The Maryland Terrapins landed in Maui looking to make a statement that they were back among the elite of the ACC and deserving of a top-25 ranking after an impressive 3-0 start.
Instead, Maryland looks very similar to the team that struggled to make the NCAA tournament a year ago.
Following a 78-69 loss to Wisconsin in the third-place game of the EA Sports Maui Invitational, the Terps (4-2) will return to College Park having only beaten Division II Chaminade and dropping potential resume-boosting games against Cincinnati and Wisconsin. If Maryland is indeed on the bubble in March, this three-day stretch will be crippling evidence against its case.
The Terps started quickly against the Badgers on Wednesday, but the fast start quickly eroded into the same story we saw against Cincinnati on Tuesday. A 7-0 Maryland lead vanished after a 16-2 run by Wisconsin, and the Terps never really recovered despite briefly retaking the lead later in the first half.
Maryland shot just 59 percent from the free-throw line, was outrebounded 33-26, and simply looked a step slower than the Badgers throughout the evening. Every time the Terps would appear on the brink of going on a run to climb back in it and seize control of the game, Wisconsin had an answer to stop the spurt.
Simply put, Wisconsin looked like it wanted the victory more than the Terps.
Greivis Vasquez again looked completely out of sync in the offense and struggled with his shooting before a few late shots propelled him to a team-high 18 points. The senior guard’s body language and overall play in Maui was very disappointing, both for his future NBA aspirations and his team. While Vasquez figures to rebound from the poor start, you have to wonder if his focus is truly on his senior season and not the NBA Draft.
Gary Williams said last week that he wasn’t sure how good this team really was, and the three games in Maui would give him a better indication. If that’s the case, the Terps look like an uninspired, disinterested basketball team despite having plenty of experience.
Maryland lacks the consistent outside shooting and strong inside presence to overcome the sloppy play it displayed this week. Simply put, the good teams do not miss free throws and get pushed around in the paint. And that’s exactly what happened to Maryland today.
While freshmen forwards Jordan Williams and James Padgett look to have promising futures, neither is ready to be a force inside that other teams must respect. Williams was also 0-for-4 from the charity stripe, as both continue to struggle from the free-throw line. This week’s losses made it obvious how much this team still needs Dino Gregory in the mix in the paint.
Can the Terps rebound from a disastrous trip to Hawaii in time for the ACC schedule?
Of course. After all, it’s only November, and Maryland does possess three senior leaders in Vasquez, Eric Hayes, and Landon Milbourne.
Whether it’s the other seniors or an underclassmen such as the improved Sean Mosley, the Terps need someone to emerge as the go-to guy in crunch time. It can’t be Vasquez trying to get the job done every night, or Maryland will continue to struggle with consistency just like it did last year.
No one—not even Vasquez—stepped up against Cincinnati or Wisconsin.
If the Terps hope to be dancing in late March, they have a lot of work to do.
And even then, they’ll be hoping the missed opportunities in Maui won’t come back to haunt them.
Check out the box score here and live blog below.
6:29 p.m. — That’ll do it. An unacceptable loss to Wisconsin to close out a disastrous week in Maui.
Final score: Wisconsin 78, Maryland 69.
Back a little later with my post-game wrap.
6:26 p.m. — Seven points from the bench today.
When you’re struggling, sometimes you need a spark from a Cliff Tucker or an Adrian Bowie.
6:23 p.m. — It’s going to be a VERY long flight home for this Maryland basketball team.
When you enter a tournament with your sights set on winning and you end up leaving with only a win over a Division II school, it’s very humbling.
6:20 p.m. — The 6-foot-0 Hughes gets the rebound off his own shot and scores.
Was that not a microcosm of the effort over the last two days by the Terps?
6:19 p.m. — Another three-ball by Vasquez. Eight point game.
Leuer takes it inside the lane and hits the short jumper.
6:16 p.m. — Vasquez hits a three, but it’s looking to be too little, too late at this point.
Still an 11-point game with 4:24 remaining.
6:14 p.m. — Yes, it’s only November, but if the Terps are on the bubble on Selection Sunday in March, this week will be a major black mark on the tournament resume.
An absolute disaster unless we see a miracle in the final four minutes.
6:13 p.m. — Leuer with two offensive rebounds on the fast break, and the big man will go to the line. He’s hurt the Terps badly in the second half.
He also hits his free throws.
6:12 p.m. — Leuer with another inside shot, and Gary Williams uses another timeout.
6:10 p.m. — Jordan Taylor’s three puts the lead back at 10 points. This is not looking good for the Terps.
6:09 p.m. — Nankivil knocks down both free throws.
So THAT’S what you’re supposed to do at the line!
6:06 p.m. — A game like this is when you really need to have a couple of serious threats from the outside. Tucker’s miss just a moment ago was a perfect example of how the Terps lack that perimeter shooting to close a gap late in the second half.
6:04 p.m. — Lazy transition defense there. Two defenders fail to cut off Hughes and he scores.
The Terps simply aren’t doing the little things they need to do to win.
6:02 p.m. — Milbourne draws the double team but scores plus the foul. Huge conversion there.
The free throw is good, and it’s back to a 5-point game.
6:00 p.m. — Not sure what Vasquez was thinking on that possession. Another turnover.
Leuer’s make puts the lead back up to 8 points.
Timeout, Gary Williams.
5:59 p.m. — Nice defense by Milbourne at Leuer’s drive. Huge possession there for the Terps.
The senior forward then hits the short jumper to cut it to three.
However, Leuer is fouled by Williams and sinks the bucket. Again, Wisconsin answers.
5:56 p.m. — Maryland has done a better job in the second half on the glass but still trails 22-19 in that department.
5:52 p.m. — Cliff Tucker hits the jumper from the foul line falling away, and Hayes gets the steal immediately.
Could this be the start of the Maryland run we’ve been waiting/hoping for the entire game?
5:50 p.m. — Nice job by Padgett to clean up the miss and finish.
Hayes with the steal, but the Terps turn it over on the other end.
5:48 p.m. — Evans scores in transition following the Vasquez miss, but Hayes answers on the other end.
As Jimmy Dykes just mentioned, the Terps are desperately trying to speed up the pace against the methodical Badgers.
5:46 p.m. — Three fouls on Mosley. That’s really not good.
5:44 p.m. — Looking at the replay, I’m still not sure where the foul on Padgett occurred. Nankivil misses the free throw.
HUGE shot by Mosley in transition there. The Terps needed that one.
5:43 p.m. — What a move by Hayes. Pumps on the three and hits the runner in the lane.
But Nankivil answers on the other end, drawing the foul on Padgett and sinking the shot.
The Badgers continue to answer every time it looks like Maryland is about to go on a run.
5:40 p.m. — Hayes has been the calming influence in the offense so far this year. Nice baseline jumper there to cut it to 8.
And of course, Bohannon sticks another three-pointer, his third.
5:39 p.m. — Very nice move inside by Williams—and badly needed by the Terps.
5:37 p.m. — Normally you would say getting to the line is a great strategy when you trail by double digits in the second half, but if you don’t make your free throws, it can’t help you.
Maryland is shooting under 50 percent form the charity stripe tonight.
5:35 p.m. — If you would have told me before the game that Wisconsin would have turned it over 10 times in the first half, I would have thought Maryland was easily up by 15 points or more.
Three-point shooting obviously changes that.
5:31 p.m. — It’s really troubling to see such a lackluster effort this week in Maui. This was an opportunity to boost the RPI with some quality non-conference wins, but instead, the Terps are in danger of limping home with only a win over Division II host Chaminade.
What else is there to say at this point? This is as big of a second half as you can have in late November of the college basketball season.
5:20 p.m. — I don’t always agree with Doug Gottlieb, but he’s exactly right about the Terps. We simply need to see more out of an experienced team than what we have over the last two nights.
5:18 p.m. — The Terps now trail by 10 as they continue to miss free throws and shoot poorly.
The Badgers are shooting lights out from three-point land (7-12).
5:14 p.m. — Sure looked like Vasquez could have picked up his second foul there, but instead, Mike Bresewitz gets the offensive board and put-back.
5:12 p.m. — Maryland desperately needs a run here.
And of course, the Terps turn it over instead. Bohannon scores on the other end.
5:09 p.m. — Mosley makes only one of two. You MUST make your free throws.
On the other end, Wilson scores and is fouled by Williams, his second. Not sure about the call.
Badgers up by 7 with 4:00 to go.
5:08 p.m. — Bohannon hits the trey against the zone. Nice set for the Badgers on that possession.
5:06 p.m. — Did Hughes call glass on that? Give me a break.
After being fouled, Williams misses both free throws. He doesn’t have a bad-looking touch, but those freebies need to fall.
5:05 p.m. — Nice fight by Jordan Williams to secure the rebound, and Milbourne is hammered on the other end.
Nice fast break and great look from Mosley.
Milbourne splashes both, and the Terps take a 22-21 lead.
5:02 p.m. — Maryland comes out in the zone after the timeout, and Bowie gets the steal. We saw the Terps play the zone repeatedly if you remember.
Vasquez with the reverse layup. Nice to see him settling into the flow of the game.
4:59 p.m. — We’ve reached the under-8 timeout with the Terps trailing the Badgers, 21-18.
It could be worse, but I was expecting a much better effort after last night’s embarrassing performance.
4:57 p.m. — Vasquez follows his own shot and puts it in. He needs some easy looks to get himself settled down. His struggles offensively are affecting his entire game right now.
As I type this, he just hits a really difficult jump shot. Go figure.
4:56 p.m. — Mosley drives and puts up a shot that isn’t remotely close. This team just looks completely out of sync and has the entire week.
Bowie goes to the line and makes one of two. He’s REALLY struggled so far this season and must play better or his playing time will diminish.
4:54 p.m. — Jin Soo Choi has a pass go right through his hands but then gets the offensive rebound.
Little surprised to see him in there so early, but remember the Terps are quite thin down low and have played three games in three days.
Choi should not shoot until further notice, however.
4:51 p.m. — Padgett gets the friendly roll on a badly-needed field goal.
Hayes then gets the steal and the layup.
There you go.
4:48 p.m. — The Terps are continuing to turn it over. Bohannon hits the deep three-ball.
Wisconsin on a 16-2 run.
4:45 p.m. — I guess I spoke too soon about a fast start. The Terps have gone cold again.
Nankivil cleans up the offensive glass for the Badgers as they take an 11-9 lead.
Vasquez with another brick. Good grief.
4:43 p.m. — Leuer hits the three with the shot clock winding down. Nice shot from the big guy.
Vasquez follows it up with an off-balanced jumper just inside the three-point line. Bad shot.
4:40 p.m. — First media timeout, and Maryland leads 9-6. Very nice to see a positive start after failing to do so the first two days in Maui.
4:38 p.m. — You just don’t see a double-dribble called very often at this level.
The Terps clearly want to make this a transition game while Wisconsin wants to slow it down as much as possible.
4:37 p.m. — Hughes hits the three for the Badgers, and Wisconsin is on the board. The senior guard is the biggest scoring threat for the Badgers.
4:35 p.m. — Landon Milbourne hits the jumper and the Terps are out to a 7-0 lead. The senior forward showing some emotion on his way to the bench after Wisconsin burns the timeout.
Nice to see the emotion after a listless effort last night.
4:33 p.m. — Eric Hayes gives the Terps an early lead with a three-pointer and grabs the board on the other end. The senior continues to play well early on.
Mosley goes glass to give the Terps a 5-0 lead. This is the type of start they needed.
4:32 p.m. — Same lineup as we’ve seen all year for the Terps. For Wisconsin, Trevon Hughes, Jason Bohannon, Tim Jarmusz, Jon Leuer, and Keaton Nankivil.
4:30 p.m. — Carter Blackburn and Jimmy Dykes will have the call for this afternoon’s game.
4:25 p.m. — As Glenn Clark mentioned last night, while Maryland is improved from last season, it still has to play smarter to overcome deficiencies in perimeter shooting and low-post play.
Last night’s performance clearly won’t get it done against quality opponents, especially in the ACC.
4:15 p.m. — Good afternoon from my couch as we’re set to watch the Terps (4-1) takes on Wisconsin (3-1) in the third-place game of the Maui Invitational. Needless to say, last night’s performance against Cincinnati was extremely disappointing as the Terps shot only 36 percent from the field and 14 percent from the three-point line in a 69-57 loss.
Wisconsin fell to Gonzaza, 64-51, Tuesday night and will face the Terps on the final day in Hawaii.
Gary Williams’ squad has started very slowly in each of the first two games in Maui, so it will be important to get off to a good start this afternoon. Senior leader Greivis Vasquez led the Terps with 19 points against the Bearcats but continues to struggle mightily with his shooting in the first act of the season. Vasquez is shooting only 30 percent from the field in the first five games of the season.
The game will be televised on ESPN2 at 4:30 p.m.