The first 15 minutes of the game against Fairfield wasn't very pretty for Maryland. The athleticism of Fairfield really bothered Maryland on offense and gave Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes all sorts of trouble getting the team in their half court sets. The Terrapins got out of that funk thanks to some good outside shooting by Eric Hayes and the do everything game of sophomore Sean Mosley. The last 10 minutes of the 1st half showed the player that Maryland fans hoped they were getting: a rugged, physical guard that is a crafty scorer and a throwback player who embraces the "dirty work" on defense and in the lane. In the final 10 minutes of the half Hayes's shooting got a lot of attention but it was Mosley's 6 points, 3 rebounds (two offensive), one assist and one steal that turned the game from a one point Fairfield lead to an eight point Maryland lead. His steal and score in the closing seconds likely eliminated any chance of a comeback by the Stags. As I observed at the scrimmage Mosley is a much more confident player this year on both ends of the floor and is growing into a valuable do-it-all swingman like former Terp Byron Mouton. His maturation is a critical component of this Maryland team developing into a contender in the ACC.
The last year if Grievis Vasquez had the offensive game he had the first two games this season Maryland would have little chance to win the game, regardless of the opponent. In the three games last season that Vasquez scored less than 10 points Maryland was 0-3 and lost by an average margin of 23 points. This year, with a much improved supporting cast, the Terps have been able to weather some very poor shooting from Vasquez and still win comfortably. When the competition improves Vasquez will have to regain his shooting form if Maryland is going to have a successful trip to Maui next week. Vasquez is pressing a little in his last season. He needs to redefine his role on a team that has other legitimate options this year, unlike last season when he was vastly superior to any other teammate.
Jordan Williams and James Padgett continue to impress with very solid play on both ends. Padgett has no fear around the basket and even when his shot is blocked he comes right back in the low post. Williams has a polished offensive game for a freshman big man that played against less than stellar competition. He has the moves to score in the post or even take the ball from the foul line as he did against Fairfield. Gary Williams has plucked two gems in the late recruiting season after missing on Dante Taylor. Williams is already on pace to outperform many of the top 100 forwards recruited above him. They both have areas to improve upon: Williams is going to foul out frequently if he doesn't get a better feel on defense and Padgett needs to add polish to his offensive game. Regardless the two freshman have been a revelation to this point in the season and the Terps are better off in the frontcourt, even with the depth issues, than they could have hoped going into the season.
Landon Milbourne is quietly having a excellent start to his senior campaign. Playing more power forward with a legitimate big man has done wonders for his effectiveness on both ends of the floor. He is really getting after the offensive glass, tied for the team lead with Padgett, and on defense he has three blocks and four steals in two games. Last year with Dave Neal, who liked to drift to the perimeter where he was more effective, Milbourne was stuck closer to the low block. With Williams and Padgett he has had more opportunities to draw his man out and slash to the basket. It will be worth watching Milbourne in some of the upcoming games in Maui and against Indiana and Villanova where he will face more stout players. Last season his production really dropped off when he had to face ACC post players night after night.
With Dino Gregory coming back on December 12 from his suspension for academic dishonesty the low post should be plenty deep. Jin Soo Choi and Steve Goins seem to be ready to contribute after some injury issues.
Maryland basketball also received another verbal commitment for 2010 in forward Ashton Pankey who playes for St. Anthony in Jersey City, NJ and the famous high school coach Bob Hurley. Before going to St. Anthony the 6-8 forward played for Archbishop Milloy in Queens, NY and was the first freshman to play on varsity there since the Georgia Tech great Kenny Anderson. Pankey is in the mold of current Terp James Padgett as a effort player who plays defense and rebounds but has a chance to get much better on offense. He is very active and seems to possess decent hands. You can see video of Pankey here.