College Park, MD To say Sean Mosley was in a scoring slump would have been an understatement.
Coming into Wednesday night’s game against Clemson, Maryland’s sophomore guard from Baltimore (St. Frances) was mired in a 7 game streak where he had failed to reach double digit points. In calendar year 2010, he had scored more than 10 points just twice-and had scored no more than 13 points against an ACC opponent. In fact, some Maryland fans and analysts had spent the week wondering whether Gary Williams should replace Mosley in the starting lineup with Cliff Tucker following Tucker’s game winning shot against Georgia Tech.
The slump was especially puzzling considering Mosley had gotten off to such a hot start to open the season. In his first 11 games this season (he missed Maryland’s win over Florida Atlantic), he had scored no fewer than 9 points, and had scored 12 or more in 9 of the 11 games.
Consider the slump over.
Mosley opened Maryland’s 88-79 win over Clemson with a quick 9 points, played solid throughout the night, and hit some big free throws late en route to a 20 point finish. He looked confident throughout, finishing 6/8 from the field, 2/3 from beyond the 3 point line, and 6/7 from the free throw line.
Gary Williams could see that Mosley’s early aggressiveness was going to pay off throughout the night. Williams explained “it’s a matter of us getting him the ball and him being aggressive. When you have an opportunity to score, you have to take advantage of it. That’s what he did tonight.”
Williams also took the time to remind the media after the game that Mosley was just a sophomore, and teams had made the right adjustments after his early hot start. While he’s right in pointing that out, the responsibility needs to fall on the sophomore to adjust his own game, and find spots to attack. For a player who isn’t a naturally great shooter, he needs to work hard in attacking the basket to open up better looks for himself. That’s what made him effective early on, and he the strategy worked again against Clemson.
“I got the feel for the game early” said the 4 time All-Met selection. “Every time I touched the ball or got an open look, I let it go. Every time it left my hand it felt like it was going in. It was just me playing aggressive.”
Mosley’s performance was especially important considering the Terrapins got just 2 first half points from leading scorer Greivis Vasquez, who was receiving treatment for a stomach ailment from trainer JJ Bush before the game according to Williams. Vasquez shot just 1/6 from the floor before intermission, and his struggles allowed the Tigers to build as much as a 15 point lead, a 9 point advantage at the break.
Had Mosley (and others like Jordan Williams-who finished the game with 18 points) also struggled to score, this one could have been a laugher for Oliver Purnell’s team early in the 2nd half. Vasquez finished with an outstanding 15 points and 13 rebounds, but few of them would have mattered had Mosley not been able to keep the Terps within shouting distance.
Instead, the Terps improved to 20-7 (10-3 in the ACC); stayed undefeated in conference games at Comcast Center, virtually clinched a trip to the NCAA Tournament; gave themselves a chance to clinch a first round bye in the ACC Tournament with a win Saturday at Virginia Tech, and stayed within a game of conference leading Duke, with the two teams set to square off next Wednesday.
Maryland needed Mosley’s aggressiveness tonight to give the rest of their team a chance to let their determination and guts carry them to victory. They might need it again, as nothing will be easy in their trips to Blacksburg and Charlottesville; or their date with the Devils on Senior Night. It won’t be any easier in Greensboro, and it ABSOLUTELY won’t be any easier in the NCAA Tournament.
There will be nights where things don’t go their way, as they weren’t in the first 20 minutes against Clemson. Players not named Greivis Vasquez (and more recently Jordan Williams) will have to come up with answers.
Cliff Tucker did it against the Yellow Jackets. Sean Mosley did it against the Tigers.
The slump was broken at the exact right time.