Maybe we just witnessed the power of homecourt. Maybe we just witnessed a return to strength after a bad game. Maybe we just witnessed a determined team eager to make up for a disappointing loss. Maybe we witnessed what the presence of Vernon Davis, Steve Francis, and possibly even Wale does for a basketball team. Or maybe we just witnessed all of the above. (Okay, probably not that last one.)
Whatever the reason, we certainly witnessed a statement game and an offensive demolition. Maryland came out after a rough loss to Duke in which they never got on track offensively, and they never seemed to get off it against the Cavs. They shot 53% from the field, and an unbelievable 70% in the first half, in which they scored 52 points. Greivis Vasquez scored 25 in said first half, and Maryland simply never looked back. Even though Vasquez would score only 5 more points in the game, others picked up the second half slack and Maryland coasted to an easy home win, 85-66.
One of the big keys for me in the preview for this game was how Maryland would deal with the Duke loss. It was a test of their mettle, and I can say with full confidence: test passed. They came out and punched UVA in the mouth. You couldn't ask for a better response.
After missing every open shot they had against Duke, the rims proved significantly kinder at home in the Comcast Center. They aren't as good as they were in the first half, just like they weren't as bad as they were against Duke, but wow: this was the statement game they were looking for.
Nearly everyone was impressive in this game, but three players really stood out, in addition to Vasquez's dominance: Jordan Williams, James Padgett, and Cliff Tucker. Jordan had another double-double against moderate competition, and looked great doing it. His hands, post moves, and rebounding are well ahead of his years.
Padgett was surprising. He played early and often - no, really - and actually got into double-digits in minutes. He had his problems, especially in looking rather tentative, but once he got into the flow of things he showed why Gary and others really liked his grit and determination. He only had 5 points and 1 rebound, but that's miles ahead of where he was just a few games ago. If he can start to steal minutes from Dino, this team is all the more dangerous.
Tucker nearly out-minuted Sean Mosley - partially due to Mosley's foul troubles, sure, but Tucker looked better in his time than Mosley did in his, and really wasn't even that close. I'll hit on Mosley's troubles later, but this is Tucker's time: he had some great moves in transition, and was smart with the ball and with his shots. If he can bring solid decision-making into the equation, he looks a lot more complete.
While those stood out, almost everyone else looked good. Landon Milbourne ended up with 14, as did Eric Hayes. Both shot better than 50%. Dino Gregory had 7, and everyone made some kind of contribution.
One thing that will go unnoticed is how rough a game the formerly unstoppable Sylven Landesburg had for UVA. He was averaging 18 a game in ACC play, but was held to just 12. That was a solid performance all-around defensively, too - more than one guy guarded him man-to-man.
The only negative, if you could even call it that, is Mosley's performance. He has unquestionably hit a wall in ACC offensively; he still provides a lot in terms of defense and intangibles, but in a game where even Ersin Levent scored, Mosley couldn't find the bottom of the basket. Like I said earlier, he provides a lot more than scoring, and scoring isn't the problem with this team, but the more of a liability he is on the offensive end, the more playing time Tucker will net.
That was it, though. This game was a dominating performance, and any doubts created after the Duke game were answered and obliterated. Maybe we can't glean too much from it in terms of strategy and what worked/what didn't, but it was a great game to watch and as reassuring as it could've possibly been.