For Terps seniors, final season has taught tough lessons

Gregory, Tucker, Bowie labored in shadow of previous class as Maryland slipped off tournament bubble

March 04, 2011|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — — Each year, Maryland hangs photos of its seniors in the men's basketball offices at Comcast Center.

So it was that framed action shots of Dino Gregory, Cliff Tucker and Adrian Bowie went up before the season began.

After that, not everything went according to plan.

The senior trio — which will be honored today before its final home game, against Virginia — presided over a team that, with six newcomers, has failed to approach the standards set by its recent predecessors. If college is about learning lessons, the one imparted on Gregory, Tucker and Bowie is that life — and basketball specifically — doesn't always go as planned.

Tucker, in particular, has not had the senior season he envisioned. The athletic swingman, averaging 9.7 points per game, has started five of the last 20 games.

"Coach knows I want to start," he said at midseason. "But I'm not going to pout about it." Tucker was not made available to the media Friday due to a scheduling conflict.

Like Tucker, Bowie has been eclipsed at times by emerging freshman guard Terrell Stoglin — twice the Atlantic Coast Conference's rookie of the week — and freshman backcourt mate Pe'Shon Howard. Sophomore Jordan Williams and Stoglin are the team's only members averaging in double figures in scoring.

"I'm sure Adrian and Cliff wish it would have been a little different this year," Maryland coach Gary Williams said Friday during a media availability in which the coach commiserated with his seniors. Williams said he believed Bowie and Tucker had learned from adversity, adding: "I think they're both going to be very successful."

The coach did not criticize the trio, and he singled out Gregory for praise. Gregory, a co-captain, has distinguished himself by improving his jump shot and more than doubling his scoring average from 4.2 points last season to 8.8. "I just want people to remember me as a hard worker and someone who improved every year," Gregory said.

In a sense, Gregory, Tucker and Bowie had unfortunate timing. They followed a prolific senior trio — Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne — that each scored more than 1,000 points and combined for 4,476. Bowie's 873 points leads the current seniors.

Rather than focus on this season — in which Maryland (18-12, 7-8 ACC) has become a long shot for the NCAA tournament — Gary Williams took a long view of the seniors' careers.

"They've been here on some really good wins and really good teams. They've done some really good things here. They're graduating as a group in four years," the coach said. "Hope it's a great day tomorrow. They've all earned the right to go enjoy the day."

Wearing a sweat suit, Bowie (9.2 points per game) appeared occasionally somber as he was questioned by the media Friday. "It's definitely hard. We're not having the type of season that we expected," he said.

But Bowie, a former ball boy whose father, John, was a longtime equipment manager for men's basketball, said it's too soon to assess the season. The Terps will try to climb back to .500 in conference play against the Cavaliers (15-14, 6-9 ACC).

Asked about his legacy, Bowie replied: "I have no idea. I think we're still writing it. After the season it will be a lot easier."

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sunjeffbarker

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