By Steve Yanda
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Senior forward Landon Milbourne, Maryland's resident authority on front-court play, praised one of the Terrapins' freshmen big men following Saturday's scrimmage at Comcast Center by way of an admission: James Padgett had gotten the better of Milbourne in the post on more than one occasion.
While Milbourne wasn't thrilled with his confession, he took solace in its larger meaning -- with two new and apparently capable components, Maryland's post play this season has a chance to be markedly improved over what it was last year.
"James is good because he has so many moves," Milbourne said of Padgett. "He's an undersized post player; he's not one of those 6-10 guys. So he knows how to get his shot off and he gives you a lot of moves, a lot of twists and turns. He's pretty good at that. I even struggled a little guarding him today. If he can bring that into the games when we start the season, that'd be good for him."
It would serve the team well, too. Maryland Coach Gary Williams said he was impressed with the performance of both his freshmen forwards -- Padgett and Jordan Williams -- during Saturday's open workout.
The Terrapins were split into two teams and played four 10-minute games. Padgett tallied 17 total points on 7-of-13 shooting, a somewhat surprising offensive showing considering the 6-foot-8, 225-pound freshman from Brooklyn, N.Y., was known in high school for his defensive and rebounding prowess.
It has been a long time since Maryland possessed front-court players with fluid, traditional post moves; just ask those team members who've been around the longest.
"Finally, I see some action in the paint," said senior guard Greivis Vasquez, who recorded a team-high 25 total points in the scrimmage. "Four years in here, I never saw so much action in the paint. I think our big guys are really going to help us a lot."
Gary Williams agreed that Padgett and Jordan Williams offer a new dimension to the Terrapins' game.
"Jordan's a different player in that it's like Lonny Baxter versus Chris Wilcox back seven years ago where Wilcox would do something where everybody was like, 'Wow,' " Williams said. "Meanwhile, Lonny's just plodding along, making good play, good play. And that's kind of how it is now. I thought Jordan really got good defensive position, good offensive position, which we've been working with him on. James has quickness, which you can't teach, that quickness thing, which is a great thing."
Along with Milbourne, Padgett and Jordan Williams, Maryland's front court also includes sophomore Steve Goins and junior Dino Gregory. Goins fell to the floor and grabbed his surgically repaired knee early in the fourth game, but he walked off the court under his own power. Williams said Goins "just twisted his knee a little bit."
"You know, I trust all five of our guards at any point and any time in a game," Williams said. "And I want to get there with our inside guys. Dino and Landon have proven what they can do, and I want the other guys to catch up with them. If we can get to that -- and we're not there yet -- but if we can get to that, we'll be pretty good."