Friday, December 07, 2007

Gary Fu

Gary Williams famous sideline antics were on full display last night. The rants and tirades are a usual part of the game but last night Maryland fans got treated to an extra special dose of the physical performance of the head coach. There was a little Bruce Lee in Gary last night as he brought his own brand of coaching Kung Fu to Comcast Center. The careless ball handling and dumb mistakes by his team in the first half sent him over the edge. Afterwards Gary had this to say to the Washington Post:

There comes a time when the players have to understand that it's not acceptable, and I was running out of things to say so I thought I'd work on a little martial arts.
He gave the scorers table a nice karate kick, dropped to his knees and pounded the floor with his hands and in the coup de grace sent his jacket flying across midcourt as the 1st half ended. He was given a technical for those shenanigans and admitted later that it was calculated to get his team's attention. It seemed to work as Maryland shook off an uneven 1st half and blew out Morgan State 53-36 in the 2nd half.

It was more of the same old story in the 1st half for the Terps as they turned the ball over 13 times, took ill advised shots and only made 12 field goals in 29 attempts. There was much attention given to the switch at the guard positions with Eric Hayes moving more to the point position and Greivis Vasquez shifting more to the shooting guard spot. I think in the end this is a better situation because Vasquez offers more at the shooting guard position than Hayes, not because Hayes is an upgrade at the point. The offense isn't really terrible when the team doesn't turn the ball over. The offensive efficiency (measured as always in points per 100 possessions) when Maryland turns the ball over 20 or more times is 93.6 compared to 104.9 when they turn it over less than 20 times. That is a huge difference.

It is indeed true that the offense may run slightly better with this configuration but the bigger key is being careful with the ball. Even if Maryland grows into a better scoring team if they can't take better care of the ball in ACC play then they will have a hard time posting a winning record.

Hayes and Vasquez do deserve some kudos in this game. Hayes set a new personal scoring mark with 19 points on five 3-point baskets and added a nifty 7 assists and only two turnovers. He has now scored in double digits in 4 of the last 5 games. Vasquez was very shaky early in the game but steadied himself at halftime and ended with a solid performance with 17 points, 11 assists and 6 rebounds. He did had 7 turnovers, 5 of which were in the 1st half, and had some awful moments that helped keep Morgan State in the game. Hopefully his perimeter shooting will continue to improve as he shot 3/6 from behind the arc.

Much better ball movement helped explain the good shooting by Hayes and Vasquez. James Gist is getting better passing out of the low post and several 3-point baskets started with nice passes from Gist out to open men on the perimeter. It is important to keep in mind that Morgan State played a lot of zone so we'll see if that continues when the Terps face a more aggressive man defense.

To me the bigger story was the post players. Boom Osby was a one man wrecking crew in the 2nd half. With Maryland's offense stagnating Osby came off the bench and scored 9 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and blocked a layup in only two minutes. The whole team had scored 4 points in the previous three minutes. It broke the game open for Maryland and gave the Terps a cushion that they never relinquished. I'll admit I'm biased. Osby is one of my favorite Maryland players in a long time. He always gives the team something when he is on the floor. He may not score effortlessly but he is always scrapping, rebounding, playing solid defense, running the floor on fast breaks (two layups in this game) and giving a great level of effort and enthusiasm. There is good reason why Williams specifically mentioned Boom in his post game comments saying that a number of players on the team could learn from Osby's approach to the game. He nearly had his third double-double of the season with 16 points and 9 rebounds along with 4 blocks.

James Gist played more like he needs to and was aggressive in going to the basket instead of settling for jump shots. He was slightly hampered by two 1st half fouls but filled out the stat sheet with 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. It was perhaps his most complete game of the year. He played near the rim and shot five free throws as a result. If he continues to take a page from Boom's book he'll be more valuable to this team.

Landon Milbourne had his best game of the season. He limited himself to only one turnover and showed a better ability to score within the offense with a career high 11 points. Maryland had him run some sweet curls in the lane and when he is going to the left it makes it nearly impossible for the trailing defender to contest his shot since Milbourne is a lefty. I expect to see more of that going forward. He continues to show a real knack for offensive rebounds as well. His continued improvement is also important for this team.

Cliff Tucker showed that sometimes a freshman can tantalize with some brief glimpses of talent but it requires more to stay consistent with additional playing time. In his 16 minutes of play Tucker looked more like a first year player and put up 4 points and 3 rebounds with a couple of turnovers. He is certainly the best looking freshman so far but he also has a lot to learn.

The other freshmen had decent games. Dupree had plenty of opportunities to put more points up but couldn't hit his foul shots and lost the ball too often in traffic. Once he improves his hand strength his rebounding will improve. Adrian Bowie seems to be in the dog house at the moment. Dino Gregory got rewarded with some playing time and was productive with 4 rebounds and two points.

Overall the second half was very good while the first half was equally bad. Consistency continues to be a key for this team but the defensive effort was very solid again. Rebounding may be a large factor on Sunday as Boston College is very good at grabbing offensive rebounds. The Terps gave up 18 to Morgan State.

Ratings
Offense: 114.7
Defense: 83.8

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% about Boom. Great player and I hope his enthusiasm and hustle rub off on the rest of the team.