Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum
7:00 p.m., RJ/ESPN2
Matt Doherty's Pregame Quotes
"We've got a heck of a challenge - we've probably struggled with [Maryland] more than any team in the league. Their size and experience has really give us trouble at home and on the road."
"I've really been impressived with Drew [Nicholas'] improvements as a player at Maryland. He really developed into a great player at Maryland. He's got the intangibles to go with talent - he's a tough kid who is a very competitive kid. And he has the speed, quickness, ability to shoot the basketball and play both guard spots. He's had a heck of a career and Maryland and being from Long Island I'm proud of him."
Gary Williams' Pregame Quotes
"We're very proud this year to finish as the No. 2 seed in the conference. We worked very hard to put together a team this year and it is gratifying - you always want to win the championship of the regular season but Wake Forest was the best team during the regular season and they deserve a lot of credit. ... On any given night any team can beat anybody, so it should be a great tournament for the fans and I'm looking forward to it."
10 Keys to Beating Maryland
by Brett Ayers
UNC has managed to get handily defeated in its two meetings with the Maryland Terrapins this season. One of the oldest lexicons in the world of sports is that it is very difficult to beat a team three times in one season. In order for UNC to make that more reality then lexicon, there is a definitive list of things they will need to accomplish and employ. One of the biggest downfalls of UNC all season long, regardless of who was in the line-up, has been their team defensive breakdown usually leading to easy buckets and or offensive rebound opportunities. Here are ten things I think UNC has to do in order to win this game against Maryland.
1. Block out, block out and oh, yeah, and block-out some more. UNC has failed in key games to make body contact with opposing players and either move them back and or move them under the basket. You don't have to be the worlds strongest or biggest man, just a very determined one willing to get in there and mix it up. Once that ball goes up Holden and Randle must not be allowed to sit in those magical spots on either side of the basket with hands up waiting for the ball to come off to them.
2. Stop Steve Blake. This is the key to everything that Maryland does. Get up into him in the backcourt, even after a miss. Use Jackie to put pressure on him and then when he crosses half court switch Raymond onto him. Let Jackie get those long arms of his in Blake's line of sight and keep him from kicking that ball up the court. This will also have the effect of tiring Blake out as well. Use Holmes some if you have to here as well. Blake comes off of a pick and roll; double-team him. Get the ball out his hands and make him have to really exert himself to do it.
3. Defend the flex. Maryland will come and go with their usual flex in situations like this. It is pretty customary for Williams to fall back on Old Faithful. Get off that wing and on top of that first pick. When you are defending the guy coming to pick down make sure you are also off and giving your man defending the low block guy the room to slip that down pick and perhaps get out and deny that guard to guard pass.
4. Communicate. I don't care where and what you are doing, call out picks so that folks in the nose bleed seats can hear you. This has been woefully absent from this UNC team pretty much the entire year.
5. Mix up your defenses. Use all kinds of different things. Straight man-to-man will not work against Maryland because of the match-up problems. Make Maryland work on offense and in getting the ball up. Extend Maryland, as a team, by pressing and making their big men have to come back up to the ball. Throw 3/4 court and 1/2 court traps at them and maybe some run and jump. They are not expecting that so play with them mentally. Put them on the defensive when they have the ball. Don't let them get into things easily.
6. Use your offense to tire out their big men and get them into some foul trouble. Motion, motion and then a little more motion if they have not had enough of it the first two times. A lot of high and wide five-out ball reversing motion. Get guys cutting and keep everyone moving, especially off the ball. Wait for picks, no more of this run-by picking that is bordering on being illegal picks. Be smart and get in more than four passes each possession unless a lay-up makes itself readily available. When Sanders is in the game use him at the high post to set picks for the guards to come off of and then have them roll after setting the picks with their hands up.
7. Stay away from on the ball picks until after the ten-minute mark in the second half. Get Maryland so wired to guard motion that suddenly they will not be ready to react to any on the ball stuff. 8. On Maryland's quick hitters and entry plays stay up above the wing players as they run along the baseline off of picks from the big men. Don't get caught trailing so they can curl off of those picks.
9. Defensively know who is in the game and where they can hurt you. During walk through of Maryland's stuff really engrain it in your memory. Don't run out at someone who is not going to hurt you from where they are and get yourself out of position defensively.
10. Shoot less than 20 threes for the game.
Probable Starting Lineup: Steve Blake (6-3, G, Sr.) – 11.3 ppg, 6.9 apg, 41% 3pt Drew Nicholas (6-3, G, Sr.) – 17.2 ppg, 2.6 apg, 40% 3pt Nik Caner-Medley (6-8, F, Fr.) – 5.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg Tahj Holden (6-10, F, Sr.) – 8.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg Ryan Randle (6-9, C, Sr.) – 12.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg Key Reserves: Calvin McCall (6-3, G, Sr.) – 4.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg Jamar Smith (6-9, F, Jr.) – 5.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg Travis Garrison (6-8, F, Fr.) – 4.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg John Gilchrist (6-1, G, Fr.) – 4.2 ppg, 1.6 apg Chris McCray (6-4, G, Fr.) – 3.4 ppg
Steve Blake ... Drew Nicholas
Ryan Randle ... Gary Williams
(Photos courtesy the AP.)