Thursday, February 24, 2011

Terps on the rise

The Terrapins seem to have found an offensive formula that works with a few games left in the season. After floundering with repeated attempts to have Adrian Bowie, Cliff Tucker and Sean Mosley carry the offensive load with Jordan Williams early in the season it now appears that freshman Terrell Stoglin and Dino Gregory are the scoring complements to that Gary Williams had been searching for all along. In the last four games Stoglin has averaged 20.3 points and 6.5 assists shooting 60% from the floor and 90% from the free throw line. The leaps the freshman has made the last few weeks is extremely impressive and most importantly he has earned the trust of Gary Williams. While the team defense has been inconsistent the offense has been improving dramatically as Stoglin has taken over the primary ball handler duties. The last three games Maryland has torched a couple of very solid defensive clubs in Florida State and Virginia Tech. Jordan Williams is no longer alone as a reliable scorer as Dino Gregory and even Sean Mosley have shown more consistency the last few outings. Gregory has developed a reliable jump shot and is brimming with confidence. He hit a number of clutch baskets late in the game with Williams on the bench with foul trouble. Mosley isn't lighting up the scoreboard but he has been a reliable fourth or fifth option on offense, scoring in double figures the last two games. He still had several bone headed turnovers but is getting to the free throw line and playing better defense.

Adrian Bowie had a good night with dribble penetrations and assists. It was the first time the senior scored in double figures since the Longwood game. It was good to see Bowie play to his strengths and not forcing too much.

Hawk Palsson came off the bench to provide some quality minutes and decent defense when Maryland switched to the zone. He had a role in the impressive defense that Maryland played en route to running away with the game in the 2nd half. He hit one 3-point basket and had another make waived off due to a shot clock violation.

James Padgett also got some time and was able to spell Jordan Williams when he got into foul trouble. He and Gregory had some difficulty against the big Seminole frontline with Williams out but they held it together enough to get through those stretches of the game.

Jordan Williams had a good night, if sub par by his standards, with 11 points and 11 rebounds. I thought the long frontline of FSU would give Williams problems but he didn't seem to get frustrated and withdrawn like he has in earlier games. He stayed with it and put in a workman like performance. I was surprised Leonard Hamilton didn't try to test Maryland's interior defense more often has Bernard James was almost a mere bystander. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that Hamilton did little to put his players in the right position to succeed.

The offense had a very nice mix of dribble drives, intermediate jumpers and 3-point baskets and the variety of scoring probably is the reason FSU struggled to cool Maryland down without resorting to fouling. Maryland made 21/30 free throws and the team is getting much better, especially Jordan Williams. It doesn't hurt that Stoglin, who has been an rock of Gibraltar on the line, has taken 29 free throws in four games.

This win sets up Maryland for a Sunday night showdown with a talented North Carolina team. The Tar Heels lack the singular star that Maryland has in Jordan Williams (sorry but Harrison Barnes isn't there yet) but are athletic and deep. It will be a difficult challenge but a great opportunity to make a statement to the selection committee.

After the game Gary Williams commented on the lack of fans at the game and the mostly empty student "wall" section behind the basket. While it was a poor showing by the students I hardly think it was the time for Williams to take a shot at the support, or lack thereof, by the fans for a middling team that has struggled in one of the weakest ACC seasons in memory. Maryland fans are no different than most others of ACC teams. If you are not winning they won't come in large numbers. UNC had a precipitous drop in attendance last season while in the midst of their NIT season and this year Wake Forest and Georgia Tech have played before somnolent crowds at home. I'm sure if an NCAA tournament birth is on the line when the team returns to Comcast Center a week from Saturday against Virginia that the place will be packed. In the mean time Williams and his team need to focus on making sure that game will be relevant instead of worrying about the size of the crowd or what a student writes in the Diamondback.

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