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Maryland men's basketball season recap: James Padgett

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 yandas@washpost.com.

There are questions associated with every player, and in most cases those questions have to do with on-court performance. Why doesn’t Eric Hayes take more shots? Why doesn’t Adrian Bowie drive to the basket like he did last season? Why can’t Cliff Tucker play like that all the time? Did Greivis Vasquez seriously just take that shot?

But when it came to freshman forward James Padgett, the most pertinent question always seemed to be tied to actually getting him on the court. Why isn’t Padgett playing more often?

As they often are in situations like this, the answer is multi-faceted. You look at Padgett and his 6-foot-8, 225-pound frame, and you think that on a team lacking in frontcourt depth, a guy like him would find some minutes. But for this team in this season, Padgett simply did not prove to be a vital cog.

It’s easy to say that now, and it was easy in the thick of things to wonder aloud why Padgett didn’t log more minutes, especially in games in which the outcomes were decided long before the final horn sounded. But on a squad reliant upon each player understanding his precise role and executing said role precisely, there was little room left for Padgett to receive much in-game development.

The Terrapins went 13-3 in conference play this season, so it feels a bit ridiculous to say that Maryland had a very narrow margin for error. But it’s true; Coach Gary Williams acknowledged as much on several occasions. This team knew what it could do well, and it went about doing so frequently. But there was an exactness with which the Terrapins had to operate on each night during their ACC slate, even during games in which Maryland definitively proved to be the superior team.

That being the case, Padgett’s position became even more precarious. Williams noted at least three times in the aftermath of a contest that he wished he had played Padgett more. During one stretch, Padgett started receiving his meager allotment of minutes in the first half, and perhaps that was to prevent Williams from simply forgetting he was sitting there on the bench during a game’s homestretch.

Was it a conscious decision to play Padgett less and less (and sometimes not at all) as the season progressed? Maybe, but Williams’s repeated remorse afterward would suggest not.

It could just have been that what Williams saw from Padgett during the time when the player was on the court – someone who did not seem to fully grasp where he needed to be on either end of the floor – did not fit into the overall plan.

Especially as the season drew on, it became clear that the Terrapins could make a run at an ACC title, a high seed in the NCAA tournament and perhaps more. To accomplish those goals, Maryland had to think and act in the present at all times. Padgett plays more into the team’s long-term plan. And so you saw Padgett average 5.8 minutes per game in the 14 ACC games in which he participated.

This entry is not meant as a slight on Padgett’s potential. Rather, it meant to point out that Padgett’s current value to the team is based solely on that – his potential. With three veteran senior starters, this season’s Maryland team could not afford to entertain potential at the expense of sitting present talent. Sometimes, that’s just the way it goes.

With the departure of senior forward Landon Milbourne, there will be an opportunity for Padgett to earn much more playing time next season. With Jordan Williams and Dino Gregory also in the fold, Padgett likely won’t crack the starting lineup, but he certainly could play a key role off the bench. He seems to have the physical tools to succeed. Next season we’ll find out how well he can put them to use.

Side note on these year-end reviews: Walk-ons David Pearman and Ersin Levent will not be evaluated, as they did not accrue enough playing time for their contributions to be discussed in a constructive fashion. Same goes for sophomore forward Steve Goins, who may or may not need to have a missing persons report filed on his behalf. Goins, who has dealt with recurring knee problems during his two-year stint in College Park, was not present on the Maryland sideline at any point following the team’s 97-63 win at North Carolina-Greensboro. Though the team has stated nothing definitively, don’t be surprised if he’s not on the roster next season. Speaking of not being on the roster, we also won’t be evaluating Jin Soo Choi, who transferred out of the program in early January.

By Steve Yanda  |  March 29, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Comments

Oddly, it seems JP averaged about the same playing time as Wilcox duringhis freshman season, although we saw more of Wilcox during tight games as the season progressed. It also seems he averaged fewer minutes than Garrison and Ibekwe during their respective freshman seasons.

Was never a huge fan of LM playing the 4 - I've stated several times that he would be a better fit at 3 and would get some size advantage at 3 over most players (other than Singler). Additionally, I thought LM could slip over to 4 on an as needed basis. But that would have meant sitting Moseley which would take one of our best players off the floor a bit more. In GW I trust because he runs the practices, it is just my opinion from a relatively ignorant perspective.

What we have seen repeatedly from MD bigs is improvement b/w the Freshman and Sophomore year - not just minutes but capabilities. Terence Morris was hellacious his sophomore year come to think of it and I was going to use him as the exception that proves the rule. The Pete Newell big man camp + Kurt Schultz strength and endurance training seems to really take effect over the summer. Suspect JP will be a stalwart for the team over the next three years.

SY - Goins is listed as a center, which is why I want to know when he eats lunch and what he ate. Someone who can provide a few minutes of adequate post play so that JW can rest or when he gets in foul trouble would be a tremendous benefit for this team.

ugh - Duke in the FF. Stupid TF helps kill the upset bid. Am forced to root for them for the good of the ACC (we split the money) and due to prior agreement with colleague who is no use whatsoever when it comes to computer assistance. At least it ain't UVA. Izzo back in it AGAIN....how the f does he do it? So close. So f*ing close. One more rebound, one more three, one more stop, two more FTs, and i would not be driving myself crazy by how close we came.

Hope all is well with the rest of the board.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | March 29, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

There is a great blog called D1scourse that manages to give more MD specific information that this blog. It shouldn't be that way, given that D1scourse covers more schools than just MD, but it is. Hey Washington Post, are you aware that spring practice has started and the OL has once again suffered several setbacks?

Posted by: mcmelton | March 29, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Nothing against Dino Gregory, but I'm hoping Padgett improves enough this offseason to start at the 4 with Jordan at the 5, and Dino being the sixth man which is a great role for him.

Posted by: BrokenClipboard | March 29, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Nice analysis by Yanda and post by hgr. I don't think JP's play during the minutes he had on the court earned him more time, but he is just a freshman. That being said, we wouldn't have seen JW progress the way he did if there had been an experienced big to play. I am looking forward to good things from JP in the years to come.

Posted by: MrScrotums | March 29, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I hope I'm wrong, but i don't ever think JP is an important player in the ACC.

Posted by: jpfterps | March 29, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

JP,

How can you say that after barely seeing the guy play this season?

He looks like a banger to me that will only get better and better.

Anyone remember Milbourne as a Sophomore?? Never count a player out.

Posted by: DMoney28 | March 29, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I think Padgett could make the biggest leap next season if he works hard over the summer to improve his defense and post positioning. Gary will not give significant minutes to guys who will not work on the defensive end. Padgett has the ability to be a 10/7 kind of performer, and would take some load off Jordan inside if he can draw defenders away from the basket. However, if the backcourt doesn't maintain the quality play that was generated this season, the front line will still have difficulties.

Posted by: Russtinator | March 29, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

JP definitely has potential. In his limited time on the court there were mini-flashes of athletic ability. He did seem out of position a lot, but there's no reason to think that can't be corrected.

Posted by: acebojangles | March 29, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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