All Parties Benefited From Terps' Lineup Switch
Few would argue that the Terrapins were better off a month and a half ago than they are now, and one of the catalysts for Maryland's late-season improvement was a lineup switch that could have caused division among the ranks.
When freshman guard Sean Mosley replaced junior Eric Hayes in the starting lineup Jan. 31 against Miami, the reason was fairly apparent. Hayes, to that point an inconsistent shooter all season, was mired in another rut. Mosley, meanwhile, had developed into a stifling defender who could add some physicality to a unit in need of such a boost.
Since then, Mosley has continued to develop on both ends of the court, while Hayes has rediscovered his shot and now appears more comfortable on the floor.
"Sean likes starting the game; he enjoys it," Gary Williams said Tuesday. "I think Eric, maybe because of his background of being the son of a coach, gets a chance to watch for a couple minutes, and he knows when he's going into a game basically, he's able to see some things before he gets into the game and he knows in the second half that he's going to be in there most of the time."
Williams also suggested Hayes might retain more energy for the second half because he no longer plays all but a few minutes of the first.
Last week in Atlanta during the ACC tournament, Hayes turned in two of his best performances of the season. Against North Carolina State in the opening round, Hayes played 29 minutes off the bench and tallied a team-high 21 points on 5-of-6 shooting from three-point range. Two days later in the ACC semifinals against Duke, Hayes recorded 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field in 28 minutes of action.
Williams said he felt bad for Hayes when the junior guard struggled mightily to find his stroke earlier in the season. Williams lauded Hayes's ability to continually "get good looks." The problem was that Hayes couldn't convert those looks with much frequency.
"To get open in college basketball, you have to be a pretty good player," Williams said. "And Eric was getting open and not making some shots that I knew he felt that he could make. So to see him keep not losing faith and keep working to get open, because when you're not shooting the ball well, maybe you don't want to shoot it. Some guys don't want to shoot it even though they're supposed to be good shooters. If they don't shoot it, they kind of hide -- you can hide out there and just don't come off a screen real hard or whatever.
"But Eric never changed his game. He kept trying to get his looks and we kept running plays to get him those looks. We didn't have a lot of ways to go if Eric wasn't shooting the ball well. In other words, it wasn't like we could put two or three other guys in there that could do the same thing."
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