Terps seek needed win against Wake Forest

When he was informed that his team was ranked No. 13 in the nation on the statistics-based Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings, Maryland coach Gary Williams was amused.

"That guy's smart as hell," Williams said. "Who is that guy? Can you subscribe to that?"

According to the Web site, Maryland has the third-best defense in the nation, but ranks No. 337 in luck -- the "deviation in winning percentage between a team's actual record and expected record."

Statistical mumbo-jumbo aside, the sobering fact for Maryland (10-5) is the closest thing it has to a quality victory is at 9-6 Penn State. Four of its losses have come to teams currently ranked in the top 20, all by single-digit margins. Sunday's 71-64 defeat at No. 1 Duke was the latest example of Maryland playing well but losing.

Maryland at Wake Forest
When »Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Where » Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Winston Salem, N.C.
TV » ACC Network
Radio » 980 AM
Wake's top two players last season are in the NBA -- Al-Farouq Aminu (Clippers) and Ish Smith (Rockets) -- leaving heavy responsibility to freshmen J.T. Terrell (13.6 ppg), a 6-4 guard, and Travis McKie (13.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg), a 6-7 forward. Wake has lost to Winthrop and Presbyterian of the Big South and Stetson of the Atlantic Sun. None have winning records.

"Unfortunately, your record is your record. We could schedule it every year so we could go 13-0, and we'd be ranked in the top 25," Williams said. "But I don't know if you get better."

While Williams might have expected better in terms of record, he is happy with the Terps' progress. Now the goal is to turn improvement into victories. That begins Wednesday at Wake Forest (7-9, 0-1).

"It's definitely a must-win game," Maryland senior Adrian Bowie said. "We're 0-2 [in the ACC] and we need to get going."

Under first-year coach Jeff Bzdelik, a former assistant with the Washington Bullets, Wake Forest is the only team in the ACC with a losing record. The Demon Deacons, however, rank third in the conference in 3-point shooting (39.3 percent) and first in free-throw accuracy (77.1 percent).

"[That] would be nice," quipped Williams of Wake's free-throw marksmanship compared to his team's 64.2 rate.

Maryland's free-throw woes surfaced again Sunday night as they missed five straight during a critical stage of the second half when Duke turned a six-point deficit into a five-point lead. In the second half of its losses, Maryland has hit 28 of 55 foul shots (50.5 percent).

Williams, however, can't quibble with a Terps' defense that limited Duke to its season-low in field goal (40.3 percent) and 3-point (28.6 percent) shooting, and blocked more shots (eight) than any Blue Devils opponent this year. He just wishes it had produced a win.

"You can't say, 'Wow, we've arrived,' since we competed with Duke," Williams said. "We gotta figure out a way to win that game. That's the next step."