Maryland men's basketball season recap: Landon Milbourne
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.
Landon Milbourne finished his Maryland career ranked No. 42 on the all-time scoring list with 1,104 points. Considering that Milbourne averaged 4.8 minutes per game during his freshman season and played his last two seasons out of position, his scoring total is somewhat remarkable and indicative of the work that Milbourne put into making his situation work for both himself and the team.
Here’s a story Milbourne’s father, Andre Foreman, told me last November that paints a pretty accurate picture of Milbourne’s mind-set to most things basketball-related:
When Milbourne was younger, he and Foreman used to play one-on-one all the time. Owning a height advantage and years of experience playing professionally overseas in Hong Kong, Finland, Sweden and Australia, Foreman always won. And still, after each game, Milbourne told his father he was going to win the next time they played.
Milbourne grew older and taller and continued to pester his father to play one-on-one, and whenever they did, Foreman won, as usual.
During the summer before Milbourne’s freshman season at Maryland, he and Foreman played one-on-one at Virginia Beach after one of Milbourne’s workouts. The game was closely contested, and Foreman was up by one near the end. Foreman missed a shot, and Milbourne grabbed the rebound.
“I was talking trash,” Foreman said. “I was like, ‘You can't hit a jumper. You can't hit a jumper. I'm just going to back up off of you.’”
Milbourne hit the jumper. Tie game.
“I was like, ‘You're not going to make any more shots,’” Foreman said. “So he took me to the hole and he dunked on me. And he threw the ball in my face and he said, ‘That's the last time you ever beat me.’”
Father and son haven’t played one-on-one since.
The first time I ever saw Milbourne he was doing shooting drills alone on the Comcast Center court a few hours before the team’s season-opening media day in October 2008. He started on the low block with his back to the basket. He spun into the lane and missed a turnaround jumper. He did the same move again and missed once more. On the fourth attempt it went in, and so Milbourne allowed himself to move on to the next spot on the floor from which he wanted to practice shooting.
Milbourne spent a lot of time on the low block during his junior and senior seasons, more time than he expected or desired to. His junior year, he did so out of necessity. The team was short on capable post players, and so Milbourne teamed up with Dave Neal to form one of the smallest frontcourts in the ACC.
This season, though, Milbourne figured things would be different. Two freshmen forwards were coming in, which Milbourne thought – and was told by the coaching staff – would free him up to play more on the wing. It quickly became apparent that would not be the case. Junior forward Dino Gregory was suspended at the start of the season for eight games, leaving Milbourne to shoulder a heavier load while Jordan Williams learned Maryland’s offensive and defensive systems.
When Gregory returned, he was rusty, and so Milbourne continued to bang away in the post. By the time Gregory got into full swing it was February, and by that point, the players were too entrenched in their roles – and those roles were flowing together quite effectively – for any significant changes to have made much sense.
So he continued to play the four. Sure, by season’s end, Williams had developed rapidly enough so that Milbourne did not have to carry as much of the burden to rebound as he had earlier in the season and last year. But he still had to defend against opponents bigger and taller than him. It wore on him, though he never would admit it publicly, and his production dipped for a stretch as a result.
A brooding grinder until the very end, Milbourne had an offensive resurgence in the postseason, and he ended finishing second on the team in scoring (12.7 ppg). But perhaps Milbourne should be remembered as much for his approach as for his production.
“Sometimes it’s not about the individual,” Milbourne said on March 2, the day before Senior Night against Duke. “You’re here to play for a team. It’s about Maryland. It’s about us winning and getting to where we need to go, so if I have to play center, it don’t matter. If that’s what it’s going to take for us to win, then that’s what I got to do. That’s what I came here for. That’s what I’m all about is getting wins and trying to make this team as good as possible, and that’s what it takes for us to win, so I sacrifice that and do what it takes.”
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