The Lineup Switch
The big news at the start of the game last night was that freshman guard Sean Mosley would be starting in place of junior Eric Hayes. It's been no secret Hayes has struggled mightily of late, and Gary Williams frequently has praised Mosley for the physicality with which Mosley plays on both ends of the court. So the switch made sense from a practical standpoint.
But would it work out as intended? First, we need to know what those intentions were in the first place.
"It was to change things up, just the idea that somebody else is starting sometimes shakes up the team a little bit," Williams said. "I thought Eric needed just a different look. In other words, he’s had days where he’s shot it as well as he’s shot it during practice, but he just couldn’t get it on the floor in the last few games. I just thought coming off the bench he might be more relaxed coming into the game and make a couple and not worry about it."
Ok, so let's begin. Shake things up? Check.
Mosley's impact was notable right away, specifically on defense. Maryland's half- and full-court pressures had been rather dull of late, but last night they were as effective as they've been all season. Mosley played a crucial role in that regard. He would draft Miami's ball-handler, typically Lance Hurdle, toward one sideline or the other, where he was joined by a teammate, usually Adrian Bowie or Greivis Vasquez. Together, the two Maryland defenders would hound Hurdle until he either A) turned the ball over, B) stepped on the mid-court line, thus drawing a backcourt violation or C) never cross mid-court at all and draw a 10-second violation. Hurdle tallied just three turnovers, but he had the look of a man having an absolutely miserable night.
"Nothing changes if I’m starting or coming off the bench," said Mosley, who tallied eight points, three assists and three rebounds. "I just bring the same energy and the same intensity every time I’m in the game."
Get Hayes a "different look"? Semi-check (Half a check? A back-slash?)
Hayes played 10 minutes in the first half and shot 2 for 6 from the field. He eventually found his rhythm, but not until the second half. He seemed as though he was in the process of getting accustomed to a reserve role, which is understandable. It will be interesting to see how Williams uses Hayes the rest of the way, but last night at least, Williams was pleased with how the move played out.
"I thought that was a really aggressive game for Eric with the ball," Williams said. "He never backed off; he just took it at them, and I was really pleased with that."
Hayes played 22 minutes on the night, recording eight points on 3 for 8 shooting. He made 2 of 4 shots from three-point range.
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