Kevin Willard Talks Additional Rest for Maryland Basketball, Iowa Prep

Maryland basketball was able to get back on track last Sunday after a season-high 30 points from Jahmir Young lifted the Terps over Ohio State in a 80-73 win. Head coach Kevin Willard is embracing the seven-day break between games before the schedule picks up again heading into February.

“We took off Monday, practiced Tuesday, took off [Wednesday] and now we’re kind of back into our normal prep schedule. I think the biggest thing is just with, if you look at how condensed the schedule gets starting on Sunday, just to give these guys a couple days off from the grind, I think will help us hopefully end of January, beginning of February. Cause the schedule just gets, it’s so condensed moving forward,” Willard said on Thursday. “I think we have six games in like 16 days or something like that. So I just think it gives ’em a chance to reset and kind of get their mind off basketball a little bit. Without class it’s kind of nice, you know, you can, they can just kind of be kids and do nothing.”

Willard pointed to the tough stretch of games in December as reason why his team will be equipped to stay fresh with the season picking up. “I think it’s gonna help the guys prepare just for quick turnarounds, quick preps. Kind of going through that, playing the teams we’ve played. I think it’ll just help with their confidence and the fact that they’ve been through it a little bit. I think that always helps a little.”

For the staff, the extra rest time this week gave them a chance to hit the road as they build on the 2023 class and uncover additional targets in the 2024 class. “We got to go out and recruit for a couple days where you don’t have the pressure of feel like you’re missing practice or you’re running back and forth, so we were able to get out and go see some guys that would typically be tough to go see this time of year so that helped.”

But now the Terps will prepare for their next opponent as Maryland will travel to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes, who are coming off a nine-point overtime win over Michigan to move to 11-6. It’s the latest result signaling that head coach Fran McCaffrey may have his team on the right track after losing consecutive games to Eastern Illinois, Nebraska and Penn State. “If you look at some of their losses, you know, at Nebraska, at Penn State, you know, tough road games in this conference. So I just think it’s they’ve been playing good basketball. I just think they’re shooting the basketball right now a little bit better than I think they were earlier in the year,” Willard added. A big reason why the Hawkeyes are among the highest scoring teams in the country is Kris Murray, the twin brother of former Iowa star Keegan Murray. While shooting over 50% from the field, Kris has finished in double figures in all but one game this season and scored at least 20 points in seven games so far. But it’s a veteran transfer addition whose caught Willard’s eye heading into Sunday.

“I do think [Filip] Rebraca is playing at an extremely high level. They are really working inside and out through him. I think he’s been a difference-maker. I think he’s gotten a little bit more involved in the offense, not just scoring, but he’s passing really well of the post. He’s got 33 assists in 16 games, so when it goes in there, he’s able to kick it back out.”

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