Adjustment in practice routine aided Maryland's postseason run

Terps coach John Tillman felt it necessary to mix things up after loss to Colgate in regular-season finale

May 24, 2012|By Edward Lee

Maryland’s upsets of No. 7 seed Lehigh in the NCAA tournament’s first round and No. 2 seed Johns Hopkins in the quarterfinals are somewhat surprising considering that the Terps ended the regular season with a less-than-inspired 13-11 loss to Colgate.

It was the second consecutive year that Maryland had dropped its regular-season finale to the Raiders, who used that victory to qualify for the tournament and bounce previously undefeated Massachusetts from the first round.

After the most recent setback to Colgate, Terps coach John Tillman said he decided to adjust the team’s usual practice routine.

“The season is a grind,” he said during a conference call Tuesday. “We start in August and you sometimes forget that they’re young guys. Change can be detrimental, yet sometimes change can be good. What we found with these guys was shaking things up a little bit more and keeping it fresh and keeping it different – even if it was the slightest of tweaks – it keeps their attention a little bit more. So we changed everything from some of the drills to the pace and tempo and flow of the practice. Maybe starting off with something a little bit more up-tempo and then going full-field and then bringing it back to six-on-six and then going back to full-field. Just always keeping it a little bit different so that it didn’t seem stale. It seemed a little bit unpredictable and the guys didn’t know what was coming, and they seemed to like that. I think we tried to get more competitive from top to bottom.”

Tillman said altering the regular practice regimen was easier later in the season due to the players’ comfort and experience level with what is expected of them.

“We felt like we could do that because a lot of the things that we were seeing later in the year, our starters had seen before,” he said. “We didn’t have that luxury earlier in the year. A lot of these guys on the defensive end just did not have the experience. So we had to really teach them and expose them to all the different sets and looks they might see, and now later in the season, we have the luxury of going back and going, ‘All right, you’ve seen this before. Let’s refresh it, but let’s maybe do some other things that will keep practice a little more upbeat, more competitive.’ And I think anytime our kids are competing, they enjoy it a lot more.”

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