Maryland 100, Bryant 85
Gary Williams believes this year's Maryland team -- deep and athletic -- has the potential to be as miserly on defense as his 1993-94 squad. That year, Keith Booth and Joe Smith were freshmen on a team that Williams calls the finest defensive team he's coached. "This team has that potential," he said earlier this week. "Do we have the mind-set?"
Not yet, not even close. Maryland needed a furious second-half rally last night to beat Bryant University, 100-85, in its first exhibition game before an announced crowd of 17,950 at Comcast Center. Afterward, Williams said that every starting spot is now open.
It doesn't matter that the Terps return four starters from the team that won the ACC tournament last season. In fact, last season's success might be part of the problem at this stage of the season.
"Your resume doesn't mean anything [in a game like this]," Williams said. "I think our guys still are talking about the ACC tournament."
Bryant, a Division II team that made a school-record 258 three-pointers last season, made 12 of 27 in the first half and led by as many as 10 points. Granted, Bryant Coach Max Good used to coach at Nevada-Las Vegas and runs an effective offense, albeit with limited talent.
"Our defense stunk," Williams said. "With the games coming up, you have to be a good defensive team. That's a given."
Maryland's front court played well. Travis Garrison had a team-high 20 points and Ekene Ibekwe had 19 points and nine rebounds. The Terps outscored Bryant 38-16 in the lane. Bryant's front court, however, in no way compares to what Maryland likely will see in the ACC.
Bryant's John Williams carved up Maryland's John Gilchrist for much of the game, scoring a game-high 27 points, including 18 in the second half.
Four three-pointers gave Bryant a stunning 12-2 lead with 16 minutes 39 seconds remaining in the first half. Gilchrist made back-to-back three-pointers to tie the game at 30.
The most alarming defensive sequence came in the first half, when Maryland allowed an open three-pointer, a rebound and a follow-up tip-in.
"We came out with a lack of intensity," Garrison said.
In the waning seconds of the first half, Bryant's Chris Burns, a Providence transfer who sank three first-half three-pointers, shot an air ball from 20 feet. The ball was caught in the air by teammate John Fogarty, who converted a reverse layup to give Bryant a stunning 48-46 halftime lead.
Maryland's defense held Bryant to 3-for-13 shooting from three-point range in the second half to avoid the upset.
"They pushed out on us in the second half," Good said. "We couldn't keep Mike Williams on the floor. He fouled out and that hurt us because he is the only guy we can go to inside. With him not on the floor, they were able to push out on our shooters."