By Sam Spiegelman
North Florida Ospreys (4-7, 1-1 Atlantic Sun)
Maryland Terrapins (8-4, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference)
Wed. December 29, 2010
8 p.m., Comcast Center, College Park, M.D.
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The Ospreys and the Terrapins met for the first time in 2007 in the opening round of the OReilly Auto Parts CBE Classic. Led by Greivis Vasquezs 18 points, Maryland easily defeated North Florida, 79-50, at the Comcast Center.
Ospreys: Andy Diaz (10.1 ppg), Jerron Granberry (9.8 ppg), Parker Smith (9.7 ppg)
After head coach Matthew Driscoll helped the Ospreys to a five-game improvement in his first season as head coach, the Atlantic Sun Conference predicted North Florida to finish seventh in the coaches poll and eighth place in the media poll.
The starting five consists of four seasoned veterans, including two sophomores, a junior and a senior, guard Brad Haugabrook. Freshman forward Charles McRoy recently cracked the starting lineup to replace an injured Matt Sauey; the other starters – Andy Diaz, Jerron Granberry and Bad Haugabrook – have started all 42 games at North Florida.
The Ospreys do not have one dynamic scorers; it is a team-wide approach. That means Maryland will have to play tight defense because everyone is capable of scoring baskets.
When the team took home the championship at the Cancun Challenge, it was due solely to their defense. In the first round, Prairie View A&M scored just 66 points. The next game they amped up their efforts, limiting Morgan State to 52 points, including a seven-minute scoreless stretch.
Parker Smith provides a 10-ppg scoring threat off the bench for North Florida. The sophomore
Guard has played in all of the Ospreys games this season, and has reached double-digit scoring
seven times, including a season-high 17 versus Missouri.
North Florida is averaging just below 62 ppg, good for 10th in the Atlantic Sun Conference. With no clear-cut leading scorer, the Ospreys do not have one player to lean on to carry them in crunch time.
The Ospreys -4.27 turnover margin is the worst in their conference, and their assist-turnover ratio is 121-204. The top four assist leaders on the team – Brad Haugabrook, Jimmy Williams, Jerron Granberry and Brian Holmes – have a combined 101 turnovers, compared to just 89 assists.
Matching up with the Terps
The Terps will have an overwhelming advantage on the boards. Marylands 41.2 rebounds per game are almost seven more than that of North Florida, while the Terps starting frontcourt has a clear advantage with 6-10 true center Jordan Williams.
With PeShon Howard getting the nod at point guard for the first time this season, both Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker were able to focus primarily on scoring. The team shot 56.6 percent from the field and 60 percent from three-point range, the most efficient effort from downtown all season. Their nine made-threes was also a season-best.
Keys to the Game
Jordan Williams continues to lead the nation in double-doubles, and is one shy from tying a school record set by Joe Smith over a decade ago with seven straight. After a quiet 14 points against NJIT, expect Williams to dominate the much smaller North Florida frontcourt.
The turnover-prone Ospreys will face off against a Maryland team that forced 18 turnovers in their last contest against NJIT. The Highlanders first half turnovers translated into 25 Terps points.
Can Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker maintain their sharp shooting and force opponents to defend the perimeter? If so, the defense cannot clutter Jordan Williams on the interior, allowing the Terps to spread the court and put forth a versatile scoring offense.
Radio: Terrapin Sports Radio Network