Sean Mosley has spent most of his Maryland basketball career satisfying his coaches and teammates with his steady, blue-collar style but frustrating a segment of the team's fans and his friends at home by not living up to his reputation as a big scorer coming out of high school in Baltimore.
With less than a season remaining in College Park for the now-senior captain, this much is obvious: Mosley is still probably a little too selfless for his and his team's good but could be as important as any Terrapin — even sophomore guard Terrell Stoglin — in what is obviously a transition year for Maryland.
Maryland's two most recent games — victories over Notre Dame a week ago at the Verizon Center in Washington and Mount St. Mary's at Comcast Center on Wednesday night — could be considered a microcosm of Mosley's season, if not his entire college career.
Against the Fighting Irish, Mosley had an efficient 17 points (on 5-for-8 from the field) to go along with six rebounds and three assists. He hit two huge jump shots to stave off Notre Dame's comeback in the second half and dived onto the court twice to force tie-ups.
Against the Mountaineers, Mosley scored only nine points and didn't shoot the ball as well as he had for most of the season. But he filled the box score and made a big defensive play by blocking 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward Raven Barber, who was going up for a two-handed go-ahead dunk with 2:06 remaining in what turned out to be a narrow win for the Terps.
"Sean's a winner. Sean won a league championship, played a lot of minutes on a league championship team [as a sophomore in 2009-10]. He knows what it takes. That's why he's making those plays the rest of the guys don't know yet," first-year Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said after the Notre Dame game.
"I just hope that Sean just starts to rub off on everybody."
Especially on Stoglin, the electric sophomore guard who has carried the Terps for long stretches, entire games even, this season. Just as players such as Eric Hayes and Greivis Vasquez helped guide Mosley early in his career, Mosley is doing the same for Stoglin and the rest of Turgeon's young and erratic team.
"It's hard to say. We've had our ups and downs. We're still trying to stay on that even path, but we're doing a great job by picking up each and every game our intensity at both ends of the court, executing plays and doing the right things that Coach wants us to do on defense," Mosley said. "It's a matter of us getting better each and every day and not falling down."
Long removed from his years at St. Frances, where he became the second-leading scorer in state history, Mosley has shown flashes of doing that on the college level (including a career-high 26 points against Villanova as a sophomore) but has more often fit in as a role player who often had to play out of position as an undersized 6-foot-4, 210-pound forward.
Mosley has looked more comfortable in Turgeon's offense than he did playing for Gary Williams, a byproduct of Mosley's taking more of a leadership role as well as not worrying about missing his shots as did the previous two years.
"This is my last go-around, and I want to give my all. I don't want to look back at the end of the season and say, 'I wish I would have played harder this game or throughout the whole season,' " Mosley said. "Coach [Turgeon] always told me that his seniors always have a great year. I'm not looking over my shoulder after I take a shot or I make a bad play. I'm just out there having a great time and enjoying my time with my teammates."
Although still not a big scorer — he is averaging 10.8 points — Mosley is at least looking more for his shot. After seeing his field-goal percentage drop from .509 as a sophomore to .413 and his 3-point percentage fall to .269 (14-for-52), he appears more comfortable shooting the ball, especially 3-pointers (13-for-28).
Asked whether he feels more confident with his shot, Mosley said he "definitely does. I worked over the summer on my shot and a lot of different things in my game. Every time I shoot the ball, it feels like it's going in."
Stoglin, whose 22.5-point scoring average is the highest for any Atlantic Coast Conference player this season and is ninth in the country, knows that Mosley is a good second scoring option to have at least until freshman center Alex Len is eligible after sitting out the first 10 games this season under mandate from the NCAA.
"It helps a lot, because it puts more pressure on the defense," Stoglin said of Mosley's shooting.
Said Mosley, "If Terrell is off, somebody else's got to step up on the team and take over that role" as a scorer.
Mosley has long heard "Why don't you shoot more?" from his friends back in Baltimore, — according to his father, Rick, a former city and state employee who now runs his own ministry. Back when he was in high school, Mosley often tried to get his teammates involved before taking over in the second half.
"Sean used to do that if he didn't have a good [shooting] game. He knew others would be able to," Rick Mosley said.
Mosley has become more assertive not only with his shot, but also in his leadership role. Now in his second year as a team captain, he doesn't hesitate to get in the face of a younger teammate who has not made the right play.
"I've told him, this is not Terrell's team, this is your team," Rick Mosley said. "Anything good, bad or indifferent, it's on your shoulders. You've got to accept being the leader."
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said Mosley's maturity was a difference in a game between two young and rebuilding teams.
"I love him. I told him after the game that he is a man," Brey said. "I've usually had a rotation of men like that. Last year we were the ultimate man team. He's just a man. He's steady. He doesn't do things he can't do. He's a great college basketball player."