Maryland Needs to Get in the Zone
Of all of the disturbing developments in their stunning, 11-6 loss to North Carolina at home on Saturday, the Maryland Terrapins' total breakdown in the face of a pretty ordinary Carolina zone defense ranks way up there.
Whether Maryland was committing unforced turnovers during that 26-minute scoring drought, or firing away from the outside desperately during fourth-quarter, catch-up time, the Terps looked confused and immature in the face of a defense that hasn't been known for shutting good offenses down.
"We practiced all week against [the zone]. We've seen so much zone in the past couple of weeks, we thought we were good," said Terps first-year coach John Tillman. "The unforced errors were disappointing. Then we were forcing the ball inside at times, getting rushed at times, taking some low-angle shots. I think we could have made some better decisions."
Besides neutralizing Terps sharshooter Grant Catalino, the Carolina zone also slowed the tempo to a crawl at times. Maryland never got in any rhythm with its transition game.
Maryland is now trying to avoid its first, 0-3 regular season against the Atlantic Coast Conference since 1993, and the Terps must win on Saturday at Virginia, where they have not won since 2003. The good news is Maryland could have senior attackman Travis Reed back in the fold after he missed three games with a sore shoulder.
Virginia generally abhors playing a zone, which should help the Terps loosen up on offense and do more effective dodging and cutting down low.
But the Cavs, who have their issues on defense, may be taking note of the fact that the Terps have struggled three times with scoring droughts in the 25-minute range already in 2011.
Maryland could be seeing more junk defenses, until it proves it can navigate the zone more proficiently.