Wednesday, March 30, 2011

If Jordan Williams leaves, expect more zone

Jordan Williams filed the necessary paperwork yesterday to enter the NBA Draft, but he has not signed with an agent yet. That means that he has until May 8 to withdraw his name and still remain eligible. On Sunday, I discussed many of the consequences of what losing Williams would mean, but I did leave one out: It would force the Terps into playing more zone.

This past season, Gary Williams occasionally utilized a 3-2 (almost a 1-2-2) zone. It wasn't always effective, but it did work in certain stretches, particularly against inefficient shooting teams. In previous years, I recall Maryland playing some zone before, but usually only in brief intervals to catch opposing teams off guard. If Jordan Williams departs, the Terps won't just be losing their best player, but their biggest one as well.

Only one of the incoming freshmen (at the moment) is a frontcourt player (Martin Breunig). He probably won't be a starter, meaning that unless Nick Faust wows from day one, the Terps will start five guys from last year's team. Since I doubt that Gary would be fine with starting both Berend Weijs and James Padgett together, the most likely starter at the other forward position will be Haukur Palsson. And that's fine since Palsson played well at times as a freshman, but he's only 6'6 and would leave the Terps with a huge size deficiency against tall frontcourts.

But there aren't a whole lot of choices. Without Williams, Maryland will be forced to bring in at least another big man, but there's no way that the Terps would expect much from him right away. And if Palsson does indeed play significant minutes at the four, the Terps could be looking at this starting lineup:

Terrell Stoglin (6'1)
Pe'Shon Howard (6'3)
Sean Mosley (6'4)
Haukur Palsson (6'6)
James Padgett (6'8)

Or maybe Weijs (6'10) starts. Or maybe Gary Williams is firmly against a lineup that's too small and doesn't want Palsson to play so many minutes at the four. Regardless, losing Williams reduces Maryland's options. And if Maryland is forced into using the above starting lineup, they will be overmatched inside in most games -- particularly in ACC play -- and forced into playing more zone to clog the lane.

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