Terps' confidence growing heading into North Carolina game

Maryland has seen its scoring surge since loss at Virginia Tech

February 26, 2011|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — — On Feb. 15, Maryland traveled to Virginia Tech and lost. But there was more to it than that.

It was a game in which Maryland's offense seemed to find itself — even in defeat — at a time when the Terps need every last point as they make a late-season push for an NCAA tournament bid.

Freshman guard Terrell Stoglin, who had never before topped 18 points, scored 25 against the Hokies and has barely slowed down since. He followed the Virginia Tech game by scoring 25 and 17 points, respectively, as the Terps (18-10, 7-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their next two contests. "I just like to push the ball and go," Stoglin said.

It's not just Stoglin who has asserted himself since the 91-83 loss in Blacksburg, Va. In their past three conference games (including Virginia Tech), the Terps, who visit No. 19 North Carolina Sunday night, have gotten to the foul line at least 20 times — a sign of being aggressive in the paint.

In four of its five ACC losses before the Virginia Tech game, Maryland had shot fewer than 20 free throws.

Has Maryand's offense reinvented itself? The team is running the same sets, but the emergence of Stoglin and senior co-captain Dino Gregory (five straight games in double figures) has given Maryland balance and taken pressure of leading scorer Jordan Williams (17.2 points per game).

"I think we've become a more rounded team in that you just can't worry about Jordan," Maryland coach Gary Williams said Saturday. "We have to keep playing how we've been playing. This is the most consistent we've been."

Maryland has won four of its past five games against North Carolina.

This year's matchup has high stakes for Maryland, which is desperate for a win against a nationally ranked team to enhance its NCAA tournament credentials. The Terps have endured single-digit defeats to Duke, Pittsburgh, Villanova, Temple and Illinois — all nationally ranked this season at one time

The Tar Heels literally pose a big test. North Carolina has a large frontcourt with three players (Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes and John Henson) averaging double figures.

After starting the season 4-3, the Tar Heels (21-6, 11-2 ACC) have won 17 of 20 games.

Through 13 ACC games, North Carolina leads the conference in both offensive rebounds (14.2 per game) and defensive rebounds (28.6).

"[North Carolina's] front line — 3, 4 and 5 — is bigger than Florida State's front line," Williams said. "The offensive rebounding thing jumps out at you right away."

After Sunday's game, the Terps next play the Hurricanes in Miami on Wednesday night.

"We're really facing a tough stretch," Williams said.

And a critical one.



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