Tag Archive | "Cliff Tucker"

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.”

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

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.

Comments Off on Terps rebound against Wake Forest, 91-70

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.”

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

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

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.

Comments Off on Bowie leads Terps to blowout at Virginia, 66-42

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

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

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

“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.

Comments Off on Maryland embarrassed by Virginia Tech, 74-57

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

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

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Terps battle, fall short in 71-64 loss to No. 1 Duke

Posted on 10 January 2011 by Luke Jones

It’s a theme becoming all too familiar for Gary Williams and the inexperienced Terps this season.

They’ve competed admirably against the better teams on their schedule, still managing to fall short every time.

But when you consider Maryland had lost its previous two trips to Cameron Indoor Stadium by a combined 62 points — with Greivis Vasquez leading the way, mind you — it’s hard to feel too discouraged after a narrow 71-64 loss to top-ranked Duke Sunday night.

In a game even the most optimistic fans didn’t give the Terps much of a chance to win, they scratched and clawed for 40 minutes, giving the undefeated Blue Devils everything they could handle. Maryland dictated the tempo for much of the game, playing aggressive defense in the paint and challenging passing lanes to the tune of 16 Duke turnovers.

Despite having three freshmen play key minutes, the Terps never looked intimidated like so many opponents do when traveling to Durham and facing the Cameron Crazies.

Sophomore Jordan Williams was again terrific, scoring 23 points and grabbing 13 rebounds for his ninth consecutive double-double against a Duke defense that collapsed the lane on the forward most of the evening.

It was the most physically-demanding game Duke (15-0, 2-0 ACC) had played all season, according to head coach Mike Krzyzewski, as Maryland (10-5, 0-2 ACC) led 56-55 with under seven minutes to play. Duke’s senior leadership was the difference down the stretch, however, as Kyle Singler scored 25 points and Nolan Smith added 18 to extend Duke’s current winning streak to 25 games.

Maryland weathered the storm every time it appeared Duke was poised to go on its traditional surge to put the game out of reach, but the Terps lacked the ability to take advantage of the Blue Devil’s uncharacteristically poor shooting night (6 of 21 from 3-point range).

As good as Williams was, the Terps were again plagued by poor foul shooting (9 of 17) and inconsistent guard play, as freshman Terrell Stoglin went 1-for-10 from the field and senior Adrian Bowie scored only one point. Cliff Tucker chipped in 14 points off the bench, but it was not enough as Maryland dropped its fourth straight game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Terps have to be growing tired of these “moral” defeats as they approach the meat of the conference schedule, traveling to Wake Forest Wednesday night before stepping out of conference at Villanova on Saturday in a final opportunity to secure an impressive non-conference win to add to the NCAA tournament résumé.

Fifteen games into the season, Gary Williams continues to search for the right backcourt combination to complement his sophomore big man. A double-double from Jordan Williams has been the only sure contribution for the Terps, with complimentary scoring feeling like a roll of the dice from the remaining players in the rotation.

Stoglin and fellow freshman Pe’Shon Howard have shown promise but make the mistakes you expect from inexperienced players. Bowie is capable of a strong performance on a given night, but lacks  consistency after being used as a role player for his first three seasons in College Park.

Tucker may be the team’s best perimeter threat, but his inconsistent effort on the defensive end and in practice has made him a recurring character in Williams’ doghouse. It now appears the senior is back in the good graces of his coach after playing 29 minutes against Duke, but for how long?

With the college game dictated by strong guard play, the Terps’ struggles do not come as a shock, and after a strong effort against Duke, Gary Williams stressed how much his team has improved since November.

And how the Terps must also continue to get better.

Sunday night’s battle suggested the Terps can still be a top team in what looks to be a relatively-weak ACC this season.

When it’s all said and done, a seven-point loss to the best team in the nation is admirable, but it won’t mean much if the Terps can’t figure out how to finish these close games against quality opponents.

At some point, these “moral” victories must turn into real victories.

Gary Williams knows that and considering how he got his Terps to play against a superior Duke team, I wouldn’t bet against him finally getting through to his team.

Maryland is getting better, but not quite good enough yet.

Comments Off on Terps battle, fall short in 71-64 loss to No. 1 Duke

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Terps flatten NJIT as Howard steps into starting role

Posted on 23 December 2010 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Rarely has the focus of Maryland athletics been solely on football so late in December during Gary Williams’ 22-year tenure in College Park, but the drastic changes of the last week would overshadow any top basketball program.

The lack of buzz is also due in part to the utter mystery surrounding Gary Williams’ young team as it plays out a string of three nondescript games before traveling to Durham to face Duke on January 9. The Terps have competed well with top-25 teams, but they haven’t beaten any either. Through the season’s first dozen games, Williams continues to search for the right combination in the backcourt to complement the dominating inside presence of sophomore Jordan Williams.

Returning to the hardwood Wednesday night after a nine-day layoff, the Terps cruised to a 89-50 victory over lowly NJIT that highlighted the shortcomings of the Highlanders more than any real potential of this Maryland team. In the final 3:54 of the first half, Maryland used a 20-1 run to turn a comfortable 16-point lead into a comical 53-18 halftime deficit.

However, the significant story to come from the blowout victory was a new lineup sent out by Gary Williams after weeks of speculation that change was coming to the backcourt. Freshman Pe’Shon Howard replaced Cliff Tucker in the starting lineup and ran the point as Adrian Bowie slid to the two-guard position against the Highlanders. Williams had used the same starting lineup in the team’s first 11 games, deferring to his senior backcourt with Howard and fellow freshman Terrell Stoglin coming off the bench.

In his starting debut, Howard finished with four points and four assists, at times looking hesitant running the halfcourt offense but earning praise from Williams and his teammates. Bowie scored 13 points, including three 3-pointers in an impressive shooting night by the senior.

“Everything depends on practice this year, and that is why Pe’Shon was out there tonight,” Williams said. “A lot of it is how we play different people on the court. He came in [in previous games] and Adrian was playing well at the off-guard, so it made sense to put [Howard] into the game.”

In contrast, Tucker responded well to the demotion, posting nine points, five assists, and four steals in only 12 first-half minutes. The senior looked comfortable in a similar role to the one he held for his three previous seasons as a collegian.

“You never know how subbing a player is going to affect them,” Williams said. “You may lose a player, or you may motivate them. I really thought bringing Cliff off the bench would help him.”

Whether the move results in a stabilization of the backcourt or is simply another blip on an already-inconsistent radar, a change hardly comes as a surprise. The Maryland coach has never hesitated to start freshmen guards, with Eric Hayes and Grevis Vasquez the most recent examples. It was only a matter of time before Howard or Stoglin broke into the starting lineup; the better question is whether both freshmen will be there at some point this season.

Despite last year’s ACC regular season co-championship feeling like a distant memory and the early-season struggles of this season, the Terps find themselves in nearly an identical position to where they were at this point a year ago. The 2009-10 team’s only notable non-conference win came against Indiana, a team not much better than the dreadful Penn State team the Terps defeated a few weeks ago.

The ACC looks like a one-horse race with Duke blowing all competition out of the water, but how the rest of the conference standings will look is anyone’s guess as we approach January. Maryland could easily find itself fighting for one of the top four or five spots or languishing in mediocrity.

We know how dominant Jordan Williams can be — the sophomore posted his sixth straight double-double — but the fate of the Terps’ NCAA tournament hopes rests with their backcourt.

“A large part of the point guard’s deal is to get us to play well offensively, whether that is making the shot or the pass,” Williams said. “It is a tough position, and that is why a lot of coaches were point guards because you have to be so intelligent.”

Perhaps the Terps took a step forward with Howard sliding into the spot, but if not, Williams will continue rearranging the puzzle pieces.

“It was good to see if [Howard] could take that role, and I think as a freshman it’s kind of tough,” said junior Sean Mosley, who started 16 games as a freshman forward two years ago. “I think he came out and did a great job. And no matter if Cliff is starting or Pe’Shon, we’re a team, and that’s the thing coach is trying to see. He’s trying to see what’s the best five out there for him. He’ll probably switch it up next game.”

It’s an answer Gary Williams needs to find sooner rather than later.

NOTES: Maryland’s 39-point win was its largest margin of victory this season. The Terps’ 58.1 percent shooting from the field was also a season-best clip. … Dino Gregory has scored 14 points in back-to-back games, matching his career high. The senior also grabbed nine rebounds, narrowly missing a double-double. … The Terps set a season high with nine 3-pointers. … Six Maryland players scored in double figures, the first time since the Illinois game earlier this season. … The Terps will now have a week off for the holidays before hosting North Florida on December 29.

***Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Gary Williams, Adrian Bowie, Jordan Williams, and Sean Mosley about the Terps’ easy victory over NJIT.***

Comments Off on Terps flatten NJIT as Howard steps into starting role

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Maryland collapses late in 79-75 loss to Boston College

Posted on 12 December 2010 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The scowl on the face of Gary Williams said it all as the Maryland coach walked off the Comcast Center floor moments after the final buzzer.

In his mind, this was one that got away from the Terps.

The Terps and Boston College went toe-to-toe for 38 minutes in an ACC opener that had the intensity of a late-February battle. Leading 75-72 with 2:44 to play, Maryland would not score again, missing free throws and taking ill-advised shots in a 79-75 loss to the Eagles.

It was just the latest example of a close game in which the Terps couldn’t do enough to secure a victory against a quality opponent, dropping them to 7-4 and 0-1 in ACC play. The loss spoiled another sensational performance by sophomore Jordan Williams who scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, earning his ninth double-double of the season.

“We missed a couple free throws, took a couple bad shots, and were not patient on offense,” Jordan Williams said. “We went away from what we wanted to do on offense when they took a three-point lead, and we didn’t execute well.”

In the final 2:12 of the game, the Terps missed all three of their free-throw attempts, continuing a season-long issue at the charity stripe. The two missed by Cliff Tucker (an 80-percent shooter from the line) jump-started the Boston College comeback.

Freshman Terrell Stoglin, despite playing brilliantly at times and scoring 14 points, came unglued in his decision making. After missing the front end of a 1-and-1 with 1:03 left and the game tied 75-75, the point guard followed that up two possessions later by taking — and missing — a quick 3-pointer with 20 seconds left and the Terps trailing 78-75.

It was a move reminiscent of another point guard who never shied away from taking a big shot, even if it wasn’t the ideal look.

“Terrell tries to win just like when Greivis [Vasquez] was a freshman,” Gary Williams said. “Things happen, but he’s trying to win the game. You have to give him credit for that. As he plays, he’ll understand those situations a little better, but I like guys on my team that want to win, and Terrell’s one of those people.”

Stoglin’s performance was a microcosm of what has plagued Maryland all season in close games against tougher competition. As the freshman did Sunday night, the Terps have played brilliantly at times this season but have often shot themselves in the foot at critical moments.

For a team lacking a dynamic scorer like Vasquez, the margin for error is too small to give away points at the free-throw line and make mistakes in the execution of the half-court offense. On Sunday, Boston College’s execution down the stretch was precise while the Terps wilted.

The Eagles hit an impressive 13-of-29 3-point shots, often using four guards to give the Terps match-up problems on the perimeter. Biko Paris made six from beyond the arc and scored 22 points to lead Boston College to a win in its first ACC game under new coach Steve Donahue.

“This is the ACC and everyone can play,” said forward Dino Gregory, who matched a career high with 14 points and had three blocks. “We have to make adjustments on our defense. There is really no excuse for the mismatches.”

In contrast, the Terps went 3-for-17 from the 3-point line and made only 8 of 14 free throws, major flaws in a game that featured 11 ties and 16 lead changes.

Maryland will now have 10 days to stew over this one, as the players take final exams before hosting NJIT on Dec. 22. The Terps won’t resume their conference schedule, however, until Jan. 9 when they have the daunting task of traveling to Durham to take on No. 1 Duke.

After falling in non-conference games against Pitt, Illinois, and Temple, the Terps can add Boston College to a list of winnable games in which they’ve come up short. Maryland’s four losses have been by a combined 20 points, a small number but unforgiving nonetheless.

Of course, plenty of time remains between now and March, but failing to earn precious victories against quality opponents in November and December often catches up with a team looking to play in the NCAA tournament. Maryland only has one remaining non-conference game of any substance, a challenging trip to Philadephia to face Villanova on Jan. 15.

Luckily for the Terps, the ACC appears wide open once you look past the top-ranked Blue Devils. A strong conference record will be needed to boost an unimpressive slate of non-conference wins to this point.

If the Terps find themselves fighting for their tournament lives in early March, they’ll look back at their mid-December conference opener as another game that was there for the taking.

“You have to be able to handle this [loss], and we’ve got time now obviously before we play another conference game,” the Maryland coach said. “Every game we play between now and then will be very important to us to win.

“How we go after practice each day is going to be really big. That’s going to be very important for us to get better, because we don’t have to get a lot better. We have to get better, but we don’t have to get a lot better.”

The margin between victory and defeat has been minuscule for the Terps, but you’re only as good as your record says.

And with four losses already in the middle of December, it’s clear Maryland has plenty of work to do.

NOTES: After going undefeated in conference home games last season, the Terps dropped their ACC opener and are now 6-7 all-time against Boston College. Maryland had also won 27 straight games when leading at halftime. … The Terps entered the game second in the ACC in field-goal percentage defense (.372) and 3-point percentage defense (.288) but allowed the Eagles to shoot 48.3 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from beyond the arc. … Maryland had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half but just one after halftime. … The Terps’ nine turnovers matched a season low, which came against Pittsburgh on Nov. 18.

Comments Off on Maryland collapses late in 79-75 loss to Boston College

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sluggish Terps awaken in 2nd half to top Elon, 76-57

Posted on 27 November 2010 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Chalk it up to a turkey coma the day after Thanksgiving or Gary Williams failing to major in psychology as the coach quipped after the game, but Maryland sleepwalked through the first half Friday night at Comcast Center before turning up the intensity to run away from Elon, 76-57.

Trailing 20-9 midway through the first half, the Terps looked sluggish and out of sync on both ends of the floor against a motivated Phoenix team that made six 3-pointers in the first half and controlled the tempo before Maryland trimmed the lead to 34-31 by halftime.

“The problem is you have to play at a certain level for 40 minutes,” Williams said. “We didn’t do that. That bothers me. And you know there’s always excuses out there, but the bottom line was Elon came here ready to play, they gave us their best shot.”

Perhaps the clearest example of the Terps’ listless first-half performance was sophomore standout Jordan Williams, who scored only four points in the first half before exploding for 20 points and nine rebounds in the final 20 minutes to lead the second-half comeback.

Maryland used a 19-5 run to begin the second half to gain a 50-39 advantage and held the Phoenix to a meager 25 percent from the field and 3 of 16 shooting from beyond the arc after intermission. Point guard Adrian Bowie (seven assists) demonstrated perhaps his best command of the half-court offense all season, leading the Terps to 51.4 percent shooting in the second half and repeatedly working the ball into the paint.

“We had more energy and played with more passion,” Bowie said. “We got the ball inside to Jordan, and he played well today.”

The slow start by the Terps and Williams can easily be understood given the circumstances, though Gary Williams will hardly accept it as an excuse. A post-Thanksgiving meeting with a mid-major school is bound to have players looking ahead to the next opponent and wishing they were at home with their families for the holiday. There was little to gain in terms of recognition no matter how many the Terps won by over the Phoenix.

On the other hand, an upset over Maryland would be a program-defining moment for Elon, and the Phoenix were the epitome of a team playing with everything to gain and nothing to lose, particularly in the first half.

Follow BaltimoreLuke on Twitter

The developing problem is how the slow starts are becoming habitual for the Terps and Williams. We saw it last week in Madison Square Garden when Williams battled foul trouble and struggled to get into the flow of the game as a result. On Friday, Williams used assistant Rob Ehsan’s halftime message as motivation for his dominating final 20 minutes of play.

“It really touched my heart,” Williams said. “You could really tell how passionate he is about coaching. He told us that we weren’t playing to our potential and we needed to step it up. What he was talking about really hit me and made me play a lot better.”

Motivating words from Ehsan or Gary Williams — who surprisingly spoke calmly at halftime — are beneficial at crucial times, but why is a member of the Naismith preseason watch list having so much trouble getting going?

In a season in which the Terps lack the perimeter shooting or dynamic leadership in the backcourt, they must lean on their dominating presence in the paint. They did it in the second half against an inferior opponent, turning a perilous situation into a convincing win with Williams scoring 20 of the team’s 45 second-half points.

But it’s a formula begging for trouble as Maryland inches closer to the ACC schedule and the harsh reality of January and beyond.

“We have to come out with the mindset that we are playing a top team every game,” said Sean Mosley who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, “and not worry about the name on the jersey because anybody can beat anybody on any given day. We have to come out and play with the same intensity that we played with in the second half and we will be alright throughout the season.”

It’s a lesson a team in transition must learn quickly with opponents on the horizon that will be far less forgiving than the one the Terps encountered Friday.

NOTES: Friday’s win marked the 14th straight victory for the Terps at Comcast Center where they’ve lost just once in their last 21 games. … Maryland had lost its previous two games this season when trailing at the half. … Jordan Williams’ 24 points and 13 rebounds gave him his 13th career double-double. His point total was just two shy of his career high, which came against College of Charleston earlier this season. … Cliff Tucker finished with eight points, marking the first time all season the senior had not reached double-digit scoring. … The Terps will not return to Comcast Center until Dec. 8 when they host UNC Greensboro.

Comments Off on Sluggish Terps awaken in 2nd half to top Elon, 76-57