The Washington Times - January 16, 2009, 09:48AM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Greetings from Florida’s state capital, and apologies for not updating things again later in the day.

It’s just, well, working at 6:30 a.m., catching a 10 a.m. flight, wedging a side trip in once in Jacksonville, driving three hours west and then cranking out this story brought me to about 6:30 p.m. And unlike Jack Bauer, I could and did take a nap at that point. And after waking up at 9 p.m., doing more work seemed sort of silly.

SEE RELATED:


Hope you understand.

But I wanted to provide a little glance at Maryland’s bench production, because it sure feels similar in the last week to what happened late last year. But I struggle to find the right place to start, because Maryland survived with shaky options in reserve until February last year, and even won some games then despite those issues.

So rather than cherry-pick, let’s just start with the mid-February loss to Virginia Tech and use the final six games (five regular-season, one ACC tournament). That was, after all, where the problems fully cropped up.

This comparison also includes Maryland’s bench performance in the last three games of this season.

StretchMinutesPointsReboundsAssistsFG%
‘08 (Last six)
49.212.08.02.8.508
‘09 (Last three)
45.05.77.01.0.171

Given how the Terps wilted down the stretch last year, that comparison (however limited it might be) is not at all a welcome one.

Granted, last year’s data fades demonstrably once you take Adrian Bowie’s late season flourish out of the equation. But how about we even the playing field and ditch Sean Mosley’s performance over the last three games, too?

So here’s the reserves (minus the sixth man) chart for those stretches:

StretchMinutesPointsReboundsAssistsFG%
‘08 (last six)
36.76.26.82.2.405
‘09 (last three) 
25.31.74.00.7.100

Obviously, that’s not any better.

The point of it all is this: Maryland faded when it relied too heavily on its starting five last season. It’s not even February this season, but it’s clear the Terps will probably lean on their starters even more this time around.

Something tells me Gary Williams hasn’t heard his last question about “bench production” for the season. Maryland is going to need it over the next 14 games and change. Whether it receives it sure looks iffy at this stage.

Patrick Stevens