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With Dino Gregory's Return on the Horizon, Terps Have a Decision to Make

What to do, what to do? Image via <a href="">InsideMDSports</a>' <a href="">Flickr</a>
What to do, what to do? Image via InsideMDSports' Flickr

There's plenty to talk about from the very informative, slightly impressive loss against Villanova yesterday, but I think the most interesting discussion to have pertains to the future. After missing a good part of the beginning of the year for some sort of academic misconduct, Gregory will return to the lineup on Saturday, just in time to face off against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (wait a second, they named their team after the founder of a fast food resturant that sells fried chicken?).

There's a problem, though: where does Maryland put him? It's not necessarily a bad problem to have, but it is a problem. Maryland has a couple of ways to attack it, though all have their pluses and minuses.

First off, he could replace Jordan Williams at the center spot. That was Gary's plan at the beginning of the season and Dino has reportedly been great in practice, so getting a starting spot could be a likelihood. If he were to get a starting spot, one could argue he should take it from someone inexperienced and young - that is, Williams.

Really, though, I have trouble seeing that being good for the team, or it happening. Williams just had a double-double (19 and 12) against the third-best team in the country. I like Dino, but he's not going to start putting those up anytime soon unless he's gotten a lot better over the offseason. It also puts Maryland in the same position they were in last year: center-less. Williams provides size, and you can't put a price on that.

Another option would be to slide Landon Milbourne down to the three, Sean Mosley down to the two, and Eric Hayes over to the bench. This would allow Maryland to keep their most talented players on the court as the starters while sliding Hayes into the spot he was most effective in last year.

Unfortunately, Hayes has been one of the best players on the team, even better than Greivis Vasquez, and I'm not sure I'd like him to be on the bench that much. He's the only consistent shooter, and a calming presence. Not to mention Landon's natural disadvantages of speed at the 3; he's too quick for most 4s, but not quick enough to cover most ACC 3s.I want him to see some time there, but not a lot, at least not until he proves he's not a defensive liability.

Then there's the option of simply bench Milbourne instead, or possibly even Vasquez, neither of which I endorse. If this team is to go far, Vasquez will probably be the one that carries them there (if he ever heats up). Milbourne, despite his problems, has shown an ability to be consistent offensively; Maryland needs his usual point output.

Of course, they could always just do the obvious, after reading over all of these: keep Dino on the bench. It's tough to qualify how good or bad that would be because we're yet to see this year's Dino, but unless he's extremely better, Maryland can probably afford to keep him on the bench. Gary did plan to have Dino starting, but he's yet to do that, and Williams has proved his worth. Besides, having an energetic, experienced big man off the bench is a commodity Maryland doesn't have right now.

It's also important to note that Gary Williams (like all coaches, actually) doesn't put as much stock into the starting lineup as other people (mostly, fans) do. They care more about the "finishers" - those in at the end of the game - than the starters. Still, it's rather unorthodox to not have the best lineup on the floor for the tip, and it provides a snapshot to the depth chart.

Regardless of how it plays out, Dino will steal a lot of minutes from Milbourne, Williams, and James Padgett. There's no reason not to rotate another talented guy into the front court, and whether he starts or not is probably irrelevant - the minutes received would likely be the same either way. As I said above, though, it's a good way to see people's standing and it's definitely fun to talk about.

So, any opinions?