With Healthy Holmes, Maryland More of a Threat
There were some things that frustrated the Maryland Terrapins during last week's 13-6 rout over Navy, such as out-shooting the Midshipmen by a 29-8 count in a dominant first half, only to head into intermission with a slim, 6-5 lead. But for the Terps, watching junior midfielder and faceoff specialist Curtis Holmes look like his old self was a pure joy.
Holmes, one of the top faceoff men in the game a year ago, has been bothered by an unspecified back ailment throughout the spring. Clearly, the physical problem was affecting his performance. Holmes had bobbed around the 50 percent success mark for weeks, as Maryland was getting out to a 5-3 record, but was coming off of back-to-back losses to Virginia and North Carolina.
Then came his turnaround effort a week ago in College Park. Holmes schooled Navy's Logan West from the opening whistle and never stopped. His 15-for-20 evening pushed the Terps to a 18-for-23 night at the faceoff X. Holmes sparkled especially in the third quarter by going 6-for-6, while Maryland broke open an uncomfortable game and took a commanding, 11-5 lead after three quarters.
"We think [the back problem] impacted a lot of things for him, and it led to other problems," Maryland coach John Tillman said. "It impacted his form a little and his weight a little, I think it made him a little bit slower, maybe shift a little and his balance was off a little. He's such a tough son of a gun, he won't complain. He doesn't want to come out. He wants to fight his way through it. I think it's part of being a really successful wrestler [in high school]."
Having a healthy Holmes for the stretch run in 2012 could be a difference maker for Maryland, starting with Saturday's huge game at No. 3 Johns Hopkins. The Terps have good scoring balance, play pretty consistent defense, and are solid in transition while limiting their turnovers.
Gaining extra possessions by virtue of Holmes can only make the Terps a tougher out in May.