During ESPN’s telecast of Maryland’s eventual 12-8 loss to Virginia last Saturday, analysts Matt Ward and Ryan Boyle mentioned Curtis Holmes’ battle with minor injuries. On Tuesday, Terps coach John Tillman confirmed that those unspecified ailments have affected the junior faceoff specialist’s play this season.
“In our opinion, it seems like it comes back to that,” Tillman said. “We’ve studied film from last year and this year, and we keep coming back to, ‘We’re probably getting everybody’s best efforts,’ whereas last year, Curtis was kind of the unknown. Now Curtis is a known and people are studying harder for him and preparing harder for him. But everything else seems to be pretty consistent. We’re not doing a whole lot different in terms of his preparation. We tried to tweak some things once it wasn’t going as well as we liked. … He’s gone against some pretty good guys. We’ve just got to have a Plan B and C, and we feel like with [freshmen] Charlie [Raffa] and Bobby [Gribbin] and hope that with maybe a little bit more rest, Curtis is fresher. It’s hard to say that it’s fatigue because he took almost every faceoff, and it didn’t hurt him last year. He’s taken less this year. So we’re looking at every aspect.”
After ranking seventh in Division I with a 62.6 success rate (221-of-353) on faceoffs last season, Holmes has dipped to 50 percent (66-of-132) this spring. But the Marriottsville native and McDonogh graduate isn’t conceding anything to the media or even his coaches.
“The hardest part with Curtis is, he’s never going to tell you how hurt he is,” Tillman said. “He doesn’t want to, he’s too stubborn, and that’s a good thing in certain ways where his mental toughness is off the charts. He’ll fight and scrap and he doesn’t let a lot of outside factors hurt him. Yet, you almost have to drag him off the X or put someone else in because he won’t complain. It’s something we’ve got to gauge. We wanted to get Charlie an early opportunity last week just because we felt like the times we have gone to other options, we’ve waited and waited and waited. They get a lot of work before the game and then it’s 45 minutes later or an hour-and-a-half later, and it’s now, ‘OK, anticipate the whistle and go.’ So the plan was to get Charlie in early, and the plan this week will be to get Charlie in early. And we could always go with Bobby Gribbin, too.”