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Another look inside Maryland's final play

After Georgia Tech forward Derrick Favors put back a missed jumper by Iman Shumpert with a little more than two seconds left to put the Yellow Jackets up by one and after senior guard Greivis Vasquez launched a shot from just past the mid-court line and after that shot banked in and after the sold out Comcast Center crowd went berserk and after the bottom fell out of its collective stomach when those same fans realized Maryland assistant Keith Booth had called a timeout before Vasquez fired his shot ... the Terrapins had to draw up one more play that could be executed in 1.5 seconds.

Coach Gary Williams said the team thought it would get to in-bound the ball about 10 feet inside the halfcourt line (10 feet closer to its own basket), and so the initial plan was for senior guard Eric Hayes -- "a good stand-still passer," Williams said -- to lob the ball to junior guard Cliff Tucker, who was going to make a cut straight to the basket behind a pair of back picks from Vasquez and junior forward Dino Gregory.

When the Terrapins realized they actually would be in-bounding the ball at mid-court, they realized that was too far away from their basket to attempt a lob pass straight to the hole, especially since Georgia Tech had positioned a player near the lane to serve as a safety valve of sorts. Yellow Jackets Coach Paul Hewitt's two instructions for his players were to not let Vasquez touch the ball and to not let the play be directed toward the basket.

Hayes said that he and Tucker made eye contact as they walked out onto the court, and that Tucker "told me look for me cutting right down the sideline." Tucker said he then gave Hayes a wink.

Maryland players had practiced situations such as the one they faced with 1.5 seconds left Saturday afternoon before, but the Terrapins never had run the specific one Williams drew up in the huddle.

"We practice things like that every day," Williams said. "The last 15 minutes of practice a lot of times this time of year is all about situations like our ball out of bounds, three seconds left, one second left, length of the court, that type of thing where it might never come up during the season, but if it comes up one time, when you do something during a timeout, the players have to remember having done that and having had success with it in practice. So at least when we have the ball in that situation we had done that before in practice and there was a positive image there."

Williams said he knew the Yellow Jackets likely would double team Vasquez, and since he wanted Hayes making the in-bound pass, Tucker was the next best option.

That pass Hayes made, by the way, was no easy toss. He had to make the pass around Favors, who stands 6-foot-10 and has some pretty long arms. But he got the ball to Tucker nonetheless. Rather than cut to the basket, Tucker instead went to the three-point line on the wing, where he caught Hayes's pass.

Let's flash back for a moment: When Vasquez missed that halfcourt shot, there was 0.9 seconds left on the clock. Had that stood, it would have afforded Tucker only enough time to catch and shoot. But after officials reviewed the situation and when Booth had called the timeout, they elected to put 1.5 seconds on the clock. That, Tucker said, gave him enough time to pump-fake before taking his shot.

Indeed, with Georgia Tech guard Glen Rice Jr. guarding him, Tucker caught the ball, turned, pump-faked and then fired his third three-point attempt of the night. When it went in, Tucker took off sprinting. He made a loop past the Georgia Tech bench and then came back toward the Maryland bench, where his teammates finally caught up and mobbed him. Gregory said he'd never seen Tucker run that fast in his life.

"Today, we had to catch and shoot, so the one thing that does is take the pressure off," Williams said. "And it wasn't going to be an easy shot. There was no way to get an open 15-footer, so it was going to be tough, and we were fortunate. We all recognize that. But I've lost from over halfcourt twice in this business and never won one from over halfcourt, so I'll count that as on my side. You know, keep score."

By Steve Yanda  |  February 21, 2010; 9:42 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: What Tucker's shot does for him, the Terps going forward


Booth's time out call was the right one (regardless if whether Vasquez's shot was going in or not), since it gave the Terps best court position.

I am wondering if Booth called the timeout on his own?

Posted by: EdDC | February 21, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

If you want to see the Tucker shot with Johnny and Knoche's Radio call go here:

The video player is on the far right..."And the place is going nuts!"

Posted by: jrraley | February 21, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

>Let's flash back for a moment: When Vasquez missed that halfcourt shot....

That shot went in. Just didn't count.

Posted by: geotherm21 | February 22, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

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