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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rising Stars in Terp Basketball

So it's been pretty hard to get out of the negatives when it comes to Men's Basketball at the University of Maryland. However, the team gave the fans some hope today in a 104-60 win over Northwood.

Yes, OK, it was an exhibition against a crappy, crappy team. But still, the Terps operated well and executed their plays, as well as hustled hard for rebounds and tough points. If you didn't come out this afternoon, you missed a good one.

Gary Williams had to put the Terps' reputation of "playing down" to competition to bed, and they did that and more, scoring an epic 104 points on a remarkable 50.7% FG percentage as opposed to the 75 points last year against Concordia and 86 points (in just an 11-point win) against Carleton in previous exhibitions in previous years. It was a dominant offensive statement, and fans might have that to look forward to.

From my observations at today's game, here are the guys that are going to be shaping basketball this season:

-LANDON MILBOURNE: If there's one player I would bet my butter on for taking the next step this year, it's gotta be No. 1. Landon Milbourne is a hustler and a leader on the court. He's not a star, but he looked very solid today, and his game is very versatile inside and outside. He has the ability to shoot well, but also bangs with bigger guys, sort of Booth-like if you will (not to say he's close to that good). He'll be a starter at the 3 or the 4 spot, and I guarantee you, he'll hold it down. I'd predict 12 or 13 ppg and 6 rpg for the season. A solid contributor.

- ADRIAN BOWIE: I underestimated him last year, and he made me look like a fool for ever doing so. On Saturday, he showed a new dimension beyond his speed, slashing and hustle - his improved shooting. Last year, both he and Cliff Tucker pretty much refused to shoot from outside the arc, like they didn't have confidence in their 3-point game. That's changed. He was 2-for-3 today on the outside and 6-for-7 total with 16 points. He wasn't shaking the world with his ballhandling and when he was called to be a point guard, but he didn't mess up either, with only one turnover during the game. Bowie won't start to begin the season, but he could easily eclipse Eric Hayes if he uses his minutes effectively.

- BRAXTON DUPREE: The big guy still has issues, but he definitely will see a bigger role this year. First of all, he lost 25 lbs. which goes a long way into improving his hops and endurance. Perhaps as an effect of that weight loss, he's hustling more and getting extra boards, even over bigger guys. Today he had 8 points and 8 rebounds in 20 minutes, but he needs to improve his shooting percentage and turnover rate, but whether he's ready or not, he's probably the starter at center given he's the best offensive threat. How long he keeps that job is up to him. Jerome Burney and possibly Steve Goins (who is actually just a giant) wait in the wings to take the spot if he can't hold onto it.

- JIN SOO KIM: Anyone who was at the game knows what the crzae is all about. The freshman, who wasn't even eligible until this week, had 18 points in the second half and finished with 20 points total in only 20 minutes. He was nothing short of sensational. He didn't have amazing shooting numbers, but he wasn't afraid to shoot. He isn't big, but he was hitting the post hard and getting fouls (he made 7-of-8 at the line). He came up with 3 hard rebounds against 6'10 guys and 7-footers. The Terps were even calling backdoor passes for him in the second half. As a disclaimer, I'm personally excited because he's the first Korean-born basketball player in Division I. As a part-Asian, I feel exhilarated by his gritty play that's going to be erasing some stereotypes about Asian basketball player - namely that they're soft and not as competitive as American players. Anyone who watched Kim will tell you he was as determined to win as anybody on the court.

Now all that said, here's where we're lacking: post scoring and defense. Although Maryland held the Northwood Seahawks to ridiculously low shooting percentages, there were some pretty bad blown coverages on the perimeter, and only 2 blocks from post players from the best-blocking team in the ACC last year. You wish like hell Gist and Boom hadn't left when you see how the backcourt and small forwards have improved. But we have what we have (Dupree, Burney, Neal and Goins), and we're going to have to pray that they suprise rather than disappoint.

Overall, I saw positive things in the Terps' first action on the court this season. Be there to see how they fare against Bucknell this week!

Go Terps!

Photos courtesy of baltimoresun.com.

1 comment:

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