By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 1, 2008
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Nov. 30 -- Periods of offensive dormancy populated Maryland's first four games, but the Terrapins prevailed each time because, if nothing else, they were able to cling to a defensive execution that most often was stifling and vigorous.
On Friday, Maryland was outmatched by a bigger and more physical Gonzaga lineup, but the Terrapins would learn how to approach such teams more effectively in the future, Coach Gary Williams assured reporters after his team's first loss of the season.
On Sunday, Maryland was outdone by a more precise and a more complete Georgetown squad, and afterward, Williams's outlook was less promising.
"There's things above plays you run and the things you do on the court," Williams said. "You have to be ready to play, and you know, I'll take responsibility; we weren't ready to play. When we walked out on the court tonight, I thought we were slow. We weren't aggressive. We weren't talking. When you play a good team, you pay the price for being that way."
The Hoyas defeated the Terrapins, 75-48, in the first matchup between these two D.C. area programs since 2001. Georgetown used myriad ways to put points on the board, and Maryland, at least on this night, was ill suited to stop any of them.
Maryland (4-2) tried to adapt, switching late in the first half from a purely man-to-man defense to one that alternated between man and zone coverage. But it was no use. The Terrapins trailed by 18 points after a first half in which Georgetown shot 52.0 percent from the field.
However, the culmination of Maryland's team-wide frustration did not come until after the intermission. With just less than two minutes expired in the second half, Georgetown forward DaJuan Summers was en route to a transition dunk when he was fouled from behind by Maryland's Landon Milbourne. Referee Dan Chrisman, believing Milbourne's foul to be intentional, whistled the junior forward for a technical foul.
The call against Milbourne did not sit well with Williams, who continued to voice his vehement disagreement with the call long after Summers shot his free throws. With 16 minutes 32 seconds remaining on the game clock, referee Duke Edsall issued Williams a technical of his own, which also did not sit well with the coach.
At that point, nearly three-fourths of a half remained, but Maryland trailed by 23 and did not appear capable of mounting a comeback against a Hoyas bunch that remained efficient on both ends of the court throughout the evening. Maryland players were not made available for comment following the game.
"Nothing worked for us; everything we did was bad," Williams said. "We had some open shots that we didn't make, that we've been making, and whenever you have that situation where you're not shooting well, you can fight through it by being more aggressive defensively, and we didn't do that tonight to make up for it."
The Terrapins' man-to-man defense was victimized early by the Hoyas' half-court offense. Georgetown Coach John Thompson III said a large component of his team's game plan was to "just grind it out."
On several occasions, Georgetown freshman forward Greg Monroe would stand near the top of the key and connect on give-and-gos with his team's guards. The result often was an easy layup or a trip to the free throw line.
"Coach tells us to take everything that's there, and that's what we did," said Georgetown guard Austin Freeman, who finished with a game-high 18 points. "We just wanted to help each other find the open man and, basically, play together."
With the Terrapins' defense out of whack, their offense had little room for error. But just as it has all season, Maryland's defense dictated its proficiency on the other end. Maryland shot 31.6 percent from the field on the night and was out-rebounded, 39-26. Junior guard Greivis Vasquez, the team's leading scorer, shot 1 of 7 from the field and finished with two points.