Terps seek to avoid 0-3 ACC start Duncan and Deacons offer huge challenge

January 13, 1996|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Confronted with the specter of 6-foot-10 Tim Duncan in the post and an ominous 0-3 start in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Maryland attempts to revive its disappointing season today against eighth-ranked Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C.

In what promises to be a battle of tempo and defense, the teams offer differing approaches.

Wake Forest (9-1, 2-0) prefers to play at a controlled pace, marking time somewhere between run-and-gun and slowdown.

Maryland (6-5, 0-2) goes full throttle, from end line to end line and transition to transition.

To the more dominant tempo goes the victory?

"They've given us as much trouble as anybody in the league with pace," Wake Forest coach Dave Odom said yesterday after Winston-Salem weathered a 4-inch snowfall. "We won here, 64-54, last year, and that was about as good as we've done against them controlling the tempo.

"Our style is not conservative. It's more middle of the road. We feel like we can play fast, but not too fast."

The chief instrument of the Terps' up-tempo style is their menacing pressure defense, with full court and three-quarter court traps. They lead the ACC with an average of 11.2 steals a game.

Still, in a year of high expectation, the Terps are looking to avoid their first three-game losing streak since the 1992-93 season.

"Now is the time to buckle down," said senior Johnny Rhodes, second in the nation with 48 steals and a 4.3 average. "Hopefully, we can get the press going and come up with a couple of steals."

L To Odom, that defensive pressure resembles a feeding frenzy.

"The first thing we have to do is talk about breaking the pressure," Odom said. "The irony is, the more you break it, the greater they turn up the intensity. If you break it, they don't say, 'We'll go to something else.' They turn it up higher."

The Demon Deacons, who have won six in a row and lost only to No. 1 Massachusetts this season, may have the antidote in Duncan.

Wake's stoic floor leader leads the ACC in rebounds (12.2 per game) and blocked shots (45). He is also third in field-goal percentage (55.6) and fourth in scoring (18.9). He scored 12 of the Deacons' final 16 points in a 57-54 victory at Duke on Wednesday.

He may be the ultimate tempo-controller.

"Duncan is one of those special players," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "You can't play him with one guy. He bothered us last year with Joe [Smith] in there."

Asked what the versatile Duncan does best, Williams said: "He catches the ball close to the basket, jumps high and dunks hard. He can pass and run the court. He's as good as I've seen blocking shots. When he blocks them, the ball stays on the court."

With Duncan, the Deacons rank second in the conference in scoring defense. Duke went scoreless its final six possessions against the Deacons.

"The key is we haven't given up many open-court layups and open shots," Odom said. "That's what Maryland has lived on . . . the live-ball turnover, laid up at the other end.

"I think Maryland has a better defense now than at any time last year. I think their defense is very, very good. They're 6-5, but they could easily be 9-2."

Maryland's two-game skid in the ACC may lead the Terps further down a new road today. Look for Williams to use freshman Terrell Stokes at point guard in the same backcourt with Duane Simpkins more often, despite their size disadvantage against bigger guards. Stokes and Simpkins are both listed at 6 feet.

"I got away with it at BC [Boston College] with [5-10] Michael Adams and [6-1] Dominic Presley," Williams said.

"If we can get Duane more shots with Terrell in there, that's something to look at."

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