- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 17, 2002

Chris Wilcox was trying to catch a catnap yesterday afternoon in Maryland's locker room at MCI Center.
Calvin McCall got some shuteye sitting in a locker, using his practice jersey to shield the light.
The Maryland Terrapins were feeling the effects of playing until after midnight the night before in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Players for the East Region's top seed were drowsy before a short practice in preparation for today's second-round match with eighth-seeded Wisconsin. Maryland might have needed extra rest after having a more difficult time than expected beating No.16 Siena the night before.
"We should have been killers," said guard Drew Nicholas of the 85-70 victory. "We should have gone out and put the game away by about 30. It would have looked like a much more impressive victory than 15."
Maryland (27-4) avoided being the first No.1 seed ever to lose to a 16th seed despite an inconsistent effort. The Terps played in spurts and held a comfortable lead most of the game, but they suffered several lapses on defense and saw their lead dwindle to 10 early in the second half. Siena got open outside shots and was able to score in the middle despite being much smaller.
Asked what he planned to stress in the day between games, Maryland coach Gary Williams replied, "The biggest thing is, you remind everybody of the basic defensive principles things like getting in the lane towards the ball, helping on the screens. Then you mainly walk through [Wisconsins] plays."
The Terps will not enjoy a size advantage against the Badgers, who beat No9 St. John's 80-70 Friday night. Wisconsin (19-12) is a typical, physical Big Ten squad. The Badgers, one of four regular-season co-champions of the Big Ten, are a group of wide bodies with average speed who can shoot 3-pointers.
Shooting guard Kirk Penney leads Wisconsin with a 15.3 average and makes 40 percent of his 3-pointers. The 6-foot-5 junior from New Zealand had 19 points against St. John's and made three of five treys. Penney often gets free behind picks set by big men like 6-foot-8, 230-pound senior forward Charlie Wills.
"They're very physical," Williams said. "They bang you when you cut through the lane. They know how to screen out very well, and they set good screens. Screens are a pretty good way to be physical. You can get some pretty good shots off good screens."
The Terps, who are quicker and deeper than the Badgers, will try to play an uptempo game. Wisconsin will run a fastbreak when it's there, but usually is content to run its disciplined offense and wait for a defensive breakdown. Maryland has had plenty of those lately, starting with a 90-89 victory over Wake Forest three weeks ago during which it allowed 56 points in the first half.
"Our defense will decide this game," small forward Byron Mouton said. "We can't rely on our offense. What we've been doing for the last five or six games is to try to outscore people. We have to learn how to stop people."
Mouton is one of several Terps in a bit of slump. The senior had six points Friday, failing to reach double figures for a second straight game after doing so in the previous 11 contests.
Wilcox has made 10 of 29 shots over the last three games and hasn't been his usual rebounding force. Wilcox, who had seven points and four rebounds against Siena, and center Lonny Baxter struggled on the glass in the first half against Siena, and the smaller Saints actually had a rebounding edge at intermission.
"The first half, Tahj Holden and Ryan Randle combined for seven rebounds," Williams said of Maryland's frontline reserves. "Our starting inside players had two [actually four] rebounds. It shouldn't be that way."
Thanks to Maryland's guards, rebounding wasn't a decisive factor. All-American Juan Dixon matched his season high with 29 points, and should break Maryland's all-time scoring record today. The senior needs seven points to pass current leader Len Bias (2,149 from 1983 to 1986).
Point guard Steve Blake scored 11 points and had 11 assists, while Nicholas added nine points off the bench as the Terps shot 10 of 22 (45.5 percent) from beyond the arc.
Maryland is prone to allowing more points because its fast-paced attack results in more enemy possessions. But the Terps have struggled the last few weeks in their half-court defense and have been susceptible to screens and backdoors.
"One of the biggest things is when we drop back from our pressure to get into our half-court defense," Nicholas said. "We have to be able to settle down and play defense for 20 or 25 seconds. A lot times when you play full-court pressure, you're so excited that you make a stupid mistake in the half-court when they score."
Maryland should have its eyes wide open by today's late-afternoon tip time. If not, a couple bone-crunching Wisconsin picks should gain its attention. The Badgers would be happy to fill the Terps' anticipated slot in next weekend's Sweet 16. But Maryland again will enjoy a nice hometown advantage as it tries to justify its top seed.
"The pressure is on them for the most part," Wisconsin's Penney said. "They are the ones expected to win."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide