Braxton Dupree Photos

Hey Folks, DBR was kind enough to email Braxton Dupree photos. You can judge for yourself, but I would describe him as “lean and mean”. He looks great. On a side note, it’s great to see that Braxton and Landon Milbourne added some much need “ink” to the Terps starting lineup. Now we have street cred. Which is nice.

I also added some photos of the Terps 2009 targeted BBall recruits.  Check out the page tabs at the top of the page above the logo.

Braxton Dupree’s Upside Potential

Braxton Dupree was by all accounts, the most heralded recruit in the Terps Class of 2007.

And here are the stats he turned in:

  • 2.5 ppg
  • 278minutes played
  • 8 games started
  • 2.2 rpg
  • 9 blocks

Not exactly living up to the “heralded” moniker, eh?

The Terp that Dupree is most often compared to, Lonny Baxter, turned in the following stats during his inaugural campaign:

  • 6.8 ppg
  • 462 minutes played
  • 10 games started
  • 3.6 rpg
  • 18 blocks

At first glance, these stats actually look similar; although clearly, Baxter got the best of it. He scored three times more points and played nearly twice as many minutes. But as far as pure numbers go, Baxter and Dupree’s stats look similar.

There is something is missing that numbers don’t tell you. Most of Dupree’s production came at the beginning of the season against inferior competition; whereas Baxter took over the starting role later in the season. I even began an early season post by saying, “I saw the future tonight and it’s names are Braxton Dupree and Cliff Tucker”. As the ACC Season would prove; I could not have been more wrong.

Dupree found himself buried on the bench. First, he backed up Boom Osby. Then he was third string behind Shane Walker. Finally, he was fourth string behind Jerome Burney (Burney also leap frogged Walker). To say that Dupree has been heading in the wrong direction is the understatement of the century.

There are a couple of theories as to why Dupree found himself heading South. Most pointed to his weight. Dupree carried extra pounds that prevented him from keeping up in Gary’s running and pressing style of play. Surely, anyone need only to look back at old game tapes to find evidence of his rotundity.

However, there is another theory to which I subscribe. Braxton Dupree let the mental side of the game get the best of him. There were some early season games (vs. Illinois in particular) where Dupree played like a beast. He dominated the paint and ran out on the break. It was only after these flashes of brilliance that we saw the descent to sitting-on-the-bench obscurity. This regression seemed to coincide with Maryland’s own collapse. The defeats to Ohio U. and American left the entire team in a scramble to save the season.

Somewhere in that chaos, the basketball education of Braxton Dupree became stunted. Suddenly, terrible habits emerged. He was putting the ball on the floor when he grabbed a rebound in traffic. Braxton stopped boxing out. His effort waned as well. It was as if, he lost his will to play.

My guess is that Gary really started to ride the team (perhaps Dupree in particular) extremely hard after those disastrous losses, and Braxton Dupree simply was not able to respond. Perhaps his skin was not yet thick enough to deal with a prickly coach like Williams and he became demoralized. Maybe other players just improved more quickly or tried harder in practice.

No one outside the team knows what happened.

The bottom line is this: the kid has the body and the skills to be a stalwart in the paint. Maryland will need a big man to step up and play consistently next season. Landon Milbourne proved that a guy can go from non-existent to a significant contributor in the span of one off-season. Will Braxton Dupree do the same next year?
Dupree has proven he can contribute. He just needs to recapture that confidence he displayed in November and December. I believe he will return to form (I need to believe this, otherwise just knock me on the head with a 2×4). People, basketball players or not, often change dramatically between their freshman and sophomore years. You should have seen me when I was a freshman. I was timid little boy, not the cocky-punk I would later become.

What say you? Is Dupree a bust or is he going to win most-improved Terp next season?

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.