A coach's view on the Hurricanes
Maryland's starting lineup has been fairly consistent this season, and it's easy to take such a fact for granted. Continuity affords stability, which is one reason why the Terrapins have been able to rise to top form as quickly as they have. In all four of its conference games thus far, Maryland has put forth the same starting lineup (Eric Hayes, Greivis Vasquez, Sean Mosley, Landon Milbourne and Jordan Williams). The Terrapins seem to be aware of and have accepted their given roles.
Miami -- Maryland's opponent Tuesday night at Comcast Center -- has not been so fortunate. The Hurricanes have started eight different players so far in five ACC games, and that, according to a coach whose team already has faced Miami this season, should be cause for concern.
"I don't think they're clear on who they want to start," the coach said of Miami. "If guys aren't clear on their roles, that can become an issue."
The two fixtures in Miami's starting lineup have been senior forward Dwayne Collins (6-foot-8, 241 lbs.) and senior guard James Dews (6-foot-4, 213 lbs.). Collins, Miami's leading scorer, withdrew his name from last spring's NBA draft, which was widely viewed as a wise decision. The coach agreed it was prudent for Collins to return, though he said he hasn't noticed much development in Collins's offensive game.
"I don't think he's a super-skilled guy," the coach said. "He's just a great athlete. I don't know that he's developed any more of a low post package. He's just very athletic and quick to the ball, and if he has a mismatch, he's able to score. But I think if you have somebody as athletic or big as him, you know, I don't think he's effective because I don't think he's got a great offensive package."
An array of teammates have lined up with Collins in Miami's frontcourt. Against Wake Forest on Jan.9, senior Cyrus McGowan (6-foot-9, 237 lbs.) and DeQuan Jones (6-foot-6, 219 lbs.) started. But the two played 17 minutes combined against the Demon Deacons, tallying zero points and three rebounds.
After another lackluster performance Jan. 13 at Virginia Tech, McGowan was replaced in the starting lineup Jan. 16 at Virginia by redshirt freshman Reggie Johnson (6-foot-10, 295 lbs.).
"He lost a ton of weight," the coach said of Johnson. "He was well over 300 pounds as a high school senior, and he's just gotten in shape. He doesn't really have much lift or athleticism, but he's got a good idea of how to play. He's got good hands, and he's really strong and big. He uses that to his advantage. Without really having to be athletic or getting off the floor, he's able to be effective just because he's big and strong and he knows how to play."
Also against the Cavaliers, freshman guard Durand Scott (6-foot-3, 195 lbs.) replaced redshirt sophomore Malcolm Grant (6-foot-1, 191 lbs.) as Miami's starting point guard.
"I'm not sure that they couldn't really play them together," the coach said of Scott and Grant. "I'm not sure why they don't, because Scott's a little bigger. I think Grant is more of a pure shooter, but Scott's a little more effective at getting to the basket because of his size. I think they're not sure which one they want to go with, and they haven't been convinced that they can start them both together."
Facing Boston College at home on Jan. 19, the Hurricanes made another lineup switch. Senior forward Adrian Thomas (6-foot-7, 229 lbs.) started in place of Jones. Thomas provides Miami a bigger body in the frontcourt, which would be great, the coach said, if he actually stuck around in the post to use it.
"I'm looking at his numbers, and it's absolutely absurd," the coach said. "He's so one-dimensional. He's only a three-point shooter. I mean, 100 out of 113 shots are three-pointers, and he's only been to the free throw line eight times. If he's your starting four man, then maybe he's a little bit difficult to guard because a big guy doesn't always guard the three well, but if you put him at the three and all he does is shoot threes, well, he's very guardable because a three man is a little bit quicker and used to guarding guys on the perimeter, so he's not going to get those open looks. And you lose some ball handling with him at the three."
If the starting lineup Miami used against Boston College holds, then Thomas will, indeed, be play the three tomorrow night against the Terrapins. Johnson will line up at center, and Collins will play power forward, leaving Thomas to play small forward. That means sophomore guard Sean Mosley -- Maryland's best perimeter defender -- likely will draw Thomas as his defensive assignment.
The coach pointed out that Boston College had considerable success pressing Miami early in the Jan. 19 matchup, and he suggested that if the Hurricanes open with a starting lineup that includes Johnson, Collins and Thomas, opposing teams should do like the Eagles did. Given Maryland's skill at executing its press defense of late, that's probably not a bad idea.
But given the way the Hurricanes have frequently switched up their lineup in recent weeks, don't be surprised if they come out with a new combination tomorrow night.
January 25, 2010; 12:05 PM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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