Maryland fans were treated to a glimpse of the past at the N.C. State game on Sunday night as the 2001 Final Four team was honored at halftime and Greivis Vasquez had his number put in the rafters at Comcast Center. It was a feel good night in a season that has been largely devoid of them. Right now Maryland's present isn't all that exciting outside of Jordan Williams. Getting back to 0.500 in the conference was a step in the right direction but unless the squad can continue to build on their six ACC wins it won't matter much. After the game it also became apparent that Maryland fans had seen the future at point guard for the basketball program. Freshman Terrell Stoglin built off some strong performances against Wake Forest and Virginia Tech poured in another 25 point performance against the Wolfpack earning him ACC Rookie of the Week honors. I did a quick review of the game logs on Terrapinstats.com and I think Stoglin is the first freshman since Joe Smith to score that many points in an ACC game. Fact check that for me if you wish. To put that in perspective there have been many great Maryland players who never scored 25 points in an ACC game their entire career such as Steve Blake and Chris Wilcox not to mention that he has as many 25+ point games in ACC play as Chris McCray, Eric Hayes, Mike Jones, and the current senior class combined. The game is starting to slow down for Stoglin and he has a much better feel for the point guard position. He also added 9 assists and only one turnover.
There wasn't much defense played by either side in the game as N.C. State 49% for the game and Maryland shot a season high 58% from the floor. It was an outstanding interior battle between Jordan Williams (26 points) and Tracy Smith (19 points) but neither is an outstanding defender. The under card between C.J. Leslie and Dino Gregory wasn't bad either as they both finished with 18 points. Gregory would be hard pressed to guard Leslie on his own and couldn't prevent him from getting to the rim but was able to exploit Leslie's lazy defense and knock down those baseline jumpers all night.
Scott Wood nearly got N.C. State over the top as he drained 5 3-point shots en route to 15 points. Going zone turned into a disaster for Gary Williams as Wood exploited Maryland's poor perimeter defense easily. With Maryland's opponents shooting over 36% from 3-point range in conference play (ranking them 11th in the ACC) you would think more opponents would try to capitalize. Maryland went back to man to man and oddly Sidney Lowe did little to try to get Wood some better looks once Maryland switched defenses.
Sean Mosley has struggled this season but he was big in the clutch as he scored six of Maryland's eight points in a two and a half minute span when the score was tied at 71 with under six minutes remaining. He was solid on the free throw line as well. While Cliff Tucker did start and played more minutes Adrian Bowie had 5 assists in his 14 minutes of play. Both seniors have been relegated to role players and are unlikely to be more than that going forward.
I've been critical of Dino Gregory but he had the best game of his career with 18 points and 10 rebounds. His offensive game is not an interior complement to Jordan Williams, he is almost exclusively a jump shooting pick and pop artist at this point, but he understands his strengths well and picks his spots. He has scored in double figures in four straight games now. With the lack of production, and playing time, from the frontcourt bench players he and Williams will be forced to carry an unfair load of the scoring and rebounding.
It was great to see Vasquez and his parents celebrate a richly deserved honor when his number was honored in the rafters at Comcast. It is fitting because he is without a doubt the greatest Maryland player to play at Comcast Center and most of the memorable moments at the new arena focus on Vasquez. He probably gave the players some good advice and motivation to finish the season strong. They will need both because they have a long road to walk before they can be confident in getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The game against Florida State, minus Chris Singleton, is the next game that Maryland needs to put in the win column. Though Singleton is gone FSU is still a dangerous team and they handled Wake Forest on the road without much trouble in their last game. Maryland is 9-1 versus the Seminoles at home and the last win by FSU at Maryland was the infamous Valentines' Day game in 2001. Forwards Bernard James and Okaro White have taken on bigger roles with Singleton gone for the season. FSU is still a big and physical front line that may give Jordan Williams problems in the post. Many teams rally their following game after losing a player for the season but then fall flat. Let's hope that is what happens tomorrow.