn’t do a lot of things that we didn’t expect," Williams said. "They did a great job of running what we thought they'd run, but executing it very well."

It's not quite Denny Green ("They are who we thought they were!"), but the sentiment is along similar lines. The Terrapins knew William & Mary planned to shoot a lot of threes, and yet they could not execute a defensive scheme well enough to keep the Tribe from scoring. In the first half, William & Mary shot 6 of 13 (46.2 percent) from beyond the arc. In the second half, Maryland guarded the perimeter more tightly, but then the Tribe started beating the Terrapins off the dribble and making off-the-ball cuts into the post for easy scores.

While the defensive regression was unsettling for the team and its followers, it shouldn't have come as that much of a surprise, given Maryland's previous defensive struggles this season. The bigger shock was that the Terrapins were unable to break away from what proved to be a bad habit of taking repeated three-point attempts. Maryland shot 2 for 13 (15.4 percent) from beyond the arc in the first half and 2 for 12 (16.7 percent) from three-point range in the second half.

William & Mary operated out of a 2-3 zone defense, which is designed to induce three-point shots. Maryland obliged far beyond the point at which the Terrapins should have realized such a strategy was not working out. Maryland came out in the second half and made a more concerted effort to feed the ball inside, but by that point the Tribe already had asserted control of the game.

After the game, Williams was asked whether he made getting the ball into the post a point of emphasis during his halftime chat with the players.

"Yeah I did, but it's easy," Williams said. "What you have to do is change that in the first half, and we weren't able to change it. So that was disappointing to me, just from a coaching standpoint. We couldn't change it in the first half. They give you decent looks on the perimeter. You don’t have to make too many passes before you're kind of open, you know, for a decent three. If you fall for that, the problem with that is you don’t get to the free throw line, obviously, and the problem is if you’re not shooting well, then they just keep backing off and backing off more as you go along, and that’s what they did."

Even Maryland's most reliable marksmen went cold Wednesday night. Senior guard Eric Hayes, the team's top long-range shooter, made 2 of 9 attempts from three-point range. Senior guard Greivis Vasquez also shot 2 of 9 from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard Sean Mosley missed all three of his three-point attempts. The team shot 4 for 25 (16.0 percent) from beyond the arc on the night.

So for all the talk about the players lacking the necessary enthusiasm to play against William & Mary, it turned out the game plan was equally culpable.

"No, I think that 4 for 25 from the three-point line is not the way to play, so we made a mistake there with our offense," Williams said. "You know, I'm responsible for that."

By Steve Yanda  |  December 31, 2009; 10:24 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Comments

I have to say I am impressed with W&M's play. They showed great decision-making and incredible ball movement in a hostile environment. MD made quite a few mistakes - GV's lane violation during the attempted comeback sticks out.

Forget about the season? not yet. We'll find out whether it will be a good season or not by late January. They need to look at the film several times and pick up and learn from it. W&M executed flawlessly at times. MD could stand to learn from what W&M did right as much as from what MD did wrong.

They did seem unprepared to play which hangs on GW more than anyone else. And the rebounding margin is NOT a victory; too many times we saw W&M out hustle for a rebound OR steal the reound to extend a possession. The margin should have been more like ten rebounds.

Now if W&M loses the CAA I will be shocked. Great coaching and execution on their part.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | December 31, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

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