Sunday, November 30, 2003

Hofstra Runs Afoul of Maryland

Originally posted on "TerpTown" on the network and syndicated to Yahoo

If your team makes less field goals than free throws in a game, they had better take a LOT of free throws if they hope to win. That's exactly what the Maryland Terrapins did tonight in their 87-72 win over the Hofstra Pride at the Comcast Center.

The Terps attempted 55 foul shots (3rd highest single game total in school history) and made 31, while making 26 of their 58 shots from the floor. Conversely, Hofstra went to the line only
14 times, converting 13 of the attempts. Six of the Pride's players ultimately fouled out.

The evening started poorly for Maryland as they quickly fell behind 11-2. The Terps did not take their first lead until Jamar Smith made two free throws to put them ahead 17-16 at the 12:16 mark of the first half. This was part of a 10-point run for Maryland, and they would never trail again.

Two more first half bursts of eight and seven unanswered points respectively helped Maryland build a 49-36 halftime lead. These runs were due primarily to the Maryland transition game, with steals or blocks leading to layups or free throws. At this point, the Terps had attempted 32 free throws and five Hofstra players were saddled with three fouls. Maryland totaled eight steals and four blocked shots in the half. Nik Caner-Medley was the main beneficiary, totaling 14 points at the break.

The Terps stretched their lead to 21 points only 3:21 into the second half, capped with a four-point play by Chris McCray. Maryland's lead hovered around 20 points until the Pride mustered a 12-2 run to draw within 71-61 with 7:06 remaining in the game. It was at this point that Hofstra players began fouling out, however, and the Terps' lead never fell into single digits.
Caner-Medley led all scorers with 19 points, John Gilchrist added 18, and Jamar Smith put up his third straight double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

The Terrapins took care of the ball, committing only 12 turnovers, and totaled 14 steals and 10 blocked shots for the game.

These numbers mask some genuine concerns for Maryland Coach Gary Williams. His biggest concern was rebounding, where Hofstra held a 44-36 edge, but that was not the extent of his displeasure.

Williams told reporters after the game, "Defensively, we weren't that good tonight. The ball got entered into the post too many times...I thought we did a poor job of getting out of our pressure back to our half-court defense. The fact that we got outrebounded is really bad.” Sean May of North Carolina will be among the big men licking their chops when they see the tape of how many easy shots Hofstra's center Wendell Gibson had tonight.

Williams was happy about the steady procession his players made to the foul line, "One of the things we tired to do that last couple days in practice was figure out how to get to the free throw line. Obviously, we need to shoot better than that (only 56%) but (the free throws) were a positive thing."

Williams apparently felt this was a bump in the road toward steady growth he wants his young team to make "I can't spend a lot of time on mistakes right now, yet we made enough tonight to spend a week on."

His players agreed. Caner-Medley said, "The number one thing we need to improve on right now is putting together 40 minutes. We need to play better." Chris McCray added, "We have a lot of things to work on."

Tuesday night would be a good time to put together a 40-minute game. The #24 Terps host #15 ranked Wisconsin at 9:30 as part of the ACC-Big 10 Challenge at the Comcast Center. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

Notes from Under the Shell
Maryland is now 3-0 vs. Hofstra. This is the second ACC team the Pride has played already this season. They lost at Georgia Tech 75-56 in the second round of the Preseason NIT, which Tech eventually won.

How much did the foul problems hurt Hofstra? Their starters shot 20-40 (50%) while their bench, called into extra duty tonight, shot 6-22 (27%). Yeah, it hurt a lot.

Through Saturday night's games, no team in the ACC had lost yet this season.

The attendance tonight was announced as a sellout but, no doubt due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the end where the students sit was only about one-third full.

John Gilchrist picked up where he left off Tuesday night, playing aggressively at both ends of the court. He led the Terps with six assists and five steals. Andre Collins, however, is struggling to run the half-court offense when he fills in for Gilchrist at point guard.

Most of Nik Caner-Medley's points are coming when he is on the move, either driving to the hoop or receiving a pass while cutting. He is using his athleticism well to get open and take good shots.

D. J. Strawberry is reminding me a lot of Laron Profit on defense. He had a couple of plays tonight where he embarrassed a Hofstra ballhandler by picking his pocket and racing down the court for a layup or dunk. Opponents need to know where he is on defense at all times.

Although Smith did post a double-double, he had difficulty establishing offensive position against the Pride's big front line and shot only 3-11 for the game with four turnovers.

I saw another entry in the “Dumb Promotion” category tonight. A local pizza company sponsored a contest that saw two students race to put on various pieces of pizza-making gear (apron, hat, etc.) and then run back down the court and make a layup. The crowd became restless during this promotion. I'm not condoning this, but the contest would have draw a lot more attention if the participants had been subtracting rather than adding articles of clothing.


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