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 email@example.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.
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