By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Because of a faulty scoreboard hanging on the west wall of Comcast Center last night, the signs of the Maryland men's basketball team's development were measured in Eastern Standard Time. At 8:08 p.m., after three false starts and three failed attempts to get all the game clocks in sync, the second game of Maryland's season began.
By 8:12 p.m., the Terrapins had turned over the ball twice and missed six shots, as well as a pair of free throws. Junior guard Eric Hayes finally scored the team's first basket with a breakaway dunk, but his team's timing remained off a few minutes longer.
By 8:20 p.m., when the west scoreboard became functional and almost in step with the now fully operational game clocks, Maryland began reviving itself from another slow offensive start. At 9:54 p.m., the final horn sounded, and all scoreboards displayed the same final score: Maryland 73, Youngstown State 49.
A day earlier, Hayes sat in a room adjacent to the court and listed offensive execution early in the game as his team's primary objective against the Penguins, especially after the Terrapins had scored just 11 points in the first 10 minutes Friday night in their season opener against Bucknell.
And in that regard, the Terrapins did show some improvement last night. Maryland tallied 12 points by the time the first 10 minutes had expired against Youngstown State. By then, a sense of normalcy had begun to return to the arena.
"We were getting good shots, we just weren't making them," said Hayes, who finished with 13 points. "Once we started going, our offense started kicking and we were able to get our press up and get some steals and easy baskets, so overall I think we played pretty well."
Maryland embarked on a 14-0 run that lasted nearly six minutes late in the first half, an offensive outburst sparked by the implementation of the team's full-court press.
"We knew what they were going to do pressure-wise, but we just turned the ball over," Penguins Coach Jerry Slocum said. "It was self-inflicted wounds."
Youngstown State's 13 first-half turnovers certainly did not help its cause, but neither did its 23.3 percent shooting performance. The Penguins led by six early in the game, but thanks in large part to a scoring outburst from Maryland junior guard Greivis Vasquez, the Terrapins were able to recover and eventually pull away.
Vasquez has said repeatedly over the past few weeks that this year's Maryland squad is not -- nor can it afford to be -- just about the talent he possesses. That may prove to be true, but last night, Vasquez made it clear he is still capable of shouldering the scoring load for the Terrapins if the need arises. He scored 16 of Maryland's 37 first-half points and finished with a game-high 28.
"I'm just gonna do whatever it takes, man; I'm gonna try," said Vasquez, who also recorded eight rebounds, four assists and four steals, all team highs. "You know, you guys hit me a lot 'cause I try too much, but I'm gonna keep trying. I don't care what anybody say, I'm just gonna keep trying to make my team better."
Maryland Coach Gary Williams has said more of the burden will fall on Maryland's perimeter players -- not just to score, but also to defend and rebound -- while the front court continues to sort itself out, and last night was no exception.
Maryland's four starting guards recorded 16 of the team's 34 rebounds on the night. As a team, the Terrapins were outrebounded, 45-34.
Meantime, sophomore center Braxton Dupree finished with two points and five rebounds, though Williams lauded him for being more active in the second half. Maryland's four reserve big men tallied zero points, two rebounds, three turnovers and one block in 39 combined minutes of action.
Though signs of progress were slow to emerge, Maryland is 2-0. Williams said he has watched many teams around the country play in recent days and believes his team looks similar to those he views on television: still developing, still coming together.
"Yeah, I am" concerned about the lack of rebounding, Williams said. "But as long as you win, you know, we can rebound better than that. There's no doubt in my mind that we can rebound better than that. And we'll have to. But the idea is to win."