Milbourne Demonstrates Continued Development
Thirty-nine seconds into last night's game, junior forward Landon Milbourne sensed a physical advantage he has not often possessed this season and pounced at the opportunity. He caught the ball in the post, backed down Duke guard Jon Scheyer -- who is two inches shorter and 22 pounds lighter than Milbourne -- and connected on a turnaround jumper.
That's an example of the difference, Gary Williams said afterward, between the Landon Milbourne of old and the one currently suiting up for the Terrapins.
"I think Landon knows how to get his shot now," Williams said. I mean, that's a big thing for him. I'm not sure he did last year as a sophomore, but as a junior he does."
Even early in his third season at College Park, Milbourne admittedly struggled to adapt to his new role. After a sophomore campaign in which he was allowed to play more on the wing, Milbourne assumed more interior responsibilities due to the team's lack of size.
But with three regular season games remaining, Milbourne appears to have developed an understanding of how to use his strengths -- quickness and agility, rather than overwhelming power and reach -- to his advantage when battling for position down low.
Against Duke, Milbourne led all Maryland scorers with 19 points on 6 of 8 shooting. He also recorded five rebounds and a pair of blocks.
With Greivis Vasquez on the bench during much of the second half due to foul trouble, it was up to Milbourne to help keep the Terps afloat. With 9:25 left, he sank a jumper to tie the game, 54-54. Two minutes later, he tallied a layup to provide Maryland a 58-56 lead.
Whether it was Scheyer or forward Kyle Singler or any other Blue Devil defender, guarding Milbourne proved to be a difficult assignment on a night when Duke was insistent upon sticking to a smaller lineup it thought would help facilitate a pace more to its liking. In the end, the plan worked, but it may have aided Milbourne's growing confidence in the process.
"Landon's been a great player," Williams said. "You know, you play 35 games or whatever over the course of a season, it's not going to be the same every night, but I think consistency-wise, Landon has gotten himself into shape where he can show up every game and compete against the Singler's of the world who are very good basketball players. And Landon's one of those good basketball players. To me, he's moved to a level where now other teams worry about him when they play us."
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