Kevin Willard on preparing for Davidson, improvements heading into Asheville

After Tuesday’s season-opening win, Maryland basketball will prepare for two games in three games in the Asheville Tournament when the Terps take on Davidson on Friday, marking the first matchup since the 2007 NCAA Tournament game that featured Steph Curry.

As for head coach Kevin Willard, the November tournament gives Maryland its first test before they travel to face a ranked Villanova team next week.

“The biggest challenge we have is technically we only have one day to get ready for Davidson because we opened on Tuesday night and not Monday night. And I said that, with us playing Friday, I probably would have, if I’d gone back, I probably would have played at Mount Saint Mary’s on Monday night just to give us the right preparation team,” head coach Kevin Willard said on Thursday. “I mean, Davidson, I thought I ran a lot of plays like  They are a motion [offense]. They run a lot of stuff. They’re well coached, so it’s not like you’re just, we’re playing a really good team on one day’s preparation and you’re going to play another really good team on one day’s preparation. So for this time of year, that’s not ideal.”

While Maryland pulled out a 15-point win against Mount St. Mary’s, Willard admitted he “didn’t think we played very well at all. So there was really nothing that I thought we did well. So I thought it was, I was a little disappointed. I thought our spacing wasn’t great. I didn’t think our screening was good. We had 16 turnovers. We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds. So from an overall general first game, we won, but to me, it was not a very good performance. And I think we have a lot to work on.”

More from Willard heading into Friday night’s game:

On the chance for local recruits to play at home

“I think it’s important. Back when I played, having your family there and having your friends was really important. It was nice. It’s a support group. You have a built in, if you don’t play well, you have family there to help you. If you do play well, you have family there to buy you dinner. I think it’s what’s really cool about staying home and playing at home is the fact that, you know, once you leave college you’re never with your family ever again, I don’t care what people say. You move on. You go so many different places in life, especially with this sport. These guys, if you get to the NBA, if you get to Europe, you spend, you have a 13 year career, you’re never home again. So this is their really last opportunity to be with friends and family. And I think it’s something special. I think every guy that’s ever played and stayed home will say that this is the best decision they’ve made because once you leave, you’re gone. It’s just the way it is.”

On playing Mady Traore at the four

“We’re trying to keep it simple with Mady. He’s a freshman. I mean, technically he’s not, but he is. So we’re trying to make sure when he’s out there, he’s comfortable. We’re trying to keep it nice and simple for him. So once you start moving positions and you have to play two different types of defenses, cause our fours played totally different defenses than our fives and our fours play totally different offense than our fives. It starts getting real complicated for a guy that’s just starting to play college basketball. So for right now, he won’t be moving around that much at all.”

On how Mady fared against smaller guards in one-on-one in Tuesday’s win

“He did great. I’d hate to have him guarding me. He’s got a 7’6 wingspan and he’s 6’11 so I have a lot of confidence in the fact that he’s gonna make guys drive. No one’s gonna be able to shoot over him. And as he gets more and more comfortable with doing that, I think he’ll get better and better. He can be an elite defender. Not only at this level, but the next.”

On playing through Julian in the post

“I want to run through Julian the whole game, not just the beginning of the game. I want to run through him in the middle of the game and if I could give it to him at halftime, I’d throw the ball to him at halftime. That’s how much I want the ball to go with to Julian.”

On whether point of emphasis against Davidson is getting them off the three point line

“That’s my secret.”

On Jahmir Young’s defensive efforts heading into the Big Ten

“I think that’s something that he’s starting to wrap his head around. The fact that, again, last year he had to play a lot of minutes. I think he’s not going to play as many minutes as he did last year. I think he’ll be much more effective, shoot the ball at a much higher rate, but I also think he’s going to be able to be a much better defender because he’s going to be able to concentrate his energy for shorter periods of time. Where last year it was really tough for me to ask him to dog the ball for 92 feet and then have to run the offense, have to take the shot, and have to do everything he was doing.  He hasn’t realized it yet, but he’s going to have more energy as the season goes on. I think he’s going to be able to be a better defender as the season goes on because he’s a smart kid and he gets it.”

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