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Terps' defense is 'contagious'

With just less than eight minutes remaining in the first half Tuesday night, Miami guard Durand Scott attempted a pass to guard DeQuan Jones that was tipped away by Maryland senior guard Greivis Vasquez. Scott got the ball back, but only temporarily, as junior guard Adrian Bowie knocked it loose shortly thereafter.

Bowie and Jones chased after the ball, and both dived across the floor in pursuit. The ball popped loose and continued to trickle down the court. By that point, sophomore guard Sean Mosley and Scott were giving chase. Before the ball fell out of bounds, Mosley leapt, bounced the ball off of Scott and fell to the ground.

Maryland was awarded possession, and following a television timeout, freshman forward Jordan Williams scored and was fouled. He made the free throw to push the Terrapins' lead to 15.

That entire sequence of events began with Vasquez sticking his long arm into the passing lane and denying his man the ball.

"I think he's committed to being a very good defensive player," Coach Gary Williams said of Vasquez. "And those things are contagious when you have veterans like Landon Milbourne, Eric Hayes and Greivis Vasquez that really, on every possession, are doing whatever they can defensively. That's great leadership. Leadership isn't just the guys who clap hands when the coach is looking and they know the coach wants them to clap their hands; it's what you do on the court, how you are in practice every day. I think we're fortunate to have that type of leadership on this team, and that's been there from day one in practice October 17. It's a good feeling for me to see that because we've had those three guys for four years here."

Vasquez finished the game with 16 points and nine assists. He was credited with just one steal, but Gary Williams said Vasquez's defense deserves more credit than it typically gets.

Gary Williams pointed out that against N.C. State on Saturday it was Vasquez who often provided help defense to Jordan Williams, who was guarding the Wolfpack's primary offensive target, 6-foot-8 forward Tracy Smith.

"When Greivis decides to play, his defense is really good, because he's so long he can really bother people in certain situations," Gary Williams said. "People feed off of that. You need your senior players, Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne, to do that, and they're all committed to do that. That's a big part of Greivis's game."

Just more than six minutes into the game Tuesday night, Vasquez scored a lay-up in transition. Then Vasquez stole a pass from Miami guard James Dews near mid-court. He scooted in for a fast break dunk that forced Hurricanes Coach Frank Haith to call a 30-second timeout less than a minute after the first television timeout.

By that point, Maryland led by 10, and the early signs of a rout were beginning to appear.

By Steve Yanda  |  January 27, 2010; 10:16 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Comments

All right, all right, I hear all of you. The count down to 10 wins in the ACC is likely selling this team short. That said, I just want to avoid selection Sunday drama in terms of whether there will be an invitation given the drama of the last few years.

Would love to see this team win the ACC regular season, the tournament and hell, even another NC. They are playing really well and have managed to sustain it. of the niggling criticisms I have had about this team, the only one that remains is JW FT%. GV has shown better decision making and vastly improved shot selection. Moseley is stepping up to become one of the best guards the program has ever seen (yeah - even with EH and GV on the team). LM at four with a real center (JW) is much more effective than LM at 4 with DN.

Over the next two weeks, we will learn just how good this team is. Not saying that they need to win all of the games, but they need to play well in all of the games (and win a few) - but wouldn't it be sweet if they won them all??

Am really focused on the next step - beating Clemson at Clemson. A win there would confirm what a lot of us are suspecting - this could be a memorable Terps team. I think the key to this team's transformation into a killer this year has been that focus on the next step.

Point well taken, guys. I am a homer, albeit at times a bit critical.

BEAT CLEMSON. Beat Clemson. Please, please, please beat Clemson.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | January 27, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Russ pointed out how poorly Miami played (which is true). However, the key issue for me is that the Terps are no longer playing down to the level of their competition. They are executing, hustling and thus winning games by huge margins. Playing up to or down to the level of competition has been the Achilles Heel for this program and I think this set of seniors has led the team away from that approach, with GW coaching them up appropriately.

And I'd like to change the last line from my previous post to the followin.

The Terps will BEAT CLEMSON. I expect the Terps to beat Clemson. The Terps expect to beat Clemson and will deliver the focus, energy, intensity to make sure that Clemson is beaten.

(Is that better?)

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | January 27, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

My take on the Terps thus far:

I had predicted a 10-6, give or take a game. I think HGR perdicted the same and Pete predicted 9-7 with valid point that we shouldn't be on the bubble year in and year out.

As Prisbell stated, this team passes the "eye test". They have a confident swagger that will allow them to steal a few road games.

MD has been very good in ACC play (so far) because they have three senior starters who are leading the team. Most of that leadership is demanding defensive intensity from the tip-off. Secondly, there is no drop-off in defensive intensity when their top three subs come in. This team should accumulate wins because they play more consistently than any other team in the ACC (sort of like Duke in past years). The consistent play comes from playing good, hard defense for 40 minutes every game.

In a nutshell: good senior leadership, good defense, no drop-off in defense when the subs come in.

Posted by: larry31 | January 27, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

What has been important this season is that the Terps appear to be learning from their previous mistakes. They have been doing a very good job of making mid-game adjustments, and have been consistantly playing 40 minutes of basketball. They have seen what happens when they take just a couple of minutes off against a team (last 3 minutes of the first half against BC, first 4 minutes against Villanova, start of the second half against Cincy, and the double-digit leads squandered last season against Miami, FSU, BC, and Clemson).

This team understands their strengths and weaknesses, and do whatever it takes to expose what the do well (pressure defense and flex offense) and hide what they are weak at (attacking a zone defense and defending the 3). They have also developed a tremendous amount of trust in each other and with what Gary is asking them to do. This is turning into one of the best complete TEAMS Maryland has had since 2002.

As far as Sunday's game against Clemson, I think the Terps can come out with a win. However, it's going to take a very solid effort in a place that is very difficult to play. They're also going to get Clemson's best shot as Oliver Purnell will be trying to get his team back on track, and wanting to avoid the history of having his teams fade down the stretch. The Terps will have to stay out of foul trouble down low against the Booker brothers, and will have to be strong with the ball against the Clemson press (pressing teams don't like being pressed). The status of Stitt will be key as it's clear that the Tigers are a completely different team without their starting point guard.

I was figuring the Terps would need to get 10 ACC wins this year to dance, but the way the season is setting up right now, there's reason to think that the Terps couldn't get 12 conference wins and finish in the top 3 (where most Maryland fans thought we would be at the end of the year anyway).

Posted by: Russtinator | January 27, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The tell-tale game so far this season has not been any of the ACC games but rather the Longwood game. That kind of low level should win game has been a game that Gary Williams has not been able to get his team up for in the past--witness AU, Morgan State etc.

However not only did the Terps win, they literally blew Longwood out of the arena for a record 100 points. Right then I knew this was a different Maryland team with a different mentality and the possibility of being very good.

With their freshman center a real banger, maybe..........

FINGERS STILL CROSSED!!

Posted by: dovelevine | January 27, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

By The way HGR, I like the 10 ACC win countdown because most posters agree that 10 ACC wins gets the Terps in regardless of who they beat to get those wins.

Having said that, 12-4 looks like a realistic target that seemed unrealistic a month ago.

Even after the W&M loss, I remember thinking that this team has a better chance at more success than last year's team, but they just hadn't shown their potential yet. However, they are now playing much better than I ever aniticipated. Very, very good team basketball.

Posted by: larry31 | January 27, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

By The way HGR, I like the 10 ACC win countdown because most posters agree that 10 ACC wins gets the Terps in regardless of who they beat to get those wins.

Having said that, 12-4 looks like a realistic target that seemed unrealistic a month ago.

Even after the W&M loss, I remember thinking that this team has a better chance at more success than last year's team, but they just hadn't shown their potential yet. However, they are now playing much better than I ever aniticipated. Very, very good team basketball.

Posted by: larry31 | January 27, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

It's interesting that GW mentions everyone in the starting five except Mosely when he hands out the defensive compliments. What am I missing here?

Posted by: petecard | January 27, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Pete

In my opinion its b/c Mosley is a given. He's arguably the best defender (if not best player) on the team. Plus Mosley doesnt seem like the type that needs his ego stroked. Easily my favorite player on the team.

Posted by: fushezzi | January 27, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Can only imagine how badly Vasquez gets it in other arenas, especially the 2 virginia schools (uva in particular, whose students unbelievably mocked Juan Dixon for his parents dying of AIDS)

Posted by: Barno1 | January 26, 2010 5:07 PM
-----------

Ah the old they did it to us first so we can do it to them, 2 wrongs make a right argument. Sweet......

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | January 26, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

What planet are you living on Poopy? I never said nor implied it was okay to use racial epithets towards our opponents...I said exactly the opposite.

Again, this is why engaging you is completely pointless. Your comments never make any sense, and despite countless attempts, you've never made a relevant point on here try as you might.

Posted by: Barno1 | January 27, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Another over-the-top attack. "Never" make sense? "Never" relevant?

Poopy is often on point and also funny. He brings some life to this board.

Unlike certain other Hitler Youth Members...

Posted by: petecard | January 27, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Only a total imbecile would call a Jewish person a "Hitler Youth Member". But then again, we are talking about Petecard here.

It goes without saying that Petecard is not smart. So should we be surprised that he would begin his thoughts complaining about "over-the-top attacks" and then actually conclude by comparing me to a Hitler Youth Member? We all know you're an idiot, but honestly, you not really that stupid are you?

Posted by: Barno1 | January 28, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

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