Sean Mosley has compiled a slew of impressive statistics during his four-year career at Maryland: 1,070 points, 556 rebounds and 105 starts. But the numbers fail to convey his contribution to Terrapins basketball.
Maryland’s fans have the chance to thank him — along with fellow seniors Berend Weijs and Jon Dillard and managers Donald Darang and Phil Baldwin — Sunday at Comcast Center, where the Terrapins (16-13, 6-9 ACC) close the regular season against No. 24 Virginia (21-8, 8-7).
“It’s going to be a bittersweet moment for me,” Mosley said Saturday.
His Maryland career has gone by exactly like the upperclassmen warned him it would in 2008 — far too quickly, as if someone pressed fast-forward on his time in the No. 14 jersey. And barring a miraculous run in this week’s ACC tournament, Mosley’s senior year will not deliver the return trip to the NCAA tournament that he had longed for.
But, come Sunday evening, that’s hardly what will weigh most heavily on the only Maryland player who has made an impact in each of the past four seasons.
“I’m definitely going to miss playing in front of my family and the fans here,” Mosley said. “Coming here, playing in front of the fans — there’s nothing like it. You can’t get it back.”
Mosley was a highly touted recruit from Baltimore’s St. Frances Academy when he signed with Maryland, drawn by its basketball tradition and the credentials of Coach Gary Williams. But he stepped onto a team laden with experienced upperclassmen such as Greivis Vasquez, Landon Milbourne and Eric Hayes. So it was up to Mosley, who averaged 24.2 points per game as a high school senior, to carve out a niche.
“For me, I had to come in where I fit in,” said Mosley, who played in all 35 games as a freshman and started the final 15. “I had to be that hustle guy that defended the toughest guy on the opposing team. That’s what got me my minutes.”
After playing a key role on the 2009-10 squad that finished 24-9, split the ACC regular season title with Duke and reached the NCAA tournament’s second round, Mosley emerged as a leader on subsequent Maryland teams that lacked comparable talent. But he never sulked or sloughed off.
Williams’s abrupt resignation last May hit Mosley hard, as it did all of the Terrapins, and he shut off his cellphone and retreated for a time.
“Everybody loved Maryland because of Coach Williams,” said Mosley, an American Studies major. “But at the end of the day, [Maryland] is a great environment and place to be.”
So he ruled out any thought of transferring and set to work getting to know Mark Turgeon, Williams’s replacement. And it was Mosley, more than any assistant coach or administrator, who helped smooth the transition that no one in College Park was prepared for.
Not long after his arrival, Turgeon said that next to his wife, Mosley was the most important person in his life. The two spoke at least once daily in the early going, with Mosley serving as an invaluable source and sounding board about nearly everything related to Terrapins basketball.
Recalled Turgeon, “I drilled him with questions about the fan base, the media, his teammates, what it was like playing for Gary.”
A leader by example during offseason workouts, Mosley quickly became a coach on the floor during practice.
Turgeon introduces each Maryland practice with a “Thought of the Day.” On Friday, the Thought of the Day was “energy.” And few had it so late in the season, other than Turgeon, Mosley and the walk-ons who have worked so hard in practice to prove themselves worthy if called on during games.
Mosley, who has played 930 minutes this season (second only to Terrell Stoglin’s 944) despite never fully recovering from a high-ankle sprain suffered last summer, could have easily made a case for sitting Friday’s session out.
But there he was at the outset, clapping his hands and shouting “Let’s go! Let’s go!” as if the ACC title were at stake. And there he was at the close of practice, having hustled the full 90 minutes, as players gathered in a circle, right hands extended.
“Family on three!” Mosley barked.
And the Terrapins replied in unison: “One, two, three, family!”
It is one of the many roles that Mosley will miss.
“It’s possible I could have taken every shot every time I touched the ball, but that’s not the type of player I am,” Mosley said. “I like to go out there and have fun and get some assists and stops. If you know basketball, you’ll understand. It’s not all about scoring. It’s about doing all the little things to help your team to win.”