Thursday, December 04, 2008

Terps overcome shaky start

There was certainly some carry over from the awful outing against Georgetown in the first half against Michigan last night. Michigan coach John Beilein runs a vaguely similar style offense to Georgetown and early on Maryland's defense looked as inept as they had on Sunday. The Wolverines shot 48% from the floor in the first half and hit six 3-point shots to take a six point lead at halftime. The defense was a step slow the entire half and allowed too many open looks to Michigan's collection of shooters. Beilein's offense really tests the patience of the defense and will work deep into the shot clock to get an good look at the basket. Too often the defense would break down after the fourth or fifth pass by Michigan. Forward DeShawn Sims did some real damage in the first half for Michigan with 10 points and 4 rebounds on 4/5 shooting. In the second half he was held to a mere two points mostly due to Dino Gregory who had without a doubt his best game at Maryland. Michigan probably should have had a bigger lead at the half but when cold on offense for a few minutes and had defensive breakdowns that allowed the Terps to hit five of the last eleven field goal attempts after hitting only 8 out of 20 shots to start the game.

Maryland had a flood of offense to start the 2nd half and hit six of their first nine attempts to take back the lead. The offense was certainly much better in the 2nd half as the team shot 46% but it was the ability to get to the foul line and the domination on the boards that kept Maryland ahead. Even excluding the end of game fouling by Michigan the Terps still shot 10 free throws in the 2nd half compared to only two in the 1st half. With the 1-3-1 zone that Beilein plays on defense his teams will be vulnerable to rebounding and Maryland sure exploited that with 17 offensive rebounds and a +17 rebound margin for the game.

Adrian Bowie got his first start and though he struggled shooting the ball and lead the team in turnovers for the game he adds an element of athleticism to the backcourt that is lacking with Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes or Sean Mosley. Michigan's zone made dribble penetrations and passing a little difficult and Bowie was not the only player to struggle on offense in the first half. He played much better in the 2nd half and deserves to keep his starting spot.

Dino Gregory had a great game. He was more of a force defensively and rebounding than any frontcourt player has been all season. If Maryland can get that kind of effort from him every night they may have found something for the rest of the season. Gregory had six points and seven rebounds to go along with very good interior defense. Michigan isn't a big team but Gregory played bigger than his listed height mostly due to great effort. His embrace of the dirty work of rebounding and defense is exactly what the Terps need from their forwards. Dave Neal is not much of a rebounder or interior defender and his offense is mostly outside jump shots so Gregory adds something very different to the lineup. Braxton Dupree sat out because he missed class but that may have been fortunate because he wouldn't match up well with Michigan's frontcourt that requires a defender to cover more ground.

Greivis Vasquez had another MVP level game with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists with only one turnover. Vasquez would be better served to take a few less 3-point shots but when the other team plays a zone you have to take open looks from the perimeter. He will have to carry this team all year until another reliable scoring threat emerges.

Sean Mosely had a nice game and may have found his shooting stroke again. He is looking more comfortable in the offense even though the team is asking him to play positions he isn't best suited for at the moment. His five points off the bench are the kind of production that is going to be needed going into conference play. His physical guard play will also help the frontcourt on both offense and defense.

Cliff Tucker barely played and is now slipping to third guard off the bench on the depth chart. If that continues we won't see much of the sophomore when ACC games roll around. His effort and intensity have been sadly lacking in the last few games and that is why he finds himself on the bench. This team is too deep in the backcourt to put up with a player who isn't putting forth enough effort.

I think Michigan will be competitive in the Big Ten and already has a nice win over UCLA this season in their pocket. The Wolverines could finish as high as fourth or fifth in their league and a win over them could help in March. With few remaining out of conference games against teams likely to finish with a decent RPI it was imperative to take advantage of this opportunity. After George Washington on Sunday in the ever perilous BB&T Maryland's next six opponents are a combined 11-32 currently, with a 4-3 American University the best of the bunch.


terpsfan said...

More Gregory/Burnie. Less Dupree. And Mosley looks like he'll be one of the most athletic players Maryland has recruited in a long time.

Esquire said...

Gregory is earning more minutes by the game. Braxton Dupree is quickly turning into another Travis Garrison. Sad thing is that he seems content with that.

I see Mosley as a tough, gritty and physical guard. He isn't unathletic but I don't think he is on the level of an Adrian Bowie or Cliff Tucker. He really knows how to play basketball. He has excellent instincts and a nice feel for the game for a freshman. His shot will start falling soon and he'll be a force off the bench for this team.