Monday, November 12, 2007

No points for style

Maryland ended up cruising to a 29 point win over North Florida in the season opener. Without starters James Gist and Landon Milbourne the offense was a little stagnant in the first half. Maryland only shot 38% in the first half, sinking only eight field goals, but balanced that by hitting 12 free throws. The offense suffered from largely the same problems that plagued the team in the exhibition game against Concordia. Poor passing, turnovers, inability to convert on free throws, and some dreadful shot selection all contributed to the ugly performance in the first half.

Greivis Vasquez started off the game with a slew of bad decisions and was mostly responsible for the stultified offense. He continued to take poor shots and drive down the lane without much of a plan of what he was going to do once he got there. For a guard who excels in the open court it was odd to see him continually make passes too late and either turn the ball over or plow into an opposing player for charges. Once he got his teammates more involved he became much more effective. Vasquez and Cliff Tucker, who started in place of Landon Milbourne, are developing a nice rapport. Vasquez did notch six assists but also turned the ball over five times, three times on charges. His outside shot still isn't falling yet but he has a diversified game and went 6-6 from inside the 3-point line. His defense and particularly his rebounding have improve tremendously so far.

Last night Eric Hayes had the best game of his short career. He set a career mark with 15 points on only eight field goal attempts while distributing eight assists against only two turnovers. He provided a steady hand for the team when Vasquez was a little out of control and was the best guard at running the offensive sets. He is displaying a confidence that he didn't have last season and if he can provide the offensive production and efficient floor game he showed last night Maryland will be in great shape.

Boom Osby struggled initially with a few turnovers and missed foul shots. He calmed down a bit and started hitting his foul shots while cutting to the basket for easy dunks when Vasquez or Hayes drove the lane. As Ken Pomeroy showed last season Osby was fantastic at getting to the free throw line. His ability to draw fouls in the low post will be a great asset if he can be competent from the free throw line. His 15 point 7 rebound performance was the kind of game you hope that Osby can provide this year. His low post defense was very, very good. His man had no hope of posting up Boom and the pivots in the lane that North Florida tried to counter his positioning didn't work. Given that he only played 10 minutes in the 2nd half when Maryland got a comfortable lead it was the kind of performance you hope one of your two seniors would produce.

Cliff Tucker had a very nice game for his first collegiate start posting 8 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists on 3/4 shooting from the floor. The only blemish on his game was a few misses from the foul line. He ran the court well and played heady defense which is about as much as you can hope from a freshman. He started off a little more slowly than some of the other freshmen but has really progressed the last few weeks. He'll be a competent backup for Landon Milbourne if the need arises. Adrian Bowie struggled badly in the first half with a succession of turnovers resulting in his getting benched but he calmed down came back with an excellent 2nd half. He showed the ability to get to the basket and even hit shots from the perimeter, which is supposed to be a weakness of his. His pestering defense produced a pair of steals and some great ball pressure on the perimeter. North Florida ran an offense that relied on perimeter passing and "drive-and-kick" jump shots but the good defense of Bowie and Tucker, along with Hayes and Vasquez, resulted in 27.3% shooting from 3-point range.

I would like to see one of Braxton Dupree, Shane Walker or Jerome Burney step up and produce as the first big man off the bench. So far none of them have showed the ability to lock up that role. I'm not sure why Burney didn't play in the 1st half as I think he can provide good defense and rebounding. Perhaps Gary Williams wanted to get Braxton Dupree some extended work or North Florida's smaller lineups dictated smaller, more agile, lineups. Dupree's offense is still lagging behind his other skills at the moment but he is an active rebounder and decent position defender.

Dave Neal had a nice game in place of James Gist, if you can wrap your head around those two being any more different players. He is a scrappy defender even if he lacks quickness and is a good jump shooter, which he showed last night.

Dino Gregory demonstrated what he will give this team, active defense and rebounding (5 in 15 minutes). He is a better shooter than he showed last night.

The rebounding was much better as Maryland enjoyed a dominating 43-26 edge on the glass. Turnovers were a problem again and it will burn this team against an inferior opponent if not corrected. That is balanced with an excellent 21 assists on 28 field goals, that is an incredible assist rate.

Maryland plays Hampton tonight and the Pirates are picked to win the MEAC this season. They blew away Tulsa in the early game and are lead by guards Vincent Simpson and Rashad West who both scored over 20 points in the win. MEAC rookie of the year Michael Freeman and 6-9 Juco transfer Donte Harrison round out a solid starting group. As usual when playing mid-major teams Maryland has a large advantage in size and bench play. Some of the Hampton players are still smarting over the 102-75 thrashing the Terps gave them last season so they will come out fired up. With James Gist and Landon Milbourne coming back Maryland's depth and athleticism should prevail over the scrappy Pirates.


Ratings:

Offense 112.3
Defense 70.0

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