Sunday, January 11, 2009

Terps avoid Georgia Tech sting

If you scanned the box score for yesterday's win over Georgia Tech you wouldn't be able to figure out how Maryland had pulled out a victory. The Yellow Jackets were over 11% better from the floor and over 12% better from 3-point range, they outrebounded the Terps by ten and had more assists. Maryland did shoot much better from the freethrow line making 17 to Georgia Tech's 8 but some of that was inflated by the end of game fouling by the Jackets. Then you would see that Georgia Tech turned the ball over an astonishing 28 times. In almost every other facet the Yellow Jackets had outplayed Maryland but when you turn the ball over that many times and it results in an extra 17 field goal attempts for your opponent it you can lose to a team that couldn't find the basket with a diagram.

The Terrapins kept battling when the offense was inept and deserve some credit for being tenacious but the Yellow Jackets gave this game away. Maryland played some solid defense and harassed the young Georgia Tech team with full court pressure in the 2nd half but many of the turnovers were unforced travels and passes that just sailed out of bounds. Georgia Tech failed to capitalize the inside advantage that they enjoyed going into the game even though starter Zach Peacock missed the game with a stomach illness. Alade Aminu and Gani Lawal outplayed Landon Milbourne (who had some foul trouble which limited him to 25 mintues) and Dave Neal handily. Aminu and Lawal combined for 28 points and 27 rebounds while Neal and Milbourne combined for 14 points and 15 rebounds. I'm not sure why commentators seemed to think that Neal did a good job defensively since the numbers don't support that conclusion. He wasn't absolutely terrible but wasn't particularly good either and often required help from the backcourt players that resulted in some open 3-point looks in the first half for the Yellow Jackets. It was the terrible play of Georgia Tech's backcourt that failed Paul Hewitt, not the frontcourt who dominated Maryland.

Sean Mosley was a large factor in turning the game around for Maryland. During a critical stretch that found Maryland down by 10 points with under 10 minutes left in the game Mosley grabbed two rebounds, scored two points and made a critical steal that helped close the gap to two points. He was better than his 10 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals would indicate. The progress of most freshmen is not linear and Mosley fell back with a poor showing against Morgan State after a season high 11 points against Charlotte but showed yesterday that his role on this team will continue to grow. As my brother observed Mosley is simply a winner. In his first ACC game he flourished under the pressure of a league game with his team in a desperate situation. Few freshmen at Maryland have had that kind of poise and maturity.

Eric Hayes had a very good 2nd half which was vital because he was atrocious in the 1st half. In the 1st half Hayes went 1/7 from the floor but changed that with five buckets in the 2nd half and 9 points in the final eight minutes. He finished the game with 17 points and was the only outside threat for Maryland.

Adrian Bowie was more aggressive in the 2nd half and bounced back from a dreadful game against Morgan State to score 11 points, all in the 2nd half, and grab 6 rebounds while playing with four fouls with 9 minutes left in the game. He limited himself to 2 turnovers and sunk five of his six free throws, which is a sign that he is being more aggressive and going to the basket.

Landon Milbourne had some early foul problems and it took him out of his game yesterday. He gave a yeoman effort on the boards with 9 rebounds in 25 minutes and played sufficient defense. The team ended up being outrebounded by 10 but that probably had more to do with all those missed field goal attempts. The Yellow Jackets only got 9 offensive rebounds out of 49 total which was a clear victory for Maryland.

Greivis Vasquez struggled from the floor again and took a few bad shots to go 5/18 from the floor and a goose egg from 3-point range. He clearly heard it from some clowns in the student section and could be seen yelling at someone in the crowd at the end of the game telling them to "shut the fuck up" after scoring a three point play with about 8 minutes left in the game. Vasquez can be maddening at times but the abuse he hears from idiot fans, particularly in the student section, is an embarrassment. The three critical 3-point baskets that helped Maryland take the lead scored by Eric Hayes and Dave Neal were all made possible by Vasquez drawing the defense and finding an open Hayes or Neal. Neither of them would have scored those points if it were not for Greivis. He had four assists and only one turnover in the 2nd half while logging a heavy 37 minutes of play.

Jin Soo Kim and Braxton Dupree saw some playing time against the big frontline for Georgia Tech and did okay. I was glad to see Kim get more minutes that he had in the three previous games combined but it had to be an indictment of Gary Williams that he had played so little the previous month. Good enough to play 7 minutes against Georgia Tech but not good enough to play more than a minute against Morgan State or Charlotte?

The efficiency stats for this game were dreadful. Maryland had an 80.8 on offense and a 75.2 on defense, just over the worst offensive night of the season against Morgan State(80.6). Though the score was in the 60's the tempo was at a Formula One pace with Maryland's offense playing at 84 possessions while averaging about 70 possessions a game for the season. Maryland's games against Georgia Tech tend to go that way so it will be interesting to see what happens when they go play Miami and Florida State who both play a slower pace than Georgia Tech. Maryland will have to execute better in the half court to have a chance in those games.

Vasquez not happy with home crowd

Vasquez's brash personality may rub some people the wrong way but it doesn't bother me in the least. He may not always play under control or mistake free but he leaves everything he has on the court for his coach and his team. Not many Maryland players can claim that the last five years. His foul mouthed response to some morons in the student section who don't know jack shit about basketball may not have been the appropriate response but I can understand his frustrations with a fickle fan base that spends about as much time whining about their players as cheering for their team. That is the fans that bother to show up with the continued diminishing attendance at Comcast Center. You can read all about this soap opera here. Try to enjoy watching Vasquez while you can because with the way he has been maligned in his time here, particularly this season, he has no reason the return to Maryland for his senior campaign. He probably won't be appreciated enough until he is gone and that is a sad fact. Then Maryland fans can direct their ire to Eric Hayes, Landon Milbourne, Braxton Dupree or whomever else they blame for the program's recent struggles. In the end Vasquez is right neither he nor his teammates need these kinds of fans but he'd be better off just ignoring them. That is easy to say when you are not 20 years old with the kind of pressure that comes with being the best player on a mediocre team trying to avoid the NIT for the second year in a row. The coming two game road trip may not have come at a better time.


xfreestater said...

MD fans yet again prove to have the greatest number of spoiled, bandwagon, ungrateful, crude and rude a-holes in the ACC. Why would any recruit want to play basketball for a fanbase like this?

terpsfan said...

I agree that it's dumb for the fans to heckle him because he's the best talent on the team. But can you agree that he should not be taking threes, no matter how open he may be?

Esquire said...

No, I would not say that Vasquez should not be taking 3-point shots under any circumstances. He needs to use better judgement about when to take those shots but he needs to keep the defense from sagging off him and taking away his dribble penetrations. Prior to the last two games, in which he has shot terribly, he went 11/22 from 3-point range against the previous three opponents. It would be silly to tell him to never shoot 3-point shots.

Eric Hayes was shooting worse than Vasquez from outside until the last few games and Milbourne, Bowie and Mosley are all doing worse. You can't just tell all of them to stop shooting threes. They need to work on offense and not settle for the first jump shot the defense gives them. If a 3-point shot is the best one they get then they need to take it.

Anonymous said...

im not gonna stand up for the fans who heckled vasquez.. but I think he really needs to learn how to control his emotion. Every game Vasquez gets excited he loses all of his senses and throws things away and tries to put unnecessary shots. It was not right of him to thrash the fans. He certainly has some game. But he needs to learn how to play at this level.