Maryland has a full week before they kick off ACC play - they share honors as the last team to do so with Duke and Clemson. With that much time and Maryland's recent performances, could an altered lineup be coming?
The first change was also made around this time last year (loosely) - the switch to putting Adrian Bowie in the starting lineup.
Last year, Bowie was really a sixth man of sorts, but was a starter in name. He took the place of Eric Hayes, and allowed Hayes to be the calming presence off the bench. Hayes "finished" the game and played more minutes than Bowie, the starter. Both benefited, especially Hayes. After Bowie's moderate breakthrough performance today, one has to wonder if that move would serve Maryland well again.
Of course, one performance against a mediocre team is far too much to base a lineup change on. Hayes' performance, too, is a reason. In his past four games, he's reached into double-digits just once, and has shot just 27% from 3. For comparison's sake, that's only better than Bowie on the team, who's stepped up his shooting in that same period.
Maryland doesn't need to drop Hayes's minutes. In fact, they need Hayes to play like he did earlier in the year - confident, aggressive, calm, and a solid shooter. Before he was "benched", he had a stretch of games much like the one he just had - he put up fewer points, shot a worse percentage, and was more invisible than usual (I don't mean that in a bad way). Bowie took his place in the starting rotation and Hayes's shooting percentage rose. Eventually, so did his points and offensive comfort.
More time to analyze the playing time of both would be wise. But Hayes hasn't been effective on either end the past few games, whereas Bowie has been strengthening his game. Bowie doesn't provide much of a spark off of the bench, and while Hayes wouldn't either, he would at least provide calm, a true PG, and 3 point shooting. Bowie, a quicker and more emotional player, could end up giving a quicker, less flat start, which has been talked about occasionally in the past few games.
It worked remarkably well last year. Of course, if Hayes doesn't rebound, then Maryland's bench would have the unfortunate position of having no real scorers. If nothing else, it's worth following.
The other conceivable lineup change could be Dino Gregory and Jordan Williams. I'm not in favor of this - Williams needs the experience and Maryland needs the size - but Gary Williams wanted Dino as starter in the beginning of the year and, up until two games ago, he was the starter. Now that the rust is starting to wear off, Gary might again make the change.
GW isn't one to make a lot of roster changes, but, then again, not too many coaches are. I don't think a lot of people are confident in Maryland being able to win 9 or 10 games, which is likely what they need to do to make the NCAAT, without some sort of change.
I'm not predicting either change, but they're certainly things to watch, particularly if the all-important next five games don't turn out well for Maryland.