- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Maryland forward James Padgett made it look effortless on a possession early in the second half at N.C. State on Sunday. After Sean Mosley’s 3-point attempt was errant, Padgett simply collected the miss, went up, made a layup and went about his business.

It was a mundane sequence, especially in the context of Padgett’s junior season to date.

He won’t always score. He won’t always play even half the game. But somehow, he’ll make an impact on the offensive glass.

Padgett leads the ACC with 4.07 offensive rebounds per game entering Maryland’s home date with Wake Forest (10-5, 1-0) on Wednesday. If he maintained that pace — which should be tougher against conference competition — it would be the best offensive rebounding season by a Terp since at least 1994-95.

“I just go after it,” Padgett said.

With an offensive rebound for every 5.6 minutes he’s on the court, he does more than just chase after loose balls for the Terps (10-4, 0-1). He extends possessions on a consistent basis — a trend that started with 20 offensive rebounds in Maryland’s first four games and dipped only a bit since.

“It’s like he goes into a different gear when the shot goes up,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “It always looks like James is not always playing hard, but he is. There’s guys who can follow the shot and look at the shot and think about where it might bounce off, and I think he does that.”

It’s especially true with center Alex Len added to the rotation. The 7-foot-1 freshman draws plenty of attention, prompting opponents to slide help over from the weak side and leave Padgett a clear lane to the basket if the Terps miss a shot.

Impressive as Padgett’s penchant for earning chances at put-backs is, it is just as curious the skill blossomed midway through his college career. Padgett averaged 4.46 offensive rebounds per 40 minutes over his first two seasons; he’s at 7.13 per 40 minutes in expanded playing time this year.

“He just has more opportunity,” guard Pe’Shon Howard said. “With more time, you get more chances to do things. I think that’s with everybody. There’s more chances with 30 minutes than 20 minutes. And with offensive rebounding, you need more chances.”

Padgett’s efficiency at one end isn’t matched at the other, oddly enough. Of the 11 Division I players who entered Tuesday averaging four offensive rebounds, Padgett is the only one without more defensive rebounds than offensive rebounds.

In fact, Padgett ranks sixth on Maryland’s roster in defensive rebounds, behind guards Nick Faust, Mychal Parker and Terrell Stoglin. Turgeon attributed that to Padgett’s tendency to hold his box-outs too long, which keeps an opposing player off the glass but also prevents Padgett from halting the other team’s possession.

“I think the difference between offensive and defensive for me is that on defense you have to box out, and on offense you just have to go get it,” Padgett said. “I think that comes much easier.”

How effective Padgett’s offensive rebounding — and how much the Terps can benefit from it — as ACC play continues is uncertain. Yet even as a known quantity, Padgett has at least four offensive rebounds in five of the Terps’ last six games.

“It’s just something he does well,” Turgeon said. “I know every scouting report says ‘Keep James Padgett off the board, make sure you box James Padgett out,’ because he’s done it every single game this year when he’s had a chance to play significant minutes.”