Mosley intent on becoming bigger piece of Terps' puzzle
On media day last week, Maryland Coach Gary Williams touched on most of the key contributors returning to the Terrapins this season. He talked about Greivis Vasquez improving his long-range accuracy and Landon Milbourne being more comfortable at the power forward position. He talked about Adrian Bowie shooting with more confidence and players such as Jin Soo Choi and Steve Goins still being relative mysteries due to their limited playing time last year.
When asked to speak about the development of sophomore guard Sean Mosley, Williams spoke ebulliently.
“He certainly is one of those guys you want to coach,” Williams said. “You get excited about coaching Sean Mosley every day because you know what he's going to do. He's going to come in and just like [former Maryland player and current assistant coach Keith Booth], he's going to give you everything he has that day in practice. That's a great feeling not to have to go up to Sean and say, 'Sean, you've got to pick it up a little bit; you've got to be a little tougher.' I don't remember ever saying that to Sean Mosley.”
As a much-hyped incoming freshman last season, Mosley suffered an ankle injury late in the preseason and got off to a slow start. He struggled offensively for much of the year, but Mosley’s physical defensive presence vaulted him into the starting lineup midseason. He held onto the role the rest of the way and helped spark the team’s NCAA tournament run.
In the offseason, Mosley set out to develop a more consistent shot. He shot 37 percent from the field and 23.8 percent from three-point range last season. But the coaching staff also wanted him to gain more playing experience against a competition level close to what he’d face in-season.
So when Hartford assistant coach Drew Dawson contacted the Maryland staff this summer to see if they would allow one of their players to compete on the Global Sports Academy Team USA all-star squad – which Dawson coached – during its nine-day, four-country tour through Europe in August, Mosley was offered up.
“I think the idea was to get Sean additional playing time as an underclassman,” Dawson said. “When I explained the level of competition we'd be playing over there and that it would be a high level and what my motives were, they thought Sean would be a good fit.”
Mosley and 14 other players, including Villanova's Corey Stokes and Antonio Pena, Purdue's Ryne Smith and Loyola-Maryland's J'hared Hall, traveled to Belgium, France, Germany and Amsterdam, compiling a 6-1 record in exhibition games for European club teams.
“Basically, a lot of the kids, we want to give them opportunities to A) see a different culture, and B) a lot of these guys have aspirations of playing at the next level, and not everybody has the opportunity to play in the NBA, so a lot of the kids think they know that they can play over in Europe,” said Roy Blumenthal, president of Global Sports Academy. “So by going over there, it gives them an opportunity to be away from home, play in different countries, experience different cultures and actually experience the European-style of basketball.”
Mosley, who said he’d never previously been overseas, described the experience in overwhelmingly positive tones. In addition to the opportunity to play ball against “mostly Division II and Division III guys,” Mosley said he was especially enamored by the unique architecture of the different cities the team visited.
As for his play on the court, Dawson and Blumenthal were complimentary in their respective assessments.
“He's very, very explosive,” Dawson said. “He plays as vertical as I've seen. He's above the rim, which obviously creates an advantage for him. The one thing that stood out to me about Sean is how explosive he is, and that, coupled with strength, you know, you'll see guys that aren't very strong but are explosive and can really get up above the rim, he has both. He did a good job creating second shots for us, perimeter rebounding, when he did have the ball and could get into a gap, he was at the rim. He shot the ball pretty well. I imagine that's something he'll continue to work on. He was streaky at times.”
Mosley said his primary focus in the offseason was to work on getting off his jump shot quicker and becoming more bold when an open shot presents itself. “You know, last year I didn't have as much confidence as I should, but this year, having a year under my belt and knowing where I can get my open shots from,” Mosley said. “This year, once I get there, the only thing I have to do is take the shot.”
But what captured Blumenthal’s attention on the trip in August was Mosley’s keen ability to discern when to shoot and when to distribute. Blumenthal, who also serves as an assistant at West Chester University, said Mosley played mostly on the wing.
“Sean was an absolute pleasant surprise for me because when you see his stature, he looks like a linebacker,” Blumenthal said. “And the whole time as we progressed through the different countries you're starting to learn more about the guys’ games and who fits best in the lineups together. Sean was easy because Sean fit whatever we needed. There were times when we needed somebody to score. Sean was able to do that. When we were up and we didn't need to score, Sean wasn't looking to score. He was looking to pass to his teammates. He was an easy fit into any group we were able to put him into, which was great because we were learning on the go. We were actually putting plays in as we were touring around different cities. In marketplaces, we were drawing up X's and O's with the kids because we never had any real opportunities to do any practicing.”
Essentially, Blumenthal and Dawson learned the same thing Williams has known about Mosley since the Maryland coach recruited Mosley out of St. Frances Academy in Baltimore.
“Sean, you know, we didn't recruit him to be a great shooter,” Williams said on media day. “We knew what Sean could do coming out of St. Frances, his leadership. You know, I saw that championship game when they won the Catholic high school championship in Baltimore. If I had any doubts at all, you know, I just saw him do everything, rebound, bring it up, whatever he had to do for his team to win. You need guys like that on your team. … Sean's going to get to be a good shooter as his career goes on, but we need everything that Sean does in addition to scoring for us to be a good basketball team.”
Mosley will assume a more advanced role on this year’s Terrapins squad. Providing the same physical defense along the perimeter that he did last season will be vital, of course. But Mosley also will be counted on to assume more of the scoring load, especially as freshmen forwards Jordan Williams and James Padgett adjust themselves to Division I college ball.
He doesn’t have to be a great shooter, but he needs to at least be able to command respect from opposing defenses. Blumenthal doesn’t foresee that as being much of an issue.
“The greatest asset about Sean is I think he's a great piece to a puzzle,” Blumenthal said. “Sean has the ability to play inside and outside. He was very astute to the game. A lot of times when you get 10 kids that have never played together before, it’s difficult. That wasn't a problem at all for Sean because he just blended in so well.”
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