Baby Steps For Dupree
At this point, nearly everything is relative for Braxton Dupree. He played 10 minutes during Monday night's win over American, which, relatively speaking, was a breakthrough for the sophomore forward. He shot 2-of-3 from the field and tallied five points against the Eagles, which, again, was a stark improvement from recent outings.
In the grand scheme of things, Dupree remains a ways from merely making it back to point zero -- the standing in which he entered the season. Back in November, Gary Williams and fellow Terps claimed this would be a big season for Dupree, a chance to start, make an impact and prove all of his naysayers wrong. In many ways, Dupree was to be the embodiment of his entire team's mantra: defiant; ready to defy odds and expectations; much improved from last season.
Instead, Dupree struggled mightily at the season's onset. His play, his attitude and his work ethic have remained questionable and have led him to a spot on the bench, rather than in the starting lineup. After starting the first six games of the season, Dupree has played in reserve in three of the past four games (he did not play at all against Michigan on Dec. 3 after missing a class earlier in the week). During those three games, he has averaged just more than seven minutes per game.
So yes, Monday night's effort and production were welcome signs to Coach Gary Williams.
"They're probably as welcome for Braxton," Williams said. "The poor guy, he's been hearing it. 'How come you're not playing?' You get that all the time. He had some positive things happen, so that's really good. I think that might be an incentive for him when practice starts again on Christmas night that, you know, 'I did some good things. I belong on the court. Hopefully I can play my way into some more minutes.'"
While Dupree insists he has not heard the negative talk about his play that has emenated outside the Terps' locker room, he does admit that seeing his playing time diminish has provided him some added incentive.
"It was something to motivate me," Dupree said. "I was used to playing, and now I'm just earning my time back. I mean, it's different for me, but I have to accept it for right now and just keep working until I get back to where I was."
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