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Bowie, Tucker look to get back on track

Don't expect much in the way of revelations tonight when Maryland hosts Winston-Salem State. The Rams are a team the Terrapins should beat handily, and if they do, then it will be difficult to draw many definitive conclusions from their performance.

Still, games like the one Maryland will play tonight can be beneficial on individual levels, say, for players stuck in an offensive rut. Such may be the case for junior guards Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker, who are in need of confidence boosts as the Terrapins continue to tune up for conference play.

Bowie, who has come off the bench this season (he did start Dec. 12 against Eastern Kentucky due to Greivis Vasquez being late to a morning shootaround) after serving primarily as a starter last year, is shooting 30.6 percent from the field and averaging three points per game. He has made 1 of 14 attempts from beyond the arc.

Meantime, Tucker is shooting 55.6 percent from the field, but has attempted just 27 shots while playing 14.5 minutes per game. His assist-to-turnover rate is 1.0, which is less than ideal.

"You know, a player goes into a slump and you don’t always know what it is," Coach Gary Williams said Monday. "You’d like to think you know, but you don’t always know. Sometimes it’s just confidence; other times something’s bothering them somewhere else, family or whatever. So you try to find out what it is and then you try to build them up. In other words, if a guy gets too cocky you can talk about that. If a guy is not playing well or doesn’t feel very good about himself, you try to pump him up.

"Both Adrian and Cliff are talented. They’ve had great games here in the past and there’s no reason why they can’t play like that on a consistent basis. So it’s been a good week for them. They’ll certainly get their chance tomorrow night, you know, to see what they can do, and we’ll go from there."

Unlike underclassmen, who might not be able to draw from previous standout performances at the D1 level, both Bowie and Tucker have proven in recent seasons what valuable assets they can be when performing to their respective potentials. In two games against North Carolina, the eventual national champions, Tucker averaged 20 points and shot 16 for 26 from the field. Bowie scored in double digits during Maryland's final three games last season, which included an ACC semifinal matchup against Duke and NCAA tournament games against California and Memphis.

Both have had their share of struggles at the college level, as well, which means they also know what it takes to dig themselves out.

"Adrian and Cliff, they’ve been through these things before in the past," senior guard Eric Hayes said. "They pretty much know that they’ve just got to play their game and not worry about other things around them and just play with confidence. Because it’s easy to lose confidence when you’re not playing or not shooting the ball well, and those types of things happen during the season. So it’s just one of those things where you get into maybe a little bit of a funk, but eventually you work your way out of it."

It's not as if Bowie and Tucker are necessarily making repeated mistakes when they're in the games. Rather, they are not making much of an impact at all, which might be equally distressing for the team. Against Eastern Kentucky, Bowie started and played 18 minutes. He tallied three points on 1 of 3 shooting from the field. He also recorded six rebounds, three assists and zero turnovers. Not bad, but not great either.

In the same game, Tucker played four minutes, tallying an assist and a steal. He did not attempt a single shot.

"Well, you’re always trying to get players to play," Williams said. "Each guy is different. Cliff is different than Adrian, so you have to use different things with each guy. And you hope you hit the right button, but you don’t always hit the right button. But you try to, and that’s all you can do. You know, sometimes if you just say, 'Okay, you have to work hard,’ sometimes that’s good because even though that player’s been working hard, in his mind if he works harder that means he’ll play better in the games. So you do whatever you can to try to motivate different people and whether it’s just talking to somebody, whether it’s making sure that you call their number in practice a lot in order to get them a lot of looks, that type of thing, you try to do what you can."

One of Maryland's strengths over the past two seasons has been its backcourt depth, and Tucker and Bowie played a significant factor in that regard. If the Terrapins hope to maintain such an advantage, they will need Bowie and Tucker to rediscover the spark that once made them dangerous offensive threats.

"Adrian and Cliff definitely have the potential to come off the bench and play, you know, good minutes and help us out down the stretch," sophomore guard Sean Mosley said. "I try to talk to them two guys and other teammates as well and say we going to need y’all down the stretch because we have, like, five guards that can pretty much play any position. And by them two bringing energy off the bench, that’s going to help us out down the stretch."

By Steve Yanda  |  December 22, 2009; 12:19 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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