So … Dino Gregory played 33 minutes for Maryland against Eastern Kentucky.
Jordan Williams played nine.
James Padgett played none.
So does that mean anything significant in the big picture?
Not according to Maryland coach Gary Williams.
“They had a weird team,” Williams said. “You’re the coach —- who do you put Jordan Williams on? See, that was a problem today. They didn’t have anybody that kind of matched up with Jordan. He got burned for two 3s quickly when he went in the game. That’s why they’re good. They realized that with Jordan in there it was a tough matchup. They went right after the guy that he was guarding. Dino played a lot more minutes than I’d thought he’d have to play.”
Gary wasn’t the only one surprised to see Gregory playing 33 minutes immediately.
That said, it’s tough to believe that game will reflect how the Terps will look in another four weeks when they open conference play (yes, it’ll be that long before the ACC schedule starts). And it seems unlikely for several reasons.
1. Size. Most teams in league play will have post players taller than 6-foot-6. It’s like Maryland is hopping in a time machine to play themselves from last year.
2. Foul trouble. Gregory picked up his third foul against Eastern Kentucky with 13:49 left, and he went to the bench for less than three minutes before returning. Landon Milbourne didn’t pick up his third foul until the 6:38 mark and his fourth until 3:57 remained. That qualifies as mild foul issues, something that probably won’t remain so tame on an every-night basis against more aggressive teams.
3. Fatigue. A far lesser factor than the first two, but a long season will wear down the likes of Milbourne and Gregory to some extent. Williams and Padgett will be needed.
4. History. When Maryland won the national title, Tahj Holden averaged more than 18 minutes off the bench. In 2004, when the Terps won the ACC title, Ekene Ibekwe averaged more than 13 points. In 2007, Bambale Osby logged more than 13 minutes a night. Last year, Gregory notched 16.3 minutes an outing.
Somebody is going to wind up in the 15 minutes-a-night ballpark among Maryland’s frontcourt reserves. Chances are, it’s Jordan Williams —- and on the high side of 15.
Trouble is, everyone wants to know rightthissecond how those minutes will be distributed. The truth is, it’ll probably be hard to truly know until conference play commences on Jan. 10.
—- Patrick Stevens