Maryland Basketball Season Preview: The Wings

Well, that was a tough loss to Miami. But Maryland is still in good position in the ACC picture and let's remember - basketball season starts on Monday! Ah, the joyous start of that thing that we call college basketball, as Maryland officially tips off the season against Seattle at home.

 

In case you couldn't tell, we're breaking down this year's team by position - one for the bigs, one for the wings, and one for the guards. We'll hit the wings today and we'll finish it off with the point guards on Sunday - ie, the day before basketball starts. Ben B. posted the first preview, looking at this year's bigs, yesterday. (A quick disclaimer: this is more for fun than for serious discourse, which would be difficult at best considering how many questions are on Maryland's team.) Let's talk roundball again:

Continuing with our preseason basketball preview, we look at Maryland's wing players - Sean Mosley, Cliff Tucker, Mychal Parker, and Haukur "Hawk" Palsson.

The Starters

Sean Mosley - JR, 6-4, 210 (10.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG)

Last season, Mosley showed his potential, especially early in the season when Greivis Vasquez was struggling to score. Mosley seemed to sense the need to step up and put points on the board and in the first 10 games of last season, Mosley averaged close to 14 ppg, including putting up 26 in a losing effort to Villanova. Once Greivis got his groove back, Mosley seemed to fade back into the background, being consistent, but not taking over games and being a star, leaving that role to the senior trio of Greivis, Hayes and Milbourne.

Now that the big three are gone, many hope and expect Mosley to step into that leadership role and perform at the level he did in the early part of last season. The focus of the offense will likely go through sophomore center Jordan Williams inside, but Mosley should be option 1(a) and will be called upon to take over games if the offense struggles. Mosley should be able to pick up a lot of his points on fast breaks, through a mid-range jumper, at the free throw line (81% last season, good for 5th best in the ACC) and hopefully through improved long range shooting, where Mosley needs to improve on his 38.9% that he shot last season. 

Mosley is also going to need to continue his strong rebounding from last season, when he averaged 5.1 per game, good for second best on the team. While many think of assists and points when talking about Vasquez and Hayes, many forget about how well each of them rebounded and how vital that was to last year's team, especially in setting up the fast break after securing a defensive rebound. Having Mosley continue to be a dominant rebounder is going to be another vital task and role for the junior guard to fulfill.

Taking all of that into consideration, Mosley will likely step up to the plate and perform this season. He's done a great job in a supporting role in his freshman and sophomore years and this year he should be ready to elevate his game to the next level.

Cautious Prediction: 14.5 PPG, 5.5 RBG, 1.5 SPG, 3 APG

Cliff Tucker - SR, 6-6, 205 (5.7 PPG, 1.7 RPG)

In his first three years at Maryland, Cliff Tucker has run the gamut in terms of his role on the team - starter; first guy off the bench; role player to spark the team in key games; you name it, he's done it. His role on the team during his time here has varied so much, Tucker at one point couldn't figure it out and even pondering transferring. Most Terp fans know the potential Tucker has - just think of the upset win over #3 UNC in 2009. They also know he can get lost in Gary's rotation and that his playing can vary wildly, as it did his freshman year when he started six games and then had two games where he didn't see the floor. Gary and the staff know of the potential that Tucker has, but have sometimes questioned his ability to constantly showcase his talents and abilities, in both practice and on the court. When Tucker has the spot light on him, he seems to shine (remember this?), but if he doesn't perform well in practice, he might not get that opportunity.

This season, Tucker knows that the staff is relying on him to not only be a starter, but to be a veteran leader both on and off the court. This offseason, the coaches have been raving about Tucker's work ethic and how he's improved both his game and his consistency. It seems Tucker will finally have the opportunity to showcase the talents on a regular basis. Tucker has a great ability to score in bunches, so if the offense struggles or if Jordan Williams gets into foul trouble, Tucker could have an opportunity to take over a game. If Tucker limits his mistakes, expect to see him on the court a lot this season, even in a back up point guard role, where he doesn't get enough credit for the job he does running the offense. If he can improve on his perimeter shooting, he should be able to utilize ball fakes to drive to the basket and either score or dish it back out to Bowie or Mosley. Tucker is also great at running the backdoor cut, where Greivis often found him open under the basketball last season for an easy bucket. Assuming Bowie, Stoglin or Howard can find him there, Tucker should be able to continue to secure a few easy baskets off those cuts this season.  Tucker also seems to have great vision on fast breaks, another area in which the senior will be relied upon to make sure the Terps score. And like Mosley, Tucker will need to help fill the rebounding void left by Vasquez, Hayes and Milbourne, especially on the defensive end.

Taking all of that into consideration, Tucker should be able to have his best season as a Terrapin this season. He'll likely maintain his starting job throughout, unless one of the freshman really comes on strong and pushes him back onto the bench, but I don't see that happening because of Tucker's desire this offseason to prove himself and because of Gary's loyalty to his senior and veteran players.

Cautious Prediction: 10.5 PPG, 3.5 RBG, 2.5 APG

The Newbs

Mychal Parker - FR, 6-5, 195

Parker is Maryland's most talented freshman on paper and via rankings for the 2010 class, receiving a 4-star ranking by Rivals and Scouts and a 95 grade by ESPN. But he's had a rough start to the season thus far in both the inter-squad scrimmage and in Maryland's exhibition game last week, where he only saw the floor for six minutes, the least amount of time of any scholarship player. No one is quite sure why Parker isn't pushing for more playing time: having trouble grasping the offense; recovering from an injury; struggling with game speed;  your guess is as good as ours. I think Parker will eventually earn more time on the court as the season progresses, but off the bat, his role on this team seems to be limited, at least initially. But he has the talent and potential to be an impact player - we just might not see that this season.

Cautious Prediction: 1.5 PPG, 0.5 RBG, 2.5 MPG

Haukur "Hawk" Palsson - FR - 6-6, 190

Hawk, who is from Iceland, could definitely find playing time on the team this season, especially if he can solidify his outside shooting. He has the ability and skills to play inside, but definitely needs to bulk up. But he also has guard skills; no one is sure how well those skills can translate to college play, especially in the ACC, and it's even tougher to predict since Hawk was the #6 man on his high school team. But if he can consistently knock down three pointers, you could see him snagging around 5-10 minutes a game, especially if teams are doubling-down on Jordan Williams and the Terps need someone that will keep opposing teams honest in that regard. Palsson will definitely be a good player for Maryland, especially after having a season or two to bulk up and be able to adjust to the speed of the ACC. He could also provide a quick spark/offense off the bench, which could be very beneficial for Maryland if any of the players are struggling to make shots. He definitely seems like a Gary Williams type - a little under the radar but someone who will work his butt off to get better and end up surprising people throughout his career.

Cautious Prediction: 3.4 PPG, 0.5 RBG, 6 MPG

Remember, this are cautious prediction and so many factors will play into how much these guys do and how well they play. But what do you think? Lets get the discussion going!

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