Maryland's Sean Mosley 'feeling a lot more comfortable'

Terps junior hopes breakout performance against Longwood carries over to Boston College game Saturday

February 11, 2011|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — — Sean Mosley began nodding his head even before the question was finished.

Had Maryland's co-captain, who had been struggling with his shooting until recently, been passing up good looks at the basket? That can be a telltale sign of a player overthinking on the court.

"I wasn't taking open shots," Mosley acknowledged. "Now I'm not thinking about it. And when I do get it, I'm shooting."

For weeks, Mosley's difficulties had seemed a delicate topic around Comcast Center. As the Terps (16-8, 5-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) prepared to travel to Boston College for Saturday's game, Mosley and his teammates hoped and believed the player — who emerged to score 20 points Wednesday night against Longwood — had returned to last season's form.

"I feel a lot more comfortable," he said.

Maryland needs the junior to be himself. He and Jordan Williams were the only returning starters from a team that lost more than half its scoring from last season with the departures of seniors Greivis Vasquez, Landon Milbourne and Eric Hayes.

"He's proven that he can score, and we need his scoring," Maryland coach Gary Williams said Friday. The Terps face important road games against the Eagles (15-9, 5-5 ACC) on Saturday and Virginia Tech on Tuesday as they try to build a case for an NCAA tournament bid.

Last season, Mosley (St. Frances) averaged 10.1 points. Fans remember him making all five of his field-goal attempts in the first half and converting nine of his first 10 in a loss to Villanova in December 2009.

He finished with 26 points — a performance that was both a boon and a burden because it set the bar so high.

This season, Mosley scored 21 points in Maryland's opener against Seattle University. But he shot a combined 1-for-9 in the next two games. While the swingman has since continued to do the other things that define his game — rugged defense, rebounding — he entered the Longwood contest having scored in double figures once in the previous 10 outings.

Mosley's shooting percentage is 44.4 percent compared to last season's 50.9. He is averaging 8.6 points. Observers could almost spot the hesitation as he passed up good shots — or occasionally forced difficult ones.

"It's just one of those things," Mosley said. "You have a season and you have ups and downs. It's just all about how you finish. And I think I'm doing a great job by getting extra shots up after practice and taking the shots [now] when I'm wide open."

Gary Williams counsels players to shoot when they're open. The idea is to make the defense play the shooter — to keep it honest — so that it can't double-team elsewhere. In his 22nd season at Maryland, he has experience working with players whose shooting fortunes temporarily sag.

"First of all, you stay with them and you try to give them confidence," the coach said. "If you see anything wrong with the shot, you try to help them with that. The big thing with Sean is to make sure he gets good looks, be on balance so that you have the best chance to make it. We want him to shoot."

Mosley enters the Boston College game third on the team in rebounds (3.9 per game). Even when his offense sputters, he is valuable defensively because of his ability to defend small forwards as well as guards.

Said fellow co-captain Dino Gregory: "He's a great teammate."

Notes: Boston College made 10 3-pointers in defeating the Terps, 79-75, in December at Comcast Center. Maryland said it will focus Saturday on better defending the 3-point line. … Jordan Williams is Maryland's leading scorer, but Gary Williams said Friday of the player's nine-point, four-foul performance against Longwood: "You want the truth? I don't think he was ready to play."

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sunjeffbarker

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