Monday, June 28, 2010

ACC basketball preview: Maryland


2009-10 record: 24-9 overall, 13-3 ACC (second)

Postseason: NCAA Tournament (1-1, lost to Michigan State)

Projected starting lineup: G Adrian Bowie, G Cliff Tucker, G Sean Mosley (right), F Dino Gregory, F Jordan Williams


• Gary Williams

If your own life depended on winning a basketball game and you only had two hours to put a team together and coach them up, Gary Williams should be your first phone call.

Mike Krzyzewski has a more complete resume and Roy Williams is a better recruiter, but as Gary Williams proved (again) last year with a 13-3 ACC record with an undermanned, overachieving lineup, he can out X-and-O anyone in the ACC.

One of the reasons Williams, who has won a school-record 442 games at Maryland, including 185 in the ACC, is he's not afraid to play at a fast pace.

It's Maryland that has been the hare under Williams while majority of the ACC — especially after Williams established the program among the ACC's best in the late 1990s — have willingly chosen the role of the tortoise.

In this case, slow and steady definitely does not win the race. Maryland led the ACC in scoring (79.7 points per game), field goal percentage (.471) plus turnover margin (plus-3.52), which suggests there's a method to the madness.

At this point in his career, entering his 22nd season at Maryland, Williams is just showing off. Thirteen ACC wins with a Venezuelan point guard, a bunch of 3-point shooters, an undersized forward and a freshman big man? No problem.

A return to the NCAA tournament after losing the guts of said ragtag group? Why not?

• Simplicity

Most coaches work better with fewer options. There are fewer egos to massage and fewer substitution mistakes to make when you have no choice but to play the same seven guys.

In losing three senior starters — Greivis Vasquez, Landon Milbourne and Eric Hayes — the hierarchy of Maryland's program is fairly clear.

This offense starts with junior wing Sean Mosley and ends with sophomore forward Jordan Williams. Those are options "1" and "1A."

The other returning parts are filler with a six-man recruiting class that's sure to produce a star but also sure to lose a transfer sooner than later.

Players make the biggest advancement in their games between their sophomore and junior seasons and Mosley, who averaged 10.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last season, is in line for major jump in production. (Take what I wrote last year about N.C. State's Tracy Smith and apply it to Mosley this year.)

Williams goes from a supporting part to the lead role in his second season. A true back-to-the-basket big man (and he's big at 6-10 and 260 pounds), he came on at the end of his freshman season, putting up 21 and 17 in the NCAA tournament win over Houston. Expect his numbers, 9.6 ppg and 8.6 rpg, to soar as more of the offense flows inside-out.


• Lost a lot of lumber

Vasquez led the Terps in scoring (19.6) and the ACC in assists (6.3) while also adding 4.6 boards and 1.7 steals per game. That's just his statistical impact. The ACC's player of the year was the heart-and-soul of the program for the past two years.

Hayes, a fine 3-point shooter who added 4.0 apg, and Milbourne (12.7 ppg), who played out of position for most of his career, were both good ACC players.

All three will be missed, Vasquez obviously the most, but that type of production and leadership will need to be offset somehow and it can't just come from Mosley and Jordan Williams.

• Schedule

The Terps have a potential "Virginia Tech" problem. With six games against Virginia, Boston College and Wake Forest, they could get halfway to 10 ACC wins without making much of an impression on the selection committee (see VT's padded 10-6 mark last season).

With a lot of filler, comes the reduced opportunities for resume-building wins. The Terps go to UNC, get FSU at home and have four games against Duke and VT. They're going to have to win three of those to offset the built-in inflation to their ACC schedule.

Bottom line

Maryland won't win 13 ACC games again but the Terps aren't going to fall of the map, either, even in a quasi-rebuilding season. The rest of the ACC (save for Duke and VT) is either bad, in transition or both and you know Gary Williams is worth an extra win or two.

Mosley and Jordan Williams must step up, and some combination of the freshmen (likely Mychal Parker, Terrell Stoglin and Pe'Shon Howard) need to make an impact, but another NCAA tournament trip and a 10-6 ACC record is there for the taking.

Returning players
G Sean Mosley Jr. 10.1 5.1 2.6
F Jordan Williams Soph. 9.6 8.6 0.2
G Cliff Tucker Sr. 5.7 1.7 0.8
G Adrian Bowie Sr. 4.8 2.1 1.5
F Dino Gregory Sr. 4.2 3.4 0.4
F James Padgett Soph. 3.0 2.8 0.2
G Greivis Vasquez 19.6 4.6 6.3
F Landon Milbourne 12.7 4.9 0.8
G Eric Hayes 11.3 2.5 4.0
F Mychal Parker Fr. 6-6 190 68
G Terrell Stoglin Fr. 6-0 165
G Pe'Shon Howard Fr. 6-2 200
F Ashton Pankey Fr. 6-8 220
F Haukur Palsson Fr. 6-6 210
F Berend Weijs Jr. 6-10 215

Recruiting analysis by Dave Telep,

Parker: "The highest-rated guy has a big ceiling. He's a load off the bounce and in the lane where he finishes with flair."

Stoglin: "This is the one guy we may have underrated. What position is he? Who knows but he has swagger and he gets buckets. We may need a mulligan on this one."

Howard: "He's the guy who can pass with flair, wants to be good and has size for his position. If he takes good shots and cuts down on his turnovers, you'll see him on the floor early."

Palsson: "He hails from Montverde which cranks out college prospects. Think a JV version of FSU's Deividas Dulkys."


Anonymous said...

I liked the writeup but your recruiting analysis left out two recruits with Ashton Pankey and Berend Weijs. I would be interested in hearing what the scouts say about them because I haven't heard much.

Anonymous said...

I have absolutely no problem with giving Gary Williams accolades. I've given the man a lot myself. But picking him over Coach K is clearly your UNC Bias showing. Coach Williams took a Maryland program that Bob Wade left in ashes and turned it into a national power. No argument there. This ACC fan was most pleased to see Wade depart and Coach Williams return to his Alma Mata.