Three things to watch: Hayes, Scott and free throw attempts
Later tonight the Maryland men's basketball team will return to action against Virginia in a game that was supposed to take place last Wednesday. Both teams are in need of a pick-me-up. The Terrapins would love to get the taste of Saturday's 21-point loss at Duke out of their mouths. The Cavaliers also are coming off a tough road loss. And both teams have to play again Wednesday night. Here are a few things to keep track of during tonight's game:
1) Eric Hayes. Virginia defends decently enough against the three-point shot in half-court sets (30.8 percent allowed from beyond the arc in ACC play; No. 6 in the conference), but the Cavaliers struggle to do so in their transition defense. Hayes -- the ACC's top three-point shooter -- and the Terrapins are well suited to exploit such a weakness. Maryland is adept at forcing turnovers, and if the Terrapins can get Hayes some quick looks from beyond the arc before Virginia's defense has a chance to get set, he'll likely knock a good number of those shots down.
2) Mike Scott. As Virginia discovered yet again Saturday night at Virginia Tech, having more than two capable, consistent scorers can come in handy during conference play. Rather, the Cavaliers discovered that not having more than two capable, consistent scoring options can be quite a hindrance during the ACC slate. As it stands now, Scott, a 6-foot-8, 239-lb. forward, is Virginia's second scoring option (13.2 ppg in conference play) behind guard Sylven Landesberg. Whether Maryland elects to have Jordan Williams or Landon Milbourne defend Scott, shutting him down could be key for the Terrapins. As talented as Landesberg is (20.0 ppg in ACC play), he likely will not be good enough to defeat Maryland if the scoring burden is placed nearly entirely on his shoulders. If Williams/Milbourne/Dino Gregory can limit Scott's offensive production, Landesberg will be placed in such a predicament.
3) Free throw attempts. Maryland made exactly zero free throw attempts in the first half of Saturday's loss at Duke. Coach Gary Williams attributed that to a lack of aggressiveness on his team's part, something that improved a bit in the second half. The Terrapins have a group of guards who are skilled at driving into the lane and either A) getting off a decent shot, B) kicking out to an open man on the perimeter or C) drawing a foul/trip to the charity stripe. They just have to actually do it. In regards to the previous point, one way to limit Scott would be to get him in early foul trouble. When it runs the pack-line defense correctly, Virginia makes dribble penetration difficult, but the Terrapins guards typically are capable enough ball-handlers and passers that they should be able to navigate their way successfully through a clogged lane.
February 15, 2010; 1:09 PM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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