Monday, March 02, 2009

Terps show resolve

Greivis Vasquez seems to have shook off his January funk because the junior is shooting over 53.4% (and 45% from 3-point range) in the last three games. Last night he carried Maryland to a win over N.C. State in perhaps even more dramatic fashion that his triple double against UNC because in this game the only other player in double figures was Dave Neal with 11 points. Vasquez scored 33 points including several critical baskets late in the game when the Wolfpack made a run to tie the game at 50-50. Vasquez scored ten of Maryland's final 21 points and made the most critical basket of the game with a floater to put Maryland up by six with under a minute left. I'm not a big fan of his in-your-face 3-point shot in the closing seconds but N.C. State fans are notoriously obnoxious and Vasquez did apologize after the game.

Dave Neal had one of his better games of the season with 11 points and 8 rebounds. The rebound total was his best of any ACC contest and you could tell he was putting far more effort into it than he did against Duke. Neal had only scored 8 points in the prior two games combined and it was good timing for him to "explode" with a few critical 3-point baskets. Maryland needed his contributions because Landon Milbourne fouled out with over six minutes to go in the game after an ineffective 19 minutes of play. Milbourne, along with many of the other players on the team needs to show more consistency. In his last six games Milbourne is scoring a decent but not spectacular 11.5 points per game but the standard deviation in points for those games is 8.2 meaning he has a bunch of one or two field goal stinkers in the mix. It hasn't helped that he has fouled out of his last three games in a row. 

Landon, fouling is what Dino Gregory is in there for.

Cliff Tucker had a solid game after an awful performance against Duke. He is still tentative and unsure of himself when he is forced to play offense in the half court and his defense is still hit or miss but his scoring is needed with Adrian Bowie and Sean Mosley both struggling on offense. The 3-point shooting has been critical for Maryland the last few weeks and Tucker has been surprisingly effective from outside, something that Bowie and Mosley haven't been able to provide. Bowie is still in a bad funk and has only scored in double digits once since the end of January. He needs to get to the free throw line and he can only do that going for the basket. Bowie's rebounding was a strength of his game but has really fallen off the last month. He has only grabbed more than two rebounds once since January after doing it nine times in that month. Mosley has had his opportunities but continues to miss some very makable shots. Right now he seems almost too focused on just playing defense and rebounding.

Eric Hayes put together a solid game with 9 points and 4 assists without a turnover. I think Hayes is better when he doesn't try to do too much and takes his opportunities when he can. He has shown a little more confidence taking players off the dribble but against good defenders he struggles to show the ball on offense. When he can face the basket in half court sets his vision is obviously better. He doesn't pass on the move anywhere near as well as Vasquez so his court vision before he starts his dribble is very important. Over the last few weeks he has been the most consistent scoring guard outside Vasquez.

Against a larger front line Neal, Gregory and Milbourne struggled. Tracey Smith for N.C. State just dominated Neal & Co. with 18 points and 9 rebounds and forward Ben McCauley would have had a much better game had the Wolfpack guards been able to get him the ball. I think Maryland will need help from Jerome Burney in the game tonight against Wake Forest's imposing big men. I shudder to think what James Johnson might do if Tracey Smith can get 19 and 8 against Maryland. It was odd that Gary Williams indicated on his radio show that Burney would see action against N.C. State and yet he didn't get off the bench.

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