Emerging Force

Basketball

Sean Mosley Rounding Out Game With Better Shooting

December 26, 2009|By Don Markus | Don Markus,don.markus@baltsun.com

COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland guard Sean Mosley showed a great deal of promise as a freshman a year ago, despite being hampered for most of the season by an ankle injury. He demonstrated an understanding of the game with his passing and a zeal for the sport with his defense and rebounding.

The two things he lacked - an ability to shoot outside and finish near the basket with any consistency - were perplexing considering the reputation Mosley earned and the records he set at St. Frances in Baltimore.

How could a player who finished as the second-leading scorer in Maryland high school history, with nearly 3,000 points, look so out of sync offensively?

It surprised even Mosley that he finished the season shooting just 37.1 percent from the field, shooting just 5-for-21 on 3-point attempts.

"I was kind of frustrated and angry at that because I'm a better basketball player than that," Mosley said earlier this season. "That's why I worked extremely hard this offseason to definitely do better than I did last season."

A little more than a month into his sophomore year, Mosley has shown flashes of being the offensive machine he was back in Baltimore. More likely, he seems on his way to becoming one of the most multidimensional players in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season.

Mosley has watched his scoring average jump from 5.3 points as a freshman to 14.3 this season, right behind a recently rejuvenated Greivis Vasquez for the team lead. More impressive has been the improvement Mosley has made in his shooting: He has made 54 of 89 shots overall (62.1 percent), including seven of 13 3-point tries (53.8 percent).

"Last year I made the hustle plays - that's what got me in the game," Mosley recalled. "[Offensively] I was rushing things and not letting the game come to me like I'm used to doing, as far as hitting the open shot. Now I let the game come to me, and it just feels a lot better."

Mosley is still doing the little things - evidenced by the fact that he is also second to Vasquez in assists (3.2 per game) and steals (1.5 per game) and second to freshman Jordan Williams in rebounding (5.2 per game). It all demonstrates the kind of basketball IQ Mosley has shown, a reason Maryland coach Gary Williams put the 6-foot-4 wing guard into the starting lineup for the last 15 games last season, including the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

Looking back, Mosley acknowledges that the transition from star at St. Frances to role player with the Terps was difficult. The biggest setback was the sprained ankle, suffered in a preseason scrimmage after it appeared Mosley had won a starting job. Mosley rushed back and didn't miss a game, but the ankle never healed completely.

"Playing 85 or 90 percent in the ACC is kind of tough because guys are still quicker than you. You really can't move like you want to," Mosley said.

His outside shooting - never the strongest part of his offensive game - was also affected. It became the focus of his offseason training. With the help of assistant coaches and team managers who retrieved Mosley's misses and makes, he launched up to 1,000 shots a day and rarely took a day off last summer.

"Sometimes I worked out two or three times a day," Mosley said.

He also used a rapid-fire contraption known as "The Gun," sort of a high-speed pop-a-shot that allows players to hoist jumpers until they have trouble lifting their arms or their legs.

"The Gun's a good thing, but guys miss shots in games and I tell them, 'It's easier to shoot with a ball coming out of The Gun instead of a guy flying in your face,' " Gary Williams said.

According to Williams, Mosley's shooting mechanics have shown "marked improvement" through his constant repetition.

"I thought he needed to work on shooting to be a good college player, but I thought he could do everything else," Williams said of his expectations for Mosley while he was still in high school. "Some people felt there wasn't a position for him, but sometimes that means you can play three positions."

Despite an increased role in the offense, Mosley remains one of Maryland's scrappiest and headiest players.

"Coming into the season, Coach said, 'Just play with confidence,' " said Mosley, who scored a career-high 26 points in a recent loss to then-No. 3 Villanova at Verizon Center. " 'It's your second year, you know where you get your shots from.' He gets mad when I don't shoot the ball. Every time I'm open, I'm looking forward to shooting the ball."

And one more thing.

"I don't worry about making mistakes on the court like I did last year - just come out and have fun," Mosley said. "[Last year] we had Greivis and Eric [Hayes] and Landon [Milbourne] and the types of guys who were scorers and had been here for a while, so last year I had to get comfortable with everything, and now that I'm comfortable, I feel like I'm back in high school where I can hit the wide-open shot."

All three remain, but Mosley is quickly becoming one of Maryland's most consistent scorers. He has scored 12 points or more in seven of the team's 10 games and has been out of double figures only once, scoring nine in a loss to Cincinnati on Maui. Mosley is also looking to rediscover another part of his Baltimore persona - leadership.

"Now I feel like Greivis, Eric and Landon are leaving next year, somebody has to step up," Mosley said. "That's one thing I'm really trying to do right now."

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