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Maryland men's basketball season recap: Dino Gregory

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.

It was expected before the season began that junior forward Dino Gregory would have a significant impact on the Maryland men’s basketball team this season, and while that proved to be true, the impact was of a much different variety than originally anticipated.

Maryland Coach Gary Williams stated during preseason workouts that Gregory would fill the lone vacancy in the team’s starting lineup, which seemed like a perfectly fine idea except that Gregory sat out the first eight games of the season while serving a suspension for academic misconduct.

During that time, freshman forward Jordan Williams started in Gregory’s place and revealed himself to be quite an appealing option in the post. Williams proved he could rebound and defend capably, and he seemed to be constantly improving.

By the time Gregory became eligible to play, Williams had entrenched himself as a starter. Yet out of respect for Gregory and for the work he had done to earn a starting spot prior to his suspension, Gary Williams elected to plug Gregory into the starting lineup the first two games in which he was allowed to play.

After sub-par showings against Eastern Kentucky and Winston-Salem State, Gregory was benched in favor of Jordan Williams, who went on to have a superb season in his freshman campaign.

Let’s stop there for a moment and look again at how what transpired in those few months of the season ended having a lasting effect on the season’s outcome. Gregory’s suspension put the Terrapins in a position where they had to play Jordan Williams right away, whether he was ready or not. As it turned out, Williams was ready, and he soon flourished. Had Gregory not been suspended, would Williams have received those same opportunities to demonstrate his ability? Maybe; maybe not. Perhaps Williams eventually would have supplanted Gregory in the starting lineup regardless.

But there’s no question the experience Williams gained by going up against the big men from Wisconsin and Cincinnati at the Maui Invitational or by facing a high-caliber squad such as Villanova in the BB&T Classic paid considerable dividends come February and March.

Back to Gregory. Understandably, he struggled getting back into the flow of things. There is no way to replicate the intensity and speed of a game in practice, and so Gregory spent the first month or so doing what the rest of his teammates had done weeks earlier: work off the rust.

Because of his size and of his understanding of Gary Williams’s system, Gregory ended up serving an important role for the Terrapins off the bench. He provided some frontcourt depth, an interior defensive boost and a few extra rebounds.

A more natural shot-blocker than senior forward Landon Milbourne, Gregory possesses great defensive instincts. And his shot looked vastly improved from what it had been during his sophomore season.

Gregory would seem to be the obvious candidate to fill Milbourne’s spot in the starting lineup next season. If he can continue to improve his offensive game, Maryland’s starting frontcourt should be in decent shape entering next season.

By Steve Yanda  |  March 30, 2010; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Comments

DG could provide what the Terps have lacked for a few years - a true big playing 4. No knock on LM, but Gregory has more size and seems to be a better leaper and shot blocker. Still am concerned about his scoring abilities although his FT shooting has improved. look to see JP press for minutes at the 4 as well. Seems to be a hard worker, and hopefully he has learned a valuable lesson and any academic issues are behind him. Certainly brings a lot of energy when he does play. Still think that he needs to work on defensive fundamentals such as boxing out consistently, but see he him as an asset to the team regardless.

Regards -

-hgr

Posted by: HughGRection | March 30, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Dino is a very interesting player. He reminds me a bit like Rodney Elliot, a strong defender that would rather face the basket instead of utilizing a good array of post moves. Dino showed he could hit those mid-range jumpers, but never looked comfortable posting up. Defensively, he could be the Terps #1 post defender and shot blocker next season. He will also need to show some leadership and perform in the classroom so that he does not miss any more games because of academics. Dino may very well find himself coming off the bench next season, but if he improves his post offense, Gary may have no choice but to give Dino 20+ minutes per game.

Posted by: Russtinator | March 30, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Much as you have to shake your head at Dino not-studying his way out of the starting lineup, you have to hand it to him for responding with a good attitude. He was at a real disadvantage having to play his way into game shape 8 games later than everyone else, and that effort was hampered the more his minutes were cut by Williams's play.

Still, by mid-January Dino rounded into form and became an important contributor when it would have been easy to sulk over having lost what looked like a starting role. He chose to make the most of it by becoming a spark off the bench, to his credit.

Dino really does seem to understand the offense, and he added a fairly decent mid-range jumper that can be effective drawing opposing big men out of the post. His athleticism helps a lot on defense when he's in there. If he replaces Milbourne in the starting lineup next year, it will be an offensive loss but could wind up a defensive gain.

PS - I love the Rodney Elliot comparison. That's a great call by Russtinator.

Posted by: AndJuan | March 31, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

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