For those inclined to take sporadic peeks at the Maryland bench throughout last season, something big would often catch anyone’s eye.
After nearly every basket, a very happy Berend Weijs was clapping, cheering, standing up —- doing something to offer support to a team whose frontcourt had much of its minutes monopolized by Jordan Williams and Dino Gregory.
“If every player on your bench was like that, you’d be a very happy coach because that means a lot to the guys playing that you have a guy pulling for them,” coach Gary Williams said this week.
Still, Maryland (19-14 in its recently concluded season) will need something from Weijs on the floor next year.
Gregory is gone. Williams is weighing a leap to the pros. And Weijs, who averaged 1.8 points and 1.1 rebounds in 23 games, will probably find himself in a more significant role in his final season in College Park.
Just as it takes one look at Weijs to realize he’s a supportive teammate, it also doesn’t take long to figure out precisely what he needs to do to be effective.
He’s 6-foot-10 and 200 pounds. That’s fine against smaller opponents, but his opportunities in the second half of the season were restricted because of how easily he could be nudged out of the way in the low post.
More than two hours before tip —- long before fans were allowed into the arena —- Weijs regularly was on the floor working on becoming a better interior offensive player. Strength, though, will likely be the single biggest factor in how much of an impact Weijs can make for the Terrapins.
“Berend is really interesting because he has skills he shows in practice that are certainly —- he does some things in practice like block a shot once in a while 12 feet in the air,” Williams said. “His whole thing is ‘Can he get strong enough where guys can’t go like that and knock him off a block or get him where he can’t catch a pass?’ He’s definitely a project, but at the same time, that guy had a great attitude all year. For a guy not playing much, he was terrific.”
—- Patrick Stevens