**Posted prior to today’s VT game.
With their non-conference schedule in the books, the (10-6, 0-1 ACC) Terps men’s basketball season have reached the half-way point…16 games down, 15 ACC league games to go. So, how do the Terps look at the mid-year?
Maryland got off to a decent start with a 4-0 record, only to lose both games (by double digits) in the CBC Classic in Kansas City in early November.
They bounced back with a gritty win at home vs. Illinois in the ACC vs. Big Ten Challenge (has the Big 10 Ever been remotely competitive in this event?) which featured some inspired play by freshman center Braxton Dupree from Calvert Hall.
December was not kind to Gary Williams’ crew. The Terps lost 4 of 5 at home, starting with a loss to a rebuilding Boston College team in a game when Greivis Vasquez’s technical foul and subsequent disqualification from the game was a major turning point.
An athletic VCU team was the latest group to take Maryland to the woodshed in the annual BB&T Classic at the Verizon Center in DC. Why, why, why does Maryland continue to play in this poorly attended event, which they rarely seem to win anymore?
The Terps bottomed out around the holidays with non conference losses to a decent Ohio U. team and lightly regarding American U., which left them with a paltry 6-6 record (and plenty of hand wringing by the Terps faithful) at the Christmas break.
Maryland bounced back after the holidays with a four game winning streak, including a solid road win at Charlotte, and head to Blacksburg on Saturday afternoon to take on a young Va. Tech Hokies squad.
The ACC is fairly pedestrian this season, so far. UNC and Duke are national, elite teams, but there is a big drop off after them. Virginia, which is led by senior PG Sean Singletary, has talent. Clemson has a very good front court with James Mays and Trevor Booker, but has a tendency to get off to great starts then fade down the stretch.
NC State has a super freshman in big man J.J. Hickson, plus Brandon Costner and Gavin Grant, but lost their PG for the season with a knee injury and aren’t a particularly deep team. Miami, with star guard Jack McClinton from Calvert Hall, got off to a nice start, but it may be smoke and mirrors because their non-conference schedule was soft. Florida State has a nice trio of guards, but they always seem to underachieve.
Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Boston College and Va. Tech are all young teams that are rebuilding or reloading.
So, where does that leave the Terps? It’s not one of Gary’s more talented teams. Only two starters (Gist and Vasquez) are truly ACC caliber players that could start on most (not UNC & Duke) teams in the conference. Eric Hayes is solid, and needs to be their primary ball handler. Landon Milbourne and Bambale “Boob” Osby (I love his hustle!) are not ACC caliber starting players.
It looks like Gary Williams is still trying to find a bench rotation. Freshman guard Cliff Tucker is by far the best newcomer this season. He has a nice stroke, good handle and court vision, passes well, and is athletic and a decent defender. He’s been stealing minutes at the wing guard from Milbourne and can spell Vasquez at the shooting guard position.
Freshman PG Adrian Bowie hasn’t shown much yet, except a propensity to turn the ball over.
Freshman center Braxton Dupree from Calvert Hall has shows some skill on occasion, but needs to get in better shape to play at this level, plain and simple.
Frontcourt players, freshmen Shane Walker and Dino Gregory (Mt. St. Joe) haven’t played a whole lot so, at this is point, it’s hard to tell what they bring to the table.
The biggest mystery is that C/F Jerome Burney has been AWOL the past few games. He showed promise earlier in the season as a rebounder and shot blocker with limited offensive skills. Other, lesser talented players are seeing the court while he gets DNP’s. Something’s up here…
Big man, Augustus “Gus” Gilchrist is practicing with the team, but has to sit out a year under NCAA transfer rules, because he had signed a letter of intent to attend Va. Tech last year before changing his mind. The reports are very good so far, but he can’t help the team on the floor this year.
Can the Terps go 8-8 (.500) in a weak ACC this season? Maybe. They’ll need to do that and probably more to have a chance at making the NCAA tournament this year.
The rest of the “real” season starts tomorrow in Blacksburg. Stay tuned…