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Choi provides helping hand

As you may have gathered, the Terrapins did not get off to the smoothest of starts Tuesday night against Indiana. Among the recurring themes that resurfaced during the first half was foul trouble for Maryland's post players.

With 2 1/2 minutes to go before intermission, senior forward Landon Milbourne bobbled the ball out of bounds underneath the Maryland basket. This came a little more than three minutes after Milbourne had tossed an errant pass into the first row of the stands. Coach Gary Williams was not pleased, to say the least. Upon Milbourne's second transgression, he stomped down the sideline and signalled for freshman forward James Padgett to head to the scorer's table.

One problem: Padgett already had two fouls. Rather than risk Padgett drawing a third before halftime, Williams changed course and instructed sophomore forward Jin Soo Choi to sub in for Milbourne (who, by the way, also had two fouls at that point).

Choi played only eight minutes Tuesday night, but his role was valuable nonetheless. He subbed in frequently for Milbourne late in the first half when the Terrapins were on defense. He didn't stay in long, but he kept Milbourne from picking up a third foul. Choi was credited with one point and two rebounds on the night, and in fact, Maryland's entire bench tallied just six points. But Milbourne was more generous with praise for the reserves than was the stat sheet.

"It’s good when you’ve got guys coming off the bench that can help out," Milbourne said. "I got in foul trouble, and Jin Soo came off the bench and did a real good job to help me out. And James did the same thing. Things like [foul trouble] just didn’t stop us tonight. We stayed pretty focused.

"If we didn’t have that type of production coming off the bench, it would have been a whole ‘nother story. Maybe Coach would have put me back in there and I would have gotten [more fouls]. ... So just the fact that we have those guys coming off the bench, I can stay out a little bit longer, let some time roll off the clock, get back in there and go to work."

Maryland's bench was even more short-handed than usual Tuesday night. In addition to missing junior forward Dino Gregory (suspension), the Terrapins also were without the services of junior guard Cliff Tucker, who did not play due to what Gary Williams called a "coach's decision." He did not elaborate on Tucker's apparent benching.

Tucker averaged 17.2 minutes per game in Maryland's first six contests. He was shooting 53.8 percent (14 for 26) and averaging 5.7 points per game.

Regardless, Tucker's absence shrunk Maryland's reserve options even further. Sophomore forward Steve Goins also did not play, though unlike Tucker, Goins is not a part of the regular rotation.

Choi, then, was called into limited yet vital action. Milbourne finished with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks. As Gary Williams pointed out, Choi helped make Milbourne's production possible.

"His first foul wasn’t a good foul; that put him in a hole right away," Gary Williams said of Milbourne. "You know, he came up on a guy that’s not known as a three-point shooter, and the guy drove on him and he got the foul. So he had to play smart the rest of the way, and I think he really did a good job. Jin Soo allowed us to play Landon out of there sometimes when we got in defensive situations. We could platoon a little bit. So [Choi] really helped us tonight. We were able to get [Milbourne] through the game, and that was key for us because we really need his inside experience right now."

By Steve Yanda  |  December 2, 2009; 10:39 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Next: Vasquez finding way back on track


I still cringe everytime I see Choi on the court.

Posted by: fushezzi | December 2, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Could someone find out why Cliff Tucker didn't see a single minute of action in this game? Was he hurt, was he being disciplined, did he somehow get on Gary's badside, or did Gary not feel this was the right spot for Tucker to play?

I am really confused by Tucker was not used last night in the rotation and the fact there is no information regarding his lack of playing time in an important non-conference road game.

Posted by: Russtinator | December 2, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm annoyed. I was trying to watch an Indiana Basketball infomercial last night and it kept getting interrupted by UMD winning.

Posted by: Realness1 | December 2, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone else feel the press (and Terps play in general) seems quicker and more efficient without Vasquez on the floor. By no means and I calling for Dirty Vasquez to be benched, just saying it's something to keep an eye on. With Jordan Williams and Vasquez out there, you have two slow pressing defenders. No surprise then that our press has been ineffective so far this season. Maybe only press when you bring in Bowie for Vasquez and Padgett for Williams? The rest of the time, fall back and play zone or man2man.

Posted by: fushezzi | December 2, 2009 10:55 AM


Posted by: Realness1 | December 2, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Trivia question of the day: What do Kansas, Stanford, Connecticut, California, DePaul, Michigan, Illinois, and soon to be Villanova all have in common?

Posted by: Barno1 | December 2, 2009 11:18 AM

They all got beat by MD when ranked #3?


Posted by: HughGRection | December 2, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Trivia question of the day: What do Kansas, Stanford, Connecticut, California, DePaul, Michigan, Illinois, and soon to be Villanova all have in common?

Posted by: Barno1 | December 2, 2009 11:18 AM

They all got beat by MD when ranked #3?


Actually, they are all teams from BCS conferences that got beat by the Terps in the BB&T.

Posted by: Russtinator | December 2, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Nice job on Terrapins Insider. Please keep the updates coming. Much appreciated.

Posted by: lavar609 | December 2, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

1) yanda & prisbell, stop investigating what recruit from the mid-90s Gary didnt text message and tell us why Tucker didnt play at Indiana

2) fusheezi are you really just now asking if we are a slower team with GV on the court? Dude is probably the slowest starting guard in UMD history, maybe ACC history, so yes, we are slow with him out there. I like your idea about pressing when GV is on the bench, but Gary likes to press and GV is so good at other things that we need him on the court as much as possible. Looks like more of the GV press in the future

Posted by: jpfterps | December 3, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I've been saying this for 3 years, but I still think we shouldn't have Hayes and Vasquez on the court at the same time. Two slow guards in an up tempo system is a recipe for fast breaks turning into half court sets. If your guards are slow, it's much harder to push the ball up the court.

When Gregory comes back, I want to see this starting lineup:

Vasquez PG
Mosley SG
Milbourne SF
Gregory PF
Williams C

That's our best 5 at each position.

Hayes backing up Vasquez, Bowie backing up Mosley, Tucker backing up Milbourne, Padgett behind Gregory and Williams.

Posted by: Barno1 | December 3, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse

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