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NCAA tournament 2010: Some thoughts from College Park on the Cougars

The Maryland men's basketball team will depart later this afternoon and head west to Spokane, Wash., where the Terrapins will continue preparations for Friday night's NCAA tournament first round game against Houston.

Senior guard Eric Hayes today compared Houston to Villanova, a squad the Terrapins faced in early December. Hayes said that much like the Wildcats, Houston likes to employ a four-guard lineup and likes to shoot a lot of three-pointers. And indeed, the Cougars attempt an average of 23.3 three-pointers per game.

"They really have no conscience when they come down the court," Hayes said. "Anybody can pull up and shoot from wherever, whenever."

As for Houston's leading scorer, guard Aubrey Coleman, who leads the nationa in scoring (25.6 points per game), Hayes compared him to Virginia Tech guard Malcolm Delaney in that both players get bundles of their points from the free throw line. Coleman averages nine free throw attempts per game and shoots 74.5 percent from the charity stripe.

"He can shoot the three," Hayes said of Coleman. "He’s not a great three-point shooter, but if he gets going he can knock some down. He really likes to try to get to the hole."

Coleman is shooting 31.8 percent from three-point range.

Senior forward Landon Milbourne said he understook the challenge Maryland will face in defending such a prolific scorer, but felt confident the Terrapins' defense was sound enough to handle the task.

"The way we play defense, there’s not really a lot of opportunities for guys to go one-on-one because we help each other so much," Milbourne said. "We’re not really worried about him. He shoots a lot of shots. I don’t know what his percentage is, but I’m guessing that it’s not 50 percent. He shoots a lot of shots, but we just going to try to contain as much and try to help out as much and just play our defense. Not going out there trying to shut him down or anything; just go out there and play our defense."

Milbourne was correct. Coleman is shooting 42.5 percent and has attempted 697 shots (20.5 shot attempts per game) this season.

"He’s very strong," Coach Gary Williams said. "That’s the thing. He’s more of a physical guard. He can shoot the three, but what he does well is take the ball to the basket, get to the free throw line and he can hold onto the ball for a long time before he releases it. In other words, a lot of guys don’t have the strength to be going down and still make a pretty good move to the basket. Coleman can do that. You know, to be the leading scorer in the country and to score 25 points a game nowadays with the way defenses are, it’s hard to do. So he’s done it this year. If you average 25, that means you can get 30. So that’s the problem with him. He’s capable of exploding at any time."

Williams said that with a guy like Coleman, who is bound to get his points one way or another, it will be critical for the Terrapins to try to force him to be as inefficient as possible, to make him take a lot of shots en route to whatever his point total ends up being.

He agreed with a comparison between preparing for Coleman and preparing for Davidson guard Stephen Curry in the 2007 NCAA tournament. In that game, Curry scored 18 points in the first half and Maryland led by one at the break. Curry scored 12 points in the second half to finish with 30. Davidson went up by eight early in the second half, but the Terrapins came back and claimed an 82-70 victory. Curry shot 9 for 21 from the field and 5 for 14 from three-point range.

"We were fortunate to come back in the second half to win that game," Williams said. "And that’s what you try to do with a Curry, with (Coleman), is just try to make them take as difficult of shots as possible. Hopefully, you can wear them down if you play good defense every possession, but that’s not easy to do."

Just as Milbourne had done a few minutes prior, Williams spoke about the importance of help defense in trying to contain someone with Coleman's scoring ability.

"When we play a team with a big scorer in conference, we do some things to try to make sure we know where he is," Williams said. "In other words, a lot of times we talk about we have to have more than one set of eyes on a guy that’s really a good scorer. That’s what you try to do. In case we do make a mistake defensively, he’s still got to beat somebody else before he scores. I think that’s the biggest thing."

By Steve Yanda  |  March 16, 2010; 2:13 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: NCAA Tournament 2010: Milbourne passing along words of wisdom

Comments

Y'know, maybe earlier this season I would have said Coleman sounds like GV. But to be clear, no assist numbers from him and no rebounds. If the Terps come out focused and execute the game plan, I think they'll be fine.

And agree, that last video was very nicely done. The NC from GW's perspective is always a good thing to hear about.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | March 16, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

This summary has some gem quotes from Gary.

http://shell-games.com/2010/03/gary-williams-previews-the-tournament-with-the-junkies/

Posted by: jake177 | March 17, 2010 7:14 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Jake. I missed it by a few minutes yesterday. So much for coming in early to work....

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | March 17, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

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