Gregory makes impact upon return
Junior forward Dino Gregory started and played 33 minutes Saturday in his first game back from an eight-game suspension. Coach Gary Williams said he did not anticipate Gregory seeing that much court time against Eastern Kentucky, but the circumstances of the game (the pesky Colonels did not fade until the final eight minutes of Maryland's 83-72 win) demanded Williams keep his top players on the floor.
Against an Eastern Kentucky squad that used its big men as its primary long-range threats, that meant Gregory received many of the minutes that otherwise might have been distributed to freshmen forwards Jordan Williams and James Padgett. In addition to possessing more experience, Gregory also was better suited to guard the Colonels’ agile forwards than was Jordan Williams.
Though he had started the first eight games of the season in Gregory’s absence and performed admirably, Jordan Williams played just nine minutes Saturday. While effective in some areas during that time (he tallied four points and five rebounds), Jordan Williams was somewhat of a liability defending out on the perimeter.
“They had a weird team,” Gary Williams said of Eastern Kentucky. “In other words, I couldn't put -- all right, you're the coach, who do you put Jordan Williams on? See, that was the problem today. They didn't have anybody that kind of matched up with Jordan. He got burned with two threes quickly when he went in the game, and that's why they're good. See, they realized with Jordan in there that it was a tough matchup, and they went right after the guy who was guarding him. Dino had to play a lot more minutes than I thought he'd play today, but we had to win the game.”
As for Padgett, he didn’t play at all. No explanation was provided for Padgett’s first DNP-CD, although to be fair, no explanation was requested, either.
Regardless, Gregory had a decent outing in his first game back. He tallied eight points on 2-of-5 shooting and grabbed three rebounds. He also blocked two shots. But aside from the stat sheet, Gregory provided the Terrapins with an experienced post player to line up alongside Landon Milbourne. That paid off in ways stat sheets can’t measure.
Gregory passes the ball well out of the post, and the entire offense seemed to flow more smoothly during the first couple of minutes of the game with him out on the floor. Gregory was solid on defense as well, though that was to be expected of a player often lauded by Gary Williams as one of the top front-court defenders and rebounders in the ACC during the final months of last season.
“Dino, during the summer, put time in at the gym like a Sean Mosley or a Greivis Vasquez, so I expect him to be better,” Gary Williams said of Gregory’s offensive development. “We've had a history around here of guys who come here freshman, sophomore year and work hard and get better, so Dino's one of those guys.
“What he did in February and March for us last year shouldn't be underrated, because Dave Neal did a great job, but we needed somebody big inside that could control things. Dino did that for us even though it didn't result in a lot of points. When you play Wake Forest and North Carolina and California, you better have some big people who can play. Dino is one of those guys who can play, rebounding-wise and defensively for us. Too many people judge how good you are by how many points you score. We'll have guys that score. We need guys who can stop people, and Dino's one of those people.”
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