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January 3rd-10th 

By Terrence Maddox


 

Terps overtake Mount St. Mary’s 89-56

John Gilchrist usually doesn’t lead Maryland in scoring. Saturday was a different story. Antonio Johnson, Gilchrist’s cousin, is on the Mountaineer squad and plenty of relatives were on hand to watch the two sophomore guards. And both delivered. Johnson led his team with 13 points while Gilchrist scored a game-high 16 points. He also led all players with six assists.

 

Playing against his cousin brought back some memories for the Maryland guard. “It was like old times sharing the floor with my cousin. He’s a competitor”. That competitive spirit led to a little trash-talking. “He hit a couple of shots and his mouth started going, but I’m used to that” said Gilchrist.

 

Mount St. Mary’s didn’t have much material for trash-talking. After only eight minutes the Mountaineers were already down 10 points and they never got any closer than that. If it wasn’t for Johnson’s 13 point effort no one on the team would have scored in double figures. Kiel Butler, a starter, didn’t even score a point.

 

As for Maryland, the Terps had four starters in double figures and two reserves added in nine a piece. Center Jamar Smith collected his 8th double-double of the season, scoring 14 points and pulling in 14 rebounds. Forward Ekene Ibekwe had another stellar night. He was one point away from his first double-double, 10 rebounds and nine points. But where his presence is increasingly being to be felt is on defense. The freshman swatted away four shots, as many as the rest of his team and Mount St. Mary’s combined.

 

Forward Nik Caner-Medley thought Maryland showed a lot of improvement after their loss to Florida State. “I felt like we came out and took care of business . . . We had some really good practices over the past week. For a young team we showed a lot of maturity coming back and really working that hard.”

 

Maryland head coach Gary Williams agrees with Caner-Medley in that his team has made strides recently because of their practices. "You keep working and you go hard in practice. You have to duplicate as close to game speed as possible in practice. We have 10 good players who can do that, but we need all 10 in practice every day working that hard. It's hard sometime with players because for a lot of them coming out of high school they haven't had to practice maybe at the intensity level that they do at this level."

 

Maryland has only one more game before the rest of their schedule is all conference games. They will square off against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Tuesday January 6th. Eight days later North Carolina comes to Comcast Center to kick off a brutal 7 days for the Terps. After the Tar Heels, Maryland travels to Georgia Tech and then they face Duke at home just four days later. If Maryland can win one or two of those games then they should be fine for the rest of the year. But if they come out of that stretch 0-3, it will be a long season which could end with the Terps on the bubble or not even going to the big dance at all.

 

Terrapins Declaw Hawks 87-38

From the start of this game it was already the end. A lazy University of Maryland-Eastern Shore squad didn’t chase after loose balls or hit the boards. The result? A 17-2 run, which left the Hawks searching for answers. They may get one next year when former Terrapin Andre Collins transfers there (he most likely will) but in any event, this game was a lost cause.

 

Eastern Shore did finish the first half with some respectability, outscoring Maryland 17-13 after their run. Terrapin head coach Gary Williams gives credit to UMES for their scrappy first half play. “In the first half Maryland Eastern Shore did a good job of controlling the tempo.” At halftime, the score was 30-19 which is not all that bad considering the Hawks have nowhere near the talent level or depth of Maryland. But the Terps exposed that weakness.

 

In the second half Maryland outscored Eastern Shore 57-19 for a final score of 87-38. Freshman guard Mike Jones had his biggest night as a Terp, racking up a team and career-high 25 points, along with career highs in rebound (6), assists (3) and steals (3). Only two of Jones’ 25 points came in the first half. Those 25 points mark the most by a Maryland freshman since Drew Nicholas dropped in 27 against Fairleigh Dickinson in 1999. The one stat that drew the attention of Williams is that Jones went 11-12 from the free-throw line. “I like to see him getting to the free-throw line because he is a good shooter.”

 

Maryland has struggling from the charity stripe line all year and this game was no exception. Excluding Jones, only two of the remaining six Terps who attempted a shot from the free-throw line ended up shooting 60 percent or better. Next Wednesday when North Carolina comes to town, a night like that from the line won’t cut it. Believe it or not, after an 87-point night Williams says the area in which his team needs the most improvement is offense. “Everybody wants to improve their offense. We missed too many easy shots tonight. But how you work on that I’m not sure. We missed 8-10 two-foot shots around the basket.”

 

Freshman Ekene Ibekwe was in the starting lineup for the first time in his career. He replaced a slumping Travis Garrison. While Ibekwe didn’t have his best night offensively, he swatted away four shots for the second consecutive game.

 

 It appears that one problem Williams has on his hands now is how to find enough minutes for all his players. Freshman D.J. Strawberry did not play because of a foot injury so his playing time was distributed elsewhere. But once he comes back, Williams will have three freshmen (Strawberry, Jones and Ibekwe) that deserve quality minutes but there may not be enough minutes to go around. Normally depth is not a problem for a coach but with such a young team (four sophomores and five freshmen); Williams’ greatest task may be just keeping everybody happy.

 

 

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