The Big Men (Part 2)
The other half of Maryland's starting frontcourt tandem is senior Dave Neal. Unlike Landon Milbourne, Neal was not expected to provide major minutes for the Terps at the outset of this season. He'd been plagued by injuries throughout his first three years at College Park, and with such a history, durability appeared to be an issue.
So far this season, however, Neal has been about as durable as they come. He has started the past four games and is averaging 19.1 minutes per game. Listed at 6-foot-7, 263 lbs., Neal mans the center position and has done so capably to this point. He typically doesn't pile up the rebounds, but he's big enough -- and has the necessary mentality -- to scrap around in the post and, if nothing else, create some commotion around the basket.
Perhaps most surprising -- at least to this observer -- has been Neal's deft shooting touch. Opposing teams routinely pay Neal little attention when he lingers out on the perimeter, and Neal responds by routinely knocking down long-range shots. He has converted 9 of 18 three-point attempts this season.
"I thought Dave Neal was really there for us at the start of the game showing leadership," Gary Williams said after Monday night's win over American. "Greivis (Vasquez) did a good job. When he drove a couple times they were really helping on him, and he kicked it out and Dave made some big shots for us and that got us off to a good start."
Even when Vasquez wasn't driving and dishing, the connection was effective. Just less than four minutes into the first half, Neal passed the ball to Vasuqez, who pump-faked and returned the ball to Neal. From the top of the key, Neal drained a three-pointer to put the Terps up, 7-0. Neal finished with 14 points and hit 2 of 4 three-point attempts on the night.
"He’s been a pretty consistent player in terms of being able to make shots," Williams said. "Dave is a lot like (American forward Brian) Gilmore and people like that. He knows where he has to be to get open. In other words, if his man helps on Vasquez, he gets far enough away from his man to where we can get him the ball and he’s open when he catches it. Dave is a very good shooter. He was a good shooter in high school, and he’s been a very good shooter. Dave’s biggest problems here has been his injuries. He was hurt all of his first three years here, so now, knock on wood, he’s been healthy and hopefully he can stay healthy all year for us."
Indeed, should Neal remain healthy, it would appear his lock on a starting position is fairly solid. Braxton Dupree has a long way to go before gaining back the trust necessary to re-enter the starting lineup, and Dino Gregory is not consistent enough yet to garner the honor.
Neal is not going to dominate games for the Terps, but he knows his role and he understands its importance in the overall scheme that Maryland attempts to execute each night. It would be beneficial for the Terps to have some big, imposing threat down low that they could feed the ball to at will. But the fact is they don't have that guy anywhere on their roster. As Neal is proving, he's not too bad of a second option.
Posted by: hclark1 | December 24, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Samson151 | December 24, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: TerpGrad | December 24, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Mariolucasforthree | December 24, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Terptwin | December 24, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: fkterp | December 26, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: dbrine1261 | December 26, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.