I thought Dino Gregory was playing pretty well. Apparently, I had no idea just how well he was capable of playing.
Gregory scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half as he helped captain Maryland to a crucial 78-62 win over Florida State at the Comcast Center. Terrell Stoglin led all scorers with 17 points, while Jordan Williams had yet another double-double with 11 points and 10 boards.
Despite the gaudier numbers of Williams and Stoglin, though, it was Dino's name which was being chanted by fans at the end of the game (the few of them that showed up). Gregory was the star of the night, no doubt about it. FSU wanted to take away Jordan, and they did, but Gregory was there to pick up the slack.
His statline was nice: 14 points (again, 12 in the second half) on 6-10 shooting (5-6 in the second half), 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, and at least three charges taken. He also had one of the best individual minutes of basketball Maryland's seen all year, with 5 points and a charge taken. The game may not seem like much on paper, but he had clutch baskets and was a big reason Maryland won as easily as they did.
Just as important was the balance and overall offensive success. A game after getting virtually all of their scoring from just three players, the Terrapins spread the wealth quite a bit: the leading scorers had totals of 17, 14, 12, 11 and 10. No single player was dominant for Maryland - not even Gregory or Stoglin - but it was definitely a dominant team performance on both ends of the court.
Everything went Maryland's way, especially in the second half. They won the rebounding battle 28-26 and 16-9 in the second half. They won the turnover battle. They shot 52% from the field and 50% from three. The team defense was masterful at times. Maryland even went five minutes without a field goal and their lead hardly took a dent. It was just one of those nights when things click.
Maryland went into the half with a one-point lead, but Florida State fell apart offensively in the second, scoring just 12 points in the first 10 minutes of the half. Maryland had no such problems, scoring 26 in the same span and breaking open a lead stretching as high as 15. The lead hovered around that total for the rest of the game, and Maryland ended up getting an easy win with authority. Suddenly, the NCAA tournament looks within reach.
With all of those nice things said, keep in mind Maryland's opposition here. FSU is a good team, but not a great team. They're downright terrible offensively. And they were missing by far their best player, Chris Singleton, who was an All-ACC lock and their best player on both sides of the floor. Maryland looked great here, but quite frankly, they should've.
Still, you can officially start thinking about the Terrapins making a run and sneaking into the tournament. This certainly looked like a tournament team, regardless of the opposition. This win also is a nice one for the resume - not a great one, certainly not without Singleton, but they were top 50 in RPI before tonight. Sure, maybe it's a little premature to go back to looking at bracketologies, but if they can pull off the upset in Chapel Hill, Maryland will be right back on the bubble.
Gary Williams is still messing with the starting lineup, inserting Sean Mosley for Pe'Shon Howard. It's tough to blame him - I still have no idea who the best five players on this team are - but the lineups rarely work. Giving up a 9-2 run right out of the gate is evidence of that. And it's especially head-scratching when he's breaking up a duo that seemingly worked pretty well - that is, Stoglin and Howard - and taking a gamble with a guy like Mosley, who's been inconsistent at best this season. Hopefully the lineup will revert back to what it was next time out.
Speaking of those two: you have to mention Stoglin and Howard. Stoglin had two consecutive amazing games, so he was probably pretty high on the scouting report. Unsurprisingly, he came back to earth early, with a few questionable shots and more than a few questionable passes in the first 25 minutes or so. But he was stellar in the second half, finishing with a game-high 17 points and shooting 3-4 from three. There's no doubt: he can fill it up with the best of them.
It's even more impressive if you remember that Derwin Kitchen, who was guarding him, is arguably the conference's best perimeter defender. He wasn't a fantastic point guard - 4 assists to 3 turnovers - but considering the defensive intensity, I can forgive it. It was a very, very good game for him. He'll play a very prominent role in the future of this team.
Howard, for his part, was fine. He had 8 points and 3 assists in the first half with just one turnover, even hitting 2-3 from three. He had minimal production in the second half, though, when Dino and Stoglin started to take the game over. Howard's still the rock of the two, and while he's not going to put up the crazy numbers Stoglin will, he'll avoid most of the mistakes. He's also probably the best passer on the team. It still seems like Maryland's a better team with both of them on the floor.
I also want to mention Jordan Williams, seeing how I did mention him early. Even though his scoring was limited thanks to some suffocating FSU defense, he made himself known on the boards, still ended up with a double-double, and was a pretty effective decoy. He only had 11 points, but a team made it its mission to stop him, they succeeded, and they still lost. That's a pretty good sign to me.
People thought Maryland had a secondary and tertiary scorer in Stoglin and Dino, respectively, after the N.C. State game. Now, there's little doubt. Quite possibly the biggest holes on this team might've just been filled, and it couldn't have come soon enough.