Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Weekly basketball review

The final score wasn't anything to be embarrassed about but UCLA thoroughly manhandled Maryland last night on its way to a 71-59 victory. The Terps were still within 2 points ten minutes into the game despite horrible shooting, a gaggle of turnovers and nonexistent rebounding. It was a typical mixture of good and bad for this young team. It is a young team even with seniors James Gist and Bambale Osby playing large roles freshmen and sophomore's played 142 out of 200 minutes. After fantastic freshmen campaigns Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes are playing like sophomores with moments of impressive play along with critical lapses of judgment. Perhaps fans had too high expectations for these two and now that they are struggling in different ways it is obvious how much this team depends on their steady play to be successful.

Initially little went right for the Terps as they scored only two points for the first seven minutes of the game. Heralded UCLA freshmen Kevin Love didn't have a great game but ground Maryland down and, along with Lorenzo Mata, crushed Maryland on the glass 44-29. Love and Mata had a combined 11 offensive rebounds and UCLA had an unacceptable 19 for the game. Even though Maryland's defense was fairly solid as the Bruins only shot 37% from the floor and 30% from 3-point.

The next night was a very tough game for Maryland as it was really a road game in Kansas City. Missouri is probably an NCAA tournament team and will do well in the Big 12. With Maryland's turnover problems their aggressive defense and pressing style caused over 20 turnovers again. Even with Maryland's poor shooting and the worst defensive effort of the year the Terps probably could have won the game had they not given away an extra 23 possessions on turnovers.

Maryland got back on track against Lehigh. There was some hangover from the Kansas City trip that lasted the first half but then the Terps kicked it into gear on the defensive end. Freshman Adrian Bowie showed some great skills by harassing Marquis Hall who finished 2/16 from the floor. Landon Milbourne may be playing his way out of a starting job the last week with dreadful performances against Mizzou and Lehigh. He only played 13 minutes on Friday after another of his signature turnovers on a charge. Braxton Dupree got a start with Boom Osby suffering from a stomach bug and played well. He finished with 14 points and 5 rebounds in 27 minutes of play and perhaps showed that he will be able to come off the bench and contribute. Most of his opportunities came on hustle plays and grabbing offensive rebounds. He still is nowhere near being able to take a starting job. James Gist is showing some great leadership skills and though he has struggled in the box score for the past few games he is making plays. Vasquez and Hayes showed much better ball movement and shot selection in this game and helping the team limit itself to 12 turnovers. It may be a little much to expect Vasquez (career high 22 points) and Hayes to produce 33 points a game between the two of them but if Maryland is going to challenge for an NCAA birth this season they may need them to do that.

Cliff Tucker continues to have a very quiet and solid freshman season and I wouldn't be surprised to see him start taking more of Milbourne's minutes if the sophomore continues to struggle. Without Osby it was clear the rebounding suffered. Dupree should gather more than the 5 rebounds in 27 minutes he had as Maryland actually lost the rebounding margin by two.

With the ACC in real flux beyond Duke and UNC I don't think Maryland is out of the conversation for fourth place if they improve in the next month. The next few games against Illinois, VCU and Boston College will be critical.

Gus Gilchrist and Jin Soo Kim attended the Lehigh game.

Ratings:

UCLA
Offense 77.7
Defense 96.9

Missouri
Offense 87.4
Defense 104.8

Lehigh
Offense 113.8
Defense 79.8

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I've been waiting all week for your post on the UCLA, Mizou, and Lehigh games. Do you think Cliff Tucker will make his way into the starting lineup this season?

Esquire said...

I apologize for the somewhat lazy post. I was a little busy during the Thanksgiving week and didn't have time to go into the games like I wanted to. I didn't even see the Missouri game since it was on ESPNU.

I think if Landon Milbourne doesn't improve soon there is a good chance that Tucker will be starting by New Year's. From his lineups I think Williams would want Tucker to replace Milbourne and not go with Bowie in the three guard set. Tucker is more of a small forward type of player than any of the other guards. He is one of the most reliable freshmen and seems to rarely make mistakes.