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Sense Of Relief For Mosley

With just less than five minutes to go in the first half Saturday, the Terps had possession and trailed by eight to a hyper-athletic Charlotte squad that was shooting out of its mind from three-point range. As Maryland passed the ball around in one of its half-court sets, Charlotte Coach Bobby Lutz shouted some advice to his defenders:

"Make 14 shoot!" Lutz screamed.

He was referring, of course, to freshman guard Sean Mosley (who wears No. 14). Mosley had struggled of late on both ends of the court. In recent games, he made silly fouls that resulted from over-aggressiveness on defense and struggled mightly to score on offense, which may have led him to think too much and rely on his instincts too little.

Already that day against Charlotte, Mosley had dropped a cross-court transition pass out of bounds on what might have turned into an easy basket. He also at one point made a cut just as senior forward Dave Neal made a pass to Mosley's original position on the wing. The ball sailed out of bounds for another turnover. It was charged to Neal, though the obvious miscommunication suggested both players were at fault.

At the time Lutz shouted his suggestion, Mosley had compiled five points, though they came via two lay-ups and a free throw. Based on Mosley's recent shooting woes, Lutz's strategic plan was warranted. Mosley was shooting 27.1 percent from the field entering Saturday's game.

Though that particular play ended with Mosley making a pass inside to sophomore guard Cliff Tucker (who was fouled and proceeded to sink both his free throws), the freshman ended up making Lutz eat his words a minute later.

Mosley drilled a three-pointer with 3:39 to go in the first half that tied the score at 32-32. He hit another three-pointer in the second half to give him a career-high 11 points on the day. He shot 3-for-4 from the field and 2-for-2 from beyond the arc against the 49ers. Afterward, Mosley's face was brighter and tone was more chipper than it had been in quite a while.

"Yeah," he said with a grin, "I needed this kind of performance."

As his offensive troubles continued to persist in recent weeks, Gary Williams and several of his teammates noted how perplexing the situation was. In practice, Mosley frequently caught fire and routinely made a majority of his shots. Then the games would come, and Mosley would revert back to his confounding ways, mishandling passes, mistiming cuts and -- most critically -- just plain missing his shots. The effort and desire was never in question. His ability to overcome the anxiety that often accompanies a freshman throughout his first season of major D1 college basketball, however, was.

"It was frustrating for me, but I'm a tough player and you just got to keep playing hard and that's what I did," Mosley said. "I played hard every day in practice, going for every loose ball, every open shot that I had, I took, and I think that came to the game today with me and gave me my confidence."

Mosley said that after his performance Dec. 30 against Elon (2-for-4 from the field, six points, 16 minutes) he couldn't wait for Saturday's game against Charlotte. He felt he had overcome whatever mental block had prohibited his in-game production and was eager to find out if he was correct in that assessment.

Turns out, he was. Not that Mosley's showing came as much of a surprise to Williams.

"He plays every day in practice like he did out there today," Williams said. "You notice that. You notice the guys the first team doesn't mind going against, the guys that bother the first team, and that all plays into it. And Sean, what he's done is maintained a certain level of intensity every practice since October. You have to reward guys like that, and you want them to really play well cause they're really helping the team by what they do in practice."

Finally, the talents Mosley displayed in team workouts became evident to a wider audience during a game. Player and coach hope Saturday's performance becomes the norm, rather than an aberration.

By Steve Yanda  |  January 5, 2009; 10:29 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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