Freshmen Terps shuffle minutes

By Andrew Zuckerman The Diamondback

December 5, 2007

College Park, MD (CSTV U-WIRE) -- It's like a game of musical chairs, just without the music.

With six true freshmen and another redshirt freshman, it's sometimes a mystery as to which Terrapins get the most minutes on the court in coach Gary Williams' rotation.

Through eight games, Braxton Dupree leads the group of freshmen with 13.8 minutes per game. The freshmen have all seen playing time - some plenty more than others, as expected - but it's also a guess as to who plays when and who gets in first.

"We really don't have a set rotation right now," freshman swingman Cliff Tucker said. "So everybody's just trying to work their way up so they can be in the main rotation once Coach gets to that."

Many of the freshmen's minutes have fluctuated so far. Take Dino Gregory, for instance. The 6-foot-7-inch, 227-pound forward averaged 8.7 minutes in the Terps' first three games but has seen just 11 total minutes in the past five games, including two "Did Not Plays."

Against UCLA and Missouri, guard Adrian Bowie averaged 13 minutes. But against Illinois and Virginia Commonwealth, Bowie only averaged seven minutes.

Tucker, who has been arguably the biggest spark off the bench lately, has seen his minutes go from as high as 28 to as low as four. He said knowing he only has a limited amount of time on the court puts more pressure on him to perform well.

"Yeah, there probably is a little more pressure," Tucker said. "When you go in there, you really don't have that much time. You have to go in there and do something in order to stay on the floor. So it's kind of a little bit of pressure - you just gotta take advantage of the opportunity."

Lately, forward Jerome Burney has earned praise and minutes. After playing for a combined 13 minutes in his first two games, Burney has averaged 10.7 minutes per contest in the past three.

Burney is getting his first chance to make an impact after missing all of last season with injuries.

"Jerome Burney didn't hurt us at all when he was out there on the court [in 10 minutes against Illinois]," Williams said. "He made a great follow-up on that one play. We need his size, and once again, he had two broken bones last year. People think that that doesn't affect your development as a player, but it does. You miss that competition no matter how hard you train - that's 35 games you didn't play last year. That can be tough."

(C) 2007 The Diamondback via CSTV U-WIRE