Here are thoughts on Maryland’s victory over No. 2 Duke and a look ahead to the Terps' matchup with North Carolina today in the ACC tournament semifinals:
Do good things come to those who wait?
Maybe it’s fortunate for Maryland that college basketball seasons are long.
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Terps fans waited this season -- not always patiently -- for young Maryland to grow up. Dez Wells said Maryland is “peaking” at just the right time.
We’ll see if the Terps can sustain their development.
Here’s what Maryland fans are seeing lately:
* Dez Wells absolutely going off. It sounds funny to say, but this is not just happenstance. Wells takes his role as a leader seriously and is always trying to ascertain how he can be best integrated into the team. He made a conscious decision to be more assertive at the end of the season because he determined that the Terps needed his scoring. He practically apologized for taking over the Wake Forest game in the ACC tournament opener, saying it might be “unfair.” Terps fans would beg to differ.
* The 3-point shooting and free-throw shooting have improved since the ACC tournament began. This is critical. Maryland played solid defense against the Blue Devils, but Duke has too many weapons to stop completely. The Terps were going to have to up their scoring to stay with Duke, no matter how well Maryland played defensively. In two ACC tournament games, the Terps are 15-for-35 on 3s.
* Maryland is playing aggressively enough to get to the foul line -- a Mark Turgeon priority. Maryland is 45-for-54 from the line since the tournament began.
Things could come full circle this season if seventh-seeded Maryland manages to defeat North Carolina in the semifinals.
The Tar Heels swept Maryland this season. Turgeon was particularly puzzled by his team’s lack of energy in the UNC-Maryland meeting at Comcast Center on March 6.
So Maryland has a chance now for redemption.
North Carolina can create matchup issues with a four-guard lineup. P.J. Hairston burned Maryland in the last meeting with 22 points.
Hairston’s status is uncertain for Saturday’s game because of an injury to his left hand.
“We’re extremely concerned right now,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said Friday night after the Florida State game. “His hand is torn up, and they’re stitching it up in the training room right now. I have no idea, won’t have any idea. I told you everything I know. It doesn’t look good and they’re stitching it up.”
Here’s the question for Maryland: Do the Terps use their small lineup to run with Carolina? Or do they try to exert their size and strength inside and surrender some quickness?
Terps fans are pleased, I’m sure, that the team is still alive in the ACC tournament and that we're still asking such questions.