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Monday, December 3, 2007

Get Ready for a Letdown

The Maryland men's basketball team lost to VCU at the BB&T Classic, 85-76. Meanwhile, we, the fans, begin to judge the character of this team.

We've played enough games now to see the makeup of this team before they retreat into the non-conference home "hibernation" part of the schedule, when we play such big-name programs as Savannah State and American (and Holy Cross, which Bill Simmons might actually want to hear about).

We've played some big games. We've played some easy games. We've played some of intermediate difficulty, and on different stages. Here's what I've personally observed.

- We're going to be inconsistent. (Really? An inconsistent Maryland team?)

- We have young'uns that aren't yet ready for primetime. The two players I've been most disappointed with are Greivis Vasquez and Landon Milbourne. Greivis, although he can score and lead fast breaks, has not responded well to his leadership role. He's suffering from "Brett Farve syndrome," or trying to do too much by yourself. When he scores, he can't dish and gives away turnovers. When he distributes, he still misses too many shots (he followed up a 2-for-14 day with a 4-for-13 performance last night). Milbourne has barely done anything with a starter's minutes (6 ppg and 4 rpg). Cliff Tucker, who performed well again last night, is waiting in the wings. I would also like to see Eric Hayes step up his game a little and work on getting open more. The team needs him to hit big-time shots, but I've seen that he has trouble creating. His ball-handling is a plus, however.

- We don't have much senior leadership on this team. James Gist continued his disappearing act tonight, and while Boom had 17 points and 10 rebounds, you can't expect that kind of performance every night - he's just not that polished. Gist has the athletic capability to take over games, but he does it very selectively. I think as we approach the ACC slate, you'll see Gist take over more and more in big games as he pushes for that NBA career - but his "ghost games" will be more glaring, mainly because we will lose those games.

So for those of you keeping track of the details, we have a team that will win big and compete with the best, but also a team that will lose games they shouldn't and will look foolish against a team of veterans. Sound familiar? Think last year, only less successful.

The Terps have a lot of issues to handle, but with a young team, can you expect much more? The problem is ... we are expecting more.

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