Maryland men's basketball season recap: Cliff Tucker
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.
Junior guard Cliff Tucker is the kind of player who makes you wonder. For the most part, you know what you’re going to get when you watch Eric Hayes, Landon Milbourne, Sean Mosley and Jordan Williams play. Heck, you pretty much know what you’re going to get from Greivis Vasquez most nights out.
But with Tucker, you never really know. Arguably Maryland’s most athletic and naturally talented player, Tucker has spent his collegiate career befuddling coaches, fans and reporters alike. You see flashes of brilliance, times when it seems Tucker is unstoppable on the court. And then you see Tucker make a series of mental mistakes or you see him slack off for a period of time on the court or you see him looking over his shoulder, wondering when he’ll be called back to the bench.
Several of the reporters on the Maryland beat discussed at different points this season the manner in which Tucker’s minutes were doled out. There were times when Tucker would be pulled from a game seemingly just as he was beginning to pick up some momentum, and that likely speaks to the level of trust Maryland Coach Gary Williams has in Tucker’s ability to remain consistent more than anything else.
When it comes to Tucker, the most telling moment I witnessed this season took place with about 25 seconds left in the first half of Maryland’s regular season finale at Virginia. Tucker was called for a backcourt violation, and Williams immediately motioned for junior guard Adrian Bowie to sub into the game. Assuming that Bowie was coming in to replace him, Tucker began trotting toward the Maryland bench. Williams had to wave Tucker back onto the court. Bowie, in fact, was replacing Eric Hayes.
Much like Bowie, Tucker suffers from wavering confidence. Tucker has admitted on several occasions that at times he is too worried about how many minutes he has played or is going to play. And when that becomes his primary concern, his performance suffers.
But when Tucker lets go of his angst and simply plays, his talent often is tantalizing. He can be a go-to scorer. He can be a stingy defender. He can be a lot of things.
With the departures of seniors Vasquez, Hayes and Milbourne, Maryland will lose 54.7 percent of its point production. Those points will need to be made up somewhere, and Tucker possesses the skill set to assume a larger role in that regard.
But can Tucker develop the ability to move beyond his mistakes and onto the next task at hand? Will he be afforded a leash long enough to do so? Can Tucker tap further into the wealth of talent he appears to possess?
For his and the team’s sake, Maryland followers should hope that the answers to all of those questions are yes.
March 30, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories: Men's basketball
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