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Posted at 6:48 AM ET, 02/15/2011

The road gets tougher for Maryland's Jordan Williams

By Liz Clarke

Greivis Vasquez knew the value of having a big man dominate inside during his senior season at Maryland. And he made a project of freshman Jordan Williams partly for that reason. The more attention Williams commanded under the basket, the more room that freed up for Vasquez and the Terps’ other guards to work on the perimeter.

When Maryland (16-9, 5-5 ACC) has been at its best this season, that formula has prevailed. But when one facet or the other has sputtered -- dominance in the paint or consistent shooting from the perimeter -- the Terps have been easy prey for ACC rivals.

That was part of the dynamic at play in Saturday’s 76-72 loss at Boston College, although Reggie Jackson single-handedly made the Eagles formidable in scoring a career-high 31 points.

But on offense, it was the second consecutive game in which Williams, the Terps’ 6-10 center, was prevented from adding to his NCAA-leading 20 double-doubles. He was held to 12 points and eight rebounds.

“Every time I touched the ball, there were two of three guys guarding me,” Jordan Williams said, “so I tried to kick the ball out as much as possible.”

But after leading by three at halftime, the Terps failed to close the game, allowing Boston College to shoot 50 percent in the second half while hitting just 35.5 percent themselves.

Coach Gary Williams says that the center’s dip in production was virtually inevitable. As opponents see more footage of the impact he has, they construct game plans to shut him down.

“[Jordan] got a great deal of attention with the double-doubles, and people started to figure out what they wanted to do to play against him,” Gary Williams said. “They adjust, then we have to adjust. Part of the adjustment is: We have to make shots. We get open shots on the perimeter because of what teams do to Jordan. And it’s up to those players to make those shots.”

Added Gary Williams: “He is getting banged around a little bit in there, [but] he has got to be tough enough to be aggressive with the basketball.”

Jordan Williams still leads the Terps in scoring (17.1 points per game) and rebounding (11.8 per game). And he’ll remain the focal point of Virginia Tech’s defense Tuesday when the teams meet in a critical game for both in Blacksburg,

“You have to be aware of him at all times,” said Hokies Coach Seth Greenberg. “He comes low; he comes high. You have to make sure you cut him off [on the offensive boards]. And he’s a very good passer.”

Virginia Tech (16-7, 6-4) did a good job against Maryland’s center in rolling to its 74-57 victory at Comcast Center on Jan. 20, holding Williams to 11 points and 11 rebounds. The Hokies bolted to a 12-0 lead in that game and never trailed.

By Liz Clarke  | February 15, 2011; 6:48 AM ET
Categories:  Gary Williams, Jordan Williams, Men's basketball  | Tags:  Gary Williams, Jordan Williams, Maryland basketball, Virginia Tech basketball  
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Next: Morning links: Maryland travels to Virginia Tech for crucial contest


Williams is a solid big man but is not a dominating force by any stretch of the imagination. He frequently blows layups, sporadic foul shooting and is not a defensive intimidator. He is at his best at the end of breaks or in a scramble situation. He has looked terrible against a zone!

The Hokies will probably play a lot of zone to limit their fouls and collapse on Williams since he is the Terps best option. They have nothing to fear from our shooters and Stoglin is the only Terp that can penetrate and create his own shot.

I am praying that Bowie, Tucker and especially Mosly,"MAN UP" and take it to them tonight! There is an excuse for the freshmen being that they are freshmen. Except for Dino, the upperclassmen shouldn't have MARYLAND on their jerey's!

Posted by: fatlabriley2 | February 15, 2011 8:54 AM | Report abuse

this years team has many issues and each game it can be the difference of a win or a loss...outside shooting has been an issue so has foul shooting and so has defense the 3pt shot...sound familiar...terps fan are wanting last 2 seasons results with this years season will bring better i ask is it coaching or poor execution...

Posted by: wmnatzakanian | February 15, 2011 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I said this in my BC post-game comments, but I'll repeat them here. JW is a very talented big man with a world of potential. However, as this piece points out, the more tape teams are getting on him, the easier it is getting for them to scheme specifically against them. Success in college basketball is no longer about a single superstar. Sure, there are examples of a single player willing his team to a victory or two when they absolutely need it (like Pullen last night or Reggie Jackson against the Terps on Saturday), but college basketball is very much a team game, and with the variety of defenses that can be employed, it's pretty easy to take a singular player away, especially one that cannot create his own shot.

JW mentioned that he's finding 2-3 guys surrounding him when he gets the ball. That is definitely happening against most teams now, but he just doesn't seem to understand what to do once that double or triple-team comes. His decision making in the face of double and triple teams has been poor recently, and teams will continue to exploit this weakness.

JW typically kicks the ball back to the strong-side (ball side) guard and reposts, which really serves no purpose. The ball-side of the court is the easiest to defend, especially when the double is coming from the weak side or from the ball-side guard. When JW is not kicking ball-side, he tries to either spin towards the lane and take a second step to the basket, or spins to the baseline and a second step to try for a reverse layup. Defenses know he's not going to turn and face, he's not going to fade, and once he makes that spin, he's not going to kick the ball out. The spin moves are effective, and do tend to draw fouls, but because JW's still not strong enough to score through contact, the odds are still in the defense's favor with a 55% FT shooter at the line. Defenders have learned that if the double-teaming player stands on the ball-side low block, he can defend both of JW's spin moves. Staying put places him in perfect position to guard the spin to the basket, and because the baseline spin takes a second longer to give JW a shot, there's plenty of time for the defender to slide to the weak side of the basket to defend the reverse.

What JW needs to learn is that he doesn't always need to take a shot once he starts his spin move. This is what gets him into trouble more often than not. He needs to identify where the double is coming from, and kick the ball to that guy, not just the ball-side guard. Also, if he does kick for a repost, he needs to post higher to allow for the give-and-go, a play the double cannot guard against, and something this team just doesn't seem to do despite having good penetrating guards.

The biggest problem, though, is that tonight's game is against a team that's going to play 2-3 against JW, and it's going to be really hard for him to figure out where the double/triple is coming from.

Posted by: Russtinator | February 15, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

The 2-3 zone has proven to be the most effective defense against this team, and I'm really surprised more ACC teams have not used it (possibly because they're afraid of giving up offensive rebounds and easy baskets off missed jumpers). Wake and VaTech both used the 2-3 extensively, and were able to keep JW in check. The 2-3 kinda plays like a box and 1 against a post player with the middle defender on the back line manning up the post. However, the sag and double can come from any of the other 4 players, and can easily be changed throughout the game or even in the same possession. The effectiveness of the zone is compounded by the flex motion that is based primarily on lateral movement, not movement down the lane towards the basket, which is the kind of motion that can kill a zone. It will be up to the perimeter players to move down the lane, not just side to side and around the arc to force VaTech back into man, where JW can be more effective against inferior defenders like Allen and Davilla.

We haven't seen that kind of motion from the Terps offense all year, and unfortunately, I don't expect it to happen tonight. VaTech will sit back, and surround JW when he gets the ball, and he's going to give it back to the guy who passed it to him, and repost. They may swing the ball to the other side of the court and repost JW on the other side, but the same thing will happen on the second run through the set. This has been the M.O. for the Terps against zone all year, and I just don't see a change coming tonight. If someone cannot lock down on Delaney, it could be another long night...78-64 Hokies

Posted by: Russtinator | February 15, 2011 10:33 AM | Report abuse

College basketball is made for guard oriented teams see the number of times Shaq got throttled by Christian Lattner and the Dukies. Jordan Williams should probably move on and take his game to the NBA where he can work in the post in isolation. He's got great hands, great footwork and is throwback player to another era. Without consistent outside shooting he will see nothing but double and even triple teams at MD.

Posted by: restonhoops | February 15, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

College basketball is made for guard oriented teams see the number of times Shaq got throttled by Christian Lattner and the Dukies. Jordan Williams should probably move on and take his game to the NBA where he can work in the post in isolation. He's got great hands, great footwork and is throwback player to another era. Without consistent outside shooting he will see nothing but double and even triple teams at MD.

Posted by: restonhoops | February 15, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

He is not ready for the NBA game. He doesn't have any shot inside of 6 feet, something that just won't fly with just about every NBA team. He also needs more than 2 go-to post moves or he won't ever get off the pine at the NBA level. There's no doubt an NBA team would take a mid-late first round flier on JW, but it would not help his game. DeJuan Blair, the closest recent comparable player to JW, left after his sophomore season at Pitt, and didn't get picked until the 2nd round. Blair got lucky to latch onto a team that could use his talents, and he was able to earn his way onto the roster and develop enough of a mid-range game to be a serviceable bench player.

IF JW takes another year to develop a mid-range jumper and improve his fitness and quickness a bit more, he could approach the Blake Griffin mold of undersized 4/5s in the NBA and his draft stock would soar.

Posted by: Russtinator | February 15, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

jordan williams game is not NBA ready. I am all for these kids getting paid, but he needs to learn how to move and lean up. He has a good low post butt, but he is also low post flat footed and slow at times on defense. he needs to move a little better other than to post up.

Posted by: simplewords999 | February 15, 2011 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Shocker that Restonhoops wants Jordan Williams to go pro. This is the same guy who wanted Greivis to go pro before his senior year. The same guy who has admitted in the past to having no connection whatsoever to the university of Maryland, never graduated there, never attended, doesn't have family that attended...just some weird guy who hates Gary Williams.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 15, 2011 5:22 PM | Report abuse

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