posted 05.28.2011 at 10.56 p.m. by Corey McLaughlin

Tillman: 'Adversity Really Brought Us Together'

After Maryland took out Duke to set up Monday's All-ACC national championship game with Virginia, Terrapins coach John Tillman addressed reporters in the bowels of M&T Bank Stadium. One question about the growth of the team caused to Tillman to deliver a blanket statement on the season, a response that speaks straight to the type of emotional ride this Maryland team is on.

"This journey has been a lot harder than I think anybody really knows," Tillman said. "A lot of things have happened behind the scenes, and I do think that's something we draw strength from. Losing their coach last year was really hard for these guys. I think almost all of them were so heart-broken and when we came in as a staff we kind of had to prove ourselves. It was kind of like, 'All right, Coach Tillman, don't screw this up for us.' We really had to prove ourselves. The biggest thing for us is we're not geniuses, we're not going to reinvent the wheel here. You're close. All we want to do bring what we feel comfortable doing, and maybe just a couple tweaks here and there will help."

"But also having so many seniors," Tillman continued. "Knowing that this is their final time. That makes a huge difference. It's maybe that extra five minutes staying after. That extra workout, maybe leading some of the younger guys and that may get you that extra goal or that extra ground ball."

"There have been a lot of things that have made this thing challenging, whether it's been injuries or Ryan Young's mother. Ryan would go home after games and leave on Friday and Saturday and maybe come back on Tuesday or Wednesday, and we felt like Ryan needed to be there for his family and we would adjust. But he's the quarterback of our offense. When he didn't show up until Wednesday it limits what you do, but we wouldn't have done it any other way. He needed to be where he needed to be because that was more important than lacrosse ever would be. I think what happened was everybody else stepped up their play to make it easier for Ryan. That adversity really brought us together."

"Hearing Maria Young's story inspired everybody to work that much harder. To go through three years of chemo and radiation, and fight the fight for her three boys and make sure they graduated, like you can't not be inspired. You have to practice hard. Like you can't ever complain because the courage that she showed. Shame on you for having a bad day. This is just a game. You've got to sell out for each other. To see the kids rally for Ryan and the families and our program rally for Ryan and this community and our alums, it's been unbelievable. I'm just so proud to be a part of this, regardless of whether we won this weekend or what happened. ... I'm pumped for our guys because they have looked out for each other."

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