Maryland's recent stretch of close games and tough defeats is nearly unprecedented in the men's basketball program's modern history.
It has been nearly 30 years since the Terps have played in as many games decided by four points or less.
Maryland is 3-6 this season in games decided by that margin, including three defeats by a total of eight points in the past four games.
The last time the Terps played that many close games in a season was 1984-85, when Lefty Driesell’s team played 12 games decided by four points or less. Maryland won eight of them and finished the season 25-12, ending with a three-point defeat to eventual national champion Villanova in the Sweet 16.
Though Driesell said he can’t remember the specifics, there was a stretch that season when Maryland played five straight games decided by four points or less, including one-point losses to Georgia Tech and North Carolina.
In a span of five days, the Terps lost to the No. 5 Tar Heels in Chapel Hill and beat the No. 2 Blue Devils in College Park in overtime.
“It’s tough. You got to forget about them,” Driesell said Monday. “A lot of times, when we’d get blown out, I wouldn’t even show them the film. In a game that’s really close, one or two points, I’d probably just show them the end of the game.”
Driesell said he took a coaching technique from the legendary Dean Smith of North Carolina in helping his team prepare for end-of-game situations.
“Every day in practice, play a five-minute overtime, so you’re used to close game situations,” Driesell said. “A lot of times, I’d put them in close game situations – down one with one with 30 seconds to go – you’ve got to practice them if you keep losing. You’ve got to study it, practice it and work on their mind and tell them, ‘We’re going to win the next one.'”
Known more as a recruiter than a bench coach, Driesell had a terrific record over his 17 seasons at Maryland in games decided by four points or less. The Terps were 54-32.
“A lot these shots guys make at the end of the games, you hear the announcer say, ‘They ran a great play.’ Mostly it’s just one-on one and see what happens,” Driesell said. “That shot the kid from Clemson [C.J. McDaniels] blocked [on Dez Wells]. Mark [Turgeon] couldn’t do anything about that. A of what happens end of games is just luck.”