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The Emergence Of Jordan Williams

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After enjoying three games in 5 days, including last night's come from behind win, I'm in a little Maryland basketball withdraw today...

Speaking of last night, something that was hidden behind Greivis' dominant 26 point performance was the career game by freshman center Jordan Williams, scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 boards. Ben B. touched on his performance in the game recap, but I think it needs to be expanded further.

Last April, I had the opportunity to go see Jordan Williams and James Padgett play in the Charm City Challenge up at Towson University. Although I was really impressed with the offensive production that Padgett put up, I was equally impressed with Jordan Williams who was able to grab rebounds, score (even though the offensive scoring that team U.S. ran didn't really feature going inside to Williams very often), and also shut down Oklahoma commit Andrew Fitzgerald.

I was one of the people who thought Jordan would step into the starting role right away. And although Jordan did start initially, I think had Dino Gregory not been suspended at the start of the season, Jordan would have been coming off the bench. Looking back now, Dino's suspension, which forced Jordan Williams into a starting role from the get-go might have been a blessing in disguise.

Story continues after the jump:

Jordan's presence and performance on this team has exceed everyone's expectations. As you can see from our pre-season "Countdown to Tipoff" feature, I thought Jordan would average about 6 points and 3.5 boards a game. In reality, he's averaged almost 9 points and over 8 boards a game. And he's been getting better as the season has progressed. For a freshman, you often worry that they'll begin to slow down or hit a wall towards the latter half of the season. That doesn't appear to be the case for Jordan. Following their win against UVA on Monday night, I had the opportunity to ask Jordan about playing in the grueling ACC schedule and how he's adjusted to it so far this season.

"I'm used to it now. I've been playing for a while, over 20 games into the season, so I think I've been getting used to it, so it's not as much of a change as it was in the beginning. In the beginning, it was very difficult for me to adjust. I think I've adjusted now, now it's just a matter of going out and performing."

Going out and performing he is. Here are Jordan's stats over the last  6 games:

Jordan Williams Last 6 Games Rebounding
Date Opp Result Min FG FGA FTM FTA 3PM 3PA Pts OFF DEF TOT AST TO STL BLK PF
31-Jan @Clem L62-53 34 4 5 5 6 0 0 13 1 12 13 1 4 2 2 2
4-Feb @FSU W 71-67 30 7 11 0 0 0 0 14 3 3 6 0 1 0 2 3
7-Feb UNC W 92-71 25 4 9 0 0 0 0 8 2 4 8 0 2 2 1 4
13-Feb @Duke L 77-56 24 3 9 0 1 0 0 6 3 4 7 0 1 1 0 4
15-Feb UVA W 85-66 23 5 8 1 5 0 0 11 3 8 11 0 1 1 0 2
17-Feb N.C. St. W 67-58 30 7 10 5 8 0 0 19 4 7 11 0 1 1 0 2
AVG n/a n/a 27.7 5 8.7 1.8 3.3 0 0 11.8 2.7 6.3 9 .17 1.7 1.17 .8 2.8

 

Look at those numbers - over 11 points per game to go along with 9 boards. A freshman center averaging almost a double-double in the middle of ACC play.  The numbers are, in a word, amazing. Furthermore, not only is Jordan scoring and grabbing boards, he's also opening things up for his teammates: setting screens, clearing out space in the lane for the guards to drive, catching the ball in the low post to draw a double team and then dishing it back out to an open teammate on the outside - all of these things are the result of Jordan's presence inside. This is the first time we've had an inside presence like this since the days of Baxter and Jordan is light years ahead of where Baxter was his freshman year. By the time Jordan is a junior or senior, he very well might be vying for ACC player of the year honors.

Jordan has also turned into the number two scoring option on this team. When he gets the ball in the low post, he's looking for for his shot and often times making it.

With Jordan playing this well, on a defensive oriented team with two senior guards, another very reliable and productive senior forward, and great production off the bench, the Terps are starting to become a scary team to face late in the season. How they play against Georgia Tech on Saturday and more importantly against Virginia Tech on the road next week will again be indicators as to whether we can raise our expectations for this team come March. I personally will be disappointed by anything less than the sweet 16. And I'm now starting to believe more and more that could become a reality.