Basketball was never far from Gary Williams's mind over the holiday weekend, which is little surprise considering how competitive college coaches are in late December. But Williams has legitimate reason for concern. His Maryland team, which hosts overmatched Liberty tonight at Comcast Center, has struggled with consistency against inferior opponents. While Maryland is 7-2, time to rectify the problem is dwindling because the brunt of the ACC schedule begins Jan. 8 at North Carolina.
"I'm disappointed we have not been more consistent for 40 minutes," Williams said. "I won't hide that fact. You can have all the Knute Rockne speeches and all that stuff, but players have to get themselves ready to play.
Maryland guard John Gilchrist says he may alter his approach if the team doesn't pick up its intensity.
(Joel Richardson - The Washington Post)
_____Maryland vs. Liberty_____
When: Tonight, 8
Where: Comcast Center
TV/Radio: WDCA-20, WNUV-54 [WBAL-980, WMAL-630, WFMD-930]
"There are nights you are not going to shoot it well, or your ball-handling is going to be off, things like that happen. But you should be emotionally at a certain pitch because you have a great deal of pride in yourself as a basketball player and hopefully you have pride in the team."
Williams declined to pinpoint the number of games in which he felt his team did not compete at a consistent emotional level. One example, though, was the first half of Thursday's victory over American. Maryland clung to a two-point halftime lead despite largely being outplayed and having no starters play well, according to Williams.
"We just get complacent at times," guard Chris McCray said.
The Terrapins reunited for a Sunday night practice that Williams said had a "good intensity." The two games on the horizon -- Liberty and Mount St. Mary's on Jan. 4 -- don't promise to be dramatic. Liberty (1-7) has not beaten a Division I team this season and lost to North Carolina State by 34 points.
John Gilchrist pledged to change his approach if the team's first-half intensity does not improve. The junior point guard prefers to get teammates involved in the offense early on and score points when needed down the stretch. He scored 15 of his 20 points against American in the second half and 20 of his 22 points against North Carolina Asheville in the second half Dec. 12.
"If it has to be where I have to attack from the jump ball, I have no problem doing that," Gilchrist said. "You have to play off what your team is doing."