Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Strengths and Weaknesses on Display in Opener

In an odd twist the freshmen impressed in the opening game of the season for Gary Williams while some veterans struggled. Overall the results were positive. In a frantic up and down game with Seattle Maryland eventually wore down their opponent and ran away with the game 105-76. The pace resulted in a sloppy affair at times with 50 combined turnovers and 63 free throws. Ball handling was one of my bigger concerns going into the year with Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker replacing Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes.Clearly Bowie and Tucker are a down grade in that category from last season. Their struggles, particularly Bowie's 7 turnovers, will bear close watching. It is easy to read too much into the first game of the year against a team that takes about 10 seconds a possession and plays at the pace of a pick up game. Still, Bowie's performance was disappointing for a senior who has enjoyed as much playing time as he has.

The good news was that Pe'Shon Howard and Terrell Stoglin had a dazzling debuts combining for 20 points, 13 assists and 7 turnovers. Maryland will do just fine if they are able to play like that. At times the freshmen were sloppy and had some face palm moments but overall you have to be impressed at their poise and instincts for the position. Other newcomers like Berend Weijs and Haukur Palsson showed some skills as a  shotblocking center and do everything glue guy respectively. Mychal Parker had a thunderous dunk and showed tantalizing athletic ability but is mentally behind most of the other freshmen.

The known quantities performed as you would hope. Sean Mosley stepped right into his scoring guard role with 21 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds. Mosley seems to be the leader of this group and his hustle on a blocked shot that was sure to be a score was emblematic of his central role on this new look Terrapin team. Mosley never seems to force the issue and just lets things come to him at the pace of the game. There may be points during the season when Maryland will need Mosley to become a little selfish.

The other pillar of this team, center Jordan Williams, was a wrecking crew around the rim with 17 points and 15 rebounds. He sucks up rebounds and seems more relaxed around the rim. Williams still needs to develop on defense but his rebounding and offensive game might be the best combination in the ACC.

Cliff Tucker played an under the radar game to finish with 16 points and 7 rebounds. On offense he looked good running out in transition and off the flex cuts but he still lacks focus at times and did little to help Bowie when he was struggling.

Maryland really won't know where it stands until after their visit to New York in the Coaches versus Cancer games but the early returns are promising. With a favorable ACC schedule this year I think a third straight NCAA bid seems reasonable.

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