Terps show they can rebound nicely

By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 13, 2010

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Lost amid Maryland's 85-83 overtime loss at Wake Forest on Tuesday night was one encouraging statistical sign: For the second consecutive ACC game, Maryland had outrebounded a team that possessed more height, experience and talent in its front court.

When told of the 43-41 advantage in the rebounding battle over the Demon Deacons, Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez turned his head to a reporter and said, "We did?"

Maryland is 1-1 in the ACC and has yet to secure what will be deemed a quality victory this season. But coaches and players alike are pleased with team's ability thus far to remain competitive on the boards in a conference that this season features several prominent big men.

"It is very encouraging," Maryland Coach Gary Williams said. "Looking at our team before the season, you'd say that would probably be a weakness. We've faced two really big teams with some veteran front-court players and were able to hold our own."

Two days after outrebounding a Florida State team that featured three starters taller than 6-foot-8, Maryland won the rebounding battle against a Wake Forest team led by all-American candidate Al-Farouq Aminu, the only player in the top six conferences who is averaging at least 16 points and 11.5 rebounds this season.

Aminu largely had his way throughout, scoring a team-high 24 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. While Maryland's primary two interior players -- freshman Jordan Williams and junior Dino Gregory -- battled foul trouble, 6-foot-4 guard Sean Mosley picked up the slack and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds, including six offensive rebounds.

"Our team did a great job rebounding," Maryland guard Adrian Bowie said. "From the rebounds, we were able to get in transition."

Gregory had four rebounds in 15 minutes of action but fouled out in overtime. Williams had three rebounds but added 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor. With the game on the line, Williams tipped in a Vasquez miss to tie the score at 83 with less than one minute left in overtime.

Vasquez praised the development and maturity of Williams, a 6-foot-10 player who had collected at least five rebounds in every game he had played before Tuesday night. How Maryland's inexperienced front court would fare in the ACC figured to be one of the keys to the Terrapins' season, and Vasquez said if the big men continue to progress "I think we can win 10 games in the league."

One sequence in the second half illustrated the challenge Maryland faced against Wake Forest's length. Tony Woods, a 6-foot-11 Wake Forest forward, blocked Vasquez's inbounds pass, leading to Wake Forest fast break. Aminu scored to give the Demon Deacons an eight-point lead.

Moments later, Gregory was called for his fourth foul after jostling with Aminu following an air ball. Trailing by five points, Gary Williams kept Gregory in the game but two minutes later replaced him with Jordan Williams, who scored on a layup to cut the deficit to 60-57.

Aminu later swatted away a Mosley shot, and Wake Forest guard Ishmael Smith flipped a pass ahead to Aminu for a resounding dunk.

Wake Forest entered the game having outrebounded its opponents by 7.6 rebounds per game. But Wake Forest's Chas McFarland, a 7-foot senior, said the Demon Deacons were aware Maryland had "skilled and athletic" interior players and winning the rebounding battle would be a critical element in the game.

"I don't care what anyone says about size," Smith said. "They are tough and physical. They don't get outrebounded, and that's all the credit of the toughness Coach Williams instills in them."

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