The Eighth Man
For the sake of discussion, we're going to assume that Gary Williams sticks with his current starting lineup (Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes, Adrian Bowie, Landon Milbourne and Dave Neal) for the near future. Williams typically seeks out an eight-man rotation, which means three more lucky Terps are vying for minutes off the bench.
As of now, it seems as though freshman guard Sean Mosley and sophomore forward Dino Gregory are Williams's top two reserve choices. But who is the third? The candidates include ...
Sophomore guard Cliff Tucker -- Tucker played extremely well during preseason workouts and started the first five games of the season. But his minutes have diminished dramatically in the past three games. Back when Tucker was still a starter, Williams said Tucker sometimes was in too much of a hurry to execute his responsibilities on the court and that taking him out for a brief period allowed him to settle down. But Tucker has not been much more efficient coming off the bench. Tucker's athleticism ranks among the best on Maryland's roster, and at least at the very start of the season, his shooting stroke seemed to have improved from last season.
Sophomore forward Braxton Dupree -- His size (6-foot-8, 260 lbs.) alone makes him an appealing option. The Terps really don't have anyone else with the potential to provide a naturally imposing presence in the post. But "presence" requires more than just an ability to take up space. Dupree, who started the season's first six games, was not as effective in the post as Maryland needed him to be. Then Dupree skipped a class and was benched for the Michigan game. And then he played just one minute against George Washington. To be clear, there is no lingering disciplinary punishment going on here. Dupree has not put forth the effort or consistency in practice to merit game minutes. He seemingly has all the necessary tools to be a vital reserve. Whether he'll decide to put them to use remains to be seen.
Sophomore forward Jerome Burney -- Burney also has some height (6-foot-9) and though he is about 40 pounds lighter than Dupree, he's got some muscle to him. The skill set, however, remains a question mark. Burney's talents still seem raw and underdeveloped.
Freshman forward Jin Soo Kim -- The kid can shoot. He can handle the ball well for a guy his size (6-foot-8). He plays with energy and drive. However, he's a tad on the beanpole side (listed at 195 lbs.) and might not hold up well in the post against established, veteran big men. On the wing, Kim's eagerness sometimes gets the best of him. Good thing: Kim thinks he can make a steal everytime the man he is guarding is passed the ball. Bad thing: Kim thinks he can make a steal everytime the man he is guarding is passed the ball. His development certainly will be a point of interest. Could turn into a significant contributor for the Terps down the road.
So those are your options. If you're Gary Williams (and again, we're assuming the starting lineup remains unchanged), who is your eighth man off the bench?
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