Bowers Gets His Shot, Literally

Posted by Michael Glick on Nov 12 2003 at 04:00PM PST
November 13, 2003 by Mark Clem Terripan Times Much of the pre-season hype surrounding the talented group of freshmen was focused on Mike Jones, D.J. Strawberry and Hassan Fofana. But once the 2003-04 exhibition season tipped off las night it was developing center Will Bowers who got the nod -- and the first bucket -- among the rookies. The 7-1 Bowers from nearby Spalding High School in Severn was tabbed a 'project' at the time of his signing. And he still has a ways to go. But the one thing he has done this fall is pick up the system and the plays very quickly. And with senior center Jamar Smith getting in early foul trouble he got the call last night in the Terps win over the EA All-Stars. He was the first sub off the bench. “I was surprised that he made that shot,” said head coach Gary Williams of a quick turnaround jumper Bowers nailed at the 16:24 mark in the first half just seconds after stepping on the court after Smith picked up his second foul. “Usually freshmen are nervous as hell but he went in there and banged and he wasn’t afraid." Still, it was a mixed bag as Bowers logged 13 minutes and had no rebounds. The Terps need him most to help out in that department. Bowers needs work on his strength and rebounding the most, but has been a hard worker in camp and the coaches have taken notice. "The problems he had were the matchups. The two guys he was playing against were 6-8 and were quick,” Williams said. With everyone anticipating Jones or Strawberry to be first off of the bench, it was a little surprising to see Bowers in the game. “I don’t think it was planned. Jamar [Smith] got into foul trouble and my number was called because we needed a big man in the lineup,” Bowers said. Nine seconds later Bowers hit a short turn-around jumper in the lane to give the Terps an early 9-8 lead. “I wasn’t nervous or looking to get a shot that early but I got the ball from Travis [Garrison] and the shot was there so I took it.” Bowers had 2 points and 1 turnover in his 13 minutes in the 84-70 win. He went 1 for 2 from the field. “He’s been working very hard in practice and you saw tonight that he can get in there and bang. He didn’t hesitate on his shot either,” said Williams. “I was just trying to go with the flow of the offense and when I got the open shot I knew that I was supposed to take it and I did,” Bowers said. Even though Williams was pleased with Bowers’ college debut, the big 7-footer was a bit tougher on himself. “I started off pretty good but my post defense wasn’t as good as it should’ve been and I definitely should have been more active on the boards.” Bowers has come a long way since the summer. “I’ve gotten a lot better because of the individual workouts we get from the assistant coaches,” said Bowers. “All summer and in practice I’ve really concentrated on my power moves and posting up. I’m still learning the offense but I think that I have a pretty good grasp of it.” For Bowers, the waiting game proved to be the most difficult part of his first college game. “I was nervous all day,’ he said. “Every class seemed like it would never end and all I could really think of was the game. But once I got into the lockerroom I was fine. I was really focused and was ready to go.” Even though he might have got pushed and bumped around inside by EA’s Chuck Roberts and Johnny Parker, it was nothing like the shot he took from teammate Mike Jones in practice 10 days ago. That may have been his 'welcome to college basketball' event. “I was in the middle of the lane and Mike came off of a screen and drove down the lane. I was going to take a charge so I stood there with my hands ready to take the contact and his elbow came up and knocked my tooth out.” The next day, Bowers was sporting braces and a gash on the inside of his mouth that has kept him from eating much in the last week. “I dropped down to around 236 pounds from 245 this week because I couldn’t eat,” he said. "But the cut is healing and I’ve been able to put some of the weight back on.” Bowers came into summer workouts pushing 250 pounds, but easily lost some baby fat and is hovering around the 245 mark. “I was really out of shape but by the time practice rolled around I was feeling pretty good. I shouldn’t have too much trouble with my weight because I’m getting these braces off in a week or so and then I should be back to normal.” Coming off of the bench and playing well in against EA All-Stars was no real surprise for Williams. “We recruit guys to play right away,” he said. “Again, I was surprised with his first shot but he did what he was supposed to do in that situation.” In high school Bowers showed some good range on his outside jumpers but for now Williams has focused his game on the lane. “We want Will to shoot the ball. In the scrimmage Will made a couple of nice jump shots. He will do that. But right now we need him to be an inside, tough power player. I just told him not to shoot the jumper right now if he wants minutes. Really, that’s how it works.” With a real lack of a power game from the returners beyond Jamar Smith, both Bowers and Hassan Fofana should factor more and more as the season progresses. Fofana is still picking up the system and is not as far along as Bowers. “I really don’t put limit on that stuff," said Williams. “He might work himself into more minutes than that. I’m open to whatever happens. That’s what you do to a relatively new team. You stay open and read what happens. Guys will earn their playing time.”


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