Some Outside Thoughts
Following Maryland's loss to Georgetown on Sunday evening, I got a chance to catch up with CBS college basketball analyst Clark Kellogg, who had been watching the day's games at the Milk House. Like most of the people who saw the Terps play Sunday, Kellogg didn't think their performance against the Hoyas was all that great, but his outlook on Maryland overall was more promising.
"They're a work in progress like about 50 or 60 other teams across the country," he said. "Athletic, but they're young, and they faced two outstanding teams in their losses here and beat a really good team with a great effort. I don't know if Maryland can play a whole lot better than they played in that game against Michigan State, but that level is the level they've got to try to reach on a more consistent basis. With a young club, it's just going to take some time."
As for Maryland's defense, supposedly the hallmark of this squad, Kellogg believed the Terps' offensive futility had a large carryover effect.
"If you're not scoring the ball, then you have to be tough-minded enough to continue to play defense," Kellogg said. "Maryland likes to sometimes press, and you don't do that off missed shots, so it makes it tough if you want to get into any kind of full-court pressure to disrupt a team like Georgetown if you're not scoring the ball yourself, and that was certainly the case (Sunday).
"They didn't get a lot of good shots that I recall, and the ones they did get they missed or rushed, and as a result, Georgetown was always able to control the game and do all the things they like to do, points in the paint, backdoor cuts and then they knocked down threes tonight, too, and when they got that going, it makes it really hard to deal with them."
Kellogg, like most observers, spoke highly of junior guard Greivis Vasquez and said Vasquez was "excellent" in the open court. But opportunities for Vasquez and the Terps to run in transition were limited Sunday night because Georgetown was hitting over 50 percent of its shots.
"They frustrated Maryland early, got on 'em hard and sometimes that can take a little bit of the starch out of your shirt when you're a young team, and then if the ball's not going in the basket, then things can snowball in a negative fashion," Kellogg said. "I think that's what happened to Maryland."
It certainly seemed to happen to Vasquez, who had a rare off night offensively. With the team trying to play Vasquez more off the ball this season, he won't always necessarily be in positions to create scoring opportunities for himself, either to break himself or his team out of a slump. As far as how Vasquez is adapting to that role, Kellogg said proper evaluation could be done only at a later time.
"This is only the fourth, fifth, sixth game for these guys, and again, they faced three really good teams, and I think the natural maturation process of a guy like Greivis is to be able to understand when to step on the throttle, to get yours or to create for other people and when to pull back and be a little more patient, and I think I could evaluate that more over the course of a season versus last season and we've played like five games now," Kellogg said. "He clearly has the ability to make plays, to make things happen, and they need that from him. But he just had a tough night tonight. As long as he doesn't have a string of tough nights, then they'll be all right."
Two other players Kellogg was high on were freshmen Sean Mosley and Jin Soo Kim, each of whom saw extended action in Sunday's game against the Hoyas.
"Mosley has a chance to be really good," Kellogg said. "He's physical, he's athletic, he's competitive from what I've seen. Kim looks like he's got a chance. I mean, he's not very strong, but he's a guy that looks like he knows what he's doing out there to some degree.
"When you're young, you want to start with a competitive spirit and then some ability, and then with a work ethic, you'll continue to grow and develop. So I think both of those guys have a chance to be contributors. They're gonna have to be for this team to meet it's potential this season, and then obviously beyond they'll be hopefully key players for Gary."
So there are some of one knowledgable outsider's views on this year's Maryland squad. As I meet different people at games this season, I'll try to gather their thoughts on the Terps and post them here for you all to see. Let me know if there are any specific questions you'd like answered by people who are observing Maryland from a further distance.
I'll be back later today with a scouting report on Michigan, the Terps' next opponent, as well as some feedback from the media availability this afternoon at College Park.
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