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Three things to watch

Later this evening, Maryland will host N.C. State at Comcast Center in a match-up that will feature two teams playing pretty well right now. The Terrapins got off to a promising start to ACC play last week with encouraging showings against Florida State, Wake Forest and Boston College. The Wolfpack, meantime, knocked off No. 7 Duke on Wednesday. Here are a few things to take note of during tonight's game:

1) Push the pace. N.C. State doesn't force too many turnovers, something that the Terrapins do quite well. So if Maryland can create a high-possession game in which the Terrapins are able to run their transition offense off of steals and defensive rebounds, the Wolfpack likely won't be able to keep up. N.C. State is not a strong rebounding team. Maryland, which surprisingly has proven to be a capable rebounding unit thus far in ACC play, needs to take advantage of that.

2) Tracy Smith. The N.C. State junior forward had a big game against Maryland during the regular season last year (19 points, nine rebounds), though the Terrapins were able to contain him when the two teams met during the ACC tournament (four points, six rebounds). Smith, a powerful back-to-the-basket post player, has developed into the Wolfpack's primary offensive option. The charge left to Jordan Williams, Landon Milbourne and Dino Gregory, then, will be to try to make Smith face up to the basket when he has the ball and try as much as possible to nudge him out beyond 15 feet from the basket. Smith is averaging 17.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. He is shooting 55.3 percent from the field. Duke made the mistake of refusing to provide help defense to whoever was guarding Smith on Wednesday. It would not bode well for the Terrapins to handle Smith similarly.

3) Gary Williams's 1,000th game as a college head coach. On Friday, Williams was asked whether he thought he would ever coach long enough to reach this benchmark.

"I just wanted to get through – I think I lost my first couple at American U, my first job, so I just, I’ve never looked at it that way," Williams said. "I think the great thing about coaching is each team is different. Your season starts. You get into that, and you never look back. I mean, I’m not a big one to look back at any win I’ve had. It’s just getting ready for N.C. State that consumes me as a coach. I like that part of it. I’ve always liked that part of it. That never gets dull, the actual basketball part of your job where you practice, you get ready for the next game, you win or you lose and you take what you can from that game to help you get ready for the next game. That’s where I’ve tried to stay my whole coaching career, whether it was a Jay-vee high school coach or coaching in the ACC. You know, I’ve just stayed with that. And I’ve always had a job."

By Steve Yanda  |  January 23, 2010; 1:16 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Maryland tosses aside N.C. State, 88-64


Congrats to Gary! Who would have ever thought, way back when he was coaching soccer at Lafayette some 30 years ago, he'd one day coach his 1000th D1 college bball game.

For my money, he's the best coach in the business.

All Hail Emperor Gary

Posted by: Barno1 | January 23, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Can I get an Amen? Well said.

Posted by: terptilldeath | January 23, 2010 11:59 PM | Report abuse

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