Maryland shook off the humiliation of losing to American before Christmas with a 30 point romp over Delaware. It certainly doesn't erase the terrible home losses to Ohio and American and this team has a long way to go before it is playing competent basketball but the win over the Blue Hens is a start. We've seen how badly this team can play, which is pretty scary. They can lose to almost anyone. On the other hand I think we've yet to see this team play at its full potential. At the moment I'm not sure that even playing at full potential this is a particularly good team but they would be competitive. Perhaps the loss to American woke this group up and made them realize they are nowhere near good enough to give half hearted efforts and beat most teams. I would have expected a loss to Ohio to do that but...
Gary Williams did shake up the rotation like I hoped he would, perhaps a game too late. Freshman Cliff Tucker replaced Landon Milbourne and Bambale Osby sent Braxton Dupree to the bench. I think it is clear that Gary has struggled to find lineups that provide him the production and effort he desires. Tucker was an obvious replacement for Milbourne as he brings better defense and ball handling to the wing position. I never fully bought into the idea that Osby was better off the bench after getting a chance to study the other team. That seemed like coach speak to me and a lot of mumbo jumbo. Dupree hasn't gotten off to a good start since the Illinois game and has been fairly useless in the last four losses.
Greivis Vasquez has been playing better, mostly because he has made better decisions. Did you notice that over the last four games Vasquez is shooting 42% (13/31) from 3-point range while Eric Hayes is shooting 31% (8/26)? He still turns the ball over too much and can make you furious with some of his antics but he is still the most consistent player on the team. If he can continue to shoot 3-point shots at his recent rate he will be one of the better guards in the ACC. That long range threat, along with his playmaking ability combine for a deadly threat.
James Gist got back on track with an 18 point and 10 rebound night. The real question is can he string together a bunch of these games? For a senior leader his focus hasn't been at an acceptable level the last few games. When he is motivated he can dominate but he has yet to prove he has moved passed his inconsistencies.
Adrian Bowie and Shane Walker come out of the dog house briefly. Bowie had not played more than 8 minutes since the Lehigh game but recorded 2 points and 5 rebounds in 14 minutes. Walker set a career mark with 10 minutes and, though not scoring a point, he did grab 3 rebounds. Neither is going to make a big impact but their increased playing time was a positive sign.
After the debacle against American Dave Neal did not play. Clearly he was not ready to come back and had a dreadful game against AU though more talented freshmen didn't get in the game. It was a mistake to play him as much as Gary Williams did that night.
This group still has a long was to go to get back on any winning path but this game was a decent first step. The defense continues to be awesome so if the offense gets to be even mediocre I think they have an outside shot at 8-8 in the ACC.
Maryland also signed Juco guard Bobby Maze for next season. Maze had played at Oklahoma before getting injured and falling out of favor with head coach Jeff Capel. Let's hope Maze's attitude problems are a thing of the past. He is described as a poor man's Allen Iverson. He will bring some speed and toughness to a backcourt that really needs both. A stop gap measure to be sure as he will graduate along with the 2006 class, making that class another four scholarship monster.
The way it stands now this will be the junior and sophomore classes next year:
That is 10 out of 13 scholarships in those two classes. Gilchrist will only have 2 1/2 years of eligibility next fall per ACC rules. There are persistent rumors of attrition in the coming year and that seems like a necessary evil at this point.