- The Washington Times - Monday, January 10, 2005

To finish ahead of No. 4 Wake Forest tonight, Maryland might have to slow things down.

Maryland traditionally plays an uptempo offense but couldn’t keep up with No. 3 North Carolina in a 109-75 loss Saturday. Terps coach Gary Williams yesterday said he’s reviewing the offense after also losing a 101-92 shootout to George Washington on Dec. 5, though no lineup changes are expected to counter Wake Forest’s fast-break pace.

“[North] Carolina’s a good running team, and we couldn’t run with them,” he said. “You have to look at your team and see if they can play the way you’d like. We may have to make adjustments in the ability to run the court and play pressure defense. We were not able to run with North Carolina on Saturday, and you hope you can against Wake on Tuesday, but you have to be realistic.”

Stallball isn’t probable, but a slowdown for Maryland (9-3, 1-1 ACC) might help stop offensive spurts by Wake Forest (13-1, 2-0). Given Wake Forest and North Carolina are similar teams with high-scoring guards and a big frontcourt, Maryland watched the entire game film of its loss to the Tar Heels instead of reviewing slices of play.

“We’re looking for a great deal of improvement against Wake Forest, but Wake has the same combination of things [as North Carolina],” Williams said.

Added Williams jokingly: “I put some things on the board before every game, and patience was one of them, but I must have spelled it wrong [before North Carolina].”

Williams conceded the Terps haven’t progressed since winning the ACC tournament last year despite losing only one starter, saying he is concerned with the team’s temperament.

“This year, I would have assumed in September that we would have been playing where we left off last year,” he said. “We have to pick it up a little bit. … We have to prove we can bounce back. I like to think we can.”

Williams didn’t let his players dismiss the loss that knocked the Terps from the polls as simply a bad afternoon. He wanted the postgame disappointment to linger. At the same time, Williams was glad for the quick turnaround, even though the Terps are playing the nation’s third- and fourth-ranked teams within four days on the road. According to the rankings, it’s the third-hardest two-game stretch ever by an ACC team and Maryland’s toughest consecutive games. The 1979 Terps played third- and sixth-ranked opponents back-to-back.

“It’s probably better to play right away after a loss like this,” Williams said. “You want to get away from that as quickly as possible, but you want to [sustain] how [badly] it feels because you don’t want to go through it again. You want it to sink in.”

However, North Carolina coach Roy Williams yesterday again dismissed the lopsided victory as an aberration.

“We could play Maryland tonight, even in the Smith Center, and it would be a totally different game,” Roy Williams said. “… It just snowballed on Maryland.”

Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser agreed.

“I’ve always found Maryland to be dangerous since I [coached in 1993-94] at Loyola,” he said. “When we lose, our guys come off with a chip on their shoulder larger than normal; I would expect that with Maryland.”

Wake Forest is coming off a 103-68 thrashing over Clemson, the Tigers’ worst home loss in 50 years. Prosser said it was Wake Forest’s best outing of the season but knows the Demon Deacons could get upset. After all, Maryland beat Wake Forest in the ACC tournament last year following two regular-season losses.

“This is a game-to-game, day-by-day league,” Prosser said. “Every time we play Maryland it’s a very heated, very contentious game.”

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