Monday, December 6, 2010

Terps need upperclassmen to step up

In yesterday's 64-61 loss to Temple, which dropped Maryland to 6-3 on the season, Gary Williams did his best to send a message to his starters (other than Jordan Williams): play better or your minutes will diminish.

Williams, unquestionably the Terps' best player, had 17 points and 11 rebounds in 32 minutes. But no one really helped him out on the boards, and he was the only Terp to grab more than six rebounds. Because of that, Maryland was outrebounded by nine, including by four on the offensive end.

Still, though, Gary Williams did his best to send a message to Cliff Tucker, Adrian Bowie, and Sean Mosley. That trio played just 18, 22, and 19 minutes, respectively, and only scored a combined eight points. For Maryland to go places this season, Tucker and Bowie (seniors) and Mosley (junior) absolutely must play better than that. The Terps also could use a better effort out of Dino Gregory (senior) too -- one point (0-4 shooting), six rebounds -- but he has basically already shown what kind of player he is at this point.

Down 15 early in the second half, Gary Williams decided to give his young guys a chance, and it got Maryland back in the game. He likely won't forget that going forward. Going with a lineup of Terrell Stoglin, Pe'Shon Howard, James Padgett, Haukur Palsson, and either Williams (foul trouble) or Gregory, Maryland cut Temple's lead to four with about 12 minutes to go. Maryland kept battling and eventually tied the game on a dunk by Padgett with 1:52 left, but Temple swiftly passed the ball up court and hit an and-one layup to seize the lead for good.

For the game, Stoglin, Howard, and Palsson -- all freshmen -- and Padgett, a sophomore, all played over 12 minutes and scored a combined 35 points. Stoglin scored 16 points on 5-12 shooting, and Howard chipped in six points and six assists. Padgett had eight points and three rebounds, while Palsson had five points and two boards. Those four gave the Terps the spark they were looking for, but it wasn't quite enough for them to pull out the victory.

Other than the inconsistent play by Maryland's upperclassmen, the Terps have a few weaknesses. Here they are:

1) Three-point shooting

Other than Tucker or maybe Stoglin, Maryland doesn't really have a solid three-point shooter. As a team, the Terps are shooting just 30.4 percent from three-point range, which ranks 10th in the ACC.

2) Free throw shooting

As a team, the Terps are shooting 64.5 percent from the line, which is 11th in the ACC. That is something that absolutely will have to change if Maryland is going to win some close conference games as the season rolls along. Williams has already shot 66 free throws, and he's made just 34 of them (51.5 percent). They really need him, and some others, to make more of their free throw attempts.

3) Depth behind Williams

The Terps have done a pretty good job rebounding and defending so far, but that may change when they play against deeper, more athletic teams. Williams can hold his own against just about anyone in the country, but when he gets in foul trouble, the Terps obviously miss his presence in the paint. Padgett and Palsson both play hard, but they're not as good, or as big, as Williams.

Nevertheless, the young Terps are certainly fun to watch, and it should be interesting to see how they grow as a team and if Stoglin and Howard eventually earn starting roles if Bowie, Mosley, and Tucker continue to struggle.

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