Travis Garrison criticized his lack of emotion in recent Maryland games, saying yesterday that if his energy doesn't improve he expects his playing time to diminish.
Garrison said he and Coach Gary Williams recently addressed the player's on-court demeanor; the junior forward pledged to play with more intensity beginning tonight against Mount St. Mary's at Comcast Center.
Williams agreed with Garrison regarding his emotions but added that he has no more reason to worry about his status as a starter than any other player. Calling his recent play occasionally "laid-back," Garrison said his energy must improve before the ACC schedule revs up Saturday against North Carolina.
"Especially in those games," Garrison said, "if you don't come to play, you're going to get killed. It's guaranteed; you are going to get dominated."
The 22nd-ranked Terrapins (8-2) are expected to dominate Mount St. Mary's, which is 3-6 and 325th in the Ratings Percentage Index, used to help determine NCAA tournament seedings and berths. Williams will evaluate the effort level of all his players to best assess the state of the team entering conference play.
"Sooner or later players have to be able to motivate themselves to get ready to play," Williams said. "The key for any good team is to get everybody on the same page starting a game in terms of their intensity level."
Garrison remembered the fun of last year's ACC tournament, when he played with high energy and performed well. Before some games this season, Garrison said, he has vowed to play with more enthusiasm, only to drift in and out of lulls during games. He can recognize the difference in demeanor afterward on tape, and he said it sometimes looks like he is going through the motions. Another focus of Garrison's is to be more energetic while on the bench, where he believes he also has been lax. Comparatively, guard John Gilchrist often stands while not in the game and encourages teammates.
Gilchrist clearly is the most exuberant Maryland player. Garrison's energy doesn't necessarily need to rise to that level, nor, as Williams noted, does he have to become demonstrative, thumping his chest or making other similar on-court gestures. He merely needs to consistently play hard.
In the past, Garrison has played most aggressively when he has appeared to be angered. Williams said half-jokingly, "I'd like to see someone come out and give him a little shot early every game he plays because that will help him."
At 6 feet 8 and close to 240 pounds, Garrison has a large frame but often relies on a strong mid-range to outside jumper. He is tied for attempting the fewest number of free throws (25) among starters, 10 fewer than what reserve guard D.J. Strawberry has attempted.
"With his touch, he's a very good shooter," Williams said. "If he can combine being more of an inside player with that outside touch that's really a good package to have."