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Cliff Tucker, Sean Mosley, and the Grapple for Minutes

The most effective player in the first half against Duke wasn't Landon Milbourne, or Eric Hayes, or even Greivis Vasquez. It wasn't Adrian Bowie, and it certainly wasn't Sean Mosley. No, it was Cliff Tucker.

Of course, that's not saying much, because no one was particularly good. Still, for a team that couldn't score, Tucker came in and immediately hit two buckets. He ended up with 12 points, second only to Greivis Vasquez and the only Terp other than Vaz to get double-digits.

Quite a few people, on message boards, in comments here, and in the real world, have recently called for Tucker to get more playing time, and maybe even move into the starting lineup, taking over most notably for Sean Mosley. Even if he doesn't secure a starting spot, more PT would be welcomed by many, and most of those minutes would be coming from Mosley.

And why not? Tucker is notorious as a quick scorer, and Maryland has lacked points outside of Greivis Vasquez for stretches at a time. It's not as if Mosley's been looking great in ACC play; quite the contrary, he's been looking worse and worse by the day. So why not replace Mosley, a offensively struggling player, with Tucker, who can occasionally light it up?

The argument makes sense. But unfortunately, it's a rather one-sided, short-sighted look at the situation.

Over the course of the year, Mosley has outperformed Tucker in almost every major category. In the ACC, that's not the case: Tucker is significantly more productive by minute when it comes to points. Over 40 minutes, Tucker would score 18.26 points; Mosley, just 11.08. Surprisingly, Tucker has even turned it over less per minute than Sugar Sean - over 40 minutes, Tucker would turn it over 1.88 times, as opposed to Mosley's 2.94. So, yes, if scoring and turnovers are the biggest problem with this team, then starting Tucker would make sense.

Seeing how Maryland just lost to Duke mostly thanks to missed FGs (scoring) and turnovers, it's not surprising that people would want the change to be made.

The biggest problems on this team, though, aren't turnovers and scoring. They're in the top 30 in fewest TOs in the nation, and they're in the top 50 in eFG%. They're in the top 3 in the ACC in both categories. Adding a little bit more to these categories isn't going to help things.

So we have to turn to the rest of their games to figure out the difference, and Mosley holds a decided advantage everywhere else. Despite turning the ball over more, he also is a much bigger part of the team offense; Tucker has just two assists all ACC season. That's good for .62 over the course of 40 minutes, and an A/TO ratio of .33. Mosley has nearly 4 assists per 40 minutes, and his A/TO ratio is 1.35 in ACC play. Bring Tucker on more than Mosley, and an important cog of the offense disappears.

So then we look further down, to rebounding. Mosley has regressed offensively, but on the boards he's the team's second most efficient rebounder, behind only Jordan Williams. Over 40 minutes, he'd grab nearly 10 rebounds. Tucker? 3. And if you watched the Duke game, you'd know that rebounding is a major weakness of this team. That's backed up statistically, too; they're last place in the ACC in defensive rebounding %. That's actually the biggest weakness of the team, and taking away Mosley would only exacerbate it.

This isn't even factoring in defense, which is Mosley's specialty. Only Adrian Bowie would challenge him for the best on-ball defender on the team, while Cliff has never been confused with a lockdown guy. Nor is it factoring in loose balls, which Mosley comes up with more of than anyone else on the team. And to add a compliment to Tucker in here, he provides great scoring off the bench. Every team needs an offensive sparkplug that can come in during crucial moments, and Mosley doesn't provide that. Tucker does.

My last point here has to do with the future. When Vasquez is gone next year, this team will be unquestionably Sean Mosley's. SSM will suddenly be The Man, and he'll carry them as far as they go. The more practice and ACC playing time he has, the quicker he'll acclimate to that. I love Cliff, but this team will never be his.

Did the call for more PT for CT make some sense? Yes, but it was looking at one side of the argument.

For what it's worth, I do believe that Tucker deserves more steady playing time. He doesn't need to get 25 minutes a game, but he deserves more than 7. This was mostly to remind people of Tucker's flaws and Mosley's strengths.