“Top Ten” – Obstacles The Maryland Terps Men’s Basketball Team Faces This Season

There is much to like about the current Maryland Terps men’s basketball team. Their guard tandem of Hayes and Vasquez has a year of experience playing together – which is huge in college ball at this level. Gist seems ready to assume the leadership role and be more assertive on the offensive end – although it seems he still goes through long stretches without seeing the ball. Bambale is a force underneath and gives 100% effort. Vasquez has the heart of a champion and the guts to want to take the difficult shots in clutch situations. Milbourne has potential to develop into a smooth small forward with a delicate shooting touch.

But there are too many hurdles facing this team. They have yet to win convincingly and it won’t be long before the tougher stretch of the season is upon them. It is difficult to imagine them earning a berth into the NCAA tournament. Here are the Top Ten Obstacles I see after only 5 games into the season:

10) The lack of any killer instinct means that the Terps play down to the level of their competition. This makes them susceptible to some ugly losses down the road to teams that they would typically handle quite easily. On the other hand, they seem to be able to get other teams to play to their tempo . . . but they will have difficulty pulling off the couple of major upsets that are needed to make a name for themselves. UCLA played poorly with a depleted lineup and still did not have any trouble keeping the Terps at bay.

9) The void in the junior class is glaring and contributes to the Terps’ lack of depth this season. Dave Neal who is currently out with a problematic shoulder injury is the only junior listed on the roster. What went wrong here?

8) More offense is needed from the shooting guard position. Hayes seems to have a nice touch but is very passive about looking for his shot. There is no one to back him up who can come into a game and get on a hot streak. Milbourne seems to have a nice soft left-handed jumper at the small forward position. But he has yet to really break out with a dominant game.

7) Offensive lapses will be hard to overcome this year. In the past, the Terps could go stretches without scoring in a game, but still recover with their intensity and defensive pressure to get back in the game. This year when those inevitable droughts occur, it doesn’t seem like the Terps have the firepower to catch up. You already hear the TV commentators wondering where the Terps are going to turn to for offensive production.

6) Sideline decorum may be an issue for Gary as the frustration builds this season. With the refs instructed to pay closer attention to the antics and verbal barrages from the bench, Gary might find it difficult to stay away from the technical fouls.

5) Three point shooting has always been a strong suit for the Terps. But no more. In the last 2 defeats they have shot a combined 2 for 24 from downtown. This club has no go-to shooter to help dig them out of a hole.

4) Recruiting too many players that fit into the same mold = the small forward, slasher, athletic type that Gary is known for developing. Some of the incoming freshmen look like clones – when what is really needed is a legitimate shooting guard and some tall bruisers to be effective in the paint. The season is young . . . but so far we have not seen much production from the new big men — Shane Walker, Braxton Dupree, and Jerome Burney.

3) Low Post play has been erratic ever since the stellar performance of Lonnie Baxter back in the championship heyday. Someone should analyze how many turnovers and mistakes are associated with trying to force feed the ball down low to Bambale. He is just not a polished low post player. When he rushes, he looks very rough around the edges. He needs to take his time, gather himself and operate more smoothly around the basket. He also needs to finish off more of his short range shots. (It would be nice to see him go for the dunk more often as well.) Why does Georgetown always get the dominate centers? These trends have a way of perpetuating themselves.

2) Turnovers continue to plague the Terps. Look at the contrast between disciplined teams like Duke which value every possession and the type of helter-skelter approach that Gary promotes with his pressure defense. You cannot give up 20+ turnovers every game and expect to defeat good teams. We need to cut down on the sloppy passes and the careless play.

1) Rebounding will be a major problem all season . . . and until Gary is able to recruit the much-needed inside players. Gist is more of a finesse player. Bambale can’t be expected to handle the load on his own. Look for other teams to get a significant number of second chance points on the offensive boards. I am surprised that Bambale has stayed away from foul trouble early in the season.