COLLEGE PARK -- He played with passion and aggression. He celebrated baskets and reacted to fouls. He showed a willingness to not only step outside, but also to bang inside.
Travis Garrison's performance for Maryland in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament last season was supposed to represent a major breakthrough.
However, when the junior forward watched tape of the Terrapins' past couple of games, he said he saw no resemblance to the player he was late last season.
"I am not comfortable with the way I've been playing," said Garrison, who is averaging 10 points and 6.8 rebounds, slightly up from last year's totals of 7.8 points and 5.2, respectively. "In the last game or two, I haven't been playing with that emotion. When you go out there lackadaisical, it's going to be very hard."
Garrison wouldn't get an argument from Terps coach Gary Williams, who, since recruiting the McDonald's All-American out of nearby DeMatha, has urged him to play harder and with more emotion. Garrison said the two spoke on the topic just last week and that Williams "came out and told me how he felt."
"He doesn't think I play with a lot of emotion or I don't play hard," Garrison said. "And I can agree with that. As I watch film, I see myself out there, just going through the motions. ... That's the thing I have to work on, especially coming up."
It might not matter tonight when the Terps (8-2) host Mount St. Mary's (3-6) at Comcast Center. But on Saturday, Maryland travels to Chapel Hill to play third-ranked North Carolina. That will be followed three days later by a game against No. 4 Wake Forest.
The Tar Heels' Sean May and the Demon Deacons' Eric Williams are two of the ACC's top post players.
Maryland's Williams joked that he'd like to see opponents come out and give Garrison "a little shot" early in the game to get him angry.
"Anytime he wants to [show emotion], it's fine," said Williams, with a hint of sarcasm.
"Everybody has their own personality. What I try to get guys to do is be a certain way on the court. You don't want to change how they are off the court. Travis is a good guy. I like him a lot. But on the court, you want guys to play hard. You don't have to be demonstrative; you don't have to say a lot. But your actions determine how aggressive you are on the court."
Garrison has had to adjust to a new role while being slowed by nagging elbow and ankle injuries. He spent much of his first two seasons on the perimeter, but the loss of Jamar Smith forced Garrison to become more of an inside threat.
He scored a career-high 21 points in the Terps' opener against Jackson State, but Garrison (6 feet 8, 238 pounds) has failed to reach double figures in five of Maryland's nine games since.
He has used his post moves only sparingly, and that's at least part of the reason he's tied for fifth on the team with 25 free throws.
At one point last season, Garrison's lack of aggressiveness and productivity prompted Williams to yank him from the starting lineup for seven games.
Garrison admitted that with the recent progress of reserves James Gist and Will Bowers, he fears he could be benched again if he doesn't start playing better.
"I am not trying to even let it get to that," Garrison said. "I definitely have to step up and play my part."
Matchup: Mount St. Mary's (3-6) vs. No. 22 Maryland (8-2)
Site: Comcast Center, College Park
TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)