The substitute teacher has arrived and class is in session.  Two teams faced off on the hardwood in College Park last night, but only one team came to play.  Virginia Techembarassed the Terps at home last night.  Let’s go to the recap:

    • When a player calls your fans “the worst fans ever” right before coming to play in your house, you have got to come out swinging.  Maryland didn’t heard the bell, went down 12-0 in a flash, and never recovered.  That is called “disappointing your fans”.
    • Yet another local guy comes back home to haunt the Terps.  What did Maryland do to Malcolm to create such disdain, such scorn, such venom in his heart against his hometown?  The hate was palpable in his play but it didn’t exactly help him focus his jumper.  Outside of hitting two threes to start the game, Delaney shot 3/9 FG the rest of the way.  Delaney did not exactly burn the house down, but his teammates had his back.
    • While Delaney got top bill in the press for the team backing up his words, it was guard Erick Green – another DC metro prospect – that led his team to victory last night.  With 24 PTS on 12/16 FG shooting, it seemed like Green extended the Tech lead every time theTerps tried to climb back in it.
    • The 17 PT defecit was the worst home loss for the Terps in the eight year history of theComcast Center.
    • Pe’Shon Howard (0-5 FG including 0-3 3PT)  is not ready for prime-time.  While he’s had some cold moments, I feel like Stoglin is the better option than Howard for extended minutes.  Cliff Tucker is clearly better coming off the bench than he is as a starter.  Gary Williams should stop tinkering with the starting line-up.  It’s what caused the slow start last night.
    • The two teams took as many shots as each other (56) and were pretty even from the free-throw line.  The difference between the two was shooting.  While Tech was focused - taking open looks when they got them and getting to the rack – Maryland suffered from poor shot selection and a general lack of rhythm.
    • Victor Davilla put the muscle to Maryland’s front court and they didn’t handle it well.   Jordan Williams clearly had his hands full, and it seemed like he didn’t have any help on either side of the floor.
    • Has anyone seen Dino Gregory?  I don’t think he showed up for the game last night.  I hope he’s OK.  Someone should call his house and check on him.
    • Slow starting Cliff Tucker finally got his groove in the second half.  While it was too little, too late, he did show signs of life while the rest of his team looked like they were slowly drowning in quicksand.  Tucker should be used like Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson was used on the Bad Boy Pistons teams of the 80’s – when you need a spark from the bench, bring in Cliff Tucker and he’ll heat up quick.  He’ll give you 10 PPG whether you play him for 30 min or 15 min, so leaving him off the floor to start each half will actually increase the team’s overall production.

  • While I like to think of myself as an optimist, I haven’t felt good about the Terps tournament hopes since the start of the year, and this loss could be the first nail in the coffin.  I’m working under the assumption that the amount of bids coming out of the ACC will be likely limited to four or five this year.  Tech is a team that Maryland will be in direct competition with for those spots.  Add it up, and this was what I call a “bad loss”.  NIT here we come.

Closing thought: My coblogger Scott and I have done a role reversal this season.  While I am usually the one talking Scott off the ledge, this year I’m the one who has lost hope.  It’s my belief that this season is a rebuliding year.  The rest of this season should be dedicated to developing talent.  The experienced players on this team do not have enough talent, and the talented players on this team do not have enough experience, to make a real run at meaningful goals, such as an ACC or NCAA Championship.  That means less minutes for Bowie, Tucker, and Gregory, and more minutes for Stoglin, Howard, Parker, and Palsson.  If Maryland is going to suffer embarrassing losses like last night, they might as well bloody the troops in the process.

 

The Terps hosted the Clemson Tigers this afternoon in a game between two evenly matched teams that came down to a half-court heave that could have changed the outcome.  Depsite leading wire-to-wire, Maryland almost gave it away.  In the end, the Terps left Comcast Center with a 79-77 win, so I won’t be too hard on ‘em.  Here is a quick recap:

    • Gary Williams - reportedly a huge Shell Games fan - took my advice and put Bowie and Stoglin back in the starting line-up.  The move worked.  The Terps got out to a quick start and built a lead that they never relinquished.

  • Sixth man extraordinaire Cliff Tucker had 15 PTS on 5-10 FG, including 2-4 3PT.  I’ve extolled the importance of the role of the sixth man in the past.  Once and for all, Tucker proved today that his talents are a perfect fit for that role.
  • I’d like to personally thank Devin Booker of Clemson for taking a dunk while down three points with 2.1 seconds left.  It never dawned on Booker that there was a good reason why the entire defense was above the free-throw line.  Taking two instead of three brought a scary last ditch scramble by Clemson to a halt.  That was a big help.
  • Although I’m still not entirely convinced that Jordan Williams will go pro after this season, the chances of that happening go up with every consecutive double-double he gets.  Today marked a Terps record thirteenth straight double-double for Williams, breaking the record held by Len Elmore.  nbadraft.net currently has Williams going at the 17th pick.  If he keeps this up, which I think he will, his stock will only rise.  I’m almost hoping he doesn’t learn how to shoot free-throws this season.
  • As the game wound down and Clemson crept closer and closer, Terrell Stoglin was the only guy I wanted to receive the inbounds passes in the back court.  I know you felt the same way.  That’s because he’s becoming a point guard.

Next up for the Terps is a trip to Charlottesville for another potentially close game with a mediocre team against UVA on Thursday.  I would say that Maryland will keep the train rolling forward against the Cavaliers, but who knows?  This season, every game is an adventure.

 

Welp, I’m back in an upright position after orthopedic surgery.  As I’ll be functioning with one arm for a while, expect things to be a little more concise and a liiiitle moooore sllloooow for the next few weeks, though I should be back to full speed by March.  Many thanks go out to Ian, who put up two whole posts in the week I was away. It’s like Jimmy V once said: Don’t strain yourself, buddy. Don’t ever, ever strain yourself.

In other news, Maryland beat Virginia 66-42 last night in C-ville.  To the points:

  1. Michael Reghi and Ron Thompson were apparently having a contest to see how many times each one could say the words “classic ACC basketball,” or some permutation thereof. The two teams combined for 108 points on 40 percent shooting, 26 TOs, and 26 PFs. Just because the car goes fast does not mean it’s a Ferrari.
  2. Part of this has to do with Maryland’s oustanding defense.  They are stifling.
  3. Speaking of Thompson, he said the Terps could go 8-4 the rest of the way and make the tournament.  Really, Ron Thompson?  A 10-6 ACC record gets them in?  Actually you know what I agree. That’s the record of a classic ACC basketball powerhouse.
  4. Decent overall win for the Terps. Jordan Williams finished with a 4 and 6, but more wasn’t needed.  It’s like he told them “look, I have to take it easy for a few of these games.”  And finally — FINALLY — the rest of the Terps, not one or two guys but multiple guys, answered the bell.
  5. With 22 points and 4 steals, Adrian Bowie continues to show he’s more comfortable when he’s not running the offense.  He was the game MVP hands down.  He’s scored in double figures in his last five games.  Now is usually the point when Bowie makes fans feel stupid for again drinking his Kool-Aid.  We’ll see what he brings against Duke.
  6. Pe’shon Howard, Terrell Stoglin, and Cliff Tucker combined for 29 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assts to 1 turnover.  They accomplished this averaging 21 minutes apiece. Only Stoglin started.
  7. Which brings us to Mr. Sean Mosley.  The ol’ cap converted 24 minutes of run into 0 points, 5 rebounds (none of them offensive),  0-0 from the stripe, 1 steal, 1 assist, 1 turnover, and 2 personal fouls.  Again, this was in 24 minutes.  More on Mr. Mosley later. In the meantime, if someone wants to make a case for why he should continue to start, I’m nothing but ears over here.
  8. No Cavalier really stood out for me in this game.   Farrakhan and Sene were decent, but without Sylvan Landesberg, there’s no one who makes me sit up when he has the rock.
  9. Last Night’s Berend Weijs Layup of the game was presented by Hefty garbage sacks.  Hefty: They Hold A Lot of Garbage.
  10. So many fans love to love Dino Gregory for his Floor Leadership, his Sportsmanship, his Hustle, and so on.  I just don’t see it.

Next up:  At Georgia Tech Jan. 30.

 

Psychologically speaking, Sean Mosley seems to be a big part of the Maryland basketball team.  The 2008 Gatorade high school player of the year in Maryland was the Terps’ first blue-chip Baltimore recruiting score in more than a decade.  On paper, the 6′4″ guard has a rugged, versatile game that screams “stat stuffer.”  On the court, he radiates poise, even wiseness, that belies his years.  It was this leadership and this potential that led him to be named Maryland co-captain for this year’s squad.

It is probably also the reason why it may be more difficult to squarely face Mosley’s chronic underachievement.  And not just this year either.  In my opinion, it’s not time to give up on Mosley, but it is time to identify his status with clear eyes.  Sean Mosley has to this point been trading on credit.  And it’s time for the bill to come due.  Might Mosley’s balance due include some time on the pine?  Yes.  I say yes.

As a sophomore last season, Mosley was fourth on the team in scoring behind a trio of talented seniors.  Fast forward to this year’s less-stable squad.  Cliff Tucker struggled out of the gate, and was relegated to the bench in the Terps’ 12th game of the year — a role in which he has remained and excelled ever since.   But a closer look at the numbers indicates that perhaps Mosley, not Tucker, was the better choice for the bench.

In the 11 games prior to Tucker’s benching, Mosley averaged 7 points on 39% shooting, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 turnovers in 25 minutes a game.  In that same span, Tucker averaged 11 points on 44% shooting, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 turnovers in 26 minutes a game.

So Tucker, a 6′6″ senior guard/forward, was both a more proficient and efficient scorer, a comparable boardman and a better ballhandler than Mosley, a 6′4″ junior guard.  And yet, benching Mosley didn’t even seem to be an option.  I didn’t read anybody (including myself, for whatever it’s worth) who said Sean, not Cliff, should have been the fall guy for Maryland’s early-season stumbles.

But hey, maybe the coaches and fans wanted to stick by the guard from Charm City, which has a famously low tolerance for insults, real and perceived, from the big state school.  Maybe a benching would not galvanize but rather obliterate with finality the last delicate strands of Mosley’s confidence.  Fair enough.

But at some point, it needs to be reiterated that Gary Williams is running a basketball team, not a therapy program or a diplomacy convention.  This is a team fighting for its postseason life.  At what point does the need to, you know, have your best five on the floor trump these legitimate, but ultimately ancillary, concerns?

I don’t know, but to this point Mosley has failed to capitalized on his second (third? seventh?) chance for success.  Since Tucker’s benching, Cliff has been on fire, throwing up 13 points on 47% shooting, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 turnover in 26 minutes per game.  Mosley, meanwhile, seems to have contracted a touch of the Eeyore syndrome, moping and hanging his head en route to 8 points on 46 percent shooting, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 turnovers in 23 minutes per game.

To some extent, the writing here may already be on the wall.   In the Terps’ last four games, Mosley’s minutes have dipped to just 21 per contest, while Tucker’s have ballooned to 27.  So the question becomes a simple cost-benefit analysis.   Williams had the inclination to bench a senior in midseason for underperformance; is his refusal to bench a junior for same deleterious to team cohesion?  Does that feed the myth among teammates that Mosley is more deserving (at least in the eyes of some) of touches than his statistics might indicate?  Or, is this an unbroken situation that does not need fixing?  Has Williams hit on a way to motivate Tucker that he understands will not work on Mosley, hence his reluctance to reduce Mosley’s nominal role even as he very plainly draws down his playing time?

I don’t know anyone on this team, so all I can do is speculate.  But with that in mind, it might be a refreshing change to start those players who are most deserving–and most capable of getting your team to victory row.

 

Terps Handle Jackets, But Fired-Up Duke Looms

On July 6, 2014, in Game, by admin

Not only was it good to see Maryland get a road win over Georgia Tech, it was good to see them do it without trying too terribly hard.  Sure, there were runs and this and that, but did you ever, at any point, feel that the Terps were truly threatened?  I didn’t.  Tech would scramble back into it, and Maryland would simply stomp back down on the gas pedal and outpace them again.  Ball game.

The one thing I regret about the game was Sean Mosley’s 16-point, three-assist, four-rebound effort.  Sure, it’s great and all, but what about my article saying Sean sucked and should be benched?  Now I’ve got all this egg on my face.  Thanks a lot, Sean.  Why don’t you think about somebody else for a change?  Actually, I stand by everything I said in that and still think Gary Williams should have a quicker hook with Mosley.  And suffice it to say I’ll be a lot more impressed when or if Mosley can do it against a group of competitors who are not Smurfs.

Which brings me to Wednesday.  Yes, this Wednesday, Maryland faces Duke in the CP.  Are you like me, and this one kind of snuck up on you?   It’s safe to say this is the biggest game of the Terps’ season, given their lack of a marquee win.  They need this one, and they need it bad.  It’s the fulcrum on which their tournament hopes are balanced.

As you know, Duke lost to St. John’s on Saturday.  In a nutshell, a cold-shooting Blue Devils team that a fired-up Red Storm pestered into 17 turnovers and 21 missed threes.  The loss was good, because it showed that good speed and great perimeter defense can be effective on Duke.  And Maryland can ugly it up with the best of them.  But the loss may have also been bad because now you’ve got a pissed-off Duke team looking to take out their frustrations on one of their biggest rivals.  A motivated Duke is a scary Duke.  But you know what?  If Maryland can’t match Duke’s motivation and intensity on Wednesday, then they probably lose the ball game.  But if this pivotal contest doesn’t get them to their highest level, they probably don’t have any business winning it anyway.