Maryland has started of the season with two tune-up games. Although, I wouldn't dare call them that in front of Coach Gary Williams. He hates the term. It makes the game seem insignificant, and the opponent inferior. As we saw Monday night with the Kentucky-Miami (OH), no game should be taken lightly.
Last Friday, Maryland took on Charleston Southern, a team picked to finish 9th in the Big South. Not exactly the ACC. The 89-51 win should come as no surprise. The terrible shooting night by Greivis Vasquez should come as no surprise, as he is a streaky shooter, but the way the rest of the team stepped up is something we rarely saw last year. Senior Forward Landon Milbourne was an underrated player last year but is primed to break out of Vasquez' shadow. He scored 16 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 steals. He played great on the defensive end covering up to 4 positions on defense. Sophomore Guard Sean Mosley also filled up the stat sheet with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal.
Tonight, Maryland took on Fairfield, a team that was a step up from Charleston Southern. Their size provided a challenge for the Terps tonight. The freshmen big men were tested more tonight, and while they didn't put up the numbers they did against CSU, where they combined for 22 points, 17 boards and 2 blocks, tonight they held their own against better competition. They combined for 12 points and 12 boards, but you could see glimpses of potential tonight. Milbourne and Mosley both had solid games again. Shockingly Vasquez had another terrible shooting night. The team didn't shoot as well, as Anthony Johnson and Ryan Olander combined for 11 blocks.
Moving forward, Vasquez has been most efficient as a distributor. However, it will be a constant battle all season to keep him in this role. He isn't the only option this year, and he needs to realize that. He also needs to make himself aware, that one of the big knocks against him in the draft process was his inconsistency and that he needs to play under control. Milbourne and Mosley should see expanded roles as the season continues. Hayes is a steady ball-handler who is the most consistent 3-point shooter on the team. Cliff Tucker is a solid role player off the bench, he's an efficient shooter and can do little things to keep him in Gary's favor. If Tucker cuts down on the turnovers he should see his minutes increase.
Maryland should be undefeated headed into the later rounds of the Maui Invitational where a possible matchup with Gonzaga would be the first tough test of the season.