Thursday, October 18, 2007


If it wasn't for the sterling freshman campaign of Greivis Vasquez most Maryland fans would be excitedly speculating on what Eric Hayes was going to do in his sophomore season. After watching the early scrimmage last year I figured that Vasquez would replace Hayes at some point but not because Hayes wasn't ready to play in the ACC. In many respects Hayes comported himself very well in league play but it was obvious Vasquez had a play making ability that was superior.

Hayes' 132 assists was good enough for 5th best all time by a freshman and had he not split time with Vasquez he may have been able to get close to Steve Blake's record of 217. He provided the stability and (mostly) good decision making that Maryland was missing the year before at the point position. In the half court and on the fast break Hayes makes very good decisions and has a good feel for timing on his passes. He puts the ball in a position where the recipient can do something with the ball at the right moment. Hayes is not the fastest player and he doesn't have a great ability to dribble penetrate at this point. This contributes to the fact that Hayes, who is a fantastic free throw shooting, doesn't get to the free throw line nearly often enough. According to Ken Pomeroy Hayes' 26.0 rate of getting to the foul line was the second worst on the team behind only Mike Jones, who couldn't get fouled if he had his own whistle. It is an area that Hayes needs to improve dramatically this coming season. Here is a comparison of returning point guards in the ACC:

Assist RateTurnover RateOffensive RatingeFG%Free Throw Rate
Eric Hayes26.033.699.250.426.0
Ty Lawson34.521.4116.055.538.7
Tyrese Rice30.720.9113.553.147.0
Sean Singletary30.118.5114.949.351.3
Greg Paulus23.527.1105.757.528.4

The table makes it clear that Hayes has some significant room for improvement on offense as compared to other point guards in the ACC. He will be asked to score more this season but scoring isn't what Hayes is best at doing. As you can see from his eFG% he has the shooting ability to put up some points but needs to get better at using his opportunities. It remains to be seen if just shooting more often will help Hayes' production. The other noteworthy concern is his turnover rate which is much higher than Gary Williams can live with.

After starting the first eleven games of the season at the point Hayes made way for Vasquez for the rest of the season. Hayes still averaged 24 minutes in ACC play, which is more than he averaged in out of conference while starting, and lead the team in assists on six occasions even if his role decreased slightly. As you can see in the table below most of his numbers didn't drop significantly once ACC play started and he may have been one of the best reserve point guards in the league.

Non Conference7.862.57.44.645.8

As you can see his scoring went up in ACC play even as his effective field goal percentage dropped dramatically. Part of that was he took more shots in league play(about +20) and so his percentage declined somewhat. He was facing better defenses and you would expect that he would have more difficulty getting off his shot as he is more of a spot up jump shooter at this point in his career. I think Hayes ran out of gas right at the end of the season as evidenced by his fairly dreadful postseason performances. In his last three games Hayes only made one field goal and saw his playing time decrease in every game. He also scored just 10 points in the last 6 games of the season. Clearly the theme here is scoring. Hayes' decision making ability is very good and his defense is adequate enough to get by with but he'll need to get his scoring way up this season. Maryland is losing about 30 points per game on the wing and between Hayes and Landon Milbourne the Terps will need both to replace much of that production. Hayes percentage of shots while on the floor was a pitiful 11.1% which was even below Will Bowers (13.0%) last season.

Another area of improvement for Hayes is his defensive rebounding. You don't want your guards acting like forwards but it is very helpful to have your guards playing weakside defense and grabbing defensive rebounds. It helps to start the transition game to have your guards get the ball without the need for an outlet pass and contributes to reducing the opponents offensive rebounds. The one weakness of last year's defense was a high offensive rebound rate for opponents which at 35.9 was ranked 10th in the ACC and 277th nationally.

There is still much to be pleased with starting with the fact that his turnovers decreased significantly in ACC play, which isn't what you'd expect against better athletes. The high turnover in the first table is the result of some sloppy out of conference play. In just the Fordham, Hampton and Mount St. Mary's games Hayes turned the ball over 16 times but then only had more than 3 turnovers twice in the next 20 games. His 39% 3-point shooting may not impress anyone but it isn't a bad starting point for improvement and a number of those were desperation shots at the end of games. He took few enough that a couple of those kinds of shots can mean the difference between 39% and a impressive 42%. I think his 45% shooting in the early season is probably closer to his true shooting ability. He also showed flashes that he may be a clutch shooter as his 3-point shot over Virginia's Sean Singletary in the closing seconds of Maryland's 69-65 loss demonstrated.

I don't see a traditional point and shooting guard role for Hayes and Greivis Vasquez. The two will probably play a little of both positions while they are on the floor. The good thing is that Vasquez and Hayes compliment each other very well with a slashing versus jump shooting style. That is not to say that Hayes cannot dribble penetrate but Vasquez is a superior finisher. Overall they will be an excellent backcourt combination and probably the best ball handling duo in the ACC.

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