Maryland plans to relieve pressure on Holmes

Curtis Holmes is Maryland’s primary faceoff specialist, but the No. 11 Terps plan to give the Marriottsville native and McDonogh graduate some help.

Coach John Tillman said earlier this week that freshman Charlie Raffa will give Holmes a breather and take some draws. That plan could be enacted as early as this Saturday when No. 2 Virginia – which rotates senior Ryan Benincasa and freshman Mick Parks on faceoffs – visits Byrd Stadium.

“I think they feel like us,” Tillman said Tuesday of the Cavaliers. “We’ve started using Charlie Raffa a little bit more, and Charlie’s move is different than Curtis’. So it does give us some versatility there depending on who we’re going against.”

Holmes has struggled to recapture his form from last season when he ranked seventh in Division I with a 62.6 percentage (221-of-353). This year, he has won just 49.2 percent (61-of-124) of faceoffs and has succeeded on less than half of his draws in each of his last five contests.

But Tillman maintained that Raffa’s participation is based on his improved play in practice, not Holmes’ troubles.

“I think Charlie’s earned it,” Tillman said. “I think Curtis – after that first game – hasn’t faced off as well for a lot of different reasons. I think our wing play can improve. I think our 10-on-10 can improve. But I think Charlie’s done such a good job in practice that we owe it to Charlie to give him more opportunities in the game because he’s done it in practice and that’s not fair to him, to hold him out.”

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