- The Washington Times - Friday, October 16, 2009

It was unnecessary to remind Maryland guard Greivis Vasquez of the limited avenues his team could travel a year ago to secure a measure of success.

Those Terrapins had an undersized lineup featuring a guy who admittedly was not ultra-athletic and stood his listed 6-foot-7 only on his best days. Their power forward hadn’t patrolled the paint since high school. By necessity, the team’s offensive philosophy was pinned on solid perimeter play and a prayer of production inside.

“I know,” Vasquez said with a smile Thursday during Maryland’s media day at Comcast Center.

No, the rundown wasn’t needed, in large part because the Terps still went 21-14 and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament a season ago.

And while Dave Neal, the unorthodox forward whose late-season play helped secure a postseason berth, is gone, Maryland might enjoy greater versatility with the addition of freshman big men James Padgett and Jordan Williams.

“This year is going to be interesting,” Vasquez said. “I think we’re going to be able to do so many different things that we weren’t able to do last year. It’s just going to be fun. We might have four guards and a big guy. We’re going to be running the court a lot, and we’re also going to have our setup plays and halfcourt plays. We’re going to be interesting.”

The Terps’ interchangeable parts in the backcourt remain the same as a year ago. Coach Gary Williams can shift Adrian Bowie, Eric Hayes, Sean Mosley, Cliff Tucker and Vasquez, plugging each in as situations dictate.

The difference when practice commences Saturday will be in the frontcourt.

Landon Milbourne, last year’s de facto power forward, could play some at the three. Dino Gregory, who basically split time with Neal at center in last season’s latter stages, could shift to the four.

“I’m confident we can do more things and that we can do them earlier in practice, which is really important,” Williams said. “Just the size thing makes a difference in your team where you feel going into the start of practice that you have more ways to score inside. You don’t have the same fear of getting into foul trouble.”

That could have a significant effect on Milbourne, the Terps’ No. 2 scorer a season ago, who wore down at times late in the season. With additional interior options, Milbourne could be permitted to generate more outside shots and receive a respite from the pounding in the paint.

More important, the incoming help could mean the Terps will see more potential paths to victory than a year ago.

“That’s a great tool to have,” Milbourne said. “A lot of teams don’t have that. I think that’s one of the things that makes us a unique team, that we have so many guys that can play so many different positions.”

Still, the added versatility won’t mean much if the Terps cannot harness it correctly. Last season’s team took advantage of its limited opportunities and shrugged off a handful of ugly outings to clinch a surprise NCAA invite.

Doing so again, even with greater potential and expectations, is far from guaranteed.

“Nothing’s automatic,” Williams said. “Just because you return a lot of guys, that doesn’t mean we’re just going to walk out on the court and those things are going to happen that sound really good this time of year. You have to grind it. I have to grind it as a coach. We have to make it happen.”

Notes - Milbourne said he is fully healthy after undergoing ankle surgery in May. …

Hayes was plagued the last two months with a turf toe injury, but he said he should be ready for the start of practice. …

Sophomore forward Steve Goins underwent arthroscopic knee surgery, and Williams said he could practice Saturday.

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