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.