9:47-Maryland NEEDED to win this game. Last year’s loss had obviously stuck with this team; and it meant a great deal to them to get a sense o revenge. It certainly doesn’t change last year’s loss-which is likely part of the reason the team was left out come Tournament time; but it was good to see them remain focused knowing they needed to shake those awful memories.
This team will not win a lot of games this season that look like this; and that’s a good thing. In fact; it might be fair to say that the Terps probably won’t win another game this season where they don’t score 70 points. They will take another couple days off here to celebrate Christmas; but they will keep playing games between now and the start of ACC season; including a January 3rd contest with Charlotte.
There will certainly need to be more intensity from this team; and there will certainly need to be more interior defense. They cannot afford to go through lazy stretches; and they cannot settle for rushed outside shots. The team obviously needs to continue to get to the hoop more; and needs to continue to be able to set up their trap and force turnovers.
But tonight, they just needed to win; and they did that. They can work on fixing other problems against the likes of Elon and Bryant (they play the Bulldogs next-Saturday afternoon). This one was about shaking off rust and shaking off demons. They did both; now they get to work on preparing for ACC season.
That’s it for me tonight. Talk to you tomorrow morning with Drew. I’ll be back Saturday afternoon with another blog from the Bryant game.
9:44-Gary is certainly not frustrated with the way his team won; nor should he be. He admitted he was concerned about how the team would respond coming off the break; and said “sometimes you have to wear a team down” to win.
Gary continued to praise Dave Neal; saying he’s a “good shooter” (okay, maybe.) He said he was “really pleased” with the team’s performance; knowing American was a team who played with “a great deal of pride.”
9:37-Looking at the final numbers; a few things jump out. The Terps out-rebounded the Eagles 24-16 in the 2nd half; which meant a 35-27 advantage for the game. They finished 16-18 at the free throw line; a number which has been solid throughout the season. On the other side; American did not hit ONE free throw; going 0-3 from the charity stripe. The Terps were 5-14 from beyond the arc (35.7%); American was just 3-14 (21.4%). Overall from the field; Maryland was 23-55 (41.8%); while American was 24-52 (46.2%).
Milbourne and Neal tied for the team high with 14 points each; Milbourne contributed 5 boards while Neal added 6. Milbourne also had 3 steals; as did Eric Hayes-who also had 5 points and 6 boards. Vasquez chipped in 13 points, 5 boards, and 5 assists.
American was lead by Derrick Mercer; who had 12 points and 6 assists. Garrison Carr added 11 points; but also had 4 turnovers. As a team, American had more turnovers (15) than assists (13).
9:31-Seeing as how I have to wake up not too long from now; I’m gonna stay here and watch the press conference instead of going upstairs. Not much to ask Gary that I don’t think someone else will. He’s doing his post-game radio interview now; and while downplayed, he seems pleased with what the team did tonight. He said Dupree is “coming along”, which is good considering the Terps will need his size. He also continues to praise Dave Neal (who is JUST NOW leaving the floor after a post-game interview with Comcast Sports Net’s Chick Hernandez and Ron Thompson); but I still don’t think Maryland should be relying on him for much more than “junk minutes” during the ACC stretch.
9:25-Dupree gets one more highlight as he smacks away a big block after the teams throw the ball around a while. Mercer gets another hoop; he has 10. Mosley just holds the ball until the clock runs out; and Jin Soo Kim and David Pearman check in with 10 seconds to play.
This one goes final at 67-51. Not much to look at; but they didn’t lose; which is better than last year.
9:22-Milbourne with the nice theft; but Vasquez gets too cute and misses the ensuing lay-up. Bryce Simon makes it a 5 point swing by knocking down a 3 on the other end. Hayes misses another jumper; it’s 67-49 with less than 2 minutes to play.
9:19-Mercer gets another hoop; he has 11 and the Eagles are back within 21 at 67-46. We hit the final official timeout with 3:22 to play; and a good chuck of the crowd heads towards the exits.
9:17-Vasquez fouled by Matthew Wilson; he hits both at the line and now has 13. Maryland by 23 with 4 and a half to go. The exciting moments in this one can be counted on less than 5 fingers.
9:14-Nichols breaks American’s slide with a hoop inside; and the lead is 65-44 for Maryland with 5 and a half to play. Greivis throws up a wild one in the lane; which had no prayer of going down. He’s had obvious flashes of brilliance; but has certainly not played a complete game tonight.
9:11-This sequence is official ELECTRIC! Mosley goes the length of the court to block a coast-to-coast lay-up; then Vasquez uses a behind the back fake to take the ball right to the hoop for a lay-up of his own. The crowd ate it up; and Maryland now leads 65-42. Vasquez has 11; but that one was a little embarrassing for the American squad. Good time for them to take a timeout; but it looks fairly academic right now.
9:10-Vasquez follows with a 3 of his own. Maryland back ahead by 21; and Vasquez has 9 as well.
9:08-After Lumpkins missed a pair of free throws; Mosley tried to take the ball right to the hoop; but came well short. He is still struggling to match the talent level he is now playing against. Gregory put up a nice hook; but couldn’t get it to go down. Hendra drilled a 3 for American; he has 9; Maryland leads 60-42.
9:05-Bowie again knifes his way through for a lay-up; he has 6; Maryland leads 60-39 as we hit the next official timeout with 9:14 to play. This stretch has just about put this one away; as Maryland’s press has been stellar in the 2nd half. They’re a better transition team than they are in half court sets; and they certainly need to be able to press early and often in ACC play.
9:03-Of course; the danger when Milbourne starts to get warm is that he’ll take too many shots. He misses from downtown; and Lumpkins gets a hoop on the other end. Milbourne then misses again on a better looking jumper from just inside the arc; but Gregory puts that one back on his 2nd try. Tucker had a path to the basket off a steal; but an awkward move to the hoop caused him to miss. 58-39 with less than 10 to play.
9:01-Milbourne knocks down a jumper from the free throw line; 54-37 Maryland. He then puts back a hoop in transition; and the lead is 56-37. American calls a 30 second timeout; but might already be buried. Milbourne is now tied for the game high with 14.
9:00-Vasquez gets two at the line; then the Terps force another turnover with the trap. Bowie slices to the hoop for a lay-in; and Maryland’s lead is 52-37. The crowd is up; and the Terps have a chance to put this one away here with just under 13 to play.
8:58-More of the Dave Neal show tonight; as he goes to the free throw line and hits 2; extending his game high to 14 points. Maryland’s lead is back in double digits at 48-37; and the trap forces another American turnover.
8:57-Lumpkins responds with a hoop; then Hayes and Tucker each miss good looks from outside. Gary says “shooters need to shoot”; but shooters also have to hit if they are really shooters.
8:55-Finally a reaction from the crowd as Maryland alum and ESPN personality Scott Van Pelt is flashed on the screen; he’s in attendance tonight. Cliff Tucker breaks a long scoring drought by burying a 3; and Maryland’s lead is back to 11 at 46-35. This one hasn’t been particularly pretty.
8:50-Neal, Carr, and Vasquez trade misses; Milbourne did a nice job of bringing down Vasquez’s miss; but had his legs taken out underneath him; and was called for a travel. Gilmore was shaken up on the play; but was able to walk back to American’s bench on his own power.
8:48-The “Wheaton Dance Group” performed at halftime; a choreographed baton routine to the tune of “Christmas Eve Sarajevo” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. It drew what has CLEARLY been the loudest response of the game from the crowd here in College Park; which is considerably less than capacity due to students being on Winter Break. The rest of the arena is pretty full; but the student wall is half empty; preventing the arena from being noisy whatsoever. Greivis normally takes it upon himself to try to fire up the crowd; I think he’s just waiting for a chance to get things going.
8:46-If nothing else; the Eagles are definitely not going away. Mercer gets a hoop; followed by a leaner in the lane from Carr. Carr has 11; Maryland leads by 10 at 43-33; and Gary wants a timeout.
8:44-A breakaway lay-up attempt by Adrian Bowie draws Gilmore’s 2nd personal foul. Bowie hits both at the line; extending the lead back to 12. Maryland is doing a significantly better job of setting up and executing the trap in the 2nd half; forcing another turnover here with a held ball.
Milbourne is fouled shooting a jumper; he hits both at the line and now has 10. Maryland by 14 with about 18 to play in the game.
8:43-The smaller Mercer was able to pull up for a nice baseline jumper to cut Maryland’s lead to 10 again at 39-29.
8:41-Good possession for the Terps to open the 2nd half; as Milbourne gets an offensive rebound, is fouled, and hits both at the line. Hayes then steals the inbound pass; and Milbourne moves to the hoop for another lay-up. He has 8; the Terps lead 39-27.
8:28-The offensive flow certainly wasn’t perfect; but Maryland will take the results. They will need to be more consistent with the ball; and can’t settle for outside shots. Any possession that doesn’t involve a move to the hoop has to be considered a lazy possession.
Statistically, the Terps shouldn’t be tied with the Eagles in rebounding. American is not big enough to hang with the Terps on the glass. It is currently 11-11 in that department. Maryland hasn’t allowed the Eagles to get to the free throw line; while they have gone 4-6. Maryland is 14-26 (53.8%) from the field; 3-8 from outside (37.5%). American 13-23 from the field (56.5%); and 1-4 (25%) from outside.
Other than Neal’s 12 points and 4 boards; the only other individual Terp worth noting is Greivis-who has 4 points to go along with 5 assists. Garrison Carr has 9 points to lead American; Hendra and Gilmore each have 6.
8:24-Gilmore gets another hoop inside after the Terps can’t control a rebound; and Greivis misses a 3 at the buzzer. 35-27 Terps at the half.
8:22-The ovation is even louder this time as Neal exits for Gregory; his 12 points have certainly been more “workmanlike” than “flashy.”
Stephen Lumpkins gets his first hoop inside for American; again cutting Maryland’s lead to 10.
8:20-Neal hits a pair at the free throw line after the timeout. Maryland’s lead is 33-23; and Neal has 12. As I’ve said before, the Terps cannot rely on this much offense from Neal against ACC opponents. Milbourne slinks his way to the hoop for two more; 35-23 Terps.
8:19-I love to check the Facebook pages of Maryland players around game time. You could tell this game meant a bit more to the Maryland players by looking at the status update of Eric Hayes-who says he “need(s) this win for a Merry Christmas.”
8:16-Scoring comes in a flurry-2 for Hendra and Carr on the American side; but Neal responds with two jumpers-the 2nd of which was a 3. However, Carr responds with a 3 of his own; and Maryland’s lead is back down to 8 at 31-23. Final official timeout comes with 2:52 to play in the half.
8:14-Vasquez slips inside for another hoop; and the Eagles take a timeout with 5:08 to play trailing 26-16. They want to make sure they DO stay within shouting distance; and definitely don’t want Maryland taking a double digit lead to the half.
8:11-Inside defense continues to be a struggle; as Mercer finds Gilmore with a nice inside dish to set up a quick basket. American is not a good enough interior team to be having success inside against the Terps. Dupree fouled on the other end; he hits 1 of 2 before leaving for Milbourne. 24-16 Terps.
8:09-Score remains 21-12 as we go to the 3rd official timeout of the first half. You certainly don’t want a team that has defeated you recently to be hanging around; but the Terps have maintained control throughout.
Hendra drives past Tucker for a lay-in; but Dupree uses his size to go above the Eagles’ defenders for a short hoop. 23-14 Maryland.
8:05-He needed two tries to bring down the ball; but Dupree gets his first hoop inside to extend Maryland’s lead to 18-10. You have to worry about whether Dupree will try to do too much here; as he is trying to win his way back into Gary’s good graces and regular playing time. Carr gets another hoop; but Hayes responds with a 3; and Maryland leads 21-12.
8:04-Mosley’s offensive struggles continue; badly missing his first free throw. He gets his 2nd; and the Terps make the lead 16-8. Nick Hendra responds with a jumper; his first for the Eagles.
8:02-With Maryland not showing any drastic signs of early rust; I think they shouldn’t have much of a problem the rest of the way. American clearly took advantage of early struggles last season to put the Terps significantly behind the 8 ball. Gilmore gets a hoop to cut the lead to 7; but Mosley is fouled on the other end and will shoot two.
7:59-Carr gets a hoop; but Milbourne responds with his first field goal of the night-a fairly long jumper. Sean Mosley and Braxton Dupree have joined Neal at the scorer’s table; meaning we’ll see Dupree earlier than we’ve seen him in any game since the Old Spice Classic. 15-6 Maryland at the 2nd official timeout.
7:58-Nice move by Mercer to get to the rim for his first hoop. Gregory hasn’t been as quick to react on the defensive end as he had been in previous games; and settled for a jumper from the free throw line on the offensive end. Neal is back at the scorer’s table; I think Gary is going to talk to Gregory for a minute or two.
7:57-Terps get a couple extra chances themselves before Tucker gets a hoop. Jordan Nichols gets the Eagles on the board finally; but then Tucker responds with a short jumper. 13-2 Maryland with 13 and a half to play in the first.
7:54-Vasquez gets on the board out of the timeout; 9-0 Maryland. They force another turnover on the defensive end; and keep the pressure on American. Dino Gregory and Cliff Tucker are the first two off the bench; replacing Bowie and Neal. Neal receives a nice reception upon his departure.
7:49-Not a good job on the boards; as Maryland allows American three 2nd chance looks on their next possession; but the Eagles can’t buy a bucket. Maryland does a great job of ball movement on the other end, and Neal gets a much better look at an outside jumper; which he buries for 3. The Terps follow that up by forcing a shot clock violation; and they’ll take a 7-0 lead to the first official timeout at 15:45. So far so good; particularly on the defensive end.
7:47-Neal gets a little excited after his first basket and tries a long jumper on the Terps’ next possession. He couldn’t find the handle; but Hayes was there for a putback lay-in. 4-0 Maryland. Timeout Eagles.
7:45-American wins the tip-strange because Maryland had been doing a pretty good job of winning tips this season with both Neal and Braxton Dupree. 2 possessions for American-two turnovers. Maryland turned the ball over on their first possession as well. They will undoubtedly have to shake off some rust due to the long break. Neal with the turnaround inside to make it 2-0.
7:40-American’s lineup features star guard Garrison Carr and Derrick Mercer in the back court; plus forwards Brian Gilmore, Frank Borden, and Jordan Nichols. Nothing surprising about Maryland’s starting 5-as Gary continues to stick with his senior Dave Neal at the top. He’s joined by Landon Milbourne up front; plus Adrian Bowie, Eric Hayes, and Greivis Vasquez in the back court.
7:32-A few minutes from tipoff here at Comcast Center; where the Terps will look to avenge one of the more embarrassing losses of the Gary Williams era-last year’s 67-59 defeat at the hands of the Eagles. Maryland brings a 7-2 record into tonight’s game, but they have been on a lengthy break for exams. American brings a 5-5 record and a win at UMBC Saturday night into tonight’s game. Coach Jeff Jones is no stranger to Gary and the Terps; he was previously head coach at Virginia.