The Maryland Terrapins Can Turn the Beat Around in Atlanta

Jennifer JohnsonAnalyst IFebruary 8, 2009

In their first ACC conference game, the Maryland Terrapins and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets found many ways to play poorly.

Maryland spent the first half hitting nothing but air. 

The Terps shot 25 percent from the field, and went just 1-for-14 from three-point range.

That is plain awful.

Georgia Tech returned the favor by being careless with the basketball. They lost  an eight-point halftime lead, largely because they committed 18 turnovers to the vaunted Maryland press.

Eventually, Maryland wore down the offensive attack of the Yellow Jackets, and pulled out an “ugly” 68-61 win at Comcast Center.

A lot has changed for Maryland since then, and the news is not good if you’re a turtle loyalist. In the previous game versus the No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels, the Terps consistently hit their shots.

Uncharacteristically, it was their defense that let them down. The inability to put together a complete game on both ends of the court has led to the  mounting losses on their record.

They have lost more than just games but their identity and their confidence.

Maryland (14-8 3-5 ACC) needs to break out of this slump. On the upside, they have a veteran coach to help lead them back into the winner’s circle.

“It’s a matter of who makes adjustments, who stays tough,” Williams said. “You know you have to continue to improve your game.  I think maybe a lot of people think that by the time you get into league play:  that’s where it is.  That’s where it’s going to be all year.  Well that’s never true.”

The team with the staunch pressure defense has not shut down much these days. The Terps have held ACC opponents under 68 points just twice in eight games. Since conference play began, they have ranked ninth in the ACC in overall scoring defense.

Stats as they say are for losers, but, in this case, Maryland is losing.

UNC built a commanding lead on the Terps by taking uncontested perimeter shots. No one challenged the Tar Heels from beyond the arc effectively, as they went 11-for-15 from behind the arc in the first half of the game.

Junior guard Greivis Vasquez has been a part of the problem too often this season. Before the UNC game, Vasquez had scored in double figures only once in his team’s previous six games. He has been able to maintain his average of 16.0 PPG, mostly because he manages to get himself to the free throw line enough to salvage something for his effort.

Offensively, Vasquez and teammate Landon Milbourne (13.0 PPG, 51.6 percent shooting) have been the most consistent scorers for the Terps.

Rebounding has been the Terps’ Achilles heel this season.Vasquez also leads the team in rebounding average with 5.7 rebounds per game. At 6-feet-6, he is a versatile guard, who can create scoring opportunities off of the dribble. However, if is having a rough shooting night, the rest of the team struggles as well.

So, I say, it is time Maryland stops hitting the snooze button, and get back the swagger on the defensive end of the floor. That is truly how this team is built for success.

What Maryland should do is show some mental toughness. Don’t let adversity interfere with your fighting spirit.

Maryland's defensive struggles have surfaced because their opponents are shooting high percentage shots, and making them with ease.

In the Duke game, Maryland ran into an offensive buzz saw. Duke shot 48 percent from beyond the arc, to blow out Maryland at Cameron Indoor Stadium 85-44. And yet in their last game, they converted 23 percent of their three-point field goals, losing soundly to the Clemson Tigers, 73-47.

Maryland cannot look at these facts as proof as to why things are where they are. Throw out the past, and begin to take each game as it comes. Keep competing gentleman!

Maryland tackles the Georgia Yellow Jackets (10-11 1-7 ACC) tonight in Atlanta, Georgia. Tech wants to save face in the conference by keeping the Terps’ offense in check.

Look for Maryland to establish the post early. They need to get the ball inside the lane for some quick scores to set the game’s tempo.

Sophomore guard Adrian Bowie pulls no punches, and expresses what he wants to see happen.

“We just have to find a balance. Some way, some how, we have to find a balance.”

Join me in wishing them the best of luck, as they enter into hostile territory.

Final Score:  Maryland wins 72-58.