Previewing Maryland

The Tar Heels head to College Park for a tough Saturday afternoon matchup. Tip-off with Maryland is 2 p.m. at the Comcast Center on RJ. <br><center> (<a target=new href="">INTERNET BROADCAST</a>) - (<a href="'','GameTrackermbaskbl','toolbar=no,resizeable=no,scrollbars=no,width=780,height=540'); void('');">LIVE STATS</a>)</center>

North Carolina (14-11, 4-7) vs. Maryland (16-7, 8-4)
Comcast Center, College Park, Md.
2:00 p.m., RJ

Doherty's Pregame Quotes

"They are big, they're athletic and their skilled. They're very good. There's not much you can do – just try to do a better job boxing out and making it difficult for them to get them the ball where they want to get it – hopefully they can get it a little further out from the basket. And also make them guard us. I think it's tough to guard them but hopefully we can make it difficult for them to guard us, too.

"We're going to stick with the lineup we've started the last couple of games and hopefully that'll pay off. Again, they are a well-oiled machine. I think Coach Williams does a great job. Steve Blake, the more you watch him the more you appreciate him. I think he's going to be a good pro. He can really run the show and he's like an assassin. He may not have but five points in a game and all of a sudden they need a big basket and he nails a three. He's a clutch player, a tough kid and one that I think every coach would love to have on his team."

Maryland Scouting Report
by Brett Ayers

Offensive Schemes - Maryland has been traditionally a team that runs a large amound of flex continuity offense but this year they have taken a much different offensive approach for the most part. In the last game with UNC they did use flex a good forty to fifty percent of the game. They do, however, mix in about a dozen entry plays with all of that and at times will go for long stretches and run nothing but these entry plays and quick hitters. The key to stopping their offense is stopping Steve Blake and really making him have to dribble the ball excessively. When he does that it usually means that Maryland is not running their offense through with any acceptable level of execution. It also means you have kept Maryland from running up and down the court which UNC must do in order to win this game. One of the things that hurt UNC last game was offensive rebounding. No matter who is inside for the Heels they have to realize that it is not essential that they get the defensive board, but they have to make sure their man does not get the offensive board. Shove them underneath the hoop after the shot if they have to, but don't let Holden and Randle get position for offensive boards.

Defensive Schemes - Maryland is coming off two pretty draining games, but there is still a two-day lag before they play UNC again and I would not be surprised if they simply stayed in the area. That said, don't expect to see the same sluggish team that played at Cameron Indoor on Wednesday evening. Maryland will once again throw the 2-2-1 at UNC along with mixing in some zone but they will most likely play primarily man-to-man. If UNC goes small, and I think they should, the keys will be getting a lot of passes and player movement in the half court offense. Making Maryland move, especially the big men will create a lot of open lanes to drive into along with the possibility for cuts from the guard and wing spots. The keys will be the high and wide spacing along with good solid off the ball picks. Once guys like Noel and Williams catch the ball after four to six passes and player movement they may well find themselves very isolated on the likes of Holden and Randle and should be able to take full advantage. One of the keys to UNC's defensive success is totally predicated upon their offensive game plan and getting Maryland's big men in foul trouble.

Players to Watch:

Drew Nicholas: A slight of build guard who will shoot it anywhere, anytime, anyplace and at any score. He is much better coming and or dribbling to his left. He tends to shoot more on balance. In the man-to-man, the key to stopping him is not letting him come off picks cleanly. In transition, UNC has to find him.

Steve Blake: The heart and soul of this Maryland team. Just when you think you have him, he shifts gears and hits another speed. He will also shoot the three when you least expect it -- and hit it. You have to have your hands up on him all the time. Jamming him as best you can in the backcourt after made or missed baskets and getting him to move east to west is one of the keys to stopping him. The "heart" of this team has to be cut out in order for UNC to win.

Ryan Randle: Very big, and a very capable big man. Has range to 17 feet on his jumper and is very adept with either his right or left hand down low with the baby hook. In order to contain him UNC is going to have to in part go at him on the offensive end and look to draw some fouls. Runs the court well and has very, very good hands in transition.

Probable Starting Lineup:
   Steve Blake (6-3, G, Sr.) – 12.2 ppg, 7.0 apg, 41% 3pt
   Drew Nicholas (6-3, G, Sr.) – 17.5 ppg, 2.7 apg, 40% 3pt
   Nik Caner-Medley (6-8, F, Fr.) – 6.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg
   Tahj Holden (6-10, F, Sr.) – 9.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg
   Ryan Randle (6-9, C, Sr.) – 13.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg
Key Reserves: 
   Calvin McCall (6-3, G, Sr.) – 5.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg
   Jamar Smith  (6-9, F, Jr.) – 5.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg
   Travis Garrison  (6-8, F, Fr.) – 4.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg
   Chris McCray  (6-4, G, Fr.) – 3.6 ppg
   John Gilchrist  (6-1, G, Fr.) – 3.9 ppg, 1.7 apg

Maryland Info

Photo Gallery

Steve Blake ... Drew Nicholas

Ryan Randle ... Gary Williams

(Photos courtesy the AP.)

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