clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

ACC Preview # 4 - Maryland

N.C. State | Wake Forest | UNC | Maryland | Clemson | Virginia | Virginia Tech | Georgia Tech | Florida State | B.C. | Miami | Duke

It has to be a bit tough to be a Maryland fan these days.  In the early part of the decade, a brilliant program was rising and indeed won a national title.  And it was a great team: Juan Dixon and Steve Blake were one of the ACC's best backcourts.  Chris Wilcox was a phenomenal talent, if a short timer.  Lonnie Baxter was a solid big man and things were, in general, looking good.

Things change.

After their ascent to the top, Maryland has tumbled.  Making the NCAAs has become quite difficult lately, and Gary Williams' eye for under-appreciated talent, rivaled in the ACC only by B.C.'s Al Skinner, has failed him lately.  On his current roster, only Greivis Vasquez has proven to be a significant talent.  In the last few years, fans around the ACC waited for James Gist to become a top-flight player.  Never really happened.

Maryland did manage to come up with a really nice player in Bambale Osby but as a JUCO recruit, he only had two years.  

35 Dave Neal Forward 6-7 263 SR
5 Eric Hayes Guard 6-4 184 JR
1 Landon Milbourne Forward 6-7 207 JR
21 Greivis Vasquez Guard 6-6 190 JR
33 Dino Gregory Forward 6-7 227 SO
4 Braxton Dupree Center 6-8 260 SO
23 David Pearman Guard/Forward 6-6 188 SO
24 Cliff Tucker Guard/Forward 6-6 190 SO
22 Adrian Bowie Guard 6-2 190 SO
32 Jerome Burney Forward 6-9 222 SO
14 Sean Mosley Guard 6-4 210 FR
Jin Soo Choi Forward 6-7 180 FR
Steve Goins Center 6-10 260 FR

On the current roster, none of the returnees other than Vasquez really stand out, although obviously, with six sophomores, there's no telling how they'll turn out yet. 

Eric Hayes, it's probably safe to say, has been a disappointment to date and was rumored to consider a transfer after last season.  A kid who grew up playing point, he's long since been moved to off-guard to allow Vasquez to run the team.

Hayes averaged 9.9 last season which is not bad, but is, really the kind of scoring you expect from your point guard.

Dino Gregory, Braxton Dupree, Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker made modest contributions as freshmen, and none of the bigger kids have shown a lot in the post.  Jerome Burney might turn out, but time will tell.

Maryland's recruiting ended up being perhaps intriguing, but verged on a total disaster over the summer and still isn't out of the woods.  Williams brought in Tyree Evans, briefly, before his criminal record caught the attention of the administration and the press.  Evans was originally a Cincinnati recruit, but his role in an alleged sexual assault ended that.  He also had various other charges which came to light and which embarrassed the university, which gave the impression that Williams had not been entirely honest about the situation (Williams said he was unaware of the additional charges). Evans ended the fiasco by opting to pull out.

Then Gus Gilchrist blew up.  A talented big man originally committed to Virginia Tech, Gilchrist backed out of that after the on-campus massacre.  When he found out that ACC rules would force him to sit out at more time at Maryland, he decided to leave.

Still, the Terps ended up with an intriguing class of three, although, typically for this team lately, two are still not through the NCAA clearinghouse.  Sean Mosely alone has made it, and he's a guy Williams should love. A 6'4" guard, he's a gym rat and a talented one.

Jin Soo Choi is a 6'7" kid out of South Korea who managed to get himself eligible a year early, assuming the NCAA concurs.  He's said to be a tremendous shooter.  And Steve Goins is a very bright guy who has only played basketball for a few years.  He is athletic and promising but raw.

So here's where they are:  Maryland has a small team with only one proven player, nine sophomores and freshmen, coming off a mediocre year at best, and growing fan unhappiness. What should they expect from here?

Well, it depends.  If they can establish either Braxton, Goins or Burney down low, that would be a major plus. They have enough reasonable athletes to surround an inside player with an effective defensive team.

They'll obviously start Vasquez. He's a questionable decision maker and a guy who can lose a game as easily as win one.  His personal behavior - we remember him barking at the Duke student section this past year, telling them "come on, bitches," before the officials stepped in - can be a problem too.  But there's no getting around his talent when he's on: he kept Maryland in that Duke game virtually on his own and was superb. His performance didn't get the attention it should have, since they lost, but it was remarkable.  He's as gifted as anyone around.

We won't be at all surprised if Moseley ends up starting; as a matter of fact, we more or less expect it.

Beyond that, it's really hard to say.  They could go with a three-guard offense, with Hayes or Choi, if he's ready, but neither one is likely to be a great defender.  Choi has an offensive reputation, so he might force his way into the rotation, but he also has a rap as a guy who doesn't work as hard as he might, and that won't go over well in Garyland if so.

The bottom line is this:  Williams has a deserved reputation for doing more with less and for demanding, and getting, superb effort out of his players.  He likes nothing better than to take a group of kids who are lightly regarded and molding them into a team that wins on guts and heart, especially if it means beating teams like Duke or UNC, with their star-studded rosters.

But it's going to be tough to do with this group. You can force offense from defense, but not every time down court.  You can ride Vasquez to a certain extent, but if other players don't step up offensively, he'll face double and triple teams, and he'll wear down, physically certainly, but possibly emotionally as well.

In other words, if Williams can take a team with one returning major player, no established inside game, limited outside shooting, six sophomores who haven't shown a whole lot, and three freshmen who, while promising, have never had to face the intensity of Duke, Carolina, or Clemson defenders, if he can take that group to the tournament, it's going to be his best coaching job in years.

We wouldn't bet the milk money on it.