I think going forward, we are all going to agree every game is a big game for our beloved Terps. That is just a fact when you are still in the hunt for the top spot in the conference, and when those teams around you are on your schedule it makes them that much more important. Today is a big game, though Georgia Tech is actually 6-6 in conference (18-8) overall. Georgia Tech is a bit of an enigma to me. I have watched them play some games where they look like world beaters (beating Duke), and others, you wonder how they got to be ranked as high as they were (losing at Miami). The truth is I really can’t point to one reason or another for how they have played. There are games where forward Gani Lawal has been in foul trouble, but that is not the only factor. There have been games where highly touted freshman forward Derrick Favors has not played great, but overall he is probably going to be ACC Freshman of the Year.
So, what are the keys in this game today? For the Terps it will be to continue to play like they have been in the Comcast Center (not that they have been awful on the road). They shoot better, have be more balanced scoring, and their defense has been incredible in ACC play at home.
It will be interesting to see how the Terps choose to defend today. In most of the other games, Maryland has doubled down on the opponents best big men (Alabi, Smith, etc) and forced someone to beat them from the outside. That may be a little different with Tech today as both Lawal and Favors are capable of doing damage inside, and they have some talented guards capable of hitting the three in Iman Shumpert (30%), Brian Oliver (41%), D’Andre Bell (43%), Glen Rice Jr. (47%) to name a few. Man speaking of Glen Rice Jr. that makes me feel old! As a team they are hitting on 36% of their threes. I don’t really know what to expect today, and it may just be straight up man to man mixed in with some zone, though they seemed to have dropped the zone out of the playbook lately, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it again.
The other key, and I am starting to sound like a broken record is rebounding the Tech misses. Maryland has got to put a body on Lawal (9.5 rpg) and Favors (8.2rpg). They have both had individual rebounding games of at least 14 boards, and can not allow the second and third chances that have doomed the Terps. After those two, they don’t have anyone averaging over 4.0 per game, so you can see the emphasis that Jordan Williams, Landon Milbourne, and Dino Gregory are going to have to put on boxing out. For that matter everyone is needs to put a body on their man.
One final key for the Terps is helping out Greivis today. Eric Hayes, and Landon Milbourne have to score more than 8 combined points. They are at their best when they are all scoring, and need that again. I think we are at a stage where we can almost count on 8-10 points a game from Jordan Williams, maybe even more, but the key really is to get some more scoring from Hayes and Milbourne. Some help off the bench will also be a key, and lately it has been a different player each night. So Cliff Tucker, Adrain Bowie, and Dino Gregory, work it out amongst yourselves as to who is going to be that guy today.
I am really looking forward to this one today. Let’s be honest, Maryland has done a really good job of beating the teams they should, and this is one going into the season I thought might be a toss up. Georgia Tech though is struggling on the road in the ACC with only one win so far (at UNC). If they were capable of winning on the road they would likely be a top 15 team, but for some reason they are having a tough time at home. If you are there today, be sure to make it a true home court advantage. GO TERPS!