Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Maryland humiliates ‘Canes

The Terps only needed 26 minutes of basketball to beat Miami last night. By the 14 minute mark of the 2nd half Maryland already had more points than the Hurricanes would score all night. The final margin may have been 22 points but the game wasn’t even that close as Miami scored 9 garbage points in the last three and a half minutes after trailing by 30. Miami freshman Durand Scott stole the ball from Cliff Tucker in the closing seconds when Gary Williams had put in the walk-ons and had the offense back off. Scott has the potential to be a good guard in the ACC but that was a bush league move.

The Terps raced to a 12-2 lead before getting lazy on offense and settling for quick jump shots. Miami could barely even get a shot off as they only had three field goal attempts in the first five and a half minutes. They clawed back into the game on the back of Adrian Thomas who made five free throws and a 3-point basket to get Miami back in striking distance. Landon Milbourne fouled on a three point attempt for the second time this season. Landon, don’t leap at 3-point shooters, mmkay?

With Miami gaining some confidence Eric Hayes nailed a 3-point attempt and Sean Mosley began to assert himself in a critical 4 minute stretch that decided the game. Mosley had several hustle plays during that time that gave Maryland extra possessions. He twice threw the ball out of bounds off a Miami player and converted a three point play off an offensive rebound. Greivis Vasquez and Landon Milbourne hit back to back 3-pointers to blow the game open with about 4 minutes left in the half. The rest of the game was just a scrimmage for the Terps as Miami didn’t seem interested in playing any organized offense or defense.

Vasquez had another good game with 16 points, 9 assists and only 2 turnovers. He had several great passes to cutters in the lane when Maryland slowed things down and made the Hurricanes chase them around in the half court. His help defense on Dwayne Collins was excellent and helped Jordan Williams shut down the leading scorer for Miami.

Landon Milbourne had another stellar game and may be getting to the point where he has shaken the inconsistency that plagued him the last two seasons. In 2008-9 he scored over 10 points only 8 times in ACC games but in the early going this year he has scored at least 11 points in all five games. He has a 9 game streak of at least 11 points scored. At times there was nothing Miami could do to stop him and his midrange jumper was deadly. If he can keep that up Maryland will be very hard for any team to beat.

Jordan Williams had a very solid game against a physical frontcourt. The freshman continues to play with little fear and scored 8 points to go with 6 rebounds. He play on the defensive glass continues to improve and he is by far the best rebounder in the front court. His defensive play against Collins was impressive as he added two steals and a block while keeping Collins out of the lane.

I already mentioned the critical play of Sean Mosley but he had another very efficient game scoring 10 points on just five field goal attempts. His seven rebounds were also very impressive along with three steals. He was all over the court and seems to never take even a minute off. He is probably already the best third guard on any team in the conference but next season he’ll be able to show that in addition to being a high effort player he is also a star in the making.

Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker continued their improved play off the bench. Bowie had 9 points and sliced through the Miami defense repeatedly. Tucker only managed 2 points but played a solid floor game. The two are continuing to provide a high level of play off the bench. I’m not sure why the announcer continued to call him “Anthony” instead of Adrian.

 

Side Rant: That crew on ESPNU was one of the worst I’ve heard all season. They struggled to find much to talk about once the game turned into a blow out but Rob Stone and Drew and Jon Berry were horrible. The banter was worthless drivel and the analysis wasn’t much better. Vasquez was compared to Larry Bird and Tyreke Evans, both observations way off the mark, and Jon Berry had the erudite observation that Gary Williams sweats. Jon Berry then went on to flatly deny that Vasquez was the best player in the ACC. You could make a case for about a half dozen players to be ACC player of the year right now (my vote would be for Al-Farouq Aminu) but to dismiss Vasquez was stupid. His brother Drew rightly pointed out that Jon Scheyer, who Jon Berry mentioned instead of Vasquez, has faded badly in ACC play. Vasquez is ahead of Scheyer in virtually every significant category as a point guard. Is there really anyone who thinks that Duke would not be better with Vasquez running their offense?

 

Eric Hayes had a quiet 10 points but drained two big 3-point shots and didn’t commit a single turnover. It is worth noting that Maryland’s turnover % is 7th best in the nation and behind only Virginia in the ACC. Given that the Cavaliers play a much slower tempo than Maryland it is even more impressive. Hayes isn’t the assist man he was last season but in five ACC games he has 16 with only 3 turnovers.

 

I’d like to see more out of Dino Gregory and James Padgett. Padgett was put in the game after it became a Maryland run away and did some decent things but I’d like to see him become more involved on the defensive end. Gregory scored 8 points, which is about the most you’ll get from his limited offensive game, but his defense wasn’t all that great (4 fouls in 14 minutes) and he didn’t grab a single rebound. It was good to see Padgett hit his two free throws.

It was exactly the kind of effort you would expect from a team that had a chance to take sole possession of 1st place in the ACC. The schedule does get more difficult with two games each against Clemson, Duke and Virginia left to go but this team is experienced enough to steal a few road games and will be extremely hard to beat at home. At this point a pedestrian 6-5 record the rest of the way gets them to 10 wins in the ACC and an NCAA birth for the second straight year.

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