Replay gives Williams same look

January 09, 1995|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

The tape didn't look much different to Maryland coach Gary Williams yesterday morning than the game did Saturday night. The reasons for the seventh-ranked Terrapins' loss to No. 1 North Carolina were just as clear as they had been down in Chapel Hill.

A lack of defense, leadership and, in some key situations, good shot selection contributed to a 100-90 defeat to the Tar Heels at the Smith Center as much as the foul troubles of All-America center Joe Smith and fellow sophomore Keith Booth.

"What we need to do is play better defense," said Williams, who was starting to prepare his team for tomorrow night's game against Florida State in Tallahassee. "We can't score 90 points and lose. We didn't stop Carolina on many big possessions."

Because of Smith's foul problems, which limited him to 20 minutes, the Terps couldn't stop North Carolina center Rasheed Wallace in the second half. The 6-foot-10 sophomore scored nine straight points for the Tar Heels in one stretch, and scored 15 of his 21 in the half. He also had nine rebounds and five blocks.

Booth, who, along with junior guard Johnny Rhodes (21 points, 15 in the first half), kept the Terps in the game despite the absence of Smith (20 points, 10 rebounds), eventually got into foul trouble trying to stay with North Carolina's Jerry Stackhouse. The 6-6 sophomore wound up with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds, including a crucial three-point play with 2:56 to go that iced the game.

Along with an impressive performance by Rhodes, that was the biggest positive Maryland took out of Saturday night's defeat. Leading by seven early in the first half, then trailing by seven at halftime, the Terps didn't fold when they fell behind by 11 early in the second half and saw Smith take a seat for more than 7 1/2 minutes after picking up his fourth foul with 16:38 to go.

With some interesting matchups -- including little-used, 6-8 freshman Rodney Elliott playing Wallace at one point -- Maryland cut its deficit to 69-67, and trailed by only six when Smith returned. The Terps were down 77-73, but a three-point shot by Rhodes spun out with less than six minutes left. Booth fouled out on North Carolina's next possession, with 5:02 to play.

"We were OK until Keith got his fifth," Williams said.

Still, there were some aspects of his team's performance that frustrated Williams: the way it fouled on perimeter jump shots four times, including twice by the usually sound Smith. The way it shot too quickly at times from the outside instead of getting the ball inside. The way it passed to the wrong side in trying to set up a play.

"We have to eliminate the mental mistakes," said Williams.

Another thing: "We still need senior leadership," said Williams. "Wayne [Bristol] and Kurtis [Shultz, out with a broken foot] can only give you so much, but we need someone who's going to be out there when the game starts. We haven't had that kind of player since Walt Williams was a senior. It's got to be one of the guys on the floor."

And another: "We have to have the same will to win now that we did last March [in the NCAA tournament]," said Williams. "You have to make it important in January. Last year, we won some games in the league early because nobody respected us and we could sneak up on people. That was neat. But now we have the respect, so you have to work even harder."

As his players dressed Saturday, the message Williams had left with them was also clear. It was the same message that he had left last month at the Baltimore Arena, after the Terps had lost to then-fifth-ranked Massachusetts, 85-74, after taking the lead with four minutes to play.

"People are going to say that we played the No. 1 team in the country tough for 40 minutes, but I'm really tired of hearing that," said Booth, who finished with 15 points. "It's about time we step up and win a big game like this."

NOTES: Retired NBA legend Michael Jordan made a debut of sorts, watching his first game at the Smith Center. Jordan left Chapel Hill two years before the building opened. Dean Smith invited his former star to practice Friday, and Jordan played a little one-on-one with a couple of current Tar Heels, including Stackhouse. "He dunked on me once, but I got him back," said Stackhouse, whose running, one-handed dunk against the Terps was Jordanesque.

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