Everyone was surprised by the strong start of Maryland basketball. The Trips, viewed by few as an NCAA tournament team entering the season, are 5-0 and have beaten all five opponents by at least 18 points, including backhands of anticipated championship teams St. Louis and Miami to win the Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic.
Everyone, except Coach Trips Kevin Willard.
“I don’t think so. I mean, I think we’re ahead [of expectations] Defensively, but I think as I get to know these guys and get to know their personalities, they are smart basketball players. It really helps with what we’re trying to do on the defensive end. Willard said after his team’s 88-70 win over Miami on Sunday.
“So we’re a little bit ahead, but again, I’m excited about the fact that I see a lot of things we can improve.”
They also used the advantage of size and toughness to crush sticks on glass, 39-20. Six different players averaged at least four rebounds in the two-game event.
“We were so much older than them. I was kind of surprised by that. I didn’t see them in person yesterday. I did watch them in a movie. But I really like it again. I think Julian and Donta and Pat [Emilien] They all play physically inside and I think our goalkeepers are doing a great job. We showed a clip in the first half of Don hitting a weak side square. “My base had five defensive rebounds, so it’s not just our big guys,” Willard said. “I think Jahmir with five rebounds has bounced at a very high level. So it’s a balanced team and I think rebounding is what we’ve been talking about all year now, if we can bounce at a high level we can be very good.
“I think these guys work really hard and they understand what we’re trying to do defensively. You know, it helps that they’re older guys. It hurts sometimes because they’ve played different systems, but I think for the most part, these guys have great feeling. They’re all big players, So when you have smart older guys, who are also very experienced players, they get things a little bit quicker than the rookies do. So I think they’ve all worked really hard to understand what we’re trying to do defensively and it helps us win games.”
Freshman Center Julian Reese He played perhaps his best collegiate game, going 7-8 for 17 points and seven rebounds.
“I think Julian has made some great improvements. It’s been nice having him. I haven’t had a center in about five years that can catch up and play high-level basketball. I think it gives these guys opportunities, it gives them a different look where they don’t have to run a play. They can Just blink getting a handover, replay the screen, so I think Julian has a lot of confidence… We all have a lot of confidence in what you can do with basketball,” Willard said.
The only drawback: a high of 18 shifts per season. But Willard wasn’t worried.
“I mean, I think I have the best backcourt in the country right now and I think they’d agree with me. It’s the first time they’ve played this level of defense consistently and they’ve done it back-to-back, what I’ve been asking them to do is some of these turnovers are just kind of, You know, the first time we had to play back-to-back matches.” “And so I knew going into that, I thought, Juju and we can really hurt them on the offensive glass. But I thought my guard playing was great and I think these two guys are playing off the charts.”
Nor was he worried about his team’s shooting choice, which he did well for most of the first five games. Maryland’s Modified efficiency ranked 19th nationally according to KenPom.
“I think I have an easy rule. I’m a very easy coach to play for. If you play really hard, I’ll let you take any shot you want, pretty much. The only thing I ask is that you go out and you play hard, you play together and I’ll let you do whatever you want to do.” with it “.
“So I think these guys understand that I also think it’s their personalities, you know, again we have kids with incredibly high personalities who want to win and they understand what it takes to win and they bring it every night. And they get the rewards. They get rewarded for their hard work and the efforts that they put in. This is what I care about.
Willard was asked if he thought Miami was his team’s first signing win.
“The very good, clear Miami coach Larrañaga, who has 700 wins, is a Hall of Fame basketball coach. But I think we’re not really worried about winning the signing or where we are. I think we still have a long way to go. I mean, we’re good, We’ve got great players but they’re still trying to learn that system and they’re still trying to get comfortable. We’re having turnovers not because of the players, it’s more or less my fault. I put them in situations or call some plays that we haven’t gotten over a thousand times, so I think we’re more focused on us in form. Obviously, yeah, beating a good team in St. Louis and a good Miami team, that’s great, but I think we still have a long way to go..
And when asked about looking forward to what comes next on the schedule, Willard said no in an unusual way.
“I’ll be honest, you guys are going to think I’m crazy. I’m just trying to think of how long it’s going to take me to get home and if there’s belt traffic,” he said. . “Honestly, what I’m thinking is, I’m kind of hungry and hoping I don’t get hit by belt traffic. Which one, Saturday or Sunday? Maybe a very good opportunity.” [of traffic].