The Washington Times - December 29, 2008, 01:39PM

Greivis Vasquez, in his inimitable way, quickly identified one of the problems during Saturday’s defeat of Bryant after the game.

Yeah, Maryland was sluggish. And sure, the Terps didn’t rebound all that great.

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But there was a bigger-picture issue in play – the work of the guys outside the current starting five.

“Our guys on the bench didn’t play good today. they need to refocus and they need to know the ACC is coming soon. …,” Vasquez said. “I think Braxton [Dupree], Dino [Gregory], Cliff [Tucker], we need all those guys to play hard. We need all of them. This isn’t about me. It isn’t about them. It’s about the team.”

First, let’s quickly look at those other two issues mentioned above. Yes, Maryland was lethargic. But maybe that can be chalked up to inactivity and traveling all over the place. It happens. And with the Terps’ size, rebounding is going to be an issue (though it probably shouldn’t have been against Bryant).

But if you look back to last season, the reason the Terps faded was because their top five players were absolutely gassed. None of the freshmen were ready to contribute a ton, and after Tucker got sick in February, there wasn’t much coming from the bench. Both Adrian Bowie and Jerome Burney showed some glimmers down the stretch, but there wasn’t much help to be had.

And that’s precisely what cannot happen this season. And that brings us to chart time.

This table shows the combined game-by-game work from the guys not currently in the starting five – and the season average in a whole bunch of categories:

OpponentMinutesPointsReboundsAssistsStealsBlocksFG
Bucknell91312553312/28
Youngstown State
8723132438/26
Vermont6912110255/11
Michigan St.
6312123342/8
Gonzaga7617173128/23
Georgetown8118100038/24
Michigan5311101115/11
GW657182332/16
Delaware St.
6921158338/19
American551590136/15
Bryant49891223/10
Average68.915.913.52.32.12.9

67/191
(.351)

Look, those numbers aren’t going to grow much as the minutes column shrinks in the coming weeks. But the Terps probably need a boost across the board (even in rebounds, the one number that looks sound) from their reserves to ensure Maryland doesn’t face the sort of erosion of quality it endured last year.

“If Dino comes to play, we look even better,” Vasquez said. “If Braxton comes to plays and gets his confidence back, we’re going to look better. If Cliff starts playing the way he was playing in the preseason, we’re going to be even better. They have to understand that. I don’t think they’ve got that message yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing them play better.”

So too are a whole lot of other people.

Patrick Stevens