I just want to shout, "FINALLY!"
For those who couldn't watch, Maryland torched Holy Cross tonight, 73-48. Holy Cross had one of the worst shooting nights I've ever heard of, hitting only 15.4% from the field in the first half and ending up with a 27.1%FG. Yuck.
Besides the bright yellow jerseys Maryland wore, the craziest thing I witnessed was James Gist finally taking his game where it should be - the next level.
Gist was not just a presence, he was the presence on the court in the post. He led all scorers with 22 points. He led all rebounders with 9 boards. He led the defense in the post with 5 blocks. He helped hold Holy Cross out of the basket during a 20-0 run over 10 minutes. Holy Cross' best player, Tim Clifford, a 6'11 Frankenstein-lookalike, went 1-8 in the first stretch when being played mostly by Gist.
This is what I've been waiting for all season. We always knew he was capable, but maybe Gist just needed a little push to become the team leader. This is the second game in a row he's led the team in scoring and I think it's a big step. As much as I love Greivis Vasquez, we need the big guy to lead this team into battle and to crush his opponent's spirits with sick dunks or quick, spot-on jumpers (he was on fire with those today). Again, we can always improve on the boards, but he didn't get much help in that category, so I can't really complain. He was fantastic and it was clear who was lifting this team tonight.
- Even though it seems Gist has turned a corner, I'm nervous. The other bigs put up a pretty shoddy performance tonight. Gist: 22 pts, 9 rbs, 5 blks. Osby, Dupree, Walker: 4 pts, 9 rbs, 2 blks. They seem to have regressed, dropping passes that should be caught, not getting the rebounds they need to, and getting blocked a ton. Someone needs to step up from this group and become at least reliable.
- I think Landon Milbourne reads the newspaper. An article appeared in the Sun this morning that called out Milbourne to step up his game. When you think about it, this seems pretty unnecessary because he's just a first-year starter and a sophomore and if you're going to call him out, you might as well call out almost everyone on the team. But he responded with one of his best performance of the season - 12 pts, 3 rbs and 4 blks. He hit 10 free throws, very clutch down the stretch. If he starts hitting more open shots, he'll be a very good starter.
- Greivis is going absolutely nuts from beyond the arc and quietly established himself as the team's deep threat. Eric Hayes was out tonight with an ankle sprain, and my immediate reaction was, "Wait, who's gonna shoot?" Vasquez responded with a 5-for-6 night for 3-pointers. Really people, you should take notice: In the last five games, he's 18-for-30 in threes (a red-hot 60%).
- Good games from freshmen Cliff Tucker and Adrian Bowie. They both were fairly composed. Some times it appeared that they tried to make a few bad passes, and Tucker should've made at least one of his wide-open 3-point attempts, but they ended up playing well - Tucker managed 10 pts, 4 rbs and 4 steals. Bowie ran point from time to time in relief of Hayes and did alright. He actually has nice slashing ability.
- Jason McAlpin played some minutes and showed he can be a decent backup, especially if Hayes is out much longer. (He could be OK by Saturday, but he'll get a medical evaluation soon to see).
So we face another test against a pretty crap-of-the-ACC-crop on Saturday against Virginia Tech (9-6). I really shouldn't call them that since we're technically relegated to that category until further notice. Also, they're probably pissed at us over Augustus Gilchrist still, so I wouldn't take them lightly.
Look later this week for more basketball features, including a look at the team heading into the rest of the ACC slate - what we have and what we need.
Photo Credits: Baltimore Sun