Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Maryland's Last Non-Conference Game: What Needs to be Done

Tomorrow Maryland will wrap up its non-conference schedule with their game against the Morgan State Bears, which should be an easy victory. Maryland has done what they needed to do through this play, going 11-2 including winning all nine games at home and taking away what should be helpful wins in March against Michigan State and Michigan. But it has been a rough ride in certain games, including slow starts and very rough frontcourt play. Before the ACC stretch begins this weekend against Georgia Tech, here's what Maryland needs to work on.

--Find the frontcourt options.
Maryland clearly has issues down low, and it is not clear how this will be solved. The Terps leading rebounder is Greivis Vasquez. The two main forwards for Maryland are not the kind Maryland needs: Landon Milbourne, a 6'7'' athletic forward who is a good shooter, and Dave Neal, a 6'7'' banger that can shoot from anywhere. The problem is neither is good at snagging
rebounds and pushing in the paint. Dino Gregory seems to be developing there, but he is never seeing much time on the court, so Gary must feel he is not ready to be that type of player yet. Braxton Dupree, the player Maryland was hoping to be the big man, is barely even on the court since the Old Spice Classic. Jerome Burney is still out with a stress fracture but even when he was healthy he was not playing. This is not a problem that will solve itself, the ACC is full of solid frontcourt players. Maryland will need Neal and Gregory to step up their game so they can compete in the paint.

--Adrian Bowie and Sean Mosley need to develop their three-point shot.
After the Charlotte game, Gary emphasized how much he liked Mosley's play particularly since Maryland has limited three-point threats. Only Eric Hayes and Greivis Vasquez have taken more than 30 three-point shots this year. Without a solid frontcourt, Maryland needs to adapt to these circumstances, including having more threats from the perimeter. This would spread out the defense more if they respected other shooters. This would fall on Bowie and Mosley, both who see a lot of time on the court. If either of them can become a three-point shooting threat, that would ease a lot of pressure on the frontcourt and Vasquez.

--Work on playing a 40-minute game.
In a number of non-conference games, most notably Elon, Charlotte, and Vermont, Maryland's slow starts got them in real trouble. The Terps have done well recovering in the seocnd half and traditionally do better in the final 20 minutes. With Maryland's system, they will need to shoot consistently, and they won't be able to come back if down early. They will need to play games close or put their opponent away quickly.

--The half-court offense needs work.
Maryland has clearly established that they like fast breaks and points on turnovers, however they are stuggling when it comes to regular-style play. The ACC will not be committing as many turnovers or as many bad passes. Maryland needs to be able to slow down and be calm on possessions.

(Photo credits: Baltimore Sun)

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