Maryland men's basketball season recap: Jordan Williams
This week, Terrapins Insider will take a look back on the 2009-10 Maryland men’s basketball season from an individual standpoint. We’ll discuss how each player’s year went and look ahead to his role on the team going forward. Readers are encouraged to provide their thoughts in the comments section below or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There were times near the end of the season when the most pertinent question regarding freshman forward Jordan Williams seemed to be: Exactly how broad are the kid’s shoulders? By the time Maryland took on Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA tournament, you darn near expected Williams to tally a double-double every night. And given the freshman season he had, those expectations weren’t entirely overblown.
Against the Spartans, Williams registered 10 points and 10 rebounds. Against Houston in the first round, Williams recorded 21 points and 17 rebounds. Against Georgia Tech, he tallied seven points and seven rebounds – and five of those rebounds came on the offensive glass. If any of you thought at the season’s outset that Williams would end up being one of Maryland’s most consistent performers throughout the 2009-10 campaign, go ahead and give yourself a lengthy pat on the back.
When the season began, Williams was viewed as a stopgap, someone to keep Dino Gregory’s spot in the starting lineup warm until the junior forward returned from his eight-game suspension for academic misconduct. Williams possessed size and a load of potential, but questions loomed. Sure, he was a prolific scorer in high school, but the league in which he played in Connecticut was pretty weak, right? How would his skills translate at the Division I level?
Williams was forced to answer the latter question nearly immediately. At the Maui Invitational he matched up against the sizable frontcourts of Wisconsin and Cincinnati and held his ground. And that encouraging sign was followed shortly thereafter by his performance against Villanova in the BB&T Classic. Against the Wildcats, Williams finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds. By the time Gregory was eligible to play, Williams had proven to be a viable starter for the Terrapins, someone who might be able to exceed to just-defend-and-rebound parameters set for him by his coaches and teammates.
After Gregory received two courtesy starts in mid-December, Williams was plugged back into the starting lineup and remained there the rest of the way. Once ACC play began, Williams faced a string of imposing frontcourts – Florida State, Wake Forest and Clemson, to name a few – and he did not wither.
In fact, Williams’s scoring average increased during conference play, while his rebounding production held steady. Williams afforded Maryland the interior option the Terrapins did not possess the previous season. They could function in a more inside-out fashion, which opened up more offensive options in half-court sets.
Maryland needed a big man it could rely on, and the Terrapins certainly found one in Williams. When asked in late January what his expectations were for himself entering his freshman season, Williams said the following:
“I expected to come in and make an impact right away. I told people that in the summertime.”
Now, perhaps it was easy for him to say that after he had gotten off to such a solid start in ACC play, but still, Williams carries himself with such confidence to make you believe he actually was telling people last summer that he was going to make his presence felt immediately in one of the top conferences in the country.
His veteran teammates, many of whom initially were frustrated with Williams’s lack of understanding of Maryland’s offensive and defensive systems, praised the freshman frequently during the course of the season for the work he put into his craft. Coach Gary Williams offered praise for Williams along the same lines, as well.
Next season, Williams – who finished second to Georgia Tech forward Derrick Favors in ACC rookie of the year voting – will take on a much larger role with the Terrapins. He very well could be the team’s cornerstone in 2010-11. It would seem likely that Williams will continue to tone up his 6-foot-10, 260-pound frame this offseason and improve his game, as well.
How broad are Jordan Williams’s shoulders? His performance this season might only have offered an indication. The full answer likely will be revealed next winter.
March 31, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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