OK, as promised, some more thoughts on the Terrapins’ 104-60 dismantling of the NAIA’s Northwood Saturday at Comcast Center. I would’ve done it sooner, but my task of helping get the sports section out took certain precedence. But since you can’t get enough of Maryland exhibition basketball, here’s everything I have:
Jin Soo Kim, the freshman forward originally from South Korea, was the story of the day (see dead-tree story here). Kim struggled early, going 0-for-5 from the field in the first half, and showed plenty of nerves in his first game with the Terps. He was just cleared to play by the NCAA on Monday, giving him just a few days’ worth of practice with his teammates.
“He was pretty nervous early, and everything was real tough for him. I think he just settled down a little bit at halftime,” coach Gary Williams said. “He put the ball on the floor more. He didn’t just depend on his jump shot, which he kinda did the first half, ‘cause he can put it on the floor. He’s about [6-foot-8], and he can dribble the basketball. He just saw opportunities to take his man. …
“I can see all week it’s gonna be trying to keep things under control. It was fun to see that, but we have a long way to go. He’s still got a long ways to go. He’s still got a lot of things to learn ‘cause he’s only been at practice for four day. But it was great to see, because that gives him confidence. And that’s what you want; you want a very confident player out there. And I think Jin Soo has very tough standards that he sets for himself. He really hates it when the ball doesn’t go in, or he thinks he made a bad play – I think that’s what motivates him, and hopefully that’s what’s gonna keep him coming on here as a player.”
That was Williams’ first of what Terps fans hope will be many positive answers about Kim, who finished the game with 20 points on 6-for-13 shooting. His 1-for-6 stat from 3-point range notwithstanding, Kim had a nice game.
Kim: “I thought I played really bad in the first [half], but I just came back in the second [half]. Everyone’s really helping my play, so thank you to my teammates and my coaching staff, and I’m really happy we won the game.
“My coaching staff told me, ‘If you’re not gonna make the shots, just get on the inside and then get the rebound and just get [on] defense.’ I really focused on basics and followed directions all game. That really helped my game today.
“The first [half] I missed a lot of shots, so second [half] I didn’t think about them, I just shoot it. … I just kept getting loose balls and focus on other things.”
Had enough Jin Soo Kim overload? OK, if it wasn’t for Kim, everybody would be writing about Landon Milbourne. Two years ago, when Milbourne was just starting with the Terps, he lacked a certain amount of court awareness. That has REALLY changed.
Milbourne scored 20 points, like Kim, and shot 9-for-15 from the field. He made a bunch of smart plays, drawing fouls all over the place. With Greivis Vasquez in a shirt and tie courtside for a violation of team policy, Milbourne was – for lack of a better term – the Terps’ engine against Northwood. And the leadership aspect is something he takes seriously.
“All three of us, me, Dave Neal and Greivis always take that leadership role, especially in practice and in scrimmages we’ve had in the past. We’re the guys who are more experienced, and we’re the guys the younger kids come to, and we need to set examples for those guys and I think that’s what we did tonight.”
Though the Terps made a decent amount of mistakes themselves (chalk it up to rust, if you’d like), they did a masterful job of capitalizing when the Seahawks got into a turnover pattern or simply took awful shots.
“We got a few turnovers in our press, and we scored on a bunch of that,” guard Eric Hayes said. “When they were missing shots, we were getting the ball back, pushing it ahead and trying to get easy buckets.”
Easy buckets weren’t hard to come by Saturday, but the real fun starts Friday against Bucknell.
- Steve Whyno