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Terrapins to try out four-guard look

Maryland will be down a big man or three tonight when it hosts Fairfield at Comcast Center, which means a couple of things. First, it means more pressure will be placed on freshmen forwards James Padgett and Jordan Williams, as well as senior forward Landon Milbourne, not to get into foul trouble. And secondly, it will provide Coach Gary Williams an opportunity to see how a four-guard lineup might fare in advance of the team’s upcoming trip to Maui, where the competition will be a little tougher.

With Steve Goins (knee), Jin Soo Choi (ankle) and Dino Gregory (suspension) likely to miss tonight’s game, the Terrapins’ front-court options will be limited. If that plight sounds familiar, it’s because it was the reality for this team all of last season. “It feels like the same old thing has happened again,” junior guard Adrian Bowie said.

So assuming the Terrapins show some four-guard looks against the Stags, expect to see sophomore guard Sean Mosley and maybe junior guard Cliff Tucker logging some time at the power forward position. Mosley is listed at 6 feet 4 and 210 pounds; he offers more of the bulk necessary to handle a more traditionally sized post player on defense. Tucker, listed at 6-6 and 205 pounds, isn’t as brawny, but has a few more inches to combat taller opponents.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see how such a ploy pans out. The advantage, as Gary Williams and his players pointed out, to using a four-guard lineup lies on the offensive end.

“I haven't played in a four-guard offense before, but I feel like it wouldn't take anything away from me,” Bowie said. “We would be able to spread the court even better, so it would give me more opportunities to drive the lane and create for other people.”

“I think it's to my advantage running four guards and one big because I think it's an advantage for me in taking my man off the dribble if I'm having a big guy playing me,” Mosley said.

The disadvantage would lie mostly on defense, where opposing teams likely would take advantage by posting up more frequently against a smaller Terrapins front court.

“The guards will have to rebound a lot better,” Bowie said.

Ah yes, the thread that likely will weave throughout Maryland’s season: rebounding. In Padgett, Milbourne and Jordan Williams, the Terrapins appear to have a solid corps of rebounders, but those three alone may not be able to get the job done. Maryland was outrebounded by Indiana (Pa.) in an exhibition game and by Temple in a scrimmage. In its regular season opener, the Terrapins came to draw with Charleston Southern in the rebounding department, 43-43.

The consensus? Maryland’s guards must provide more assistance on the boards. Milbourne said after Friday night’s win that the team lacked the same level of fight that it attained last season, when an undersize squad overcame its most glaring obstacle to earn an NCAA tournament berth. Bowie, for one, agreed.

“Last year, we already knew we were undersized,” Bowie said. “Coming in, we knew we were a lot smaller than almost every team we played so we had to rebound so we could get on the breaks. Now we feel like we're a lot more bigger with the two freshmen coming in, so we haven't fought as hard as we did last year.”

Senior guard Greivis Vasquez and Mosley each tallied five rebounds against Charleston Southern, while Bowie, Tucker and senior guard Eric Hayes combined to record two rebounds.

For now, Maryland likely will be able to survive without holding an advantage – much less dominating – on the boards. Gary Williams has said that he’s trying to convince Jordan Williams that the freshman is a center, not a forward. These next two games will give Jordan Williams a good look at what that role constitutes without having his growing pains be too costly. Padgett also can play the power forward or center position, Gary Williams said Monday. And by now, Milbourne knows how to hold his own in the post.

But as Gary Williams noted, “It gets thin pretty quick.”

Williams said he played with a four-guard lineup when he coached at American University (1978-82), so utilizing that look won’t be a new experience for him.

“We know how to play that way,” he said. “That may be a way to play [Tuesday] night, and it may be a way to play in periods of games. It might not just be because of [Tuesday night's] situation. It might be that that's a pretty good way for us to play this year.”

By Steve Yanda  |  November 17, 2009; 8:34 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Go Terps! I thought they looked pretty good in their debut. Their shooting wasn't the best but they moved the ball around pretty well and played good defense.

Posted by: richs91 | November 17, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

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