2008-09 Maryland Basketball Preview: #67
Overall Rank: #67
Conference Rank: #7 ACC
2007-08: 19-15, 8-8, 5th
2007-08 postseason: NIT
Since Maryland’s national championship in 2002, Coach Gary Williams has seen his team struggle. As questions begin to swirl about the veteran coach’s job security, the Terrapins are in a must win situation. But the off-season did not go so well. A couple key recruits who appeared to be heading to College Park are no longer coming and that leaves the team very thin in the frontcourt.
The lack of depth in the paint is due to the graduation of James Gist and Bambale Osby. The duo combined to average 27.4 points, 14.4 rebounds and 4.4 blocks. That is a ton of production lost and the Terrapins will have to look very hard to replace it. The better option is to play smaller, but that will not go without its own set of problems in the ACC. Wing Jason McAlpin has also run out of eligibility after seeing limited action during his senior campaign.
The top recruit for Maryland is shooting guard Sean Mosley. Mosley can do a little bit of everything. He is a good scorer, a fine shooter and a decent rebounder, yet it his defensive ability that could move him into a starting role as a freshman. Small forward Jin Soo Kim will find it more difficult to find quality playing time right away. The lack of a big man in this class will haunt the Terps for the entire season unless they can get some surprising production from players who have seen very little playing time in the past.
Who to Watch:
Led by Greivis Vasquez, the Maryland backcourt will have to hold this team together. Vasquez topped the team with 17.0 points and 6.8 assists per contest. He is obviously a good scorer and passer, but now that he is an upperclassman he has to start making better decisions. At times Vasquez will force bad shots and force bad passes. If he can keep those problems to a minimum, Maryland has the leader they need. With Eric Hayes by his side, the Terps have their shooter. Hayes is easily the best returning shooter on the team, but he can also handle the ball when Vasquez’s turnovers get the best of him. Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker had decent freshmen campaigns and should be even better this time around. The usual starter at small forward is Landon Milbourne. Yet, with the limited options in the frontcourt, he might see more playing time at the four spot. The 6-7 junior is certainly not a power forward, but he is a decent slasher and scorer. Against most teams, especially in the conference, Milbourne will be outmatched at the four spot.
However, there might not be many other options for Maryland and Milbourne could be thrown into the frontcourt mess in certain situations unless Braxton Dupree, Dave Neal and Jerome Burney can handle the job. Dupree is expected to take over the starting center job after earning eight starts as a freshman. Despite the eight starts, the 6-8 Baltimore product only averaged 10.3 minutes per game. However, when he was on the floor, Dupree showed plenty of potential. That leaves Neal and Burney to take over the power forward spot, not to mention providing a break for Dupree when necessary. Neal, a 6-7 senior, has the experience, but it is Burney who has the potential to turn the unit into something to be proud of. No matter who emerges as an impact player and no matter where Milbourne spends most of his minutes, Burney, Dupree and Neal will all see plenty of minutes and all need to have very productive years if the Terrapins hope to reach the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Greivis Vasquez, Junior, Guard, 17.0 points per game
Eric Hayes, Junior, Guard, 9.9 points per game
Cliff Tucker, Sophomore, Guard, 4.1 points per game
Landon Milbourne, Junior, Forward, 8.2 points per game
Braxton Dupree, Sophomore, Center, 2.5 points per game