Purnell's plan to stem Maryland comeback: 'Just keep hitting 'em'
With just more than eight minutes remaining in Maryland's game on Sunday night at Clemson, Terrapins senior guard Eric Hayes scored on a layup to give Maryland a two-point lead, its first of the night. The Terrapins had battled back from an 11-point second-half deficit, and Hayes's basket capped a 21-8 Maryland run that lasted more than seven minutes.
A television timeout followed soon thereafter, and here is what Clemson Coach Oliver Purnell said he told his players in the team huddle:
"I just told them: 'Just keep hitting ‘em. If we hit ‘em, they’re going to crumble,' " Purnell said. "We just felt like that was our message coming in here tonight that we got to take it at these guys, take it at ‘em, and we felt like we could get to them. That’s what we said: Just hit ‘em. Because you been hitting ‘em all night, and things don’t look great, but we’re only two down and all those residual effects come into play now if you hit ‘em. We had that little spurt, and here we are."
Maryland scored five points in the final eight minutes of the game; Clemson tallied 16 in the same span. Was the back-breaker Trevor Booker's three-pointer to put the Tigers up by four with just more than three minutes to play? Was it that Clemson's defense continued to force Maryland turnovers and, thus, easy transition points in the closing minutes? Was it, as Maryland Coach Gary Williams suggested, that the effort necessary for the Terrapins to close the deficit too exacting to leave enough left in the tank to secure a lead?
Perhaps it was all of those things. Or maybe it was something simpler. Perhaps Clemson's superior athleticism finally wore out the Terrapins, who were not on top of their game.
All game long, it was apparent the Tigers held the edge in teamwide athleticism. Maryland countered that by forcing and taking advantage of Clemson's numerous poor decisions with the ball. Against a team like Clemson, Maryland's poise, intelligence and crisp execution has to carry the day if the Terrapins are to be victorious. But on Sunday, Maryland made just as many -- if not more -- bad decisions with the ball as its opponent.
"It’s definitely frustrating," Hayes said. "I mean, it’s not going to be the end of the world for us, but it’s frustrating when we’ve been playing so well to come here and, especially offensively, the way we played, not sharing the ball and turning the ball over is just something that’s uncharacteristic of us."
February 2, 2010; 8:13 AM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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