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Maryland-FSU: Turtle Power live chat at 9:00

Posted on 23 February 2011 by Luke Jones

***Join us in the Turtle Power live chat beginning at 9:00 as the Terps battle Florida State in their only meeting of the regular season.***

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Looking for that elusive first win against a top-50 RPI school, the Terps (17-10, 6-6 ACC) are in action this evening against the Florida State Seminoles (19-7, 9-3 ACC) at Comcast Center.

With the Seminoles missing leading scorer Chris Singleton and Maryland desperately needing to stack wins in the last leg of the conference schedule, little needs to be said about how important this game is for Gary Williams and the Terps. Florida State has won three straight games against the bottom feeders of the ACC (Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, and Virginia) and is looking for its fourth ACC road to further solidify its NCAA tournament resume.

The Terps look to continue the success they enjoyed last season over the Seminoles when they swept the season series. Maryland has won three consecutive home games against Florida State and carries a 13-3 all-time home record in the matchup.

After being named ACC Rookie of the Week on Monday, Terrell Stoglin aims to continue his hot hand after scoring 25 points each against Virginia Tech and NC State. In his last four games, the freshman is averaging 19.8 points and 6.5 assists and has lifted his scoring average from 9.0 to 10.6 points per game, moving past senior Cliff Tucker for second on the team behind Jordan Williams (17.4).

Tonight’s game will be televised on the ACC Network (WNUV-TV 54 locally) with Tim Brant and Dan Bonner calling the action from College Park.

As always, watch the game with us in the Turtle Power live chat beginning at 9:00 and follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates and analsysis.

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After falling to Virginia Tech, Maryland must look to backcourt future

Posted on 16 February 2011 by Luke Jones

It was an entertaining and highly competitive game in Blacksburg, but it produced the tired final act we’ve seen too many times this season.

Despite plenty of opportunities, Maryland fell short against Virginia Tech, 91-83, on Tuesday night, downgrading the Terps’ faint NCAA tournament hopes from life support to a virtual flatline with five games remaining in the regular season.

Dropping to 5-6 in the conference and being swept by a third ACC team — the Hokies joining Duke and Boston College as schools with two wins over Maryland — simply won’t garner any deserved consideration for the tournament in a down year for the ACC.

Barring a miraculous finish unseen since the Terps’ ACC tournament championship in 2004, Maryland will find itself playing in the NIT for the first time since 2008 when current seniors Adrian Bowie, Cliff Tucker, and Dino Gregory were finishing their freshman year.

As deflating as that reality is in the middle of February, a tiny beacon of hope shined at Cassell Coliseum with the impressive performance of freshman Terrell Stoglin. The shifty guard scored a career-high 25 points — 15 coming before intermission after the Terps had fallen behind by 10 points early in the half — and handed out six assists, a few being highlight-reel material.

Stoglin can be both exhilarating and frustrating depending on the possession, but there’s no denying his talent or fortitude, even if it amounts to ill-advised drives or forced shots as we saw a few times in the second half.

With the emergence of Stoglin and Pe’Shon Howard (making his fourth consecutive start), it’s time for Gary Williams to go with his best options in the backcourt, both in the present and future. The two kids should be on the floor together whenever possible. We’ve seen it more frequently over the last two weeks, but there’s no point in holding back with only a handful of games remaining.

Williams has always been loyal to his upperclassmen throughout his coaching career, but we know the book on Bowie and Tucker.

Decent role players who can help your team in spurts, but not the type of players you can count on consistently. Both are accustomed to coming off the bench and will still see plenty of minutes in reserve roles — as Tucker has already done most of the year — but not at the expense of the two freshmen.

If Tuesday night was any indication, we can expect to see more of the freshmen playing together as the Terps wind down the regular season and await their humbling postseason fate. Howard and Stoglin combined for 58 minutes while Bowie played just 11 despite starting the game. Though Tucker played 27 minutes, he failed to score in the final 20 minutes after scoring 10 points before halftime.

No one knows how good Howard and Stoglin can be — especially playing together — but they give Maryland just as much chance to win as Bowie and Tucker. The Terps haven’t been good enough against the better teams on their schedule all season, so why not allow the two kids to grow together over this final stretch of the regular season and into the ACC tournament and NIT?

It should give Williams a clearer picture entering next season when Howard and Stoglin are joined in the backcourt picture by two more freshmen in Sterling Gibbs and City’s Nick Faust.

At best, the Terps gain momentum with a new lineup heading into the postseason and wind up surprising a few teams.

At worst, Maryland continues to lose games to the superior teams on its schedule.

As the curtain continues to fall on Maryland’s NCAA tournament aspirations, it’s time to promote both young understudies to the lead roles in the backcourt.

And then hope for the best.

It’s all the Terps can really do at this point.

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Tournament hopes grow fainter in Terps’ 76-72 loss to BC

Posted on 12 February 2011 by Luke Jones

He might not be Mr. October, but Boston College’s Reggie Jackson dealt a postseason blow to Maryland that would have made the Hall of Fame slugger proud on Saturday afternoon.

Jackson’s career-high 31 points on 12-for-16 shooting led the Eagles to a 76-72 victory over the Terps in Chestnut Hill, putting Maryland’s NCAA tournament hopes on life support with six games remaining in the regular season.

Five Maryland players reached double figures, but the Terps could not overcome Jackson’s heroics as the junior guard went 5-for-7 from beyond the arc to give the Eagles the season sweep. Boston College improved to 6-5 in the ACC while the Terps dropped to 5-5 in the conference.

Dino Gregory led the Terps with 15 points while freshmen guards Pe’Shon Howard and Terrell Stoglin each had 14 points and combined for 10 assists. Jordan Williams, frustrated for much of the afternoon by double-teams in the paint, finished with just 12 points and eight rebounds.

Other than a brief time early in the first half, the Eagles had no problem with Maryland’s full-court press and shot 48.2 percent from the field, often getting easy looks in the process.

The game featured two of the biggest stars in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Jackson and Williams, but it also exposed the biggest reason why the Terps have struggled to win games when they’ve mattered the most. Jackson was able to touch the ball nearly every time down the floor — and did not disappoint when he did — while Maryland’s big man took only seven shots in 34 minutes of play.

While Howard and Stoglin played admirably to keep the Terps in the game, Maryland’s veteran trio of guards — Adrian Bowie, Sean Mosley, and Cliff Tucker — went a combined 7-for-24 from the field and committed six turnovers. Defensively, Maryland’s backcourt players appeared slower and were unable to generate the second-half spark needed out of the press to win a game they desperately needed to have.

In fact, Tucker and Bowie found themselves confined to the bench for much of the second half as Gary Williams went with Howard and Stoglin down the stretch as his senior guards came up empty in the most crucial game of the season to this point.

Despite plenty of rhetoric about urgency and the need to play a consistent 40-minute game against the better teams on the schedule, Maryland (16-9, 5-5 ACC) once again fell short against a formidable opponent. The Terps had won five of their last six games entering Saturday’s game, but only one was against an opponent ranked in the RPI’s top 100 (a 79-77 win over Clemson on January 22).

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All season long, fans have lamented poor free-throw shooting, ill-timed scoring droughts, and shaky guard play as reasons why the Terps had fallen short against the Pittsburghs, Villanova, and Dukes of the college basketball world. Once Maryland would straighten out those issues, they’d be in business. They weren’t that far away in many optimists’ minds.

Alas, the old principle Occam’s razor roughly states the simplest explanation is usually the right one.

This Maryland team just isn’t that good.

An 0-8 record against top-50 RPI teams supports that sobering claim.

The Terps’ NCAA tournament hopes aren’t completely dead yet, but that dream grows weaker by the day. A win at Virginia Tech on Tuesday night followed by wins in at least four of their final five games (with a presumed loss at North Carolina) would put Maryland at 10-6 in the ACC.

And, of course, a 2004-like run in the ACC tournament can never be ruled out, no matter how unlikely it seems. That John Gilchrist-led squad was 7-9 in the ACC before winning three straight games in the Greensboro Coliseum — though the current 12-team format is far more daunting.

But the difference among those other bubble teams of the past decade and this year’s team is the absence of a backcourt player that can carry the team on his back such as Gilchrist in 2004 or Greivis Vasquez in his four years at Maryland. As terrific as Williams has been in the low post all season long, success at the collegiate level is bred by quality guard play, something the Terps haven’t had on a consistent basis this season.

If it hasn’t shown up in the middle of February, how much longer do you wait before acknowledging that train simply isn’t coming?

Perhaps the strong performances by Stoglin and Howard — not to mention both being on the floor in the closing minutes — provide hope for the future, but the clock appears close to striking midnight on Maryland’s NCAA tournament hopes.

And the shoe sure doesn’t look like it fits.

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Terps rebound against Wake Forest, 91-70

Posted on 05 February 2011 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Bouncing back quickly from an 18-point loss to your biggest rival is always a challenge, even when the next game is against the worst team in the conference.

Despite Gary Williams’ concern that his team would come out flat Saturday afternoon, the Terps did exactly what was expected of them as they blew out hapless Wake Forest, 91-70, at Comcast Center.

Maryland controlled the tempo throughout the afternoon, holding a double-digit lead for a large portion of the game. After the Demon Deacons narrowed the edge to 60-50 with 10:07 to play, the Terps used a 13-0 run to hammer the final nail in the coffin and improve to 5-4 in the ACC.

Jordan Williams matched a career-high 27 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for his NCAA-leading 20th double-double of the season. Adrian Bowie added 13 points and six assists and Cliff Tucker chipped in 10 points off the bench. Defensively, the Terps forced 19 turnovers, scoring 21 points off the Wake Forest miscues.

“You get knocked down [after a loss], you get up,” the Maryland coach said. “It’s no more complicated than that.”

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The Terps (15-8) didn’t need much to knock down the Demon Deacons (8-15, 1-7 ACC), who fell to Maryland twice this season by a combined 40 points. Wanting to ensure his team began the game with extra energy, Williams started freshman Pe’Shon Howard to give both his team and the crowd an extra boost. Howard responded by scoring nine points and matching a career-high eight assists to just one turnover in 32 minutes of play.

His flashy — yet under control — passing overwhelmed the Demon Deacons as the Terps finished the game with a staggering 27 assists to just seven turnovers.

With the point guard position appearing convoluted for much of the season, Howard appears to have established himself at the position — at least for now. Fellow freshman Terrell Stoglin played 12 minutes, but had five assists of his own and two turnovers.

“[Howard] gives off a vibration that no matter if he makes a bad play or good play, he’s going to try really hard on the next play,” Williams said. “I see that just coaching him, I get that feeling. He can throw a ball away, but he’s not going to hang his head. He’s going to go down and play very good defense in that possession. I think fans pick up on that. They see who the tough guys are in those situations.”

Saturday’s result was exponentially better than Howard’s last start, which came against Virginia Tech on January 20. Starting in place of Terrell Stoglin (who had arrived late for a previous team function), Howard struggled against the Hokies, going 0-for-5 from the field and committing three turnovers over 19 minutes in a humbling 74-57 home loss. While Wake Forest didn’t pose much of a challenge collectively, Howard says he learned from that experience against the Hokies.

“The difference [with starting] is just the game starts off a lot faster,” Howard said. “The last start I had was the Virginia Tech game, and I don’t think I prepared myself as well. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I think [Saturday] I just came out relaxed, made sure I got the team ready to play, and that was just the biggest thing. I didn’t want it to be the same result.”

Maryland did exactly what it was expected to do — and needed to do — at home against an inferior team. The Terps will now host the independent Longwood Lancers (8-17) on Wednesday in what amounts to a glorified scrimmage before the conference schedule resumes with a revenge game at Boston College on Saturday.

The Terps have plenty of work ahead if they want to paint themselves as a legitimate NCAA tournament contender, but Saturday’s win over Wake Forest was a positive step, even if nearly a foregone conclusion entering the day.

“It’s definitely a huge win,” Jordan Williams said. “Coach Williams said before the game that the best part about sports is that you get to come out and play again after a tough loss. That’s what we did today. We got a chance to play again and we came out ahead.”

NOTES: Williams earned his 664th career win on Saturday, pulling even with legendary UCLA coach John Wooden on the all-time wins list. “If you look at John Wooden, what he did was he glamorized the game. In addition to winning all those championships, he glamorized college basketball.” … Haukur Palsson scored a career-high nine points in 17 minutes. … The Terps outscored Wake Forest in the paint, 36-24, and held the rebounding edge, 39-33. … Maryland wore its white uniforms for just the second time in ACC play this season. The Terps are 0-3 wearing gold (losing to Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Duke) and 2-0 in white (Clemson and Wake Forest) in their five conference home games. … The Terps’ seven turnovers were a season low.

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Lights go out on Terps in 80-62 loss to Duke

Posted on 03 February 2011 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — As media waited for Gary Williams’ post-game press conference, the lights went out in the auxiliary gymnasium where the Maryland coach speaks to reporters after games.

It was an appropriate ending to a disappointing night for the Terps in an 80-62 loss to No. 5 Duke, a game in which Maryland tried to climb back in it at several points behind an electric atmosphere at Comcast Center.

Poor shooting, the surrendering of second-chance baskets, and lackadaisical perimeter defense spelled out what anyone who watched Wednesday night’s game could plainly see.

“It’s a team thing,” said Williams, questioning his team’s energy level much like he did after a home loss to Virginia Tech two weeks ago. “You have to be ready to play. You have to believe that you can win that game. That’s what we have to work on.”

To beat Duke, Maryland (14-8, 4-4 ACC) needed to play a near-perfect game to compensate for their deficiencies on the perimeter, using its size and playing tough defense (ranked ninth in the nation in opponent field-goal percentage entering Wednesday night’s game) to knock off the more-talented Blue Devils.

The Terps did neither as Duke (20-2, 7-1 ACC) scored 18 second-chance points and went 10-for-23 from 3-point range. Maryland was outrebounded 34 to 31 and allowed Duke to shoot 52.6 percent from the field.

Even when given opportunities to take control in the first half as three Duke starters battled foul trouble, Maryland fell behind by 15 points before a late run cut the deficit to seven at the half.

Offensively, Jordan Williams again led the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds despite being swarmed in the paint, as the Duke defense had no reason to respect any other options offensively for the Terps. Maryland shot just 40 percent from the field and went 2-for-9 from beyond the arc.

The Terps cut the Duke lead to five with 9:20 remaining, but the Blue Devils responded with a 10-3 run to push the deficit to 66-54 with 5:42 to play. Maryland would not challenge again.

“It’s hard coming back,” Williams said. “You have to really dig down deep against a good team, and then when you do, to get over the top that’s when it gets tough. I don’t know what happened to tell you the truth. I’d have to look at that and see exactly what happened.”

The Terps coach refrained from expressing what’s become painfully obvious about this team 22 games into the season.

Against the stiffest competition, Maryland doesn’t have enough to complement the fantastic play of Williams.

Not nearly enough.

Yes, Cliff Tucker has had his moments — he scored only seven points in Wednesday’s loss — in an up-and-down career as a role player. Adrian Bowie has played well since sliding to the off-guard position, chipping in 11 points against the Blue Devils, but lacks the size and perimeter game to be a consistent threat night in and night out.

And freshmen point guards Terrell Stoglin and Pe’Shon Howard have shown enough promise that they can be effective backcourt players in the ACC — one day.

But when the chips are down against the better teams, Williams is the only man the Terps can count on, a difficult proposition with a player who doesn’t handle the ball in the guard-dependent world of college basketball.

In contrast, Duke’s senior leadership — and overall ability — prevented the Terps from really challenging despite cutting the lead to five in the second half. Forward Kyle Singler had 22 points — 13 in the second half — while guard Nolan Smith scored 13 points after halftime to finish with 21. Even underclassmen Andre Dawkins (three 3-pointers) and Seth Curry (two triples) hit shots at opportune times for the Blue Devils, who avenged an embarrassing 15-point loss at St. John’s on Sunday in an emphatic way.

Maryland simply lacks the guard play necessary to beat good teams, at least with any kind of consistency. While it’s easy to say the Terps should give the ball to Williams every time down the floor, you need the players to get him the ball in the optimum position to score. And it certainly doesn’t help that defenses can collapse the lane at will, with no real trepidation of being burned by the perimeter shot.

“I felt like they couldn’t stop me without fouling me,” the Maryland sophomore said. “That’s why I tried to get the ball inside more. They did a good job of getting guys on me. We need to hit shots. I missed a couple of shots towards the end that I normally make. It’s an all-around team effort.”

An all-around team effort that has now produced the Terps’ two biggest margins of defeat (a 17-point defeat to Virginia Tech on January 20 being the second worst) in the nine-year history of Comcast Center.

To be fair, no one expected the Terps to be as good as they were last season after the departure of Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes, and Landon Milbourne, but two blowout ACC losses — at home — are tough pills to swallow.

Despite the disappointment of Wednesday’s loss to Duke, the Terps still have plenty to play for in terms of their postseason hopes. Whether they’re good enough is the real question as they continue deeper into February.

“We have to win games, that’s the bottom line,” Jordan Williams said. “We don’t have a quality win under our belt. We beat some tough teams, but we don’t have a win against a ranked opponent. … We just have to keep moving forward and trying to improve.”

The Terps should find few problems in their next two games as they host Wake Forest Saturday and Longwood next Wednesday night in what amounts to a pseudo bye week before back-to-back road games at Boston College and Virginia Tech in mid-February, critical contests indetermining their postseason fate. Gary Williams will undoubtedly use the next week to challenge his players’ intestinal fortitude and prepare them for the second half of the conference schedule.

Finding alternative options to Jordan Williams as well as the consistent, 40-minute effort will be the continued quest in determining the Terps’ destiny over the regular season’s final month.

“There comes a point in the season where you either do it or you don’t do it,” Gary Williams said. “There’s no magic answers to those situations. You have to get it done.”

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Bowie leads Terps to blowout at Virginia, 66-42

Posted on 27 January 2011 by Luke Jones

Given the Terps’ past struggles in Charlottesville and the snow-challenged, six-hour trek they experienced just getting there Wednesday night, you can understand fans’ trepidation entering Thursday’s contest at John Paul Jones Arena.

On top of that, if you were told Jordan Williams would be held to just four points and six rebounds — snapping his school record of 13 consecutive double-doubles — you might have said a 24-point victory would have been more likely for the home Cavaliers than visiting Maryland.

However, seniors Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker combined for 35 points and the Terps used a dominating second half on their way to a 66-42 blowout win over Virginia as Maryland (13-7, 3-3) evened its mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The win marks the Terps’ largest margin of victory ever in Charlottesville

Despite a commendable effort by seven-footer Assane Sene and the Cavaliers defense to stifle Williams, the Terps looked to their seniors to pick up the offensive slack, and that’s exactly what they did. Bowie’s season-best 22 points were one shy of his career high, and Tucker’s 13 marked the eighth time in nine games the sixth man has reached double-digit scoring.  Their efforts were more than enough to overwhelm the offensively-challenged Cavaliers, who have now dropped four of their last five and clearly miss the leadership and scoring of forward Mike Scott (gone for the season with an ankle injury).

Maryland went 7-for-15 from beyond the arc, continuing the sharp shooting it discovered in Saturday’s win over Clemson, and outscored the Cavaliers by 19 points in the second half while holding them to 32.7 percent shooting on the night.

Freshmen point guards Terrell Stoglin and Pe’Shon Howard turned in strong performances in the victory as the pair combined for 16 points, seven assists, and only one turnover, looking comfortable running the offense throughout the night.

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Only a week ago, Gary Williams challenged his seniors following an embarrassing home loss to Virginia Tech, emphasizing the need for leadership and to complement Jordan Williams’ offensive contributions. If the last two games are any indication, it’s safe to say Bowie, Tucker, and Dino Gregory (eight points and five rebounds) heard the message loud and clear.

Of course, no one should get too excited with a blowout victory over unimpressive Virginia, but 24-point road victories are few and far between in the ACC (unless you’re playing Wake Forest, who might go down this year as one of the worst teams in the long history of the conference). The Terps cannot earn their way to an NCAA tournament berth with any one victory — though a win over No. 3 Duke would be a major star for their nondescript profile — but this team needs to take notes from last season’s regular season co-champions.

And that lesson is winning the games you’re supposed to, a feat taken for granted but one that allowed the 2009-10 team to lock up an NCAA tournament bid without having a signature non-conference win.

Clearly, this year’s team lacks the experience and talent to approach the 13-3 conference record that Greivis Vasquez and company achieved a year ago, but Maryland — and the rest of what looks like a mediocre pool of ACC teams behind Duke — has given no indication that it can’t be one of the top four or five teams in the conference. A favorable schedule that includes second meetings with Virginia and Wake Forest gives the Terrapins an opportunity to stack more wins and move closer to the 10-6 mark that would likely be enough to secure a tournament bid.

The margin for error is small, especially after home losses to Boston College and Virginia Tech, and road wins over schools like Virginia and Georgia Tech — who the Terps play Sunday night to conclude a two-game road trip — are an absolute must.

With next Wednesday’s home rematch with Duke on the horizon, the Terps must handle business in Atlanta against the Yellow Jackets (10-9), whose 3-3 conference record includes blowout wins over North Carolina and Virginia Tech. If the Terps have real aspirations of playing meaningful games in the middle of March, they will get by Georgia Tech, a team who lost at Virginia last weekend and fell to Kennesaw State and Siena earlier in the season.

For Maryland’s two-game winning streak to turn into the roll it needs for the season’s final six weeks, the increased contributions from the three seniors need to continue after Williams bounces back from his quietest performance of the season.

The Terps still haven’t put it all together, but emphatically exorcising the demons in Charlottesville shouldn’t be ignored completely.

If the last two games are any indication of what we can expect in February, an invitation to the NCAA tournament is still very much within reach for the Terps.

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Terps use team effort to slide by Clemson, 79-77

Posted on 22 January 2011 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Gary Williams labeled his players a “fragile” group after competitive losses to Duke and Villanova and Thursday night’s debacle against Virginia Tech over the last two weeks.

His team’s psyche had to feel even more tenuous in the final seconds Saturday, as a planned free throw miss by Cliff Tucker inexplicably rolled out of bounds, giving Clemson’s Demontez Stitt a chance at a half-court prayer to win the game. However, the shot bounced off the backboard as time expired, giving Maryland (12-7, 2-3 ACC) a 79-77 win over Clemson.

“We had to find a way to win that game, and I knew it wasn’t going to be a 20-point win,” said Williams, referencing Maryland’s once-comfortable 13-point lead in the first half. “Clemson’s too good.”

Badly needing a victory to right the ship and avoid a 1-4 start in the ACC, the Terps used a balance scoring attack as four players reached double figures, led by Jordan Williams’ 16 points and 11 rebounds. The sophomore set a new school record with his 13th straight double-double, breaking Len Elmore’s previous record set in the 1973-74 season.

“It is very cool,” the sophomore said. “I never came in expecting to get a record my sophomore year or at all. I just want to do whatever I can to help us get the win with that record. It’s a great honor to be in the same category as Len Elmore.”

Unlike recent games, the Terps were able to efficiently deliver the ball to Williams in the paint as Maryland’s outside shooting prevented Clemson (13-6, 2-3 ACC) from copying the strategy of collapsing inside that teams had employed in recent weeks. The Terps went 6-for-11 from 3-point range in the first half and 8-for-14 in the game. Terrell Stoglin and Cliff Tucker each made three shots from beyond the arc, as many of Maryland’s outside looks came off dribble penetration.

It was the Terps’ second most efficient performance from beyond the arc this season, with only a 9-for-15 performance against NJIT trumping that.

Perhaps more encouraging than any other factor was Maryland’s ability to make free throws down the stretch in a close contest, a deficiency that’s plagued the Terps throughout the season. Maryland shot 23-35 (65.7 percent) from the free-throw line in the game, but the Terps were 10-for-13 from the charity stripe in the final two minutes.

One of those misses was Tucker’s intentional miss with 1.6 seconds left that inexplicably bounced off the rim and went out of bounds to set up Clemson for a final unsuccessful shot to win the game.

“I’ve never seen that in my life, in like 1,200 games,” said the coach about the last-second drama. “I never saw that. I don’t know how it got out of bounds, the angle it got out of bounds. It’s just like, ‘Oh, no. Here we go.'”

Terrell Stoglin and Adrian Bowie returned to the starting lineup after Tucker and Pe’Shon Howard made the start against the Hokies Thursday night, and the Terps turned in strong performance offensively, shooting 50 percent from the field and handing out 16 assists to only 10 turnovers against the Tigers.

The other surprising change to the lineup was freshman Haukur Palsson replacing Sean Mosley in a move intended to ignite some early energy for the Terps, according to Williams. Two quick fouls quickly sent Palsson to the bench, but the spark was present throughout the day and countered Clemson’s ability to answer every Maryland run.

It was the fifth lineup Maryland had used this season as Williams continues to search for consistency in the backcourt.

“Our offense was probably as efficient as it’s been in awhile,” Williams said. “We shot 50 percent against a good defensive team. Clemson is a team that’s been winning. You can tell that by the way they play. They have outstanding leadership in the backcourt.”

The Terps’ own leadership had been largely absent in recent losses, but seniors Tucker (15 points), Bowie (13 points), and Dino Gregory (nine points) had strong performances in the second half, providing the complement to Williams’ inside presence to give Maryland its biggest victory of the season.

It was Bowie’s fourth straight game in double figures while Tucker has reached double digits in seven of his last eight games.

“They were great today, and they have to grab control,” said Gary Williams, who had all three seniors on the floor down the stretch with Stoglin and Howard mostly relegated to the bench. “I think that’s one of the themes with this year’s team: this is your team, this is your senior year. You’re remembered for what you do your senior year, there’s no doubt about it.”

The Terps will enjoy four days off before traveling to Virginia on Thursday night to take on Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers, who improved to 2-3 in the ACC with a win at Georgia Tech on Saturday. Just as they couldn’t dwell on the deflating loss against Virginia Tech, the Terps can’t celebrate Saturday’s win as they now take a two-game road trip to Virginia and Georgia Tech — two winnable games.

“We had a meeting [Friday] night and we are at a crossroads right now,” Tucker said. “Today was a good win. We didn’t want to think about last game, just today. The guys came out today and everybody played hard as a group. It wasn’t just one guy out there winning it for us. … Hopefully we can keep this going.”

NOTES: The Terps wore their white uniforms on Saturday, interrupting their recent tradition of wearing the gold uniforms at home against ACC opponents. … Stoglin scored 13 points, reaching double figures for the first time in five games. … Williams was just 4-for-9 from the free-throw line, but made both of his attempts in the final two minutes of the game. … Maryland posted just 10 turnovers, tied for its fourth best effort this season. … Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear post-game reaction from Gary Williams, Jordan Williams, and Cliff Tucker.

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Maryland embarrassed by Virginia Tech, 74-57

Posted on 21 January 2011 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — After a devastating second-half collapse against Villanova last Saturday, the Terps desperately needed to make a statement to build their confidence, their ACC stature, and their push for the NCAA tournament.

If an embarrassing 74-57 defeat to Virginia Tech is their best proclamation, the Terps need to take a long look at themselves after their largest margin of defeat in the nine-year history of the Comcast Center.

The Hokies (12-5, 3-2 ACC) sprinted out to a 12-0 lead as the Terps (11-7, 1-3 ACC) failed to score before the first media timeout, throwing up wild shots and making poor decisions as they didn’t know what hit them.

It didn’t get any better after that.

Virginia Tech guards Erick Green (24) and Malcolm Delaney (19) combined for 43 points to overwhelm the Terps’ backcourt. The Hokies shredded the Terps with 42 of their 74 points coming in the paint.

The Hokies’ zone defense collapsed the lane — holding Jordan Williams to just two points in the first half and 11 for the game — as Maryland’s guards failed to knock down perimeter shots.

Maryland’s starters combined for just eight points in the first half.

And aside from a two-minute, 11-point run by Cliff Tucker in the second half that got the Terps as close as eight points down with 7:15 to play, the score was never really an indication of how lopsided of an affair it truly was.

It was an absolute shellacking.

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“After a game like that, you wonder where that [effort] comes from compared to the efforts of last week,” coach Gary Williams said. “Playing three games in six days and the effort we made tonight was another thing.”

A common theme surrounding Maryland this season has been the need to play 40 minutes of good basketball after a number of close losses to good teams. Urgency had every reason to be present for the Terps, who were returning to their home floor after a three-game road trip with an opportunity to even their conference record against the Hokies and put last week’s competitive, but disappointing, losses to Duke and Villanova in the rear-view mirror.

Instead, Maryland turned in its most disappointing performance of the season.

Williams shuffled his starting backcourt again Thursday night, this time sending Tucker and freshman Pe’Shon Howard to the floor against the longer Hokies (Terrell Stoglin was benched for arriving late to a team meeting, according to the Maryland coach).

But just like every other backcourt combination sent to the floor this season, the situation continues to be lukewarm on even the best nights, with more teams figuring out Jordan Williams is the only Maryland player who can consistently hurt you. Williams is facing more and more zones collapsing the lane and denying him the basketball.

The sophomore forward had to fight to earn his 12th straight double-double (11 points and 11 rebounds) in the losing effort, matching Len Elmore’s school record set in 1973-74. However, as Gary Williams pointed out in his post-game comments, his pedestrian numbers begged for a teammate or two to emerge offensively, but the Terps received no such contribution short of Tucker’s brief second-half outburst and a modest 10-point performance by Bowie, who kept the team somewhat afloat in the first half.

“They played a packed-in zone, and they gave our guards a tough game,” said Williams, who recorded his 16th double-double of the season against the Hokies. “I found myself forcing some shots because I didn’t get that many touches, so when I did get the ball, I tried to be effective with it and I took some dumb shots.”

Luckily for the Terps, they won’t have long to think about this one as they turn around quickly to host the Clemson Tigers on Saturday afternoon, another beatable opponent on paper — just like the Hokies were supposed to be.

“I think it can be a good thing,” Tucker said. “We don’t have time to sit and mope around. We have to come in [to Friday’s practice] and forget about this and focus on Clemson. We have to have a sense of urgency about us.”

Urgency, indeed. The same urgency they should have had against the Hokies.

The Terps keep digging a hole for their postseason hopes deeper and deeper.

In a mediocre ACC, there’s still time to turn things around, but that climb grows more difficult with each game.

After Thursday night’s clunker against the Hokies, you have to wonder whether Maryland is really equipped to do it.

As close as many of us thought the Terps were to figuring it out in a gutsy performance 11 days ago at Cameron Indoor Stadium, they took several steps backward Thursday night.

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Seth Greenberg

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Hokies coach Seth Greenberg and Terps coach Gary Williams dissect Thursday matchup at Comcast Center, ACC struggles

Posted on 20 January 2011 by Ryan Chell

Tonight’s game between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Maryland Terrapins at the Comcast Center features two teams in very similar situations.

Both have struggled at times to start the season, but ultimately both teams can’t say that they haven’t put together a stack of opponents ready to either increase their tournament resume or say that they aren’t a play or two away from making a run.

Four of Maryland’s six losses this year have come to ranked teams( Villanova, Duke, Illinois, Pittsburgh) with all of the games on the road or on neutral sites.

The Hokies meanwhile have lost three games by a total of nine points.

Seth Greenberg

Hokies basketball coach Seth Greenberg and Maryland Terps coach Gary Williams joined Thyrl Nelson of “The Mobtown Sports Beat” this week to not only shoot down the rumors that the ACC-at time of circulation has only one team-Duke-in the AP Top 25-is having a down year in basketball, but to also size their respective opponent up in Thursday’s game at the Comcast Center.

“It’s easy to take shots at the ACC because the ACC has been on top for so long,”  Greenberg told Thyrl Nelson. “We’ve got good basketball teams in our league, and it has teams capable of winning night in and night out. I’m not buying what everyone else is selling.”

Williams agreed.

Gary Williams

“The way you build up your tournament resume is you play a bunch of good teams and win, and that’s what’s got to happen here and everywhere else. I get tired of hearing about the Big 12 for instance-they’re talking about Colorado and Nebraska being really good this year.”

“Well, put them in the ACC and see how they do,” Williams said. “Everybody gets happy on certain leagues, and the ACC out there has won five national championships in the last ten years. There’s no league out there-the Big East isn’t even close to that-the ACC has won more NCAA tournament games the last twenty years than any other conference.”

And Thursday will pit Maryland(11-6, 1-2 ACC) versus the Virginia Tech Hokies(11-5, 2-2 ACC) to see how they stack up.

Both teams are in the middle of the pack when it comes to the ACC standings, and both teams feel like they are in desperate need of a win to avoid falling into the cellar of the division here in mid January.

And Greenberg knows that desire to win on the part of Gary Williams is going to be in full force tonight down at College Park. And he is not ready to write off either his team or Maryland just yet.

“You look at the Maryland team, they’ve lost some very close games to some real elite teams, and again it’s a make or miss game,” Greenberg said. “There’s a very small margin between winning and losing.”

Coach Williams said it’s all about fixing one or two issues to get his team-in spite of its youth-playing almost perfect basketball.

“We’ve played four teams ranked in the Top 20, but haven’t beat them. Until you beat them, they’re better than you. Against Duke-then the #1 team in the country last Sunday-we went down there at Cameron where they havent lost in forever and had a chance to get them. We didnt get them. I don’t know if anyone will get them in Cameron this year.”

“I like the way our guys competed and then we had to get back down there to play Wake Forest on Wednesday, and we did okay there and got the win. And then with Villanova in Philly-the seventh ranked team in the country-they were a very experienced team and you get up by 12 in the second half, you would like to win that thing. We missed some shots and some free-throws, and didn’t get the win. It really hurts to not get those wins, but we’re tough. We know we can play with those teams we’ve faced. We’ve proven that.  Now what we have to prove is we can beat those teams.”

Virginia Tech could be that team that might be the bearer of Williams’ effort to turn things around and get things back on a good note the same way the Terps rebounded after the loss to Duke by punishing Wake, 74-55.

“I know how we felt after the game in terms of getting beat up a little bit,  …It’s very difficult to come out and play the next game, and that’s why I was proud of the team,” Williams noted. ” We went down to Wake Forest and got them on their home court because we were both physically and mentally hurting going into that  game. I’m really proud of this team, and hopefully people understand what we’re doing here and we’re looking forward to getting started this week.

Greenberg is hoping Williams doesn’t take out his frustrations from Saturday’s disappointing collapse against #7 Villanova against his Hokies squad.

Gary’s best wins come when his back is against the wall, let’s face it,” Greenberg added.  “I think he lives in a cause. We’ve lost three games by a total of nine points…When you play a home game in league, you’ve really got to defend your home court. Maryland is as efficient an offensive team as we’ve played against all year.”

Greenberg likes what he sees out of Maryland’s youth, of course led by Wooden Award finalist Jordan Williams.

“They pass and catch, they cut extremely hard, and obviously Jordan is playing at an extremely high level. The development of Gregory, the development of Bowie, with Tucker-the way he’s carrying himself-he’s kind of their X-factor the way he’s playing. And with the two freshman point guards-with them being surrounded by the veteran players, they are playing with such confidence. We expect Maryland to play at a very high level like they have all year,” Greenberg said.

Williams had just as much respect for what the Hokies throw out on the court, most notably led by two former Maryland-area prep stars in Jeff Allen and Malcolm Delaney(18.6ppg, 4.3apg, .433% 3-pt range)-also a finalist for ACC Player of the Year in 2009.

Malcolm Delaney

Malcolm Delaney’s a great player,” Gary Williams said. “One of the things he has is a great release on his shot and he can shoot way behind the three-point line. He’s very comfortable with the NBA line. He’s a guy that looked at the draft last year, and decided to come back just like Greivis Vasquez did.

“But he’s not the only guy they have-a guy like Jeff Allen is a proven player-a very quick 6’8”, 6’9” strong guy who shoots it good. He is a very tough guy inside for them. They don’t play a lot of guys, but they’re well balanced and a very good basketball team.”

Greenberg had to agree with Williams.

“Malcolm’s had just a tremendous career, and he’s been the face of our program,” Greenberg said. “He’s as complete a guard as there is in the country. He can make shots, he plays hard, he’s a model student athlete. He’s helped maintain a winning culture here.”

“He’s been a huge part of this program, and we hope he comes in and relaxes and enjoys the experience tonight and makes some buckets.”

Like every game in and out of the the ACC this year that the Terps and the Hokies expect this one to be just like the double-overtime thriller last year on February 26th in Blacksburg-a game in which Greivis Vasquez finished with 41 points.

“It’s unfortunate we’re going to beat each other up, but you just try and get on a run. It’s very hard to win any game on the road, and it’s hard to string a whole bunch of wins together because there is such a fine line between winning and losing. I’m not worried about people’s perception. I’m only worried about the friendly confines of the Comcast Center right now.”

WNST has you covered tonight at the Comcast Center! Luke Jones has you covered in the Turtle Power chat starting at 9! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Terps take care of Wake Forest, 74-55, for 1st ACC win

Posted on 13 January 2011 by Luke Jones

Fresh off a tough loss at No. 1 Duke and looking ahead to an imposing trip to No. 7 Villanova on Saturday, Maryland desperately needed a victory over lowly Wake Forest Wednesday night.

It wasn’t the prettiest of performances, but the Terps handled the Demon Deacons, 74-55, for their first conference win after starting 0-2 in the ACC for just the eighth time in Gary Williams’ 22 years at Maryland.

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Cliff Tucker led all scorers with 21 points to counterbalance an off night from Jordan Williams. The senior has reached double-digit scoring in five straight games after being relegated to reserve duties following a loss to Boston College last month.

Williams shot just 2-for-13 and was frustrated by the collapsing Wake Forest zone for much of the night. Ironically, Williams’ strong free-throw shooting (9-for-14) allowed him to record his 10th straight double-double as the big man finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds. Williams is now only two double-doubles away from the school record of 12 set by Len Elmore in the 1973-74 season.

Maryland (11-5, 1-2 ACC) started slowly in the second half, allowing the Demon Deacons (7-10, 0-2 ACC) to close to within six points at 46-40 with less than 12 minutes to play before the Terps used a 15-0 run to seal the victory.

In a game that often resembled a college intramural game with turnovers and forced shots, it’s hard to take much from a 19-point victory over a team that might struggle to win two or three games in the ACC this season. However, the Terps have to be feeling better about themselves going into a huge non-conference test against Villanova.

The same issues that have plagued the Terps all season reared their head once again at Lawrence Joel Coliseum despite the easy victory. Maryland was just 17-for-33 from the charity stripe despite the unusually strong night from Williams at the line. Poor free-throw shooting left the Demon Deacons in the game far too long before Maryland found a higher gear in the latter portion of the second half.

The problems at the point continued as freshman guard Terrell Stoglin followed up a 1-for-10 night in Durham with a 1-for-9 shooting performance against the Demon Deacons. After being inserted in the starting lineup against Colgate, Stoglin understandably struggled at Cameron Indoor Stadium, but his indecisive play against Wake Forest could spell trouble as the Terps take on an experienced and talented backcourt in Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher on Saturday.

With Tucker’s strong play and Stoglin’s offensive struggles in two ACC starts, you have to wonder if another backcourt shakeup is on the horizon. Backup point guard Pe’Shon Howard had four assists and three steals, but the freshman didn’t exactly establish himself in starts against NJIT and North Florida last year.

The Terps had more than enough against a Wake Forest team struggling to beat anybody at this point, but as Williams said last week, Maryland has to continue getting better as games become more meaningful in the ACC.

Maryland faces another brutal test on Saturday, a final chance to gain that elusive non-conference win to boost its tournament résumé.

As we’ve seen on several occasions, the Terps have played good teams tough — including Sunday’s defeat in Durham.

But they’ll need to be better to upset Villanova.

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