Thursday, November 11, 2010

Early crucible for Terps

Maryland has made a habit of early season stumbles against lesser competition the last few seasons. Morgan State, American, William & Mary are all teams that have come into College Park and come away with wins. College of Charleston is a step above those programs and with a proven head coach in Bobby Cremins who doesn't need a scouting report to come up with a game plan against Gary Williams it was a recipe for an upset. Playing two games in three days to start the season isn't exactly ideal and CoC came to Maryland rested and ready to notch a huge win to start the season. The Terps looked a little sluggish and that isn't surprising given that had a 96 possession marathon game against Seattle only a 48 hours before. Perhaps that explains the sluggish efforts by Sean Mosley and Dino Gregory or the poor reaction on defense. Maryland's fast break was barely evident but Cremins goal of denying Maryland easy transition baskets may of also been a factor. It was a great experience for this group. They struggled and had to grind out a win against a team with an elite group of mid-major guards. Freshmen like Pe'Shon Howard may have asserted themselves as future stars while role players like Haukur Palsson showed impressive versatility.

College of Charleston will win a bunch of games this year with PG Andrew Goudelock at the helm and is almost certainly a NIT level team. It was a trap game for Maryland so early in the season and it was impressive that the younger players step up in key moments. This is a win Maryland can build on.

It was obvious that Gary Williams wasn't pleased with the quality of the play if you saw his expression after the game. While Howard is the celebrity of the moment and Jordan Williams continues his campaign of domination with 26 points and 15 rebounds there were plenty of things Maryland needs to work on in the coming week and out of conference schedule.

The poor freethrow shooting may have been a partial fluke as I doubt they shoot that poorly the rest of the season but it nearly cost Maryland the game. The main culprits were Williams and Howard, who combined to go 3/13 from the line. Both will need to make dramatic improvements or opponents will hack them as a strategy.

The defense was atrocious for stretches of the game as Sean Mosley was embarrassed by Goudelock during a late run in the 2nd half by College of Chaleston. Cliff Tucker, who had a quiet but impressive game, took over for Mosley and all but shut Goudelock out. Without their leading scorer CoC had little ability to score. Leading by 8 points with about 8 and a half minutes to go CoC didn't make another field goal the rest of the game. College of Charleston had 18 turnovers and Maryland snagged 11 steals (3 by Terrell Stoglin) which certainly helped to shut down their offense.

Rebounding should have been a greater strength against CoC for Maryland but they ended up even at 36 rebounds a piece. Given how Jordan Williams dominated as an individual it was disappointing that the rest of Maryland's frontcourt didn't do their part. Dino Gregory logged 26 minutes but only grabbed 4 rebounds. James Padgett, Berend Weijs and Palsson only played a combined 17 minutes but grabbed three rebounds. The production at the other forward slot must improve. Gregory failed to score a point and Padgett didn't distinguish himself in his limited playing time. As a senior Gregory is what he is: a limited player who won't offer much on offense and doesn't rebound very well. The smart guys at Basketball Prospectus called his offensive game "irrelevant" for good reason. Maryland will be better off if one of the bench players can develop and diminish Gregory's playing time.

Perhaps Mosley just had a bad night but it was one of his worst games since rolling onto campus as a freshman. He did have four assists but Maryland can't afford him to play 29 minutes and score three points. Mosley is transitioning from being a complementary scoring option to one of the pillars of the team. He clearly struggled with that last night. Maryland is lucky to have impressive depth in the backcourt this season but will be tested if Mosley cannot develop more consistency.

Howard may have served notice last night that it is only a matter of time before he asserts control over the point guard position, if he hasn't already. Starter Adrian Bowie didn't look much better than he did in his putrid opening game against Seattle. Bowie's confidence seems shaken and he struggles to get the offense going or make the right passes. If he can't get that back the impressive freshman duo of Howard and Stoglin will see more playing time. He had foul trouble and got poked in the eye which limited his playing time but it will be interesting to track his minutes going forward.

The difference in this team compared to teams of recent vintage is that there is enough depth on the roster so that if someone is not playing well they will get pushed by the players below them. Developing battles at point guard and power forward for playing time will make Maryland better come ACC play.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice summary, Mosley will be the key to our season. He needs to step it up offensively and if not, we will be in trouble. I know he has the ability to score, he just needs to make it a fact in every game. If I were GW, I would give him the go for some early FGs early in each game to give him the confidence. A close second is developing alternatives to JWill, not seeing a viable inside game without him yet.