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Maryland basketball: How good can this team be?

Midway through the ACC season, Maryland sits at 6-2 and just shy of the top of the conference standings. The Terrapins have proven that they can score out of half-court sets and in transition. They've shown that they can rebound against bigger opponents and can force teams to commit abundant errors with their pressure defense.

Following Sunday's 21-point win over North Carolina, Coach Gary Williams was asked if, when everything is clicking, he ever thinks about how good this season's Maryland squad can be.

"We are good, but you can’t make that happen all the time," Williams said. "You have to get it whenever it’s there. You have to take advantage of it. But I don’t think any team can play at a level that’s, you know, we had a couple runs today that were really good, but you can’t do that for 40 minutes. It’s just the nature of the game. We’re taking advantage of it when we can. Like I said, we’re a good shooting team, so if we get looks we’re able to keep the offense going. We’re able to score. Hopefully, that will continue."

So there's his answer. But I'm also curious what you all think. Please pick one of the answers below, and feel free to provide a rationale for your choice in the comments section. Or you can email me your thoughts at yandas@washpost.com.

By Steve Yanda  |  February 8, 2010; 8:01 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Maryland defense enables lead surge

Comments

I am picking 11 wins i nthe ACC (maybe 1 more - road games are the toughest in the country in the ACC).
What is refreshing about this team is Jordan Williams, a true Freshman, who is improving game after game....this team has the leadership so the younger players can follow and yes, Gary is a Great Coach, hands down.....1 stat I heard or read, since McDonald's All Americans were established for High School Basketball, every NCAA National Champion has had at least 1 McD's All-American, EXCEPT 1 team (since the McD's ALL-Amer was formed) and it was the 2002 National Chamption team...you guessed it Maryland! THAT to me say a whole lot about Gary Williams, (and he sends kids to the NBA too)...maybe a team like this, and how he does "outcoach" Roy Williams (who by the way has so many All-Americans even the UNC Waterboy is a recent High School All-American)...how a coach with that much talent CAN'T win, is beyond me....what would Gary do with a team like that...makes me think Roy Williams has "LOST" his team and .500 or less is in store for them and yep, the N.I.T. or nothing! Too funny....even with a "so/so" team Gary gets the BEST out of his team and shows his worth.....Great win Terps, sure made for a very enjoyable Sunday afternoon - Caps, Terps and Saints! Great Sports day (only a beter one if the Skins were in it, but we all know Danny boy is no Jack Kent Cooke!)

Posted by: talbottj | February 8, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

I pick them 12-4 or 11-5, due in large part to a weak ACC.

In comparison to other years, I think the challenge for this year's squad is not on overcoming a basic functional flaw, such as last year's lack of bona fide inside play, but rather on focus and mental discipline. The one time they lost focus this season was the loss to Clemson. The games leading up to Clemson they seemed tight for a full 40 minutes; the games after have been patchy. If they can regain and maintain that pre-Clemson mindset I think they are in really good shape not only for a successful ACC season but a good tournament run as well.

I think mental focus is what Williams is referring to in the "you can't have it all the time" quote in your post. I disagree with that - I think the difference between Good Terps and Bad Terps this year is focus and it's the one thing you *can* bring all the time.

Side comment: How about Jordan Williams? What a great player and really fun to watch. Good to see the Terps with a Real Deal player...

Posted by: mwr68 | February 8, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

The funny thing was we had a McDonald's AA in Danny Miller who decided to leave for his senior season. I never did understand that one. I think this team goes 11-5 this year and ties for the regular season ACC crown. LM and GV are both playing much better than they were the first 1/3 of the season. In the wretched ACC this year that should be enough to challenge for first place. Seeding will determine if they have a shot at the Sweet 16. Anything lower than a 5 seed would be tough.

Posted by: restonhoops | February 8, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

The pessimist in me says 11-5 with a 5-3 finish. But let's face it... anything less will be disappointing.

Why shouldn't we win at least 6 more. Beat Duke and Virginia at least once each. Beat GTech and Clemson at home. The VTech game gives us a chance to win a big game on the road and why won't we beat NC State in Raleigh?

Let's hope the team isn't thinking like this, but rather focusing on the next game.

Here is the mantra: One at a time. Focus. Expect to win.

Posted by: petecard | February 8, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Though 11-5 is hardly out of the question, 10-6 is just more realistic. Road wins are never easy in the ACC (ask Duke about playing at NCSU), and it would take peak performance in all of the remaining games to get to 5-3 in that stretch.

All that said, if Grievis can keep it together and keep playing at this level, who knows? A 1st place finish is not out of the question, though I can't see it happening if the Terps don't go 2-0 against Duke.

Jordan Williams: just wow. I'm not sure I can remember a Terp freshman playing so consistently hard and almost as well. If he continues his improvement through the off-season, he should be one of the best big men in the ACC come next year. Lance who? ;-)

Posted by: JtotheG | February 8, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Pete,

You are not being pessimistic by predicting 3 more ACC losses (@ Duke,@Va Tech and another random clunker, maybe Ga Tech @home).

Reston,

Danny Miller left for Notre Dame because Mouton was stealing his minutes...bad career move. Mouton never had a play called for him, but never complained and got all of his points by picking up junk. Perfect role player with a great attitude.

I keep reading posts praising JW. His improvement has been fun to watch...talk about discipline and motivation! He is the difference maker when comparing Duke to MD. While Duke plays excellent team defense, they have no reliable low post scoring threat (Zoubek, Thomas, Plumlee1 and Plumlee2...none) Singler and Scheyer have been logging 38+ minutes every game. As the season progresses, they will get dead legs and if their outside shots aren't falling, they are in trouble. See the Duke-Gtown game as exhibit A.

Posted by: larry31 | February 8, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Hey Petecard, I love that you're now predicting 11-12 wins in the ACC. What were you predicting before the season? (here's a hint: one of us was predicting double digit ACC wins and contending for the ACC title--and it wasn't you!)

Ok, I kid I kid. Just bustin your balls Pete, let us all rejoice in this great first half to the ACC season.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 8, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

well you had to have Gary colored glasses to predict much before ACC play, but GV and LM finally started playing like capable seniors. I knew the ACC was down, but didn't know it would be this bad which helps our cause significantly.

Posted by: restonhoops | February 8, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Garo1,

You may finally be right this year. What about all those other years? Even Chicken Little will be right he he yells "the sky is falling" often enough.

Clearly, this is a year we should get back on track. If we can get at least a 5 seed there is every reason to think we can get to the regionals. Then anything can happen...

That's "one small step for man."

Posted by: petecard | February 8, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Pete, just offered a truce to Poop. Willing to do the same for you. Though with you it's a little different, since I usually instigate. So...I'll stop quoting your anti-Gary, anti-Vasquez attacks if you just admit you were wrong about wanting Gary to be booted from the school. Deal? (I'm being serious)

The good feelings from being 6-2...ah

Posted by: Barno1 | February 8, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I think they'll win 11 games this year. Currently at 6-2 in ACC play with 4 home games and 4 away games left, I think they'll go 3-1 at home, losing to either Duke or Vir Tech (but not both), and 2-2 on the road. I agree with Talbott, winning on the road in the ACC is tough (I think they'll beat NC State and Vir on the road).

Posted by: MDBill | February 8, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/bracketology

Currently an 8 seed according to bracket guru Lunardi

Posted by: Barno1 | February 8, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

This is sweet. I love the terps, even tho I've been in East Lansing the past 13 years. The only coach that can approach Gary in terms of growing a team from the beginning of the season to the end is Izzo. In the early years of Izzo, Michigan was getting all the McD all-americans--now he gets his share. Gary still does it with none. And I can't remember when MD last had a legitimate post player--I think it was Buck Williams...just kidding! Jordan Williams will be the key the rest of the year and next few as well. GO TERPS!!

Posted by: terpsoup | February 9, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

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