Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Trending down

The chart above clearly illustrates that the indicators are going in the wrong direction for both the offense and defense. After the offense improved every game up to and including against the Spartans it tanked against Gonzaga and Georgetown. What an ugly offense show those two games were with an effective field goal percentage in the the 35% range and efficiency ratings of 84 and 77 respectively. Turnovers didn't have much influence on the outcome of either loss as both Gonzaga and Georgetown had more turnovers than the Terps. It was poor shooting, simple as that. With a frontcourt that is going to offer little offensive output this year the other backcourt players are going to have to give Greivis Vasquez some help but besides Adrian Bowie no one is getting the job done. Eric Hayes shot 41% in the last four games against quality opponents and is averaging just over 10 points a game. It would have been worse if he had not scored a bunch against Georgetown in garbage time. Hayes is a pass first point guard who can't really create anything for himself on offense so you can't expect much from him in the way of scoring. Unfortunately for Maryland they don't have the talent at the other positions to prosper with a guard who is so marginal at scoring like when Steve Blake was running the point. His defensive limitations were shown again as he couldn't guard Chris Wright for most of the night.

Hayes' continued lack of production would not be as big a problem if the other guard position, shared by Cliff Tucker and Sean Mosley for the most part, wasn't even worse. Tucker's collapse in the last three games has been breathtaking. He and Mosley combined for 30% shooting and 6.8 points per game over the last four. That simply won't get it done when Maryland is getting nothing from the center position and little from Landon Milbourne's failed move to the power forward slot. Mosley is a freshman and I am confident he'll be one of the better players on the team by February but Maryland could be out of the post season discussion by then. Let's hope he gets out of his shooting slump soon. At the rate Cliff Tucker has declined you can't expect him to have much chance of picking up the slack.

At some point players have to start making shots but it would help if the squad had some confidence in the offense like they did against Michigan State. Getting to the free throw line like they did in the first three wins could also go a long way in helping a struggling offense.

We'll have to wait and see what the next week brings against Michigan and George Washington. If this group continues to struggle you may have to wonder if the team chemistry isn't all it has been made out to be in media reports. That will bear watching closely over the next few games. Hopefully the Georgetown loss hasn't created a fissure in the team's cohesion but the lack of effort and intensity in that blowout loss could be an ominous sign.

1 comment:

Just1MoreGtrPlyr said...

The point you make about Hayes's "lack of production" is an interesting one. Between 2000 and now, we've really only had one PG (Gilchrist) who could create for himself and account for a majority of the scoring volume. I think Greivis's off-the-ball talents fit with a pass-first PG such as Hayes, but you're right in saying that if Vasquez is the only option, then pass-first really won't cut it.

I consider Hayes to be a decent Division I point guard who can truly cut it in ACC play. His lateral quickness has improved greatly since last year, and his solid free throw shooting and catch-and-shoot prowess could be a great asset to this team if we had more than 1 or 2 players who could penetrate and bring defenders with them. I hope more people will take the 2- and 3-spot deficiencies into consideration before passing judgment on Hayes, rather than dismissing him as an unworthy point guard at this level since he doesn't have much of an offensive presence.

You've only really brought the big men up in passing recently (long enough to chastise them, not that I disagree). Dupree and Neal are clearly not up to snuff, but Burney added an interesting element to the team in Georgetown garbage time (namely: blocks and dunks). What do you see in store for him and also for Goins?