I'm sure it's a question on plenty of people's minds. Did James Padgett's performance against Longwood - admittedly, Longwood - when compared to Dino Gregory's finally ensure him a spot in the rotation?
Last night was the first time that both Padge and Dino saw significant minutes against the same opponent (the differential was four, the previous closest was in Dino's second game back, when Padgett played 6 fewer minutes). Dino basically came in and took Padgett's minutes in entirety, only recently starting to hand them back before Padgett barely saw the floor against Boston College. Beforehand, Gary called it an important game for Padgett, indicating to me (and some others) that this could be a major factor in playing time down the line.
Padgett played for 20 minutes. Dino played for 24. Obviously, that in and of itself is far from an indicator of Padgett rejoining the rotation. However, with a four minute disadvantage, Padgett produced 4 more points and the same number of rebounds against the same competition. That comes shortly after Gary wanted Dino to produce more. There could be something to this.
I rewatched some sections of the game, mainly those in which Dino and Padgett scored. Padgett seemed to look better in the middle portion of the game - he needed the early and-one to get some confidence built up and start being more aggressive in the post. That said, he had the prettiest post move I've seen from anyone in a Maryland uni in quite some time in the second half, a beautiful little drop-step spin move leading into a layup.
His free throw shooting still needs (a ton of) work and he's still tentative at times, but he has the potential to be a major contributor. No big on Maryland has anything in their arsenal close to that move, and scoring .5 points a minutes (that's 20 per 40, math majors) isn't shabby either.
Obviously, this is Longwood. Some people are destined to easily beat poor competition while struggling against better competition (Jin Soo Choi, anyone?), and that could be him. But he did moderately well against Wisconsin and Cincinnati before getting his minutes reduced against Villanova and Indiana, and PT will be necessary soon.
At the same time, Dino Gregory plays an important role, and it's not like he was chronically outperformed. 4 of his 6 points came on ultra-energizing putback slams, and he had 3 blocks. He's an energy guy, someone that can come into a game and provide a boost defensively, add experience, and make some hustle plays. He's not, however, the first guy off the bench, and probably never will be. At this point, neither is James Padgett, but he has that potential.
That's one major reason I'm not really all that disappointed with Dino's play. He's been playing a role that just doesn't fit him well. He's playing more minutes with different expectations from last year, and it's not suited to his strengths. Unfortunately, that's the role that Dino's been forced into playing. Take away some of his minutes, and maybe he starts to go back to that previous mindset.
Really, though, there are no Dino people or Padgett people (at least, there shouldn't be). Both need to be on the floor a lot. No team can make it through ACC play easily with one inexperienced center and two undersized PFs. Unlike some others, I don't particularly believe that Dino needs to get off the floor, but rather that Padgett needs to get on it more. He's not going to be perfect, but the development will come in handy down the stretch, and the first time Jordan Williams and Landon Milbourne get in foul trouble, he'll have to be in anyway.
Obviously, I'm not a coach. If I was, I wouldn't be writing this (actually, if I was a coach, I would so have a blog, so ignore that last statement). Maybe there are other reasons for Dino's play, and maybe there are other reasons for Padgett's absence. If there are, then those need to be taken into account.
No, Padgett won't start overtaking Dino because of this game. But he proved he belonged and could make a difference, I'd be a little bit surprised if his playing time doesn't start chipping away at Dino's, getting close to 50/50 - and that's not a bad thing, for anyone involved.