Maryland's Bowie, Gregory, Tucker off to solid starts this year

As the college basketball season began, Maryland coach Gary Williams seemed to issue a challenge to his three senior starters: Adrian Bowie, Dino Gregory and Cliff Tucker.

"As a player, you always want your chance. Well, here it is," the coach said.

So how have the seniors -- who entered the season having spent more time as reserves than starters -- answered the call so far?

The statistics show that, through the first seven games, the players are all contributing more than last season. Each is shooting at or near 50 percent.

Whether they can continue that upward arc -- the Terps (5-2) play their first true road game tonight at Penn State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge -- will be a key to Maryland's success this season.

"Those three guys with their experience, they can really help us," Williams said Tuesday.

Williams knows how important his seniors are. Each season, large color photos of the seniors hang on the wall of his Comcast Center office. Last year's seniors -- Greivis Vasquez, Landon Milbourne and Eric Hayes -- averaged a combined 43.6points. That accounted for 54.7 percent of Maryland's total per game.

Tucker, who averaged 5.7 points last season, is scoring 13.9 points per contest this year. He began the year with six straight games in double figures.

"I think he's moved his game up a little," Williams said Tuesday. "He's always had that athletic ability, and now he's become a pretty consistent scorer for us. Plus, he has the capability to be a really good defensive guard because he's 6-5 and can do a lot of things."

Gregory, the power forward from Mount St. Joseph, had scored in double figures just once entering the season. He and other Terps remained on campus last summer to work on their games. Gregory even lived for part of the summer in a lounge at Comcast Center.

This season, he's averaging 10.7 points over the past three games, and 7.6 points for the year.

"He's playing like a senior should play. He's very aggressive," Williams said. "I knew what he could do defensively. Now the scoring, the jump shot, things like that have added to his game."

Bowie's scoring average has increased from 4.8 points per game last season to 9.3 so far this year.

"That's what I worked hard for the whole summer," Bowie said. "It's a great opportunity. Just knowing the offense, it makes the feel for the game a lot better."

Despite the seniors' increased scoring, Maryland is not shooting as well as Williams would like. Maryland also has shown a tendency to start slowly in games.

The Terps are shooting 28.9 percent on 3-pointers compared with their opponents' 33.1

In particular, team captain Sean Mosley (St. Frances) is shooting 37.7 percent overall. Williams has said openly that Mosley, a fan favorite because of his intensity and versatility, is in a slump.

"We want to shoot better, but it's coming up," the coach

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