Wednesday, January 26, 2011

game preview: Maryland

Date/Time: January 27, 7:00


History against the Twerps: 69-106

Last matchup: Md. 74, UVA 68; 3/6/10; Charlottesville

Last game: UVA 72, GT 64 (1/22); Md. 79, Clemson 77 (1/22)

Opposing blogs: Testudo Times


National: UVA #106; Md. #22
Offense: UVA #74; Md. #82
Defense: UVA #151; Md. #5

This is where normally I say something about What It Means and how this game fits into the grand scheme of things and whatnot. I got nothing here. First off it's Maryland, so you don't need to be told that we want to beat them pretty much to the moon and back. Second, I'm not real sure what to make of this Maryland team. By all accounts - that is, various ratings such as RPI, KenPom, Sagarin, etc. - this is one of the ACC's top teams. Yet they're 2-3, with a lot of close losses to good teams, and some unimpressive play of late. (Getting housed by VT, by 17, in their own house, would qualify as unimpressive.) I'm not sure if we'll get a Maryland team that's fired up to redeem themselves after a lackluster couple of weeks, or if we'll get them on a downslide. Just to be sure, we should probably give the downslide a nice jump start by making them bus their way down to Charlottesville and then canceling the game due to snow. I think you're well aware of what kind of a losing streak that can incite.


- Make the shots count. You know how Tony Bennett preaches not to get to excited about offensive rebounds, and to get back on defense rather than crash the glass after a missed shot. It also happens that Maryland is an excellent rebounding team. Every shot must be a good high-percentage one.

- Extra effort on the defensive glass. In the same vein, Maryland is an elite offensive rebounding team. Jordan Williams is a big hairy beast down low, and if we had Mike Scott it'd be one thing, but there will be times where UVA fans will be immensely frustrated watching Williams get an offensive rebound and turn what should have been a quality defensive stop into an and-1. UVA must limit that and make defensive rebounding an all-hands effort.

- Double Williams and make the guards beat us. Assane Sene is good enough defensively to handle just about anyone one-on-one, but Sene is a beanpole and Williams is 6'10", 260. I suspect you'll practically never see Williams allowed to go to work on a single defender. If Terrell Stoglin or Adrian Bowie or the like are hitting their shots, fine, we lose that way, but I like our odds a lot better with the ball in their hands and not Williams. None of them are shoot-the-lights-out types. The same goes for Cliff Tucker, by the way, who is more of a wing guy but should be paid attention to if they try any low-post shenanigans with him. Double-teams should be employed liberally.


- Foul trouble. Fouling Williams seems awfully tempting because teams do a lot of it and he's a 50/50 shooter from the line. I was even thinking of calling this a key to victory. But it's not a good idea, because foul trouble means shuffling a lot of very inexperienced players in and out of the game, and Williams will probably eat Will Regan for lunch. As we saw against UNC, nothing good can come out of having all our bigs in foul trouble. Especially not against one of the most talented bigs in the conference.

- Lose one-on-one matchups on the perimeter. In other words, defenders must keep their men in front of them at all times. No getting beat on the baseline (a cardinal sin in Tony Bennett's world anyway,) no getting overaggressive on the ball for steals - in short, do not get beat off the dribble. Ever. Maryland's not a good three-point shooting team and they know it, and don't take many. But they will break a defense down with ballhandling, make good entry passes, and they're not afraid to miss a mid-range jumper or a layup because they tend to get the rebound. Only one team in the country gets a greater percentage of their points inside the arc. Very few bad things can happen if the ball remains outside that arc, and the defense should focus on keeping it there, and don't give up the lanes. Maryland will breeze through this game if their guards can get past their defenders.


Maryland's just 12-7, 2-3, but don't be fooled. They're extremely stout defensively - among the best in the country - and well-equipped on offense to take advantage of our biggest weakness: frontcourt thinness. Against Georgia Tech I said we'd have to win big; in this case, we'll win close or not at all. Maryland simply doesn't play bad basketball in long stretches, so we'll have to play outstanding basketball in long stretches in order to make up for it. There's reason for optimism if you're looking at recent results, but I think our best hope is to catch them in a bad frame of mind, because they've got a lot of depth and a budding superstar playing center. A very tough - and unfavorable - matchup for us.

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