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Midseason Evals: The Frontcourt

Most Terps observers understood heading into the season that the team's frontcourt had the most potential to end up a crucial weakness. Experience and size were lacking. Traditional post presence had been downsized since the departures of Bambale Osby and James Gist. A power forward who can shoot the three was being asked to play center. A swingman who might be the team's most naturally athletic member was being asked to play power forward. It was logical to assume this unit would be overwhelmed on most nights against bigger, stronger and more savvy ACC frontcourts.

And yet for the most part, the duo of Landon Milbourne and Dave Neal have held their own so far. No, they're not changing people's perceptions of what a dynamic frontcourt looks like, but they have used their own individual strengths to help neutralize their glaring weaknesses. Neal draws his man out to the wing with his long-range shooting savvy, which helps clear an opposing big man away from the basket. He is averaging 7.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. Milbourne uses his quickness and agility to move around, rather than through, an opponent en route to a rebound or loose ball. He is averaging 13.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, in addition to compiling 24 blocks and 27 steals. Milbourne also is shooting 51.6 percent from the field.

By Steve Yanda  |  February 5, 2009; 11:08 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Midseason Evals: The Backcourt


Neal and Milbourne have played well, but neither is a real big man. Ideally, they'd both play a SF type position and possibly spell a PF in a small lineup. Neither would be a C. I'll be interested to see how Milbourne plays next season, especially if there are some guys inside to help him.

Posted by: CharlieF | February 5, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I think a better poll would be comparing expectations after 5 games to what they have done the rest of the way.

Posted by: Lee26 | February 5, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Neal has exceeded expectations by simply staying healthy. he battles opposing big men each game and is playing through the bumps and bruises. He was never going to be shot blocker or rebounding force, but he puts himself in good position, usually has a hand in the opponents face, and seldom gambles allowing opposing players an easy path to the basket. His offense is better than most thought, including me, and his outside shot is not only servicable, it is dependable. I don't know how much more anyone could have expected from Neal this season. A+

Milbourne has always had a nice game. This year he seems to be becoming more of a leader. He needs to become a bit more aggressive on both ends of the court. He has a sweet shot but at times seems to sort of stand and wait for his team mates to get him the ball on the wing. He is doing a much better job this year of creating space for his shot once he gets the ball, but needs to create a little more offense on his own. On defense he is active but like Neal is playing at least one position to big for his size. This should prove dividends later when he is allowed to move back to a more natural position against players his own size. Over all he has stepped his game up so far this season nicely and gives hope to the team if and when bigger talent arrives or shows itself from within. B+

Posted by: dbrine1261 | February 5, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I would hardly consider Dave Neal's 25% (7 of 28) three-point shooting percentage against ACC opponents "dependable." Maryland should be a program above players of his low caliber and limited abilities. Bad players = 3-5 in the ACC

Posted by: DCity | February 5, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

...and no complete evaluation of Maryland's frontcourt can exclude questions about why Braxton Dupree has regressed and why Dino Gregory hasn't made more of an impact.

Posted by: DCity | February 5, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I really wonder what Milbourne could have done this year if he were playing his natural position. He's doing a commendable job as a really undersized 4, especially in the rebounding department (particularly on the offensive end). Landon has shown great ability on the offensive end, but still seems to shy away from trying to take over a game. I would much rather see Landon attempt to take over than Vasquez launching ill-advised 3's because he managed to hit an uncontested layup the last time down the court.

Neal is a BEAST. He is Gary in an under-sized power-foward's body. I've been really impressed with what Neal has been able to do on both ends of the court. He does have a tendancy to try to create a mismatch by launching 3's, but I think part of that lies with Gary, who runs plays that focus on that particular option. He played really strong in the UNC game against Hansburough, and the team always seems to lose a step when he's not on the floor. Sure, Neal's not going to wow anyone with some incredible dunk, blocked shot, or flashy move, but he does exactly what Gary asks him to do and provides a calm to a team that can often spiral out of control. For that, he as exceeded expectations. The problem is that they're not going to beat taleted teams with the lineup the have to work with, which they've proven against larger teams like G-Town, Gonzaga, and UNC.

Posted by: Russtinator | February 5, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

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