Kevin Van Valkenburg of The Baltimore Sun does a similar series after Ravens games and it's great. This is the first of hopefully many. Let me know what you guys think.
1. First and foremost, the Terps have themselves a player in freshman guard Pe'Shon Howard.
If it wasn't obvious after the first game, it certainly is after this one. Pe'Shon hit not one, but two, clutch shots with under 2 minutes to go to give Maryland it's second win of the season. Not many freshmen have the cojones to attempt a shot like that, let alone make two of them. If you look back at GV's freshman year, there were moments early on where he showed flashes of having "it." "It" is hard to describe but you seem to know it when you see it. I see "it" in Pe'Shon Howard.
There will be times when he frustrates you, and times where he looks simply like a freshman. But what we saw tonight, doesn't happen very often. It's rare to see a player in his second collegiate game ever, carry his team on his back with two minutes to go. Pe'Shon did that tonight. And it won't be the last time he does it this season.
2. Adrian Bowie's days as starting point guard are numbered.
In our preview just a few days ago, I wrote that right now Bowie is our best option at the point, and that I thought he would be our best option at season's end. A whopping three days later, I'm going to admit that I was dead wrong. Bowie didn't have a bad game tonight. 9 points on 4-7 shooting, with 3 assists, and 3 rebounds is a solid line. And Bowie provides some real value to this team; namely, his ability to drive to the basket, his defense, and his experience. But Adrian Bowie is not a natural point guard. He's nowhere close to a natural point guard. And I would even venture to say that AB might be our third best option at the point guard spot.
Some may say it's early to make a judgement on Bowie, and I would say, watch video of Bowie running the point and Pe'Shon running the point, and tell me who you're more comfortable with there. It's obvious who Gary is more comfortable with, because that's the guy who was leading the offense with a minute left and the game on the line. No disrespect to Adrian: he's a good player and should be the first guy off the bench this year. But he's not the best option at point guard.
How Bowie handles himself from here on out may be a major factor in how successful the team is this season. If Bowie pouts about losing time and his spot, the Terps could be in some trouble. As we've seen in past years, Bowie has some confidence issues and when his head's not on right, it's not pretty. On the flip side, when he knows his role and embraces it, he can be a major contributor. Adrian Bowie is still a very important piece of the puzzle for this year's team, just not at the starting PG spot.
3. Jordan Williams is a stud, and will be up there for ACC POY.
17 points, 15 rebounds. 26 points, 15 rebounds. Those are Jordan WIlliams' stats over the last two games. Now, I know he wasn't going up against Duke and North Carolina here, but those numbers are impressive regardless. And it's not just the numbers that stand out about Williams' game, it's the way that he's playing. I watched the highlight video from the game and counted about five different ways that Jordan scored: a spin and slam, a baby hook, a left handed put back, a right handed slam, and a fade-away jumper.
He looks leaner, more athletic, and seems to have taken on the role of team leader. Here's a quote from Jordan after the Seattle game: "It feels good (getting a double-double), but it's only the first game. I think a big part of playing Division I and playing in the ACC is being consistent, so if I do that tonight but not the next night, it doesn't mean anything." Well, guess what? He did it the next night. And added another 9 points for good measure.
Things will get tougher for JWill as the season rolls on and we get into ACC play, but he looks like he could average a double-double this year. The ACC isn't stacked with particularly good bigs and Williams might just be the best of them. Think about it. What ACC big would you rather have than Jordan Williams right now? Tracy Smith? A Plumlee brother? On a night where his co-team leader, Sean Mosely, was nowhere to be found, WIlliams picked up the slack with a truly dominating performance. The media will get excited over Kyle Singler (admit it, he's good) and Harrison Barnes (the most hyped ACC freshman I can remember), but Jordan Williams is going to turn heads this year, especially if his team performs.
4. Maybe, just maybe, Gary Williams knows how to recruit a little better than we think he does.
In a story I linked for the MM yesterday, a national writer for Yahoo! Sports remarks that Pe'Shon's performance is even more noteworthy because he wasn't an "especially highly ranked recruit." That may surprise the national media, but it shouldn't surprise anybody who has followed MD basketball closely over the last ten plus years.
When I watched Pe'Shon's dagger tonight, and read that Yahoo! story, I was reminded of a quote from Pe'Shon back after he first committed to Maryland. Someone on Twitter asked him why he was being disrespected in the rankings, and he responded something to the effect of "Never been ranked, never will be." Is there any more quintessential Gary Williams answer? It's like when Gary was asked earlier this year what he thought of the Terps being projected #6 in the ACC, and he replied, "Well, they ranked us 6th last year too."
Gary Williams has a chip on his shoulder. He always has and he always will. But when Gary gets people around him that have that same fire, that same flare, that same "If you disrespect me, then F U attitude," it's something special. We saw it the last four years with Greivis. We saw it with Juan back at the beginning of the decade. There's a little of it in Jordan Williams (remember this, anyone?) and I think Pe'Shon Howard's got it too. It's the "disrespect me all you want, I'll still beat you" attitude. The "I'm going to outwork you, out-hustle you, and outman you, all while you roll your eyes and laugh at me" attitude. It's Maryland Basketball.
We're not Duke, or Carolina, or Kentucky. We don't bring in McDonald's AAs every year or have bandwagon fans across the country. But we do have a HOF coach who's a fighter. A fighter that consistently knocks out the big guys. And a fighter who has a knack for finding basketball players that share his passion, fire, and overly-sized chip.