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Catching up with Duke (deluxe edition)

Not much has changed since the last time Maryland prepared to enter a matchup against Duke. The Blue Devils (25-4, 12-2) have won all four of their contests since beating the Terrapins by 21 in Durham on Feb. 13.

Duke continues to sit atop the conference standings, continues to rely on three players for the bulk of its offensive production and continues to rebound and defend extremely well. All of which makes Wednesday night's matchup at Comcast Center more intriguing. Maryland, as most of you are well aware, also has not lost since facing Duke a little more than two weeks ago, and it's a good bet the Terrapins won't get beat by three touchdowns this time around.

Still, Duke offers unique challenges for most of its opponents, and Maryland certainly is included in that majority. For starters, the Blue Devils no longer are so completely perimeter-oriented given the recent resurgence of senior center Brian Zoubek (7 feet 1, 260 pounds).

You remember Zoubek, of course. He racked up season highs in points (16) and rebounds (17) the last time he faced Maryland. It turned out that wasn't just a one-game revival. Zoubek has turned into a capable low post scoring presence for the Blue Devils, which has diversified their attack.

Zoubek is "rebounding outside of his area," said an ACC coach, who was granted anonymity in return for his candor about an opposing conference team. "He's more alert to the ball. A little quicker. And, you know, he's able to make plays. It's big for them because they've gone without an inside scoring presence for so long. They've been so perimeter-oriented. And they're very good on the perimeter, but, you know, that opens things up more for those three guys on the perimeter if they can just get a little scoring inside and people can't focus entirely on those three guys."

"Those three guys" are Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, who rank third, second and fifth, respectively, in minutes played per game in ACC play. They also rank third, fifth and sixth, respectively, in points per game in conference play.

Over the past month, Duke has run more motion offense, allowing players to operate on instinct rather than forcing them to adhere to the confines of set plays. The Blue Devils can do that confidently, the ACC coach said, in large part because of the experience and intelligence of Scheyer, Singler and Smith.

"As long as they keep the floor spaced, those guys understand general motion principles well enough," the coach said. "They know how to play with or without the ball that they don't need a specific set."

Singler (6-8, 230 pounds) in particular has benefited from the switch to more motion offense, according to the coach. In ACC play, Singler is averaging 17.9 points per game.

"He's so smart that you're better off with a guy like that giving him the flexibility to read screens rather than pre-determining which way he's going to go," the coach said. "Let his basketball instincts take over and give him the option of reading the defense and making a move based on that."

The flexibility afforded Singler also benefits a player like Scheyer (6-5, 190 pounds), the coach said. Scheyer is averaging 18.5 points, 4.7 assists and 1.8 steals per game in ACC play.

The one thing an opposing team can try to do to contain Scheyer, according to the coach, is match him up against a smaller, quicker guard, because "the only part of his game where he does not really do much is post up. ... You wouldn't have to worry about him posting up on you."

And then there is Smith (6-2, 185 pounds), the Duke player the coach said "was the biggest surprise coming into the season, just how much he improved, how much he elevated his game."

Smith, according to the coach, is the one Blue Devil that can create for himself in one-on-one situations, which many times leads to opposing defenses breaking down and teammates gaining open looks. Smith is averaging 17.6 points per game in ACC play.

As you may have noticed, Scheyer, Singler and Smith all are averaging more than 17.5 points per game in conference play. And that can be problematic for opposing defenses.

"Very few people have three really good defenders, so you're forced to choose," the coach said. "Whichever two you don't put your best defender on, those two are usually the ones that are going to hurt you."

Although Duke has rebounded extremely well this season (plus-4.4 rebounding margin in ACC play), the Blue Devils are "pressable" off of made baskets, the coach said.

"I don't think they're going to turn the ball over, but I don't think that they necessarily look to attack and hurt you," the coach said. "So I think it's important that if you press, you take some time off the (shot) clock and then you don't have to guard them for the full 35 seconds in the half-court. I think that really benefits your defense."

Indeed, Duke averages the second-fewest turnovers per game (11.8) among ACC teams in conference play, and the Blue Devils are scoring 73.5 points per game (second in the conference to Maryland) since ACC season began.

"I always also thought another good way to play them, because they run motion and they read screens so well, is to switch off screens defensively against them," the coach said. "But that's a little more difficult if they have a big guy who's scoring, like Zoubek, because then he'll end up with a mismatch in the post. That's another reason why it's important for them to have an inside presence, so that teams can't switch off screens."

By Steve Yanda  |  March 2, 2010; 8:03 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Greivis Vasquez: Terps face 'no pressure' against Duke

Comments

Resurgence by Zoubek? That implies there was a surge by him sometime in the past, which we know to be not true.

Posted by: cao091402 | March 2, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

I assume we put GV on Schyer, who guards Smith? I guess Mosely? EH is way too slow.

Need another monster game out of JW; if he can stop that caveman Zoubek we have a good chance. Would love to see GV attack the rim early in the game and get the Blue Devils in foul trouble

And will the real Landon Milbourne please stand up...

Posted by: jpfterps | March 2, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

We need to set the tempo from the tip off. With Duke's extended defense we will need to find ways to get into our sets early enough in the shot clock. On too many occassions Duke forces teams to become flustered just after they cross 1/2 court. The opposing team's players are so intent on not turning it over that the shot clock is then down to 10 seconds before they run an offensive set. And of course we don't want to fall too far behind from the start because Duke also known for it's spread offense that controls teh shot clock near the end of games.

Posted by: terptilldeath | March 2, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

To those talking about Bently's . .

Bently's continues to be the place to pre game for alumni. I have done so all year and probably rubbed shoulders with some of you but had no idea. Any way we can all meet up and exchange Duke Hatred stories? I'm planning on being there a little after 5.

Posted by: terptilldeath | March 2, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Look forward to meeting you guys tomorrow evening. Have a good feeling about this game. Duke had no idea Zoubek had any game prior to the first meeting - its not like he ever had a big game before. Looking to see who steps up to deliver alongside GV - in order of likelihood: JW, SM, EH, CT, LM, AB, DG, JP. That said, if LM returns tomorrow night, then Duke will be toast.

I know its senior night, but its not like we havve any senior scrubs is it? So all of our seniors will be starting - correct?

Regards -

-hgr

regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | March 2, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Some nice love from Andy Katz at the self-proclaimed "World Wide Leader of Sports":

http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/blog/_/name/katz_andy/id/4956922/williams-terps-peaking-right-time

BTW, Pete. The link is not meant to bait you. Katz does not address GW's main problem...recruiting. With the Driesel, Booth, Eshon, Ricci staff in place for a number of years, GW's recruitng has improved. The high 3-star recruits that Gary lands work well given the situation at MD. Gary can coach these guys for four years to become very good college players. Look at Hayes, Milbourne and GV.

Occasionally, he will land the vastly underrated 3-star recruit (Jordan Williams, Joe Smith) who won't stay the full four years.

BTW, don't expect Jordan Williams to blow up next year. He won't have GV to deliver all those assists.

Also,being a Kansas or Kentucky fan must feel like you are rooting for a pro team with all those 18-yr old free agents that play for one year and then leave. The wins must be nice, but it is not a system that produces college legends and heartfelt loyalty. Will John Wall provide the same sentiments to Kentucky fans as Juan Dison or Steve Blake has to MD fans? Not a chance.

Posted by: larry31 | March 2, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

"Would love to see GV attack the rim early in the game and get the Blue Devils in foul trouble."

----------------------------

So would I, but Duke hasn't been in foul trouble since Bill Foster was their coach.

Posted by: 74umgrad1 | March 2, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

The Real Landon will stand up. It's senior night, he's been a solid Terp these last 3 years and I expect a typically solid game from him tomorrow night with his family in attendance. Plus, aside from the stinker down in Cameron a few weeks ago, he usually plays great against Duke (remember his pair of 19 pt games vs them last year).

Posted by: Barno1 | March 2, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Btw, Larry that was a great point re college legends and heartfelt loyalty. For all the love we have for Steve Francis, does it even compare to our sentimentality for the stars that stayed 4 years?

Posted by: Barno1 | March 2, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Barno.

I wouldn't trade MD's situation for Kentucky's. Calipari is a sleaze ball and the entire prgram has a mercenary feel to it with NCAA sanctions lurking around the corner.

While he has never had any sanctions against him, Bill Self's program seems to be a little seedy. A lot of one-and-done players seem to head to Kansas since Roy left town.

Given the rich b-ball traditions of these schools, it looks to me as though they have sold out.

Roy Williams specifically said he stopped recruiting John wall because his recruiting process was headed in directions that he chose not to go. Interpret his cryptic language as you wish. You already know how I have interpreted this: "Come to Kentucky, play for a year and you will have a Nike agent and shoe contract wating for you after the NCAA tournament."

Posted by: larry31 | March 2, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Can't wait so see and meet everyone at Bentley's tomorrow.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | March 2, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Did Scheyer and GV have something competitive going at the end of that Duke game a few weeks ago...like Scheyer was trying to say, "Hey GV, I better" or something with his late game drives past GV.....
To all the points above, I agree on one point Landon HAS to show up in this game, his play for 4yrs has bee nas solid as they come, I hope the last few have been just a "get it out of your system" time so he cna peak during these last few games before the Tourney....also, Terps Win - what is the status of the ACC standings? I fell MD wins, it turns everyone's seeding upside down, because if we win the ACC Season and ACC Tourney, etc....how does it all shake out....?

Also, Terps are better than a #5 or #6 seed and I am thinking #3 seed if they finish as strong as they have been playing.

Posted by: talbottj | March 2, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Let's face it. We don't match up well with Duke. It's really tough to cover their three scorers and still do an adequate job inside. We are going to have to shoot well and take care of the ball. I always say that, but this will be really important on Wednesday. Somehow, we have to do a much better job on the defensive boards. Gary will have as good a scheme as possible and I would not be surprised if he gives them a little more room on the 3's and packs it in a little underneath. I would like to see aggressive defense by our bigs, especially Milbourne, Gregory and Padgett, with some care given to protect Williams against foul trouble. That would mean getting Padgett in there earlier and maybe for more playing time.

This is a very big game on a very big night. There will be so much emotion. It will be interesting to see how the emotion and energy are channeled. It’s another big task for GW. How do you get your team to play their hearts and guts out and still keep the game in perspective. It’s the most important game of the season so far, but we want there to be even more important games.

Here is what I think we all need to remember. Even if we lose this game it won’t stop us from having much bigger moments. Unless we don’t handle it in the right way. I’m not saying prepare to lose, I am saying place the game in its proper perspective.

If we do that, we will be in for a real treat.

Posted by: petecard | March 2, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Let's face it. We don't match up well with Duke. It's really tough to cover their three scorers and still do an adequate job inside. We are going to have to shoot well and take care of the ball. I always say that, but this will be really important on Wednesday. Somehow, we have to do a much better job on the defensive boards. Gary will have as good a scheme as possible and I would not be surprised if he gives them a little more room on the 3's and packs it in a little underneath. I would like to see aggressive defense by our bigs, especially Milbourne, Gregory and Padgett, with some care given to protect Williams against foul trouble. That would mean getting Padgett in there earlier and maybe for more playing time.

This is a very big game on a very big night. There will be so much emotion. It will be interesting to see how the emotion and energy are channeled. It’s another big task for GW. How do you get your team to play their hearts and guts out and still keep the game in perspective. It’s the most important game of the season so far, but we want there to be even more important games.

Here is what I think we all need to remember. Even if we lose this game it won’t stop us from having much bigger moments. Unless we don’t handle it in the right way. I’m not saying prepare to lose, I am saying place the game in its proper perspective.

If we do that, we will be in for a real treat.

Posted by: petecard | March 2, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Poopy_,

Does that mean you are in town or are you pulling middle-aged leg?

regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | March 2, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Larry,

I will look at the Katz piece, but this is not a time that I want to focus on the difficulties with recruiting.

You have consistently made your points about why we don’t get more (or any) top players and I respect your views. However, it is the top players that make top programs. I simply am not happy with our talent level over the previous 6 years. We have been an afterthought nationally. This year, finally, we are making a run with 3 seasoned and talented seniors. But does that mean we will be playing catch-up again next year? I fear the answer is yes.

But this only gets us into a back-and-forth argument at a time when we should be enjoying our current run. Let’s stick with that for now.

Posted by: petecard | March 2, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the double post... ongoing problems with WP

Posted by: petecard | March 2, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I personnally don't see Steve Francis as one of the MD greats because he came and went so quickly AND the fact that two of the freshmen on his team went on to become all time greats. The team he was on, (discounting Juan who was a dead-eye 3-point shooter and Lonny who had yet to develop) had an amazing amount of talent. . Johns ruined that season which is why I think our ongoing discussion of seeding at the dance is so relevant at this point.

Joe Smith I do see as one of the MD greats even though he was only here for two years. He got us back into the dance (with Booth and Rhodes) and led us to a share of the ACC title. He also had great, far more heralded competition from his freshman class - Booth in CP, Wallace and Stackhouse at UNC, Duncan at WFU. And he was so damn efficient.

So two years and done might be the hurdle I am looking for. I certainly look fondly back on Wilcox as well, albeit with not the same degree of warmth as towards Juan, Lonny, Steve Blake, Holden, Mouton and Randle (the last two were transfers and were only here two years).

So I want him to recruit great players who stay at least two years and good players who develop into great players and stay 3-4 years. I especially don't want to see players transfer out, get dismissed or just plain old leave (even if Choi gives us recruiting flexibility). Also like to see walk-ons use up one or two scholarships.

Regardless of all that, I truly want to see the program win - without cutting corners or jeopardizing the program itself. We have seen NCAA sanctions and I do not ever want to see them again.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | March 2, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I meant "St. Johns ruined the Steve Francis season."

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | March 2, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Party at Bentley's. It looks like a decent amount of people from this blog will be there but I reapeat yet again, "How in the world are we going to know each other?"

Posted by: terptilldeath | March 2, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

http://rivals.yahoo.com/video/college-basketball/ready-for-a-run-83219;_ylt=Av440a6MlAlyyx2NI0aVMG3evbYF

Not sure if anyone posted the above link already. Last two minutes or so are about how MD is the hottest team in the country and poised to go far in the tournament.

I plan on bringing a piece of paper with a big "T.I." written on it to the Bentleys. Barno, jpfterps, Aviscardo and Fushezzi all know each other. First person there should let the hostess and DJ know where the T.I. party is.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | March 2, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I would guess you dudes will be the old guys rocking red Maryland gear and drinking beer that is not Bud Light.

GO TERPS! Wish I could be there. Yell to the rafters, fellas.

Posted by: info_stuporhighway | March 2, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

http://mikesrage.wordpress.com/

wow, this guy has issues with the Terps. Funny.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | March 2, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

The Terps win this game by hard nose defense. They can't allow easy baskets. That is key. Then control tempo and knock down a few shots. They should be fine. Duk is playing well but they are due for a loss. They're much better at home where they get every freaking call - enough to make one sick! That Tulsa game was a complete ruse. Gosh talk about homer refs!

I think if the Terps want it bad enough, they can win this game. Sure would be a nice feather in the turtles hat.

Go Terps!!

Posted by: Jaymand | March 2, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Hope you guys have a great time at Bentley's and a better time at CC. I will be in NY watching intently.

Enjoy...

Posted by: petecard | March 2, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Petecard,

You're in NY? Where do you watch the Raycom broadcast games? I live in Brooklyn, where Cablevision is the only cable option and they don't even offer ESPN Game Plan!

Posted by: acebojangles | March 2, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Ace, this game is on regular ESPN. And there is always the internet for those outside of Raycom-world. I like the Maryland Hoops channel.
http://www.justin.tv/marylandhoops#r=Fw3iA3s

Password: juanjuan

Posted by: jake177 | March 2, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Bentley's is very fun. I was there for pre-game for UVA...it can get crowded very quickly. 5p should be ok. Look forward to seeing everyone. Steve Yanda making a guest appearance?

Posted by: paul_jgraham | March 2, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Ace, when it's on Raycom it's on ESPN 360, which I hook up to the regular tv.

Posted by: petecard | March 3, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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