Landon Milbourne a.k.a. Mr. Consistent
Maryland senior forward Landon Milbourne sat down in the Comcast Center media work room after Tuesday night's 22-point win over Miami, folded his arms on the top of a table and stared straight ahead, his postgame demeanor as predictable as his play on the court of late.
Milbourne's nose was a brighter hue of red because of the inflammation from an on-court collision during the first half. The white-cloth nose plugs used to halt the bleeding long since had been removed.
How's your nose, Landon?
"Good," he said.
"Got hit in the face," came the response. "Nothing serious."
It's no secret to those who follow the Terrapins that Milbourne is, to say the least, an intense fellow. Brooding appears to be his default setting, at least when under the spotlight, and such an attitude has served him well during his four years in College Park. Reporters always have known what to expect when dealing with Milbourne -- concise, blunt and candid assessments -- and this season Maryland fans are seeing the same consistency in Milbourne's performance on the court.
Last season, Milbourne performed well at times but disappeared at others. As the ACC season progressed he seemed to fade under the duress of having to be, as Coach Gary Williams noted, Maryland's "big guy." Milbourne is listed at 6 feet 7 and 205 pounds, which are not exactly the measurements that immediately come to mind when thinking of a "big guy" on a Division I men's basketball team.
But Milbourne performed the role as capably as he could. He averaged 11.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game as a junior.
This season, Milbourne appears to have a bit more freedom, as well as an enhanced understanding of how to find his own shot in Maryland's offense. The freedom part derives from Maryland's increased front-court depth. Freshman forward Jordan Williams stands 6-10 and weighs 260 pounds. Safe to say Milbourne no longer is considered Maryland's big guy. The post presence of Jordan Williams, along with Dino Gregory and -- at least during practice -- James Padgett, has taken a considerable amount of pressure off of Milbourne to always have to be the one battling against bigger opponents for positioning, rebounds and putback points.
"We're hoping that ... Landon doesn't have to do everything inside," Gary Williams said Tuesday. "Last year with Dave Neal, Dave would step out a lot and he really, even though he was 250 pounds, he was more of a perimeter player at that five spot, so Landon basically wound up a lot of times as our big guy. And this year that's not true. I think those guys have helped Landon. In terms of his offense, he's moved his range out to the three-point line, but in doing so, he's created more space for him to make that medium-range jump shot that he's so good at. He's just stretched the court a little bit so it's tougher to guard him."
Milbourne finished with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting and five rebounds Tuesday night against Miami. In the last three ACC games, Milbourne has shot 65.5 percent. He is averaging 14.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 55.3 percent on the season.
More importantly for the Terrapins, Milbourne is not showing any signs of wearing down. He said Tuesday he believes he is playing more consistently at a higher level now than he has at any other point in his collegiate career. That bodes well for Maryland heading forward.
"A lot of the four-guys in the ACC are not used to covering guys that can shoot as well as he does," senior guard Eric Hayes said of Milbourne. "Having Jordan down there kind of occupying some space also gives (Milbourne) a little more freedom to move around and get open shots like he has been, so I think it's just a mixture of his confidence and his hard work."
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