Smith Center, Chapel Hill
7:00 p.m., ESPN
Doherty's Pregame Quotes
"We've come off a couple of nice wins and it doesn't get any easier. We're getting ready to play a very talented and experienced Maryland team that has a lot of size underneath and maybe the most experienced backcourt in the league. It's going to be a heck of a challenge for us and hopefully a great college basketball game."
On the importance of home games -
"Road wins are very precious, so you've got to try and win all of them at home -- if you can. That's not easy to do when you're talking about teams in this league like Duke, Maryland, Wake Forest ... you're talking about very talented teams. We're going to do our best to try to protect our home court."
On the need for continued great home crowds -
"The crowd defintely distracts the opponent, energizes the home teams and always helps in recruiting. Those are the three keys that the crowd helps the team with. It lifts your level of play, distracts the opponent and helps when recruits are behind your bench and see 21,750 go crazy."
On the development of the two freshmen post players in Sean May's absence -
"They've been progressing terrificly. I'm really proud of Byron Sanders. He won our defensive award again when we graded the [UConn] tape - he had 49 good defensive plays to three bad [plays]. That's an unbelievable defensive grade. Offensively, he's just getting more and more comfortable -- had a big three point play down the stretch and is knocking down foul shots. Once Sean comes back, we're going to be that much better because of Byron's development. Damion Grant's development has been slowed because of injuries, but I've been excited and encouraged by his progress, too. Here's a young man who has only played a couple of years of organized basketball, to come out on the floor against Virginia, Clemson and UConn, he's a presence inside. Those two guys have really grown in Sean's absence and when Sean comes back we'll be that much better for it."
Maryland Scouting Report
by Brett Ayers
Offensive Schemes - Maryland is a team that has traditionally run a lot of flex continuity offense. This year, until the Duke game, there has been little seen of the flex offense. Maryland has been running a series of eight to ten entry plays and quick hitters for their scorers. The key to stopping Maryland is first defending flex. The second thing is to mix in zone. Maryland does not attack the zone nearly as well as they do the man-to-man. Lastly, stopping Steve Blake -- disrupting his offensive flow is essential. Getting up on Blake in the backcourt and impeeding his forward motion with the ball is an absolute to keeping Maryland's transition game in check. If UNC does that, and keeps Maryland below 70 points they have a chance to win this game.
Defensive Schemes - Maryland will throw three different things at UNC. First thing UNC better be ready for is the 2-2-1 press. Maryland will usually fall back into a man-to-man but may well end up playing more zone against UNC. The Terps will also employ a full court man to man press which they will occasionally trap out of, but not often. Maryland is a very, very capable man-to-man team and they have a very aggressive set of guards who really like to get out and gamble in their press. If UNC does not make the Maryland press pay, it will be a long day for the Heels.
Players to Watch:
Drew Nicholas: A slight of build guard who will shoot it anywhere, anytime, anyplace and at any score. He is much better coming and or dribbling to his left. He tends to shoot more on balance. In the man-to-man, the key to stopping him is not letting him come off picks cleanly. In transition, UNC has to find him.
Steve Blake: The heart and soul of this Maryland team. Just when you think you have him, he shifts gears and hits another speed. He will also shoot the three when you least expect it -- and hit it. You have to have your hands up on him all the time. Jamming him as best you can in the backcourt after made or missed baskets and getting him to move east to west is one of the keys to stopping him. The "heart" of this team has to be cut out in order for UNC to win.
Ryan Randle: Very big, and a very capable big man. Has range to 17 feet on his jumper and is very adept with either his right or left hand down low with the baby hook. In order to contain him UNC is going to have to in part go at him on the offensive end and look to draw some fouls. Runs the court well and has very, very good hands in transition.
Probable Starting Lineup: Steve Blake (6-3, G, Sr.) – 11.2 ppg, 7.1 apg, 40% 3pt Drew Nicholas (6-3, G, Sr.) – 21.8 ppg, 2.8 apg, 37% 3pt Calvin McCall (6-3, G, Sr.) – 5.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg Tahj Holden (6-10, F, Sr.) – 7.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg Ryan Randle (6-9, C, Sr.) – 13.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 4.9 bpg Key Reserves: Nik Caner-Medley (6-8, F, Fr.) – 6.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg Jamar Smith (6-9, F, Jr.) – 5.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg Travis Garrison (6-8, F, Fr.) – 5.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg Chris McCray (6-4, G, Fr.) – 4.7 ppg John Gilchrist (6-1, G, Fr.) – 4.6 ppg, 1.9 apg
Steve Blake ... Drew Nicholas
Ryan Randle ... Gary Williams
UNC Notes & Trends
by UNC Athletic Communications
- In the last two games, Rashad McCants has hit 15 of 24 field goal attempts, including 7 of 12 three-point tries. In those two Tar Heel wins, McCants scored a game-high 20 points against Clemson and a game-high 27 against UConn. He was named the ACC Rookie of the Week on Monday.
- McCants also was named Dick Vitale's ESPN.com "Diaper Dandy of the Week" for his efforts, while Matt Doherty was Vitale's Coach of the Week. "It was an important week down on Tobacco Road," Vitale wrote on the website. "The Tar Heels kept their unblemished home record vs. Clemson in a nailbiter. North Carolina then earned a big victory over Connecticut on Saturday. Give Doherty credit for having his team prepared to play, jumping out to a big lead against the Huskies and then holding on."
- Raymond Felton has scored in double figures in each of the last seven games.
- Jawad Williams, who hit the go-ahead basket with 0:56.9 to play in the second half of the win over Connecticut, has scored in double figures in seven of the last eight games, averaging 15.0 ppg in that span.
- Freshman forward David Noel, who entered the game having hit just four three-pointers, hit two big threes in the second half of the win over UConn last Saturday.
- In the last two games, freshman center Byron Sanders has helped limit Clemson?s Chris Hobbs to 10 points and seven rebounds and Connecticut star center Emeka Okafor to 13 points and seven rebounds. Sanders also had a big three-point play with 3:18 left in the second half of the win over the Huskies.
- Since moving into the starting lineup after Sean May broke a bone in his foot on Dec. 27 vs. Iona, Byron Sanders has averaged 4.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. For the year Sanders is averaging 2.7 ppg and 2.4 rpg.
- Raymond Felton is second in the ACC in minutes per game at 35.2 (trailing only Clemson's Edward Scott).
- After shooting under 40 percent from the floor in five consecutive games, Carolina shot 40.3 percent (Virginia), 43.1 percent (Clemson) and 42.2 percent (Connecticut) in the last three games. Carolina has shot better than 50 percent in a game once this season -- against Penn State in the season-opener (53.3 percent).
- Carolina has 48 starts by freshmen this season, by far the most in the ACC. Georgia Tech is second with 30 and no other ACC team has more than 25.
- Rashad McCants is first in the ACC in scoring (19.0 ppg), third in field goal percentage (.535) and second in three-point field goal percentage (.455). He has scored in double figures in every Carolina game this season ? a league-best 16 straight games. No other Carolina freshman has ever scored in double figures in each of his first 16 games.
- Freshman Raymond Felton is third in the ACC in assists per game (6.81) behind junior Chris Duhon of Duke and senior Steve Blake of Maryland. Felton has an assist-turnover ratio of 109-58 (1.88) this season.
- Raymond Felton has led the Tar Heels in assists in all 16 games and has been in double figures twice.
(Photos courtesy the AP.)