The stakes won’t be as high at Comcast Center on Saturday afternoon as they were last March, when Maryland closed against Duke with a share of the ACC regular season title on the line.
But it will be Senior Day nonetheless -- an opportunity for Terrapins fans, family and friends to acknowledge the contributions of Dino Gregory, Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker.
None will depart with ACC player of the year honors or school records, as guard Greivis Vasquez did last year. But they’ll leave something behind that’s increasingly rare in college basketball: A four-year commitment to their team, through good times and bad.
“They were in a tough situation, with Greivis, Landon [Milbourne], and Eric [Hayes] leaving,” Coach Gary Williams conceded, referring to last season’s trio of departing seniors. “It’s always hard when you have [to follow] great seniors.”
Gregory, a 6-foot-7 forward from Baltimore, started all 30 games to date this season for the Terrapins and served as the squad’s co-captain, along with junior Sean Mosley. His improved jump shot and defense down the stretch helped give sophomore center Jordan Williams more room to work inside, complicating the task of opposing defenses.
Bowie, a 6-2 guard from Greenbelt, started all but four games this season, shifting from point guard to shooting guard to accommodate emerging freshmen Terrell Stoglin and Pe’Shon Howard without complaint. He provided the spark that lifted Maryland over Virginia on Jan. 27, scoring 17 of his team-high 22 points in the second half, while grabbing a career-high four steals.
Arguably the Terrapins’ best athlete and purest shooter, Tucker, a 6-6 swingman from El Paso, has been in and out of the starting lineup. He hit the buzzer-beater that won a critical game against Georgia Tech last season. No one on the roster made more three-pointers than Tucker (38) this season.
That said, it was hardly the season the seniors had hoped for -- more forgettable than memorable, barring a championship performance in next week’s ACC tournament.
Heading into Saturday’s regular-season finale, the Terrapins (18-12, 7-8) have lost two of their last three games (at Miami and at North Carolina) and slipped to seventh in the ACC standings. And even a victory over Virginia (15-14, 6-9), tied with Miami for eighth in the league, would do no better than level Maryland’s conference record at .500 -- a precipitous plunge from last year’s 13-3 mark.
“They’ve had great moments in their careers they’ll remember,” Coach Williams said of the three seniors. “[But] that’s how it goes sometimes in your career: maybe you would have liked to have done better your senior year.”