COLLEGE PARK - Maryland coach Gary Williams said yesterday that he and junior point guard John Gilchrist are on the same page, though he acknowledged that there are still things they are "trying to get worked out."
Williams expects that Gilchrist, who was supposed to practice yesterday for the first time this week, will be ready to play today when the Terps (9-4) play Temple at Comcast Center in their last nonconference game of the regular season.
Gilchrist, the Terps' leading scorer, did not start against fourth-ranked Wake Forest on Tuesday because he missed an academic assignment. He played nine minutes in the first half and didn't play in the second half of Maryland's 81-66 loss.
Williams didn't think the point guard, who suffered hip, back and wrist injuries in last Saturday's 109-75 loss to No. 3 North Carolina, was healthy enough to be effective. After the game, Gilchrist disagreed, saying he was 80 percent healthy and could have played. He was clearly affected by Williams' decision, appearing disgruntled on the bench for most of the first half.
"It certainly is a situation where we are trying to get John straightened out," Williams said. "John is a good player. He was the MVP of the [Atlantic Coast Conference] tournament, and I certainly haven't forgotten that. We just want John to play really well because when he does, that makes us a better basketball team. That's what we are trying to get worked out.
"Everything is connected as a college student. You go through ups and downs. It's just that you get a lot of attention if you happen to be a college basketball player."
Williams said he and Gilchrist have talked a lot since the Wake Forest game, the Terps' second lopsided loss in a four-day span, though he wasn't specific about what was at issue between the two.
Gilchrist's on-court attitude and demeanor have been a heavy topic of conversation all season. After the Terps' loss to Wisconsin in late November, Gilchrist dropped to the floor with his hands covering his face, lingering there after the final buzzer. He also was criticized by an opponent, George Washington's J.R. Pinnock, who claimed that Gilchrist plays with so much emotion that he can get "carried away."
In an ESPN Insider report on Thursday, Williams was quoted as saying that Gilchrist has "struggled with his identity" since winning MVP of the ACC tournament last year, and "has issues" with practice.
He also said the junior "got talked out of" declaring for the NBA draft after last season. Williams said some of the information in the Insider report was exaggerated, but didn't deny that Gilchrist gave heavy consideration to going pro last season.
It appears one of the issues between the two is how Gilchrist, who is tied with Nik Caner-Medley for the team lead in field-goal attempts (144), is running the Terps' offense.
"John is a scorer playing the point guard's position," Williams said. "When you have a scorer's mentality, you look at things one way as opposed to a point guard that doesn't shoot as much. We need John to shoot the ball. He's one of our scorers."
Gilchrist was not available for comment, nor were any other Terps. As he did before the Wake Forest game, Williams declined to make players available to the media.
The Terps have other issues. Maryland not only got beat up on the scoreboard against North Carolina and Wake Forest, but several players, including Gilchrist, are nursing injuries.
Chris McCray, who has made just four of his past 24 shots, left the team's locker room after Tuesday's game with ice on his lower back. D.J. Strawberry's minutes were limited against Wake Forest because of a left ankle injury.
Travis Garrison and James Gist are also nursing injuries.
"What we have to do is get ready for Temple because they are good," Williams said. "If anybody doesn't think Temple is a good basketball team, just check out who they played."
The Owls, paced by junior guard Mardy Collins, who leads the team in scoring (17 ppg), assists (4.3) and leads the nation in steals (3.8), are 6-6, but they have lost three games by four points or fewer.
Two tenets of coach John Chaney, who has amassed 714 wins in his 33-year coaching career, are playing a tough nonleague schedule - Temple has played host to Wake Forest (67-64 loss) and visited No. 5 Duke (82-74 loss) and No. 23 Alabama (75-71 loss) - and a matchup zone defense.
Against the zone, Williams knows that the Terps, who hit just three of 36 three-pointers in their two losses, must find their range from the field.
"We just lost our offensive identity a little bit last week," Williams said. "Against any zone, you have to be aggressive. If you just stand around the perimeter, that's where they can match up on you. We have to move and make the extra pass. You have to make shots."
Matchup: Temple (6-6) vs. Maryland (9-4)
Site: Comcast Center, College Park
Time: 2 p.m.
TV/Radio: ESPN2/WBAL (1090 AM)
Line: Maryland by 10 1/2