UNC-Maryland: The Good & Bad

Melvin Scott vs. Md.

Few objective minds thought North Carolina would go into College Park over the weekend and knock off Maryland, so the fact that the Tar Heels lost to the Terrapins wasn't such a shock.

Perplexing, however, is that UNC got torn to shreds, 96-56, and in the process, set the heat under coach Matt Doherty to a new level.

Here is a look at the good and the bad of UNC's 12th loss in 26 games and eighth defeat in 12 Atlantic Coast Conference contests.

GOOD

Somehow 47-40 – The Tar Heels appeared relaxed but not sharp in the first half and trailed 45-32 at the half. However, they came out with an extra skip in their steps to start the second half and quickly trimmed six points off the Terrapins' lead and trailed just 47-40 despite being dominated on the glass, having allowed the Terps to shoot nearly 60 percent, and even higher from 3-point range (to that point in the game). It's really quite amazing they were close. Perhaps the Terps weren't playing too well despite the just-noted statistics, which is possible. After all, it was 13 at the half, when doubled (full game) is a 26-point win.

Melvin Scott – If it weren't for Scott's perimeter shooting in the first 10 minutes the Heels could have been blow away right out of the gate. No doubt the Terps allowed UNC to stick around by making some rotation errors on defense and not being all that fluid on offense, but Scott nailing a trio of 3s was huge and gave the Heels a lift. A native of Baltimore, Scott finished with 12 points on 4-10 shooting. No need to mention the significance of his last 3.

Damion Grant – The main reason Grant is getting a mention here is because he actually showed a couple of post moves. He's not smooth and is a long way from being a consistent contributor at this level, but he has clearly worked hard on some moves and has a decent touch around the basket. He also has nice form and rotation on his free throws. He finished with five points and five rebounds in 12 minutes.

BAD

47-40 & the next couple of minutes - UNC appeared to have some life after Rashad McCants rammed home a left-handed jam to cut Maryland's lead to seven points a few minutes into the second half. But after five quick points from the Terrapins' Steve Blake and an added spurt by the Terps that extended their lead to 60-42, Carolina appeared to be done. Some of the Terps even said they felt the same way after the game. The Heels have been pretty resilient most of the season and will have to be once again on Tuesday night, but certainly weren't on Saturday.

Some may say they gave up. Perhaps they didn't, but it sure looked that way. There is no other reason why 5-foot-9 (more like 5-foot-7) Andre Collins would abuse them on a baseline drive and then put back his own missed layup. The Terps aren't significantly faster or quicker than the Heels, but they were on Saturday.

There are a few reasons that can be cited as why UNC "fell apart" (Matt Doherty's words). Their heads weren't in the game, as the day got off to a bad start with the problem getting to the arena. They may not have entered in the proper mindset, and were possibly defeated before ever lacing them up. Being so young, when the tough got going, UNC didn't have an upperclassmen that command a lot of respect to rally the team together and guide through the difficult stretch. Maybe the guidance one would expect from the sideline also wasn't there, making a bad situation ugly, which is exactly what a 40-point loss is. And maybe Maryland is just a whole lot better than the Heels.

The odds are that all of the above played a role in the embarrassment. Some of those issues are correctable by time, others are more a wait and see thing.

Perimeter defense – Any time a team shoots 7-8 from beyond the arc in one half and is 10-17 for a game the opposition can't use the red-hot excuse only. Carolina contributed to Maryland's torrid outside shooting with poor defensive rotation, as few attempted 3s were contested.

Interior defense – UNC was pretty solid over the first 12 minutes or so inside. Although Maryland's hot perimeter shooting may have made it look like Carolina was having more success inside than it really was. Maryland was credited with 42 points in the paint and got six assists from its big men, a nice total especially considering Blake and Drew Nicholas combined for 15.

Transition defense – Doherty and the players cited poor transition defense as a big problem on Saturday. No doubt it was. Maryland had 22 fast break points and 14 more on its secondary break. UNC was frighteningly slow getting back on defense, especially after Maryland broke away from its seven-point lead. Overall, Maryland had 28 assists. UNC fans were excited over the Heels' 31 assists (on 34 field goals) against the worst team in Division I last week. The Terps assisted on 28 of 40 made field goals, which is far more impressive considering the competition both teams faced.

Rebounding – Maryland won this battle, 48-32, which included 16 offensive rebounds despite missing just 29 shots. UNC rarely boxed out, was slow to the ball, and went after it with little desire much of the day. Note: Jackie Manuel did hit the offensive glass hard, getting four of his six boards on that end.

49-16 – Had any team in college basketball been outscored 49-16 during a 16-minute-plus stretch its fans would be extremely disappointed. And unless the matchup was N.C. A&T at Arizona, it simply wouldn't be excusable. If the team on the ugly side of that run had three future NBA players, wore legendary uniforms and was playing for pride, tradition, and an NCAA tournament bid, it would be downright indefensible.

Raymond Felton – Felton had his worst game in a long time, scoring just eight points with only two assists and four turnovers. Like his teammates, he just didn't have it.

Rashad McCants – Other than a few possessions, McCants was too passive. It was as if the "X" man was back to having just 25 letters in his hoops alphabet. He totaled only 11 points, two rebounds and no assists.

Offensive movement – The Heels did run a few plays, but for the most part their movement (ball and feet) was poor again. There were some nice possessions, and at times the movement on the perimeter was nice, but the lack of an inside game obviously hurts them. Yet, needing to make up for that weakness, it remains a mystery as to why there aren't more double screens and back screens set, especially with a more spread look. UNC's quickness is an asset and should be used as an advantage. They could backdoor teams to death if that was their agenda.

Final score – UNC lost by 40 points, its worst loss ever in ACC play. Such a defeat in late February sure won't impress the NCAA selection committee.

77 points – Coupled with last year's 37-point loss at Cole Field House, Maryland has beaten UNC by a combined 77 points in College Park over the past two years.

Maryland quotes – Here is what three different Terrapins had to say after Saturday's game. Steve Blake on his five-point spurt that gave Maryland a 52-40 lead: "We pretty much knew the game was over. It was just going out there and having fun the rest of the game and we did. We enjoyed it." Drew Nicholas: "Once we got it up to about 20, it seemed like they just died a little bit. They didn't really try to make a push and we kept rolling. Nothing really much more to say other than we just came out and played. I guess they weren't ready to play." John Gilcrest: "Back in Carolina's heydey, that was one of my dreams, just to play in the Dean Dome and just to see those pretty uniforms. I knew they always had great teams. I never imagined beating them by 40, but hey, it just shows you the times, 2003."

Clemson zooms by – Get this, Clemson is ahead of UNC in the ACC standings. The Tigers are now 5-7 in the league (15-8 overall), while Carolina is only 4-8. Repeat that a few times and see how it settles!

Robinson Invitational – If the ACC tournament began today, UNC would face Florida State in the 8-9 game. Last year's club, the worst ever in school history, even managed to avoid the dreaded Thursday night game.

Traffic – The weather was awful in the D.C. area, as many roads in Virginia, D.C. and Maryland were closed. It would have made sense for UNC to leave earlier to avoid possible traffic delays. I arrived about 50 minutes later than originally planned because of traffic, but still got there 40 minutes before the Tar Heels.

Comcast Center - Comcast sure isn't Cole. It may be "nicer" but just doesn't live up to Maryland's old venerable barn. The Terps don't have the homecourt advantage they used to, and the constant videos and rock-and-roll and rap music played during every timeout made me feel like I was at an NBA game. Why do colleges want to be like the NBA? They have something special, there's no need to want to be like the "League."! Good thing UNC and Duke still introduce players the classic way and play NO NBA music.

Empty seats - This wasn't the first time there were empty seats with the Tar Heels in town in conference games, a clear indication the Heels simply don't carry the clout they once did.

UP NEXT

The Tar Heels return home Tuesday night to take on rival N.C. State. Game time is set for 9 p.m. and it will be televised regionally by Raycom.


Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He also covers the ACC for the Wilmington Star-News/Morning Star and can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.

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