Milbourne On A Tear
To the delight of Terps players, coaches and fans, junior forward Landon Milbourne is averaging 18.3 points over the past three games. After a slow start as he adjusted to playing bigger and more physical opponents at the power forward position, Milbourne appears to be coming into his own. Granted, the opposition in the last two games (George Washington and Delaware State) has not been all that stellar, but his production (20 and 23 points, respectively) has been impressive nonetheless.
The good news for Milbourne is that the confidence he is gaining now against sub-par opposition should embolden him heading into conference play. The good news for the Terps is that, with expected starter Braxton Dupree underperforming and reserve Jerome Burney out with a foot injury, the team finally has a reliable scoring option in the frontcourt.
Milbourne's work ethic was never in question. The guy was shooting an array of short jump shots all by himself about an hour and a half before the team's media day in October, and I've heard several other stories of his dedication since then.
"Right now, at this point in the season, I really don't think there's a better conditioned player than Landon Milbourne, in terms of how hard he works," Gary Williams said Friday night. "You know, in the spring and summer he worked really hard and it's just carried over into the season. Landon could play 40 minutes if he had to; there's no doubt in my mind. Landon, he gives you that toughness that you need. I thought he was great tonight."
There might not be another player on the Terps roster who can match Milbourne's athleticism, and what you've been seeing in these past few games is the fluidity that comes with developing a comfort zone in a new area. Milbourne is in better position now to use his athleticism because he doesn't have to think as much about his responsibilities in the post. He's more confident, more knowledgable and, as a result, more instinctive.
The challenge for Milbourne -- and the rest of the Terps players, for that matter -- will be maintaining some sort of edge during a stretch of the season when Maryland will play the likes of Elon and Bryant. If Milbourne can continue to ride the wave he currently is on, both he and the Terps will ride into ACC play with a good dose of momentum on their side.
One side note: I mentioned this in a post on Saturday, but thought it might be worth bringing up one more time. Due to this being Maryland's exam week, the team does not play again until next Monday, which means media access to the team will be limited until then. I will make at least one post per day this week and will do my best to make it as substantive as possible, but my notebook will not be as thick with nuggets as it typically would be because I'll be working solely off material gained during Friday night's game against Delaware State. Feel free to shoot me an email with any ideas you might have to liven the blog up during the latter part of the week. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I always look forward to hearing from you. Have a nice day.
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