Maryland awaits Gregory's return
To review, here are a few developments from Maryland's loss Sunday night to No. 3 Villanova:
- The Wildcats out-rebounded the Terrapins, 45-33.
- Freshman forward Jordan Williams played 30 minutes.
- Williams tallied three fouls, while senior forward Landon Milbourne was charged with four fouls.
Were those facts indicative of a one-game occurence, they would not be worth mentioning. Rather, they reflect the continuence of a few concerning trends for the Terrapins so far this season. Those concerns will be quelled to some extent when Maryland regains the services of junior forward Dino Gregory, who is scheduled to return Saturday when the Terrapins host Eastern Kentucky.
Having lost three of its last four games, Maryland could use a shot in the arm, and Gregory should provide at least that much. Gregory served as a capable rebounder and defender last season, especially down the stretch. He worked on the offensive aspects of his game during the summer, so those should be improved too. Maryland Coach Gary Williams, for one, greatly anticipates Gregory's return.
"I think we can play," Gary Williams said Sunday after the Villanova loss. "We're going to have two weeks now where we play one game, and that's going to help up. We're supposed to get Dino Gregory back by the 12th, according to the powers that be. And we look forward to that, him playing in our next game. He'll give us more depth, more size on the inside. He's a very good defensive player and rebounder, and we need that."
Let's take a look at a few of the ways Gregory's return could immediately impact Maryland's lineup:
1) On the boards. That Gregory averaged only 3.2 rebounds per game last season is a bit misleading. Specifically during Maryland's run to the postseason, Gregory established himself as an effective rebounder, and he should be able to do the same this year. Though a bit undersized, Gregory (6-foot-7, 230 lbs.) is strong enough to position himself firmly in the post and fight for position against bigger opponents. Currently, only two Terrapins average more than five rebounds per game (Jordan Williams and Sean Mosley). While Gregory will not turn Maryland into a top tier rebounding unit, he should be good for five to six boards per contest. The Terrapins gladly will take it.
2) In the press defense. Maryland's press has not been as consistent, nor as effective, a tool as it was last season. That is due in part to the inexperience of Jordan Williams and James Padgett, who had to learn quickly how to operate a press for the first time.
"James and Jordan, they never pressed in high school," Gary Williams said Saturday. "They don't know what that is. (Gregory helps the press by bringing) experience, but that enables you to do more things. Because he has experience, you can make adjustments on the fly because he's done it before, he's made those adjustments where James and Jordan, it's a learning process."
3) Frontcourt depth. Jordan Williams is averaging 24.1 minutes per game. James Padgett is averaging 16.4 minutes per game. With the way Jordan Williams has played of late, perhaps some Maryland followers wouldn't mind seeing his playing time increase, rather than decrease. But from a wider lense, it probably wouldn't be the worst idea for Jordan Williams -- and Padgett, as well -- to have at least a little more time observing and learning on the bench. If they're effective, play 'em. But both still have much to learn, and being able to watch experienced players such as Milbourne and Gregory compete would benefit the freshman duo.
During the preseason, Gary Williams made it clear that Gregory had earned a frontcourt spot in the starting lineup alonside Milbourne. But Jordan Williams has played well of late. It will be interesting to see if Gregory returns immediately to the starting lineup, or if Jordan Williams is allowed to remain a starter until Gregory gets his game legs back.
"It's the way we came into the year thinking we would play," Gary Williams said Saturday of Gregory's presence in the lineup. "That's the big thing. Now we'll have the rotation inside that we want and all that stuff. The pressure on James and Jordan to be main players won't be there so they can learn like most freshmen learn at the pace you'd like them to learn at."
4) Foul trouble. To be more precise, Gregory will be able to limit the concern when players like Milbourne and Jordan Williams get into foul trouble. Right now, Gary Williams's reserve options when his two starting forwards get into foul trouble are Padgett and sophomore forward Jin Soo Choi. Padgett is not a bad option, but he's still developing. Choi may eventually develop into a contributor, but he doesn't currently possess the strength necessary to hold ground in the post. Gregory extends Maryland's bench and provides the Terrapins added frontcourt depth, which if nothing else translates to five more fouls.
"I think having Dino kind of have (Jordan Williams's) back is going to change things a little bit, too, because (Jordan Williams) is not going to have to worry so much about foul problems and things like that," Gary Williams said Sunday. "We're one inside player away from being in trouble if (Jordan Williams) gets his third foul in the first half, so that won't be the case with Dino back."
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