- The Washington Times - Friday, February 23, 2007

Greivis Vasquez was leaving Comcast Center after milling about nearly an hour after Maryland’s 73-55 defeat of Florida State when he passed by some writers working near the court.

The freshman guard stopped briefly to offer a suggestion before leaving the arena: “Write about Boom.”

Indeed, as the Terrapins (21-7, 7-6 ACC) scratched out their fourth straight victory, it was junior Bambale Osby who had a team- and career-high 15 points. Mostly quiet since mid-December, the colorful Osby had fallen into a slump and his minutes diminished as well.

Yet the bruising forward played to his strengths against Florida State, muscling his way to the basket and benefiting from Eric Hayes’ deft passing on his way to a 6-for-8 evening.

“You get the ball and you start scoring, and the next thing you know you score it again and you score it again,” Osby said. “You miss one, but you have to keep scoring. It just kept snowballing.”

As Maryland has rattled off five victories in six games this month, its frontcourt depth has proved vital because of the frequent foul trouble of James Gist and Ekene Ibekwe. And it seems nearly anyone is capable of providing a quality — if not always statistically productive — stint in their stead.

Against Duke, it was Will Bowers whose active presence helped the Terps build a 20-point lead in the first half. A few days later at N.C. State, Dave Neal played 14 minutes (one shy of a career-high) and had four points and five rebounds.

Wednesday proved to be Osby’s turn. While he was no more adept than any other power forward at defending Al Thornton on the perimeter, he still pestered Thornton enough in the paint to eventually tire the Seminoles’ star. Osby also thrived off Hayes’ passing, including a dunk after the freshman penetrated and threaded the ball through a tight lane to him on the baseline.

“He really came through and finished everything,” coach Gary Williams said. “This is a big step for Boom because he’s had some situations where he’s had similar chances and the ball hasn’t gone in the basket. [Wednesday] he made everything and hit two big free throws and he was a force.”

The surging Terps can only hope Osby’s breakout night carries into Sunday’s meeting with No. 5 North Carolina (24-4, 10-3) and beyond. Maryland’s NCAA tournament prospects appear solid barring a total collapse, and the Terps look like a team capable of a multi-weekend run next month.

In some ways, Maryland’s season has mirrored Osby’s. He came in unheralded, got off to a surprising start and then fell into a funk. But thanks to a rededication to his rugged, physical style, Osby could be a significant frontcourt asset in the coming weeks.

“That’s how he played at the beginning of the year,” Gist said. “It’s like what I was saying about how we were playing at the beginning of the year. We’re back now. We’re playing consistent and I think we’re back to that. It’s the name we’re taking now. When everyone hears Maryland, that’s what everyone should be looking for.”

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