Terps absorb lessons of loss

Maryland prepares for Fordham with Notre Dame game fresh in mind

December 06, 2006|By Heather A. Dinich | Heather A. Dinich,Sun reporter

COLLEGE PARK -- Basketball practice for the Maryland Terrapins on Monday - one day after Notre Dame ended their eight-game winning streak - was, according to coach Gary Williams, "interesting."

In other words, he got a little loud.

Was it his most vocal practice ever?

"Oh, no," he said, a smile cracking his usually stoic face. "There's been others. ... When I feel we could've won the game just doing a few things differently, then the next practice is probably going to be pretty tough."

It was the way No. 23-ranked Maryland lost to Notre Dame on Sunday in the BB&T Classic at Verizon Center that didn't sit well with Williams. His players strayed from the unselfish passing and gritty defense that had propelled the Terps (8-1) to their best start since 1998-99. Instead of forgetting it, though, Williams said he wanted his players to remember their mistakes and learn from them to avoid similar performances - starting at 8 tonight against Fordham (4-2) at Comcast Center.

"As a coach, you can't let it be reconciled," Williams said. "You can't ever allow that to be OK. I know some coaches would walk in [Monday] and say we're not going to look at the tape of that game, we're not going to talk about it, we're going to get ready for Fordham.

"Well, to me, in getting ready for Fordham, you have to really make sure they understand what happened Sunday night and how that can be avoided, because Fordham - certainly after Notre Dame - they think they can play us."

What happened Sunday night was a season-low 11 assists - a considerable drop-off from Maryland's average of 17.67, which is second in the Atlantic Coast Conference to North Carolina. The Terps' defense also faltered down the stretch, as Maryland held Notre Dame to 33 percent from the field in the first half compared with 56 percent in the second. The Terps still lead the ACC in field-goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 35.8 percent.

Players were not made available to the media yesterday. Asked yesterday what tactics he uses to keep the intensity level up after such a loss, Williams deadpanned, "I yell a lot."

"You tell them from your experiences as a coach how it works, that you have to get ready for each game," he said. "You show scores, give clippings of games that have gone funny ways this year already and try to make that point to your players, but they're also 18, 19, 20 years old and they think they know how it works. Sometimes life's experience is the best teacher."

The Terps, who haven't played Fordham since 1975, lead the series 7-1. The Rams finished last season with a 9-7 conference record, setting a school record for the most Atlantic 10 wins in a season.

Williams was also asked yesterday about Fordham's "tough schedule" the past three games, which included a win against Manhattan - the team that knocked Maryland out of the first round of the National Invitation Tournament last year at Comcast.

"Yeah, I was just watching the Manhattan tape," Williams said dryly. "They're a pretty good postseason team. I'm sure [Fordham is] ready to play us."

And vice versa.

"8-1 is pretty good right now, given our schedule," Williams said. "We're ready."

heather.dinich@baltsun.com

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