The Terps started ACC play with a win today, beating Georgia Tech 68-61. Maryland trailed for most of the game (by as many as 10) before finally taking a 53-52 lead with 7:12 to play. The Yellow Jackets out-rebounded the Terps 45-33, but Maryland was able to force 28 GT turnovers.
After the embarrassing loss to Morgan State, it was good to see the Terps play with a lot of heart today. They could have given up at many points during the game, but they played hard all the way to the final whistle.
- Eric Hayes had one of his best games in a long time. When the Terps needed points, he stepped up in a big way with three pointers and good dribble-drive penetration.
- Maryland looked like a 6-man team for most of the game, with the 5 starters and "Sugar" Sean Mosley (I'm still trying to get that nickname to stick) logging almost 90% of the playing time.
- Jin Soo Kim played more impressively than his stat line would indicate. He's getting better and better, and Terps fans have good reason to be optimistic about his potential.
- Dupree, Gregory, and Tucker, however were all but invisible.
- While the Terps should be very proud of the win, the game highlighted some of the team's weaknesses: inside defense, a valid offensive threat when perimiter shots aren't falling, and bench depth being the most obvious ones.
- Dave Neal continues to shock me. I (like, presumably, most Maryland fans) had written him off as a deep bench player with a decent jump shot. Instead, he's proven to be the best "big" man on the team this year. He's forced to play out of position and defend the opponent's center, but he has rightly earned his way into the starting lineup.
- Neal's improvement over the last 4 years is not only a credit to his work ethic, but also to Gary Williams' coaching. Gary doesn't just recruit great players (critics would say he never recruits great players) but he gets the most out of the players he does have. If I were a high school basketball player, I'd want to play for someone like Gary who would force me to grow and improve my game during my time in college.
- In the big picture of the season, the Morgan State loss is much less important than this win. If the Terps go 9-7 in ACC play, they'll easily make the tournament. This is pretty much true every season. Maryland managed a couple good non-conference wins, which will certainly help their resume, but the key as always is having a winning record in the ACC
- I couldn't believe that the fans at Comcast Center booed Greivis Vasquez after he missed an ill-advised three pointer. For one, I don't think it's ever ever ever appropriate to boo your college team. Never. It is certainly not right to boo a missed three pointer in the first half. Look, you know what you're getting with Vasquez. He's going to try a little too hard sometimes and when things look bad he might try to be the hero. Still, he is the best player on the team. He's emotional (too much at times) and he often takes bad shots, but he brings so much to the table that I think you have to overlook that. At the same time, it seemed like the booing pissed him off so much that he played better in the second half. He was jawing with someone in the stands after every made bucket, and that seems to be the sort of thing that pushes his game to the next level.