Gregory speaks for first time since return from suspension
Maryland junior forward Dino Gregory spoke to reporters Friday for the first time since returning from an eight-game suspension to start the season. He discussed the experience of being forced to watch from the sideline as his team competed without him.
“It was tough,” Gregory said. “It’s a good learning experience for me, to see basketball taken away from me like that. It was a time for me to get better in practice, to help my teammates get better in practice, giving [freshmen forwards Jordan Williams and James Padgett] some tips. They were going to play more minutes because I was gone, so that’s a good thing. It was really tough, but it’s over with now, and I’m playing basketball again, which is what I love to do, so everything is back to normal.”
Gregory sat out the first five weeks of the season after being suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules. In August, Gregory acknowledged a charge of academic misconduct had been brought against him and that his status for the upcoming season was in question. A school official later confirmed that the suspension and the academic misconduct charge were related. The school official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly on the matter.
A second school official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the final appeal ruling on Gregory’s academic infraction came down in the days just before Maryland departed for the Maui Invitational in late November. The original penalty, which was issued by the school June 12, called for a six-month suspension, said the second school official, who noted two appeal attempts were denied.
When Gregory returned on Dec. 12 against Eastern Kentucky, he was inserted directly into the starting lineup, a spot Maryland Coach Gary Williams said during preseason workouts that Gregory had earned. When he walked onto the court for pregame warmups, the student section greeted him with applause and shouts of support. Gregory’s father, Dino Sr., and younger brother, Dariel, wore white T-shirts on which there was a picture of the "Flinstones" character of the same name and the phrase “Dino is back.”
Gregory played 33 minutes that night, tallying eight points and three rebounds. He started one more game before he was replaced in the starting lineup by freshman forward Jordan Williams, who had performed well while starting in Gregory’s absence. In his first eight games back, Gregory averaged 3.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game – better statistics than he finished with a season ago, but below the expectations set forth by Williams.
“It’s a little different because the other guys have scrimmages to get ready, you know, scrimmages and games, eight games while I sat out,” Gregory said Friday. “Coming in and jumping right into the mix, it’s faster than practice because it’s a game situation, playing against different guys. Just getting in the flow of things, getting into the rhythm a little bit with the guys on offense and defense in game situations is a lot different than practice. It takes a while to get there, but it’s all good now.”
Gregory said he didn’t approve of the “Dino is back” T-shirts – “I told my dad to throw those T-shirts in the trash can." – though he appreciated the support. He said slowly his confidence is returning to the level it reached near the end of last season, when he was a vital defensive and rebounding asset to the team as it advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. On Tuesday against Longwood, Gregory finished with six points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes, and he drew praise from Williams for being “very active.”
“I’m not exactly where I want to be yet, but the more games go by, you know, the better I get, so I’m almost there,” Gregory said. “I think by next game against N.C. State I should be there.”
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