The Terps beat a very young Indiana Hoosiers team 80-68 last night, in a game that felt a little too competitive early in the second half. But in the end the Terps hunkered down and ended up with a good road win against an inexperienced but very talented Big Ten team.
I have to admit I had very high expectations for this team and I still think they could be very competitive in the ACC and undoubtedly have the ability to go on a run in March but I also have noticed a few things that aren’t exactly filling me with confidence.
This year’s team will live and die with the play of Greivis Vasquez and so far his play hasn’t been that of an All-ACC player but rather that of an overblown, overhyped player looking more at his NBA career than finishing out his senior season. I have been a Greivis supporter throughout his career even when his own fans were booing him at the Comcast Center but I haven’t seen the type of intense, “do anything to win” attitude that I have come to admire throughout his four years at College Park.
Greivis is going to turn the ball over and take wildly ridiculous shots but I have come to accept this as part of Greivis’ game; but what has me far more concerned is his inability to put the ball in the basket. Greivis is not a dead eye shooter by any means but I trust his shooting will improve to at least a respectable level as the season progresses but his shot seems to get thrown back every time he drives to the hoop. I can not remember seeing a player get his shot blocked more often than Greivis has this season; at 6’6” this shouldn’t be happening but he refuses to go up strong instead opting for floaters and finger rolls.
Another issue that isn’t going to be news to any Terps fans is that Greivis is a major defensive liability in the half court. He simply does not have the foot speed to keep up with smaller quicker guards and seems to get beat off the dribble on a regular basis. On top of this Greivis has a tough time stepping out to defend the perimeter shot; something that is going to really hurt the Terps when they face good perimeter teams.
While I have faith that Greivis can come out of his funk, I can’t say the same for Adrian Bowie. So far this season Adrian is hurting the team a hell of a lot more than he is helping it. Adrian’s points per game have fallen to 3.4 down over 5 from his sophomore season. The major reason for this is that he has decided to abandon his aggressive style of play where he attacks the basket for a majority of pull up jumpers and perimeter shots. After claiming to have improved his shot over the summer there has been no evidence of improvement whatsoever; Adrian is shooting just 33.3% from the field and has made just ONE of the twelve three’s he has taken this season.
Bowie is a solid defender with amazing speed and very quick hands but if he can not score I am not sure where he fits in on the team. It is awfully tough to have your point guard be a “defensive specialist” and Adrian certainly isn’t a great distributor. In fact he is only averaging 2.1 assists per game…granted Greivis and Eric Hayes rack up a majority of the teams assists but 2 assists a game is simply unacceptable for a point guard getting as many minutes as Bowie.
In the front court freshman Jordan Williams is doing a good job of using his big frame to clear out space on the defensive boards but his offensive game leaves much to be desired. While Jordan hops will never have you confuse him with Chris Wilcox, I have been impressed with his agility and athleticism at 6’9” 245lbs. Jordan has excellent hands and receives the ball very well in the post, a trait a Terps center hasn’t possessed since Lonny Baxter but once he gets the ball he is unsure of what he wants to do.
Jordan needs to go up strong and use his superior strength to finish around the basket. Instead I have seen him double clutch and attempt finesse moves way too much which have led to so many missed bunnies and has prevented him from getting to the line even more frequently. The issue is that once at the charity strip the horror show begins; through his first seven collegiate games Jordan has only made ten of his twenty-five free throws, shooting a putrid 40%.
Not everything is doom and gloom for the Terps; Landon Milbourne has been a beast so far this season. Landon is the most athletically impressive player on the team and has the leaping ability to get off his shot at will. Landon has had a difficult career playing out of position because of the Terps lack of size but has never complained and has become a true team leader.
Sean Mosley has been a pleasant surprise offensively this season. We knew he was going to get after it defensively but he significantly expanded his offense repertoire over the summer. Mosley now has the ability to make teams pay when they sag off of him on the perimeter and he has been a revelation hitting free throw line jumpers off of the curl. I don’t think Sean will ever be a superstar but is the type of “glue” guy that you can build a really good team around.
Eric Hayes has also played well, being more aggressive offensively. Eric has been driving to the hoop more than I have ever seen and he remains the Terps only consistent threat from beyond the arc. More impressive to me has been Eric’s defensive this season, he seems to be playing with a tenacity that has lead to a lot more blocks and shot alterations than you would imagine he would be getting.
Through seven games the Terps are not a finished product and certainly have a lot of question marks but if there is one thing we have learned about Gary Williams it is that his teams are a hell of a lot better in February than they are in November.