COLLEGE PARK, Md. — An exhibition blowout victory over a Div. II school won’t exactly tell you how Maryland will fare this season, but it can’t be ignored completely.
The 106-58 victory against little Florida Southern wasn’t even as close as the final score indicated, as the athletic Terps ran them out of the building (26 fast-break points to 0) and pushed the ball inside (66 points in the paint) from the opening tip and never looked back. Surprisingly, Florida Southern played competively with national runner-up Butler in a 90-70 loss on Saturday, but that’s probably more an indictment of the Bulldogs than a compliment to the Div. II power.
After losing 55 percent of their point production from a season ago — and their top three scorers — the Terps figure to be an interesting team with returning role players needing to do more and six newcomers hoping to break into the rotation.
If Monday night told us anything, what the Terps lack in established senior leadership and perimeter shooting might be made up for with the most athletic team coach Gary Williams has enjoyed in years. This bodes well for the press-style defense Williams likes to employ, leading to the turnovers and transition points needed for a team without a strong perimeter game. It remains to be seen whether that athleticism translates to success on the hardwood, but the early return Monday was positive, with 28 points created off turnovers.
“It was good to see the bench play with that activity,” Williams said, “because you really want that from your bench when your starters are getting tired. They come in and they’re aggressive because they’re a lot fresher, and they can really keep us there until we get our starters back in the game.”
As for emerging senior leadership, Cliff Tucker played one of his finest all-around games — at least against a school not named North Carolina — scoring 15 points while handing out 10 assists and six rebounds. Tucker’s career at Maryland has been a frustrating one, with moments of greatness overshadowed by mental lapses and an admitted lack of dedication during practice. With the likes of Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes no longer ahead of him, perhaps Tucker takes a step forward to help make up for their lost scoring.
“I’ve always been a pass-first person, always trying to do whatever it takes to help this team win,” Tucker said. “Coach [Williams] told me at the beginning of this year that I have to help lead this team, so tonight I wanted to do whatever it took to lead the team.”
As for the freshmen, point guard Terrell Stoglin’s quickness and court vision were impressive, making you believe the starting point guard job won’t be automatically ceded to senior Adrian Bowie the entire season. Stoglin finished with nine points, looking comfortable running the half-court offense despite turning it over five times.
“I thought when [Stoglin] went in the game, he really played well in the first half,” Williams said. “He was really alive, active; he showed no fear. He got a little sloppy in the second half. He was probably a little excited with the way he played in the first half.”
Sophomore big man Jordan Williams and junior guard Sean Mosley, the only returning starters from last year’s team, scored 18 and 16 respectively to lead the Terps in scoring.
It was an impressive start, albeit against an inferior opponent. We’ll see if the puzzle pieces begin fitting together even better when the Terps open the season against Seattle next Monday.
NOTES: Senior Dino Gregory and Mosley were voted captains for the 2010-2011 season. … Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Cliff Tucker, Jordan Williams, and Sean Mosley following the exhibition win.
G Adrian Bowie – 15 points, 6 assists, 3 turnovers
G Cliff Tucker – 15 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds
G Sean Mosley – 16 points, 4 assists, 6 rebounds
F Dino Gregory – 9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks
F Jordan Williams – 18 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks
Terrell Stoglin – 9 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 5 turnovers
Haukur Palsson – 8 points, 5 rebounds, 2-2 3-pointers
James Padgett – 5 points, 5 rebounds
Ashton Pankey – 5 points, 5 rebounds
Mychal Parker – 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist
Berend Weijs – 2 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks
Pe’Shon Howard – 0 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds
Ersin Levent – 2 points, 1 rebound
FG: 42-75 56.0%
3FG: 4-12 33.3%
FT: 18-30 60.0%