Jordan Williams (back) and Greivis Vasquez double-team Charleston… (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene…)
COLLEGE PARK — A positive sign for the Maryland basketball team came in the number of shots Greivis Vasquez missed Friday night, as well as the number of passes the senior guard made that turned into easy baskets for the Terrapins. Those numbers added up to an 89-51 victory over Charleton Southern in the season opener at Comcast Center.
Despite shooting 3-for-14 from the field and finishing with just nine points, Vasquez had 13 assists to set the tone for the Terps, who shared the ball (27 assists) and the scoring load. Led by senior forward Landon Milbourne (16 points) and sophomore guard Sean Mosley (15 points on 7-for-9 shooting), five Maryland players finished in double figures.
Conversely, not a single player from Charleston Southern scored more than nine points.
It added up to a satifying victory for Gary Williams at the start of his 21st season at his alma mater.
"The thing that pleased me was that we were a very good passing team, we made the extra pass, we gave guys the easiest shot that particular time down the court," Williams said.
Among the recipients of Vasquez's passing were Maryland's two freshman big men, Jordan Williams and James Padgett. Williams, who started, scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half and finished with a team-high nine rebounds. Padgett, with a late flurry, produced 10 points and eight rebounds. Senior guard Eric Hayes added 10.
"We need to be able to score inside. Last year, I think we got away with not scoring inside," Gary Williams said. "The two of them are going to be able to do that as time goes by. It's going to be inconsistent. It's not going to be pretty all the time. Those two guys worked pretty well together when they were out there. It was good to see."
It was good for Vasquez to see, too, considering how many of his passes often went unrewarded when Braxton Dupree and Dino Gregory were freshmen two years ago. Although not exactly the second coming of Joe Smith and Keith Booth - who started their first game against Georgetown 16 years ago - Jordan Williams and Padgett were impressive enough.
"I told [Williams] Joe Smith started as a freshman; he said, 'Who's he?' " Gary Williams joked.
Then, on a serious note, Williams said, "It's kind of out of necessity right now that he's starting. If Dino played tonight, he wouldn't be starting. But he's going to play, and so will James. We need both those guys to complement a situation like that. We're going to have a good front line as time goes by. But you don't get excited by one game."
Nor did Williams get upset by a sloppy first half, when the Terps managed to lead by 12 points despite the fact that Vasquez and Hayes had combined to miss nine of 11 shots and Maryland had been out-rebounded by the smaller Buccaneers by six. The Terps got breathing room early in the second half with the first seven points in what would become a 29-11 run.
"I thought the first half we didn't have the patience in our offense, but that's normal when you're excited, when you're glad to play somebody else in a game that counts," Williams said. "So we were a little quick with our offense. The second half, we slowed down with our offense and we were able to get really good looks in our offense."
Hayes, who had taken only three shots in the first half and missed all of them, buried three straight threes to open the second half. Though he continued to struggle with his shot, Vasquez provided his own theatrics, with a double behind-the-back pass to a streaking Mosley and a neat over-the-head no-look pass to Milbourne for a layup.
"Greivis is a unique player," Williams said. "His strength is five-on-five. A lot of guys are really good one-on-one when there's room on the court. He knows how to play basketball. A lot of those passes were really good. I'm not counting the one where he went behind his back, brought it back, went behind his back. That was probably one too many behind-the-back fakes on that pass. But that's Greivis."
Said Vasquez: "I was upset with myself because I wasn't hitting shots. I wanted to get the crowd going and make the crowd going. I thought Sean was going to dunk it."
Vasquez, whose assist total was two shy of tying his career high, was impressed with his team's performance, particularly the freshmen.
"I've never seen them play that well," Vasquez said. "That's a good sign for us. ... We haven't seen that as much, getting the ball in the post, making something happen. They're catching the ball. They're finishing. We need it. They really helped me get me going because I was way off. I'm happy for my teammates; it's not about me. Now you just can't defend me. You have to defend eight or nine guys because we all can score."