Former DCLS writer "Plotty", self-proclaimed Jay Gibbons supporter and meatball sub enthusiast, checks in with us today on Maryland basketball.
“Ahhhh yes, the fun has officially started in College Park with a huge conference win against FSU. Can we just agree to skip to the part where the Terps are squarely on the bubble before losing at Virginia in the final game again? (Joey Flyntz)” – D.C. Sports Bog Atlantic 11 Local Poll 1/11/2010
Given their penchant for inconsistency, you’d be forgiven for not paying the 2010 Terrapins iteration an early season hosanna. When the perennial also-ran Tribe of William and Mary blows you out at home, on the heels of three predictable non-conference losses, seizure-leg (h/t city of Atlanta, Georgia) is not just premature, it’s moronic until you put up a W against a team worth salt.
On the one hand, it’s completely foolhardy that the off-season alone would translate into wins in the early go-round; just ask Jordan Williams if squaring-up Nova’s Isiah Armwood in the freshman’s fifth collegiate game is a more difficult assignment than checking run-of-the-mill Connecticut prep-schoolers. It wasn’t inconceivable that Maryland would take early-season lumps; the question on the mind of fans, indeed many in the country, concerned whether these lumps would precipitate a predictable stretch of sub-par play, or had Vasquez-Hayes-Milbourne experienced three years of mediocrity too many.
For what it’s worth, four games into conference, Gary Williams & Co. have forged an identity befitting a legitimate ACC contender. No, not every outcome will be as lopsided as North Carolina State. And while every conference game is usually a battle, Clemson, UNC, and UVA should present even stiffer competition than NCST. With half the season under his belt, Jordan Williams is averaging an ACC second-best 7.9 RPG among freshman, and is the best fifth-option Gary could hope for as far as freshman bigs come; against one of the ACCs best in Tracy Smith, Williams played 27 high-intensity, physical rebounding, zero-turnover minutes, to go along with nine points and nine boards. And while the aforementioned senior trio has continued to impress, the key to success for a run at the Atlantic Coast crown lies in the continued progress of combo guards Sean Mosley, Cliff Tucker, and Adrian Bowie. While Greivis is the unquestioned pulse and first offensive option, Mosley may be the teams’ best stalwart defender, to say nothing of his shooting prowess. As the sixth-man in the rotation, the 6’6’’ Cliff Tucker has been spelling both Hayes and Vasquez and shooting lights-out of late, connecting on 4 of 6 field goals against the Wolfpack and showing tremendous basket-to-basket finesse. As a ball-handler/slasher, Bowie may not (and doesn’t need to) be in the immediate plans to contribute, but when he too has a zero turnover performance (and only two in the last four games), he’s a great weapon in Gary’s arsenal.
For the first time since the championship season, I am pleased with the Terps play just past the mid-season point. Pleased, and for the first time in forever hopeful that the teams best play is in front of them. #11 in the country? No. The Terps have five games in-between traveling to Durham, and performances like NCST against better ACC competitors should provide a better view what this team intends on playing for come March. Hopefully, not just entry into the Big Dance, but the title of the ACCs best.