Feeling The Squeeze
As we discussed in a post on Sunday, Gary Williams (just like most other coaches, he'll tell you) prefers an eight-man rotation. And Saturday night against Miami, Maryland fans got a look at what that rotation appears to consist of right now.
The starters include: Greivis Vasquez, Landon Milbourne, Dave Neal, Adrian Bowie and Sean Mosley.
The three-man reserve unit: Eric Hayes, Dino Gregory and Jin Soo Kim.
This, of course, leaves out a few players who at one point in the season were expected to play considerable roles on this Terps team. Cliff Tucker's plight was catalogued in Monday's print edition, so now let's take a look at sophomore forward Braxton Dupree.
Dupree started the first six games of the season, but since then has seen his time on the court fall to 11.9 minutes per game. Much was made during preseason about Dupree's renewed dedication to his game and fitness level over the summer months, but Dupree still seemed to lack the aggressiveness and know-how to thrive in the post.
Dupree did not play Saturday night against Miami, registered six minutes against Boston College and played eight minutes against Duke. That's a grand total of 14 minutes in the past three games. He is averaging 2.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game on the season.
Yesterday, Gary Williams was asked what Dupree needed to do to earn more playing time.
"I don't know," Williams said. "In other words, he's certainly gotten the opportunity. He's started some games and things like that. You know, in coaching it's funny, at this level you're supposed to try to win the game whatever way you can win the game. The way we won the game Saturday was to start the five guys we did and play with three guys. In other words, there was never a time in that game where that eight-man rotation wasn't playing really well. So you don't say, Well I've got to put Braxton in to give him a chance to play. Because we're beating a team that was ranked in the top 25 at some point in the season, and they have great players. And they can (snaps his fingers) that quick.
"You have to understand, in basketball one bad pass, one layup you miss, one thing that you do wrong can give that other team momentum. You just try to keep it going. Whatever you can do to keep it going, keep it going. Eight guys is a normal rotation for anyone. Most teams don't play nine in a close game; they play eight. So, that was a great eight-man rotation, and that's the way it worked. Having said that, who knows at Carolina? Maybe there's foul trouble, maybe a guy sprains his ankle, maybe you need to play more people. So Braxton Dupree or somebody else might get the opportunity to play. But that's where it is when you're playing a tough team every time out. You're trying to win that game in whatever way you can."
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