Entering the 2009-’10 basketball season, the University of Maryland and Gary Williams had to find ways to turn their front-court from a weakness into, well…less of a weakness. Lat year the Terps were severely under-sized. Their starting center was 6’5″ and their leading rebounder was their point guard. Despite those factors Maryland still made the NCAA tournament. We knew size was on it’s way in Jordan Williams and James Padgett, but we did not know how much of an impact that size would have. There were also question about whether Landon Milbourne could continue being effective as a power forward in a small forward’s body. So far the returns have been positive, and perhaps the most positive thing is the potential for growth.
Landon Milbourne – He has been a strong contributor at the power forward position despite his lack of ideal size. Milbourne uses his quickness and shooting range (extended out to three range) to give bigger forwards trouble. Milbourne gives high effort consistently and is never outworked. His size does hurt him on the boards, particularly the defensive boards, but he has become a good shot blocker and a gritty offensive rebounder. These facets of Milbourne’s game are particularly impressive. I never thought I would see Milbourne block shots of guys 4-5 inches taller than him. Milbourne’s play has slipped the last 3 games. The Terps will need him to step up especially on the road as the season draws to a close.
Jordan Williams – Williams has filled a major hole in the middle for the Terps. His strengths are his position defense and defensive rebounding. Williams is not an explosive player around the basket, but he has a good touch and can finish when set up by the Terps guards. Williams struggled at Duke, but has played well against other ACC bigs like Trevor Booker and Tracy Smith. Williams will be a very good four year player at Maryland and will improve offensively with experience and more quickness and lift.
Dino Gregory – Dino was suspended for the first 8 games of the season. Since returning he has played some valuable minutes for the Terps. Gregory is an explosive athlete, a good weak-side shot blocker and a hustle player, but his size and lack of post moves hurt him. Gregory has a nice touch to 15 feet when facing the basket and is a very good free throw shooter. He shows good knowledge of Maryland’s offensive and defensive scheme’s which make him a valuable member of the front-court.
James Padgett – Padgett has seen limited minutes in ACC play. He is a tough physical player who shows some nice moves around the basket. He needs more experience at this level, which will hopefully make him more instinctive. Right now Padgett seems unsure of where he is supposed to be at times. Padgett has more lift than Jordan Williams and can eventually turn into a Charles Oakley type rebounder.
The Terps are a bit thin in the front court, but manage that with using guard heavy line-ups and splitting the minutes at teh 4 and 5 positions between the four players mentioned above. Steve Goins has been a non-factor as he has battled some injuries. Speaking of injuries one player I assumed was done due to injury was Jerome Burney. Burney has suited up for the passed 3 games. Not sure if he will see court time this year, but it was encouraging to see him in uniform. Burney could add some needed depth and athleticism up front if he is able to play. Regardless, this unit needs to out-work and out-hustle their opponents to consistently out-perform them. What they lack in talent they make up for in desire. This truly is a Gary Williams coached team.
JP…I'm thinking they cover the spread at home against Duke in early March…Stumble in the ACC Tournament Semi-Finals, then find a way to make a somewhat surprising return to the Sweet 16. Having a 23 year old with the ball in his hands in the NCAAs pays dividends! Then, in a surprising plot twist, Coach Williams walks away from the game, citing "personal reasons". All in all, he'll be missed!
This is the most optimistic I've ever seen you about the MD squad. I think if they do make some noise in the ACC tourney, as you discussed, a sweet 16 is definitely in the making. No matter that the ACC is in a relative down year (whenever NC is not in the Top 25 it's a down year), the reputation of the conference will be enough to propel them to a decent seeding.
Suggestion to Z-man, Sadler, Pilson, et al…how about a BSR bracket, strictly for entertainment purposes of course.
I think this MD team is more likely to make noise in the ACC tourney. Since it is a down year in the conference I don't see many ACC teams that will make noise in the NCAA's. I keep thinking back to the Duke/Georgetown game and realize how much better some of the other conferences are than the ACC. If MD is to make it to the sweet 16 they will need the right match-up in the 2nd round of the tourney. Quick, athletic teams will give the Terps trouble.
Bruz, I am curious why you think Gary would hang it up. Is it because his best player is gone after this year, or because the recruiting landscape is such that non-cheaters cannot get the talent necessary to win.
Here we go again. Now you are going to say that Jim Calhoun at UCONN is a cheater.
I think most all of the programs that are consistently good at recruiting are cheating in some way. Recruiting is either dirty or it is not. If it is, the one's who are good recruiters are cheating. I have had people tell me that Rudy Gay and Kevin Durant were bought and paid for. I am certain it happens for most of the top athletes. Unfortunately, college sports is greatly tainted by this, but the NCAA will not come down hard on their cash cows. That is why I am more and more turning my attention to pro sports.
Why isn't Maryland cheating? Because they were caught too many times?
Besides a minor incident involving a football recruit and $300 what "times" are you referring to under either coaching administration? Even the NCAA sanctions for the basketball team under Bob wade were not entirely based on receruiting violations. It was mainly about not cooperating with NCAA investigators and improper benefits to current players.
Why does Maryland not cheat? Part of it is that they are in between 2 relatively large media cities in Baltimore and DC and they could not get away with it. The Washington Post effectively ended the Lance Stephenson recruitment last year when they jumped all over the fact the UnderArmor had invited Lance and his dad to the factory for a tour and to talk about future endorsement stuff. The paper insinuated that Stephenson was being pushed toward MD by UA. It was not true, but that stuff goes on all the time in bball recruting. The main reason is that Gary will not pay AAU coaches and handlers, will not solicit help in placing recuits from shoe companies and has put the boosters on notice that nof unny business is to go on involving recruits.
Is MD 100% clean, no, but those are the main reasons they struggle to recruit in an area that is a hotbed for bball talent.
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