Closer to Home, Grad Transfer Griffin Brown Thriving as a Terp


Griffin Brown has 13 goals (including three man-up scores) and three assists for the third-seeded Terps (14-0).

Maryland graduate transfer Griffin Brown hadn’t even moved into his apartment last year, and he already had a sense of the type of teammates he would have this season.

The former Colgate attackman heard from seniors Bubba Fairman and Logan Wisnauskas, who lived in the same complex Brown was moving into and were ready to make their new teammate feel at home.

“They had an extra couch laying around, and they’re like, ‘Do you guys want this couch?’ when we were moving in,” said Brown, who splits an apartment with Hobart grad transfer Eric Holden. “When we first got our apartment, they’d already moved the couch in and came out and helped us move in all our stuff. That was kind of my first taste of Maryland.”

As they always say about the Terps, come for the furniture, stay for the deep runs in May. And Brown has certainly done that, anchoring Maryland’s second midfield line while also contributing on the extra-man unit throughout the season.

Brown has 13 goals (including three man-up scores) and three assists for the third-seeded Terps (14-0), who meet second-seeded Duke (14-2) in Saturday’s NCAA semifinal in East Hartford, Conn.

“Griff has been a great addition for us,” Maryland coach John Tillman said. “Having a guy with that much experience has been huge. He’s been through a lot of games and tough situations. Getting a guy who wasn’t going to have some of the nerves and the learning curve that maybe some of the other guys would have has been huge for us.”

Brown scored 98 goals in four seasons at Colgate, winning the Patriot League’s rookie of the year honors in 2017. He opted to play his extra year of eligibility closer to his McLean, Va., home, in part so his grandfather could see him play more than earlier in his college career.

Maryland already had two other Landon School products on the roster in long pole John Geppert and faceoff specialist Justin Shockey. He also knew short stick Roman Puglise, who also grew up in northern Virginia.

Still, there was an adjustment period after four years in central New York.

“It was almost like being a freshman all over again. You’re learning 55 guys’ names, you’ve got a new coaching staff, new everything, a new place to live,” Brown said. “Literally, new everything.”

Of late, Brown has hit his stride on a second midfield line that also includes Holden and freshman Eric Malever. Chalk some of it up to Tillman’s willingness to lean more on a second line than many past years, and also to the warmer weather that can force the issue. Brown’s skillset — crisp shooting, ability to fire away with both hands, a knack for stretching defenses — is also a variable.

Whatever the explanation, Brown has four multi-goal games in his last five outings, including NCAA tournament victories over Vermont and Notre Dame. He added an assist in Sunday’s 14-13 overtime defeat of the Fighting Irish for his first three-point game of the season.

While Brown’s contributed, he’s also savored his Maryland experience. It started with a couch — one he used for a brief post-practice nap before an interview this week — and it’s continued all the way through Memorial Day weekend, just as he hoped.

“The working world can always wait,” Brown said. “I’ve enjoyed my time here as much as anyone, I think. Playing with some high school friends and meeting some awesome new guys has been amazing. It’s been a great experience for me. I couldn’t recommend it enough.”

Wisnauskas’ professional approach

Ask Maryland attackman Logan Wisnauskas where he derives his enjoyment of the sport from, and the answer probably isn’t going to be tied to a game.

It definitely isn’t tied to numbers, even as he’s climbed to fifth in program history in career points with 224 — a number that could grow next year since he said he plans to play a fifth college season in 2022.

The answer is the sessions early in the morning and late at night, long before or after a practice.

“I feel like it stems back to how I was raised, being straight to the point, attention to detail, always being ready — being overly ready for anything that comes your way,” Wisnauskas said. “You don’t want to have any surprises on a game day. You want to watch all your film, you want to shoot all your shots and play your wall ball and make sure you’re ready come game day.”

In that sense, he’s an ideal complement to Tewaaraton finalist Jared Bernhardt, whose 64 goals and 23 assists have made him a magnet for attention even as he has successfully kept his attention on winning games and providing championship bookends to his college career after playing on the Terps’ 2017 national title team.

There’s a case to be made Wisnauskas, who has 34 goals and 29 assists this year, might be a bit overlooked nationally. But those in Maryland’s program are well aware of how the lefty has grown his game over the course of his career, including the development of a right-handed step-down shot.

“Talk about a professional,” Griffin Brown said. “The kid deletes all his social media [accounts] for the whole season and totally dials in. I’ve never seen a kid more focused. Maybe Jared, but it’s close.”

It’s made Wisnauskas, who spent a redshirt year at Syracuse before transferring to Maryland for the 2018 season, a perfect player for a program built around guys who are both low-maintenance and dedicated to the game.

“I think Logan’s fun is in the process of being a good player,” Tillman said. “He enjoys going out to practice. He enjoys doing that extra shooting. Those are things that are really important to him. … He has goals. He’s locked in, and he knows what he needs to do to achieve those goals.”

Making them count

Maryland has won 47.7 percent of its faceoffs this season, the only semifinalist sitting below 50 percent. Justin Shockey has handled a slight majority of draws, winning 51.8 percent, while Luke Wierman is at 44.7 percent.

In the overtime victory at Notre Dame in Sunday’s quarterfinals, both Shockey and Wierman were 5 of 15, but Wierman won the final three draws to help the Terps advance.

“I think [Shockey’s] been a little up and down this year, but between he and Luke, when we’ve really needed one of the two, we’ve usually gotten one of the two to spell us at the right moment,” Tillman said. “Last week, it was Luke. In the weeks prior, there were times we really needed Justin and he’s come through for us.”

It worked out that way in Maryland’s two close calls against Johns Hopkins as well. In the April 24 regular-season finale at Homewood Field, Hopkins won the first 10 faceoffs of the second half, but Wierman collected wins to set up the tying and winning goals in the final two minutes and then claimed the last draw to allow Maryland to run out the clock.

Then in the Big Ten title game, the Blue Jays won nine of 12 draws from the start of the second quarter through the time when it pulled within a goal with 1:44 left. But Wierman won that faceoff to help set up Maryland’s insurance goal to seal a 12-10 victory.

The nightcap … again

Maryland has grown accustomed to two things over the last decade: Reaching the final weekend of the season and playing in the second semifinal.

This is the eighth time since 2011 the Terps have advanced to semis, and in all eight instances, they’ve been placed in the second game. This is the fourth Maryland-Duke semifinal, but the Terps have also drawn Notre Dame (2014), Johns Hopkins (2015), Brown (2016) and Denver (2017). Maryland has played in the late game as the No. 1 seed on three occasions and as an unseeded team twice.

Do the whims of the NCAA or its television partner matter? Perhaps not, but here’s a fascinating quirk: The team winning the first semifinal is 11-2 in title games since 2007. The exceptions are 2010 Duke (which went overtime to defeat Notre Dame on Memorial Day) and 2017 Maryland (which handled Ohio State in the final).

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