Gary Williams received a first look at his 2009-10 Terrapins in a live-game situation in an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday afternoon.
Williams, entering his 21st season as the Terps’ head coach, has been pleased with his team’s effort in the first week of practice, pointing to the players’ focus and preparation in the offseason.
“For one week of practice, there haven’t been many times we’ve had to stop practice and say we have to play harder,” Williams said. “No matter what your offense is or defense is, unless you play at a certain level intensity-wise, you’re not going to be very good. I think for one week of practice, we have a pretty good intensity level right now.”
The Terps’ lack of size was well-chronicled last season despite advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament, so highly-touted freshmen forwards James Padgett and Jordan Williams were on full display and the early returns in practice have been positive.
“They’ve got to be ready to play,” Williams said about the two big freshmen. “That’s why they came here. They expect to play, and I expect them to play. They’re not just going to play because they’re here. They’ve got to earn that playing time, and they know that.”
Padgett stood out over his fellow freshman on Saturday, scoring 17 points and grabbing seven rebounds while playing strong defense in the low post. The 6-foot-8 forward from Brooklyn showed good footwork and ran the floor well for a big man.
Jordan Williams struggled to get into the flow of the game in the first half, looking hesitant on both ends of the floor, but chipped in four points and three rebounds.
It’s not surprising to see Padgett ahead of Williams at this point when considering the level of competition Padgett faced in New York City in contrast to Williams coming from Torrington, Conn.
Not to be outdone by the two freshmen, Landon Milbourne and junior Dino Gregory also showed nice moves in the post. Milbourne is still expected to see time at power forward despite being undersized, and the senior finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Gregory finished with 16 points and eight rebounds and appears to have the inside track to start in the spot vacated by Dave Neal.
“We want to be able to play [inside guys] without worrying about who’s out there,” Williams said. “That’s when you have depth when you can play a guy in any situation. We have that in our backcourt. I trust all five of our guards at any point, any time in the game, and I want to get there with our inside guys.”
Despite the high amount of inside scoring in Saturday’s scrimmage, the backcourt will continue to be the Terps’ biggest strength. Greivis Vasquez led all scorers with 25 points while handing out nine assists and pulling five rebounds. The senior guard also made a concerted effort to involve teammates in the offense and was more selective in taking his shots.
“I’m not going to be that type of player that I was last year,” Vasquez said. “My role is going to be to score when I need to score but also get the guys the ball.”
Sean Mosley added 21 points and 10 rebounds. The sophomore from Baltimore worked on his outside shooting during the offseason, and Williams pointed to his improvement (two of five in the scrimmage). The head coach compared Mosley to former Terps forward Byron Mouton in describing him as one of those in-between players that you have to find a spot for on the floor.
“You never have to worry about Sean—how hard he’s going to play or anything like that,” Williams said. “That’s a given as part of his game. That’s why we liked him in recruiting.”
Here are a few other notes to pass along from Saturday’s scrimmage:
– Gary Williams wore a neck brace as he continues to recover from undergoing surgery a few weeks ago.
Despite the brace, the longtime coach was very active on the floor, stopping the scrimmage at several different points to coach his players.
Chuck Driesell and Robert Ehsan coached the Red team while Keith Booth and Joe Harrington coached the Black team.
– Williams talked about the NCAA’s emphasis on lane violations, explaining that once the foul shooter receives the ball from the referee, no one is allowed to say anything before the shot.
Traveling will also be a point of emphasis this year, and several Terps were whistled for walking, including Eric Hayes and Milbourne.
The head coach also pointed out how these points of emphasis are often forgotten once the rigors of the conference schedule begin in January.
– Williams and several players pointed to the defensive pressure as the biggest area needing to improve before the regular season begins in a few weeks.
However, it should also be noted that the team just recently installed its pressure sets.
– Adrian Bowie also worked on his outside shooting over the summer, and it showed on Saturday. The junior from Greenbelt was four of nine from the three-point stripe and finished with 16 points.
Three of his treys came during the first quarter of action.
– Jin Soo Choi had 10 points but still looked very tentative offensively. He made two of seven three-point shots but badly missed a few attempts.
Defensively, the sophomore looked much better than he did a year ago and had a better feel for what the team was trying to do.
In other words, the sophomore from South Korea is still a work in progress.
– Eric Hayes struggled in Saturday’s scrimmage, missing seven three-pointers and scoring only five points.
– Cliff Tucker started strong on Saturday, scoring five points in the first quarter, but disappeared after that, finishing with seven points and seven assists.