This game should've hurt me more than it did. It was a close game that one could argue Maryland could've won had they played just a little better. But going into the game, I had the belief that Maryland did everything they needed to do to get in. I still believe that. As such, I can't be angry with a few guys running out of steam in their third game in three days.
However, when one guy doesn't get tired, he deserves recognition. Eric Hayes was simply amazing the last five minutes. He just took control of the game. There was confidence and almost a swagger that he knew what he was doing. I'm left wondering where this has been all year long. If he can do that consistently in the tourney, the Terps have a shot at the Sweet Sixteen.
Defensively, the zone did better than I expected it to against Duke. The shooters are there at Duke, but the zone still slowed them down a bit. It wasn't the be-all and end-all of defensive schemes, but it could've been much worse.
Outside of just the zone, Maryland still did a great job on defense. Kyle Singler was held scoreless for the first nineteen minutes of the second half, and Gerald Henderson had single digits. Neither of those are easy to do.
I don't know what it is, but everyone except one or two guys really picked up their play in the tourney. I would say it's because they were fighting for their tournament lives, but then why weren't they that good against Virginia? Regardless, Sean Mosley, Dino Gregory, and Eric Hayes all had coming out parties these past few days. Mosley proved that he can be a consistent 10 point scorer. Gregory, even though his statline wasn't always amazing, played very well the entire tournament, even on defense. Eric Hayes was probably the MVP for the Terps. He played so well in the NCSt game and this game, and was pretty good against Wake, too.
It was also good to see Adrian Bowie get back on track. He had ten points yesterday and didn't seem to be in a funk. It's clear just how good he is in the open floor - no one is as consistent with a difficult fast-break layup as he is.
On the other hand, Cliff Tucker was nonexistent yesterday. He played only four minutes, which brings back the nostalgia of earlier games in the year. I understand why he sat - in four minutes, he had two fouls, which isn't a formula to get playing time from Gary Williams. I'm starting to think that he may end up transferring again. He had a decent middle of the year, but if Lance Stephenson comes here, he may see the writing on the wall. I'm confident that one of the big guys will leave, opening up a spot for Lance, and the minutes at the 2/3 spots just won't be there. If he's getting 4 minutes now, imagine what he'll get when a top 5 player is in front of him. That raises the possibility of a Williams/Padgett/Lance/Vinson class, which would be a phenomenal coup.
It would've been nice to win, but I'm not at all broken up about it. In fact, it might be good to get an extra day of rest. I'm more concerned about the NCAAs than the ACC tournament. I said this in the game thread, but the committee won't look down at a six point loss when the team is as tired as they are. They'll see marked improvement - we started at 41 and ended at 6; this wasn't quite as good as a win, but it's not a normal loss.