Simpkins pushes game into high gear in 2nd half

January 15, 1995|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- Duane Simpkins had stopped listening to the criticism concerning his game and his recent lack of offensive production. But not because the Maryland point guard believed it was totally unwarranted.

"I agreed with it to an extent," the 6-foot-1 junior said yesterday. "I've been so concerned with trying to run the offense and having to get everyone to their spots, I was not breaking the defense down with my penetration, and not looking for my shot."

Simpkins spent the first half of Maryland's 76-66 victory over Wake Forest doing much what he did recently: setting up others, but not himself. At halftime, Simpkins had taken only three shots and had not scored. He also had four turnovers and three assists.

But the second half was different. Simpkins resembled the player who helped keep the Terrapins competitive in the ACC last season. It started with a strong drive to the basket with a little less than two minutes gone, and ended with a pair of free throws to give Maryland a 72-62 lead after Keith Booth and Joe Smith had missed the front ends of one-and-ones.

"Coach tells me if the opportunities present themselves, I have to take them," said Simpkins, who had scored just 10 points on 2-for-9 shooting his previous two games. "I didn't let the game come to me, which is what I've been doing."

Simpkins wound up scoring 17 second-half points, by making four of five shots from the field (including three of four threes) and all six of his free throws. He also had three more assists and no turnovers.

"When Duane's aggressive, he usually plays well," said Williams. "He showed a lot of character out there today."

His second-half performance included shutting down Wake Forest guard Randolph Childress. After starting to heat up late in the first half and early in the second, Childress didn't score for more than 12 minutes while missing three shots.

Asked why he seems to defend Childress so well, Simpkins said, "I know his game. He's more deliberate in his moves than Travis Best [of Georgia Tech]."

Simpkins has said that he plays better against the best guards in the ACC, especially Childress and Best. When someone wanted to know if he'd like to see those two show up every game for the benefit of Simpkins, Williams shot the question down quickly.

"No, Duane's going to play well the rest of the year," Williams said.

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