COLLEGE PARK -- The best defensive players are like umpires: You really don't recognize them unless they screw up.
That's the way it's been for most of the year for Maryland junior forward Vince Broadnax, who has been largely unnoticed because of the tenacious defense he plays.
But of late, Broadnax the defender has become Broadnax the all-around player, adding offense to his repertoire at a time when his team needed it most.
In his last eight games, Broadnax, who had never scored more than 11 points before, has averaged 13.4, including a 24-point performance against North Carolina State and a 21-point game vs. Clemson, to boost his season average from 4.5 to 7.4.
In addition, Broadnax, the team's most accurate shooter at a 55 percent clip, is shooting 59 percent from the floor during the last eight games.
"I think it [scoring ability] was always there. It was just me having the confidence to shoot the ball," said Broadnax, who averaged 20 points and seven rebounds a game as a senior at Suitland High.
"Now, I have greater confidence in myself in shooting the ball and knowing I can make the shot. And now, I'm taking more shots."
Those additional shots are coming out of necessity, as Broadnax and his teammates adjust to the absence of Walt Williams, who has missed the last 12 games with a broken bone in his leg. The Terps lost about 20 points a game when Williams went down.
Broadnax has made up for a good share of those missing points, though hardly anyone expected it.
"That kind of has something to do with it," Broadnax said of Williams' injury. "I know most guys have to score more, since we've lost 20 points from him. That's one reason that I'm scoring more."
Broadnax, a former walk-on, started five of the first seven games this season before being given sixth-man duties. He moved back into the starting lineup when Williams was injured and immediately began contributing on offense.
"It has been a surprise," said coach Gary Williams. "Last year, I just looked at him as a good defensive player. But the thing with Vince is that he's an intelligent kid.
"He's learned how to get himself open. He gets to where we can get him the ball and from about 15 feet in, he's going to take the shot. Vince scores Vince's type of points. That's the maturity of a basketball player."
Broadnax, who is listed as a 6-foot-3 forward, still retains a reputation as a good one-on-one perimeter defender, a reputation that hasn't suffered with his recent scoring spurt.
"I don't think it's detracted from my defense," he said. "I love playing defense. I take a challenge every time I step out on the court to stop my man from scoring as much as possible.
"I love to score, too. I love it as much as the next guy. But I love playing defense, too. It seems like I always get the toughest guy on the opposing team. But I look at that as a challenge."
In the last month, he has taken on the Atlantic Coast Conference's top two scorers, North Carolina State's Rodney Monroe and Georgia Tech's Kenny Anderson, and held his own, keeping both in check in crucial situations.
"There's not much that I can do," Broadnax said. "I like to watch a lot of film and try to see the things that they really like to do. All of them can score, so I try to make them take as tough a shot as possible."
"Vince has never ducked a challenge," said Williams. "He's one of those people that you can't say, 'You can't do that.' He finds out for himself and works. The way you see him play in a game is the way he practices. There's no let up in his game."
Gary Williams said that today's practice will likely determine whether Walt Williams will be able to play in the home finale against Wake Forest tomorrow.
The coach said the 6-8 junior has taken part in limited drills, but has been unable to participate in contact or transition workouts, and won't play until he can.
The coach said he and Williams had hoped he would be ready to play against North Carolina last week, but he was unable to run without a limp. Walt Williams said following Tuesday's Virginia Tech win that he would play as soon as his leg stopped hurting.