Maryland Basketball: Not Little League
Sophomore foward Braxton Dupree played the final minute of Sunday night's win over George Washington. It was his only minute of action that night at Verizon Center. His stat line consisted of a bunch of zeroes, save for the one personal foul he committed with 22 seconds remaining.
It has been a rough start to the season for Dupree, to say the least. He was touted by Coach Gary Williams and teammates during preseason practices as a player to watch out for. He had lost a considerable amount of weight in the offseason, they said. He had improved, they said. He was more dedicated, focussed and determined, they said.
Most of all, they said Dupree was out to prove his many critics wrong and show them that he could provide a capable post presence for the Terps in the post this season. He started the first six games of the season, during which he averaged 4.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 19.0 minutes per contest.
But then Dupree skipped a class following the team's return from a Thanksgiving weekend tournament in Orlando and Williams benched him for the entire Michigan game. Williams said Saturday that Dupree would be available to play with restriction against George Washington, yet Dupree entered the contest only in its final minute.
After the game Sunday night, Williams said Dupree's absence from the game was not a continued disciplinary measure, and I believe him. Even when he was receiving significant minutes, Dupree was being out-played by several of his teammates, including Dave Neal (who is now starting in Dupree's place) and Dino Gregory (who might soon be starting in Neal's place). Williams also has hinted that Dupree's effort in practice leaves much to be desired.
"It’s not Little League, you know? Everybody doesn’t get an inning," Williams said. "You have to prove yourself, get out there and play in practice. I fully expect Braxton to be a very important part of our team. Right now, in this period, Dino’s playing really well. Jerome Burney played well tonight. Landon (Milbourne) and Dave Neal played well the last few games, so you’ve got to fight for your minutes."
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