Postseason Evaluations: Cliff Tucker
This week, Terrapins Insider is taking a look back at the Maryland season that concluded last weekend. Each day will feature posts on the performances of specific players and Coach Gary Williams.
The “DNP” was the worst. Sophomore swingman Cliff Tucker could bear the declining minutes and the questions he had over what more he needed to do to earn those minutes back. But following a Jan. 31 win over Miami – a game in which he remained planted on the bench – Tucker voiced his displeasure to the public for the one and only time.
In that brief moment of open rebellion, Tucker may have unknowingly ignited the turnaround to his sophomore season.
Tucker started the first five games of the season after an impressive fall in which he appeared poised to become a breakout performer. His shot was falling. His passes were crisp. His decisions were sharp and instinctive.
But after not scoring against Michigan State and tallying just four points against Gonzaga in the first two games of the Old Spice Classic in November, Tucker was pulled from the starting lineup. His minutes – along with his confidence and his production – wavered from that point forward.
The rap on Tucker was that he did not always provide full effort and focus during practice. He thought he was giving all that was needed and expected of him, but that was not the case. Tucker met several times with Coach Gary Williams to discuss his situation, but only after Tucker’s public venting did his fortunes begin to improve.
Three days after the win over Miami, Maryland traveled to North Carolina. In the loss to the Tar Heels, Tucker played 20 minutes, tallying 18 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds.
From then until the last few games of the season, Tucker played a decent chunk of minutes each game as a reserve. He had another standout game on Feb. 21 against North Carolina at Comcast Center (22 points, six rebounds). But he had bouts of ineffectiveness, as well.
Tucker possesses the athleticism and shooting ability to be a major contributor at Maryland. The question appears to be whether he is willing to devote the full-time focus and effort necessary to earn opportunities to showcase his skills.
What did you all think of Tucker’s season? How would you evaluate his performance? How significant a role do you think he’ll play on the team next season?
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