What Maryland can take out of Ga. Tech loss moving forward
Obviously, the outcome of Maryland's five-point loss Friday night to Georgia Tech in the ACC tournament quarterfinals was not what the Terrapins were hoping for. A lackluster first half effort could not be overcome by a furious, defense-oriented second half comeback attempt.
But that game is over with now, and later this evening the team will join together at Comcast Center to learn of its next opponent when the NCAA tournament field is announced. With that in mind, here are a few things the Terrapins could take out of Friday night's loss that might help them in the coming week(s) at the Big Dance:
1) Turnaround performance from Landon Milbourne. After not scoring in double figures in seven of Maryland's previous eight games, Milbourne registered 15 points on 7 of 14 shooting against the Yellow Jackets. He also tallied six rebounds and five steals. While Milbourne was not in the mood to be too effusive on his big night (he said he'd gladly have traded in his offensive production for a win), several teammates and Coach Gary Williams noted how important it will be for Milbourne to continue along a similar track in the NCAA tournament.
"Landon's struggled a little bit, but his effort's always there," Williams said. "I mean, effort-wise, that was another game for Landon. I think he got really active on the offensive end, and that's what we need. Because Greivis, the ball wasn't going in for him tonight. Eric's a very good shooter. We need that third guy, and when Landon's on his game, it gives us a pretty good look out there because we've got some other guys that can get some points, and Jordan Williams has been a double-figure scorer, you know, probably two-thirds of the games for us. That really helps us when Landon makes some shots."
2) Jordan Williams's foul trouble. When asked how Jordan Williams's persistent foul issues Friday night affected Maryland's approach in the second half, Gary Williams described the experience as a positive one for the freshman forward. Jordan Williams had to be shuttled in and out of the lineup throughout the latter part of the game after picking up two first-half fouls. He picked up his fourth personal foul while trying to take a charge on Georgia Tech guard Iman Shumpert with 15:33 remaining in the game. Jordan Williams finished with seven points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes. He fouled out with three seconds left in regulation.
"I'm sure that bothered Jordan a little bit," Gary Williams said. "He learned a lot tonight, though. He had three fouls, and he tried to take a charge down there in the second half in a situation where you don't want to get your fourth foul that early unless it's going for a ball or rebounding or whatever, and he tried to take a charge and he slid a little bit and, you know, got called for the block. So hopefully he learned that.
"He's been fortunate. He hasn't had much foul trouble all year, so I thought he handled it well for really not being in that situation very often. You know, the first part of the year before we had Dino Gregory, we had to play James Padgett, Landon Milbourne and Jordan, so there was a lot of pressure on him at that time not to foul. He's become more aggressive as Dino's come back, and I think that's really helped his game."
3) Pressure defense. When the Terrapins want it to be, their full-court pressure defense can be about as stifling as any other team's in the nation. The downside was that Maryland had been forced into implementing its pressure defense off of every made basket in the second half because it entered halftime trailing by 16. The Terrapins forced Georgia Tech to commit 16 turnovers after the intermission and scored 13 points off of those turnovers.
"You remind a team that's how we play," Gary Williams said. "That's how we've played all year, like we played the second half. So it was good to see that back into our game in the second half. Now everybody's in the same situation that's playing in the NCAA tournament, so we'll take our chances and hopefully we'll play well for 40 minutes our next game."
4) Getting a loss out of their system. Personally, I'm not sure I buy the notion that a team on a hot streak down the stretch needs to lose one before entering the NCAA tournament just to essentially ease off the pressure of trying to maintain a streak or whatever. But after Friday night's game, several Maryland players suggested it wasn't the worst thing in the world to suffer defeat while it's still guaranteed that there will be at least one more game to play.
"I think this is really going to help us to becoming a better team, you know, because I think we have been doing a great job winning as a team," senior guard Greivis Vasquez said. "Now, sometimes it's good to lose one game as a team. So, we're going to move forward and we're going to get better this week."
A few moments later, Vasquez added: "Maybe having six days without playing got us sloppy. This is really going to help us to have a better (NCAA) tournament and definitely going to wake us up because we have to prove ourselves again."
March 14, 2010; 9:59 AM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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