2007-08 Maryland Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #47
Conference Rank: #6 ACC
2006-07: 25-9, 10-6, 3rd (t)
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
Maryland has been somewhat of a mystery lately. Sometimes they look good, but do not perform anywhere close to their expectations and other times, like last year, their expectations go down so far they can do nothing but outperform them. The Terrapins were off of most preseason NCAA Tournament lists last season and ended up winning 25 games. They again lose quite a bit of talent, but it is the youngsters that catapulted them into the tournament last year and will do so again this year.
However, they will have to do it without the top two scorers from a year ago in D.J. Strawberry and Mike Jones. Strawberry lost his point guard spot and was never the best shooter around, but he did lead the team with 14.9 points per game and was almost always a solid defender. The saddest part of his graduation is the end of the Darryl sightings. Jones was the long range shooter of the team and hit them with great consistency. Finding a long range shooter or two is the main concern heading into the season. The backcourt also lost Parrish Brown who averaged 9.0 minutes per game during his senior campaign. Ekene Ibekwe, Will Bowers and Gini Chukura are the departures from the frontcourt. Ibekwe averaged 10.4 points and a team high 7.8 rebounds during his senior campaign and Bowers played an important role as a big body off the bench.
There is room for the newcomers to make a big impact and Coach Gary Williams will need some of them to do so. The most highly touted newcomer is Braxton Dupree. The 6-8, 260 pound center is a good scorer in the paint and will use his body to get open looks. His defense and rebounding need a little work, but Dupree should be a good one sooner or later. Jerome Burney, a redshirt freshman, is a long, lean and athletic big man. With a year to hit the weights, he could be a surprise impact player this year. Dino Gregory and Shane Walker are a couple more power forwards who will be vying for minutes. Gregory is a decent scorer under the basket or from the elbow. At 6-7, he is undersized, but he will never lack in the hustle department. Walker is more in the mold of Ibekwe. His offense is nowhere near that level, but he is a good athlete who can tally some blocked shots and rebounds. Adrian Bowie, Cliff Tucker and David Pearman are fighting for minutes on the wing. Bowie is a superb athlete and plays much bigger than his 6-2 frame. Tucker’s versatility will be an asset for Maryland and once he develops a more consistent outside shot, he will be difficult to stop. The Terps will not take a lot of three balls, but the newcomers do not address replacing the shooting ability of Jones.
Who to Watch:
Terp fans hope that shooting will come from Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes. Both had amazing freshmen seasons, especially Vasquez. The point guard ended the season averaging 9.8 points and 4.6 assists. Hayes tallied 4.8 points and 3.9 assists per contest. With two players in the backcourt who can handle the ball and get to the basket, Maryland will have an interesting offense for the opposition to deal with. Neither Vasquez or Hayes proved to be consistent shooting threats last season, but they were not depended on to do much scoring either. Now they will be and they have to live up to the gaudy numbers left behind by Strawberry and Jones. Landon Milbourne barely saw the floor as a freshman, but the 6-7 wing is a perfect small forward for the Terps if he can live up to his potential. Milbourne is a decent outside shooter and will do a ton of work on the glass. If his off-season trip through Holland and Belgium is any indication, Milbourne is ready to live up to that potential.
The frontcourt will be anchored by James Gist. The honorable mention All-ACC honoree averaged 12.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks. He is a great athlete and those numbers should improve without Ibekwe taking up his space. Bambale Osby will be his frontcourt mate this year. While Osby is best suited as a bruiser off the bench, his experience should earn him a starting position until the newcomers come around. And just like in the backcourt, the frontcourt will have to depend on the freshmen for quality minutes off the bench. If any of them can come close to the impact Vasquez and Hayes had as freshmen, the Terps will return to the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Greivis Vasquez, Sophomore, Guard, 9.8 points per game
Eric Hayes, Sophomore, Guard, 4.8 points per game
Landon Milbourne, Sophomore, Forward, 1.0 points per game
James Gist, Senior, Forward, 12.6 points per game
Bambale Osby, Senior, Forward, 5.8 points per game