Yo Adrian! (Bowie)

This off-season is barely a month old and already it is proving to be one for the books.  Between the musical chairs occurring with the incoming class (Maze and Evans), rumors of players transferring (Hayes), or going pro (Vasquez); the message boards have been full of chatter.  Oh and I forgot to mention that our prized recruit, Sean Mosley, has yet to academically qualify.

It is clear that the uncertainty that surrounds this offseason exists because of what happened on the court last season.  Almost all of the successes and failures rest on the shoulders of Greivis Vasquez. He either did not do enough or he did too much, depending on the game or depending on who you ask.  Simply put, he was all over the place.

Pushing Vasquez in practice throughout the season was Mr. Adrian Bowie.  It’s was a familiar role for Adrian.  Both he and Vasquez are alumni of Montrose Christian– a program that has quickly become Gary Williams’ feeder school.  In high school, Bowie and Vasquez brought out the best in each other.  We have yet to see that on the court in the ACC.

Personally, I like what I saw from Bowie.  He demonstrated two things that prove to me he will be a solid contributor with the Terps.

1.  He played excellent defense and was the best on-the-ball defender.

2.   He got better offensively as the season went along.

Coaches love good defense.  Gary Williams is no exception and you should expect to see Adrian Bowie on the court if for no other reason. His defense will serve as an example to the newcomers on how to earn playing time.  However, for Adrian to maintain his hold on a spot in the rotation; his offense will need to improve.

He showed flashes of being able to get the rack (he has a great first step), but I am not convinced that he can knock down the open look with consistency, or has mastered how to get open in the flex offense.  By all accounts, Tyree Evans and Sean Mosley will be able to fill the stat sheet, so Bowie will need to make a huge leap offensively this summer in order to stay ahead of those guys.

Truth be told, his best route to playing time would be to master the point guard position.  That is a stretch to say the least as his skills (like every other guard on the roster) lend itself to the shooting guard slot.  So Bowie will have to compete against six other players (Vasquez, Hayes, Tucker,  Milbourne, Mosley and Evans) for three starting slots.   Gary Williams will be playing lots of three guard sets but our small forwards (Tucker and Milbourne) are too small to play the four; so I am lumping them in with the guards.

There is tons of talent in that group, but the skills overlap rather than complement.  Unfortunately, for Mr. Bowie, none of his offensive abilities stand out amongst his peers.  In the final analysis, I am afraid that Bowie will have to carve out a niche for himself as a stopper and shut down defender.  If his offensive game can improve, he just might find himself at or near the top of the depth chart, but I don’t think that is realistic with the horses the Terps have coming in next year.

Rating the Freshman

This weekend’s game at UNC has the potential to turn the Terps season around. As I die hard, I can’t bring myself to say we have no chance, but we have no chance. I fear that it will demonstrate what we know to be true. This team is a mish-mash of parts that don’t quite fit together –yet or maybe ever.

Much has been written that the majority of the rotation is made of freshman. So I am going to break down what I think about each of them.

Adrian Bowie

The positives: When on the floor, he is our best defensive player. Always. That will guarantee him playing time in Gary’s system. He seems to have a decent handle and his decision making has improved over the last seven games. His quickness will help the Terps against the quickest point guards in the conference. He has a huge test against Lawson this weekend which has the potential to be a defining game for him.

The negatives: If he can shoot, I have not seen it. His handle is not that of a point guard, but without a reliable jump shot, he is no shooting guard either. I’m not sure what he can offer in the half court. It seems that the majority of Bowie’s points this season have come on drives to the paint. If you are 6’2″ and not named Allen Iverson, you need to find other ways to score. Bowie needs to come off screens and hit jumpers. The flex offense can’t work without guards who can do that consistently.

The verdict: If he can develop a jumper, we have a keeper.

Jerome Burney

Who? You will eventually remember him as the guy who started on the 2010 UConn Final Four squad and won the MOP Award. In his acceptance speech, he will extend his middle finger at Gary Williams.

Braxton Dupree

The positives: Size and strength. He actually has quickness and agility too.

The negatives: Imagine Lonny Baxter’s doughy body combined with Travis Garrison’s manos de piedra (stone hands), and a dash of Mario Lucas’s defensive effort. It’s a horrid combination.

The verdict: I hope that all of the negatives are tied to his lack of understanding of the system in which he is playing. If the proverbial light bulb goes on between now and next season, he has the potential to be great. We saw flashes against some early season opponents so we know that he has the ability to score in bunches. To extend a tired metaphor, I just hope that light bulb doesn’t have a dimmer switch.

Dino Gregory

Never heard of him. Is he on the team?

David Pearman

Ladies and Gentlemen, the next Jason McAlpin!

Cliff Tucker

The positives: He is a gifted athlete who posesses the smoothest jump shot on the team (I say this because Eric Hayes practically shoots a set shot.). Tucker can create his own shot. No small feat in the ACC. He can take it to the rack or he can pull up from anywhere.

The negatives: He doesn’t know what he is doing out there. As maddening as that is, it is perhaps that the most promising thing about him too. The flashes he has shown could become the norm if he can learn the flex offense. His defense is terrible too and needs to improve dramatically. With his athletic ability, he should be one of the best defenders on the court, yet he is one of the worst. Right now, there are just too many holes for him to be consistent.

The verdict: Of all the freshman, Tucker has the highest ceiling. By his senior year, you will grow to love him. I promise.

Shane Walker

Shane is the forgotten man. I honestly can’t remember one thing (positive or negative) that he has done all year. Despite writing a regular Terps blog, I can’t say that I have seen every minute of every game, but I have watched enough and not a single moment stands out. All I know is that is the guy is the “project”. Hailing from England, he is supposed to develop under Gary’s tutelage.

I feel like I’ve seen this before. You never know what you are going to get with the “project”. For every Hassan Fofana, there is an Obinna Ekezie. Some of these guys develop into consistent performers, and some transfer after one season. No one can tell you which one Shane will be, Not even Gary knows.

In Summation

So there you have it. Gary’s got a mixed bag. At this juncture, the freshman nucleus of Bowie, Dupree, Tucker will be the group that Gary will build around. A big man, a quick guard, and a slasher. On paper, that is what you want. The problem is that the promises made on paper ain’t worth much.

If this were 2002, I would be giddy. All of these guys are loaded with the potential to be great and back then; Gary got the most out of his players. Ahh, but there is the rub. Potential ain’t worth shit anymore. Either Gary has lost his mojo or he has been knocking on the wrong doors for five straight years. I’ve been disappointed with a litany of potential stars. Strawberry (don’t forget the first 3 and half years), Mike Jones, Travis Garrison, Nik Caner-Medley, John Gilchrist, etc. etc.

Now, I am seeing it again. In his second year, Greivis Vasquez has disappointed as those who came immediately before him. I even renamed him Nik Caner-Vasquez. I’d be more optimistic that he will eventually learn if I hadn’t endured the last 5 years of Maryland basketball.

So now, I am supposed to believe these freshman will develop? I’m sorry but I have lost faith. It is going to take a great deal for me to get it back.

A miracle win at UNC would be a start.