Williams, Terps not dwelling on loss

Coach: N.C. State game is out of mind

focus shifts to Virginia matchup today

February 19, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Two days after questioning the effort and preparation of his team and admitting that he was frustrated by its erratic play, Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams said yesterday that the Terrapins have moved on from Wednesday night's 19-point loss at North Carolina State and are focused on Virginia.

The 22nd-ranked Terps (15-8, 6-6 in Atlantic Coast Conference) play the Cavaliers (13-10, 4-8) today at University Hall, and despite the Terps' league-worst 1-5 road record, Williams said his team enters the game with its confidence intact.

"We're not down," Williams said. "Why are we down? We beat the [No. 7] team in the country [Duke] less than a week ago. I was disappointed in that one game, not the season. One game. That's all I talked about, how we prepared for N.C. State. That was the only disappointment that was mentioned by me."

"We're 6-6," Williams added. "We're a lot better right now than we were last year."

At this time last season, the Terps had a 4-8 league record and their status as an NCAA tournament team was in major doubt until they beat Virginia in the season finale and went on to win the ACC tournament.

The current Terps probably need a 2-2 finish to cement their 12th straight NCAA tournament bid. It seems reasonable, even for a team that has been one of the most unpredictable in the country this season.

After Virginia, Maryland hosts Clemson, the league's last-place team, on Tuesday, and then first-place and fourth-ranked North Carolina on Feb. 27. The Terps are 12-1 at Comcast Center this season. They close the regular season at Virginia Tech, a team coming off a 67-65 upset of Duke on Thursday.

"You just get ready for Virginia," Williams said. "That's all you talk about. You don't talk about standings. You don't talk about the NCAA tournament. You talk about Virginia. If you win, it takes care of everything."

As he has done several times this season - especially after some tough losses - Williams did not make his players available to the media yesterday, but he did say that the Terps practiced well on Thursday. Asked if the players had seen his published comments after the loss to the Wolfpack on Wednesday, Williams said, "I hope they did."

Williams was quoted as saying: "This is on the players. I worked hard to get ready for this game. You ask the players why they weren't ready to play."

Yesterday, he backed off the comment, but only slightly: "I'll take full responsibility that game of not getting the players ready to play," he said. "But I let them know that they have to do their part, too."

Williams' next task is trying to get his team to play well away from Comcast Center. The Terps are 1-6 overall on the road this season. Five of those losses came in ACC gyms, and in those games, the Terps were outscored by 85 points.

Williams, using Duke's loss at Virginia Tech on Thursday as an example, pointed out that the Terps are not alone in their struggles away from home. Wake Forest and North Carolina are the only two teams in the ACC that are above .500 on the road.

The Cavaliers, who many think are playing for coach Pete Gillen's job, have been much better since starting out the league season with a 1-7 record, including a 14-point loss at Comcast Center on Jan. 19. They've won three of their past four ACC games, with the lone loss coming at North Carolina.

Gillen has relied more on a three-guard lineup, but the Cavaliers' go-to-guy remains 6-foot-5 senior forward Devin Smith (16.5 points, 6.2 rebounds), who hurt the Terps early in the January matchup until Chris McCray shut him down in the second half.

Williams is eager to see how his team responds today.

"I don't have any problems as long as players try to change, or try to do something differently if things didn't go right in a particular game," said Williams, who didn't rule out lineup changes for today's game. "That's all you can do. You can't say you have to win every game or you should win this game. But you don't want to stay the same. You don't want to accept anything that is negative."

Maryland today

Matchup: No. 22 Maryland (15-8, 6-6) vs. Virginia (13-10, 4-8)

Site: University Hall, Charlottesville, Va.

Time: 3:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)

Line: Maryland by 4 1/2

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