Monday, February 16, 2009

Terps outwork Hokies

Since joining the ACC Seth Greenberg's teams have been known as overachieving and scrappy squads that are short on depth and talent but make up for that with tenacious effort. In almost every year except this season Maryland has been the more talented group of players but that hasn't prevented the Hokies from winning four out of seven games since joining the ACC. In a turnaround from the previous meetings it was Maryland that was the more gritty and tenacious team. The team defense that had become a signature of Greenberg's squads has been mostly absent from this group as their defensive efficiency is in the lower tier of the conference after leading the ACC last season.  It wasn't a surprise to me that Maryland didn't struggle to score and shot 48% from the floor because Malcolm Delaney, Jeff Allen and A.D. Vassallo don't have much interest in playing defense.  The Hokies lack the defensive stopper that they have had in the past like Deron Washington, Jamon Gordon and Carlos Dixon.

Maryland shot 50% in the 2nd half and hit 22 out of 23 free throw shots to seal the game while playing tough defense for most of the second half. With a double digit deficit and about two and a half minutes to play Virginia Tech was only shooting 43% for the game. The Hokies got hot from outside and hit four of their last seven shots when the game was all but over, including four of their eight 3-point baskets for the game. Until that point Malcolm Delaney only had seven points on 3/12 shooting and Jeff Allen had fouled out with 8 points and 9 rebounds and four turnovers. If a few of the trio of Vassallo, Allen and Delaney are playing well then Tech's bench isn't likely to fill the gap.

Landon Milbourne bounced back after slumping for a few games with a virtuoso 23 point and 6 rebound performance. He was excellent at taking his shots in the flow of the offense and getting some critical offensive rebounds. It may have been the best game of his career. Greivis Vasquez is looking more and more like the Vasquez of last December and he controlled the Hokies with a 17 point and five rebound performance. He picked up some really silly fouls for his fourth and fifth fouls in the game but he is making much better decisions and his shooting is dramatically better. In his last three games he is shooting 46% from the floor and 43% from 3-point range. If Vasquez can keep that up, though he is a notoriously streaky shooter, he might be able to carry the team down the stretch.

Sean Mosley continues to give his best Byron Mouton impersonation since getting into the starting lineup. His physical defense, supposed to be a weak area of his game in high school, has been excellent and he has a nose for rebounding and getting lose balls. While his 9 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals against the Hokies was a solid line his contribution was even greater to the win. His scoring ability is coming along nicely and he is a very nice complement to Vasquez and Bowie.

Eric Hayes is starting to find his 3-point grove but he still is struggling a little with his shooting. His ball handling has been very shaky over the last few games and he has 10 turnovers in the last two games. The ball pressure of Virginia Tech gave Hayes serious problems late in the game. When he turns his back to the basket you know he is in trouble. With Vasquez off the floor the ball handling was a little troublesome.

Adrian Bowie seemed to have recovered from his illness on Sunday and he played a very solid 24 minutes with 8 points and 4 assists. If Bowie has a replay of Bambale Osby's fade at the end of last season after he contracted the flu it would be very difficult for this team to win.

It was a great team win on both sides of the ball and may have been the most complete game the team played since the win over Michigan State last year.

I've been critical of Seth Greenberg over the years but I was impressed with his spirited defense of Gary Williams after the game. Greenberg and Williams are probably not going to be golfing buddies any time soon but Greenberg rose to the occasion and provided a reality check for Maryland fans. It is clear that Maryland's program is what Greenberg aspires to build at Virginia Tech.

I also got a laugh out of Greivis Vasquez's fanatical defense of Gary Williams. If Vasquez moves on in the off season I'm going to miss him because the rest of the team lacks anyone who gives an interesting interview.

No comments: