KANSAS CITY, Mo. --
Sample monologue from today's 84-71 win over Cal: "WHY WON'T YOU COVER SOMEBODY? WHAT IS SO HARD? SHUT UP!" But don't mistake his near-constant apoplexy for inflexibility. When change seems necessary, Maryland's battle-tested head coach knows exactly which buttons to press.
Against Cal, the most lethal three-point shooting team in the country (43.8 percent), Williams gladly scrapped Maryland's lackluster man-to-man defense mid-game and switched to a match-up zone. Result? The customarily deadeye Bears shot 7-for-24 from beyond the arc (29.2 percent), sapping any chances of a Cal rally.
"It was a gamble because the score was close [at the time]," Williams said. "I just didn't feel good about the way we were playing man-to-man defense."
And last month, Williams also acceded to the wishes of 6-foot-6 star guard
Maryland has plenty of deficiencies, of course -- it lacks a signature post presence, desperately needs Vasquez to keep showing All-ACC talent and relies on its flotilla of guards to score in bunches (the team is now 18-2 when hitting the 70-plus point mark) -- but it sure helps when your coach has the experience to audible at the line.
Even when that audible involves a lot of words that would make your grandma blush.
Three things we learned:
"I've gone against guys three inches taller than me the whole entire season," Neal said. "I'm not going to jump over anybody, not going to do something spectacular." But he will drop 15 points on you, as he did today.
America, meet Vasquez. The Caracas native can certanly come off as unsavory -- at certain points in today's game, he seemed flat-out petulant when the ball didn't come his way -- and his crooked jumper may not be as pretty as Randle's, for instance. But with a line of 17.2-5.5-5.1, he's the Terps' engine and a perpetual triple-double threat (see Maryland's 88-85 OT win over UNC in February).
A few more Williams favorites: "WAKE UP" (as suddenly yelled at quiet reserves who are just sitting unassumingly on the bench); "YOU GUYS DON'T WANT TO BE HERE. YOU DON'T LIKE THIS, DO YOU?" (screamed directly into one player's face); "GET HIM OUT! GET HIM OUT NOW" (about pretty much any sub); "DAMN YOU, YOU DUMB***" (when one player didn't rotate fast enough on defense).
Memphis, which looked mighty vulnerable against Cal State Northridge. Though Williams said he didn't get a chance to watch the game, the Terps and Matadors share a couple similar characteristics that apparently blend well with what the Tigers offer: no dominant post presence and a guard-heavy lineup that can shoot. If Vasquez can out-duel freshman phenom