The story of Adrian Bowie's junior season was nothing like his sophomore year.
In his second season with Maryland, Bowie started 28 games. But with the emergence of Sean Mosley and the return of Eric Hayes to the starting lineup, Bowie drew a starting nod once --- and that was because Greivis Vasquez was late to a shootaround on Dec. 12.
And it isn't as if Bowie was logging major minutes off the bench. Going into the NCAA tournament, he'd played 17 more minutes than fellow backcourt reserve Cliff Tucker --- and Tucker missed a game in there.
So before delving deeper into Bowie's season --- and it's not an easy task, since it's difficult to make concrete comparisons to a year earlier --- it is reasonable to take a look at other players in Gary Williams' 21 seasons with the Terrapins who have seen their minutes dip from their sophomore to junior seasons.
This list includes anyone who had their court time decreased by a minute a game, with a minimum of 100 minutes played in both the sophomore and junior seasons.
Well, isn't that interesting.
The bottom of the list is littered with stars, most of whom didn't need to play as much as juniors since help either arrived or matured.
But at the top of the list is Danny Miller, who promptly transferred to Notre Dame. Wayne Bristol was a career reserve, and his minutes totals of 148 (as a sophomore) and 112 (as a junior) barely made the cut for the parameters of this list. No one else is in shouting distane.
That basically means Bowie is going to be a fascinating test case in 2011.
Of course, that doesn't mean a whole lot for looking back on this past season.
Bowie, whose strength has long been his slashing ability, spent all of last summer doing two things. One, working like a madman in the weight room, where he was arguably strength coach Paul Ricci's best pupil. Two, hoisting jump shots with whatever free time he could muster.
In the early stages of the season, Bowie seemed as if he needed to show off his improved jumper. Trouble was, the 3 ball wasn't falling, and the drives to the basket weren't there. Soon enough, the minutes were gone, too.
The dividing line, it turned out, was New Year's Day. After a loss to William and Mary, Bowie busted out for 11 points at UNC Greensboro. Two weeks later, he dropped a season-high 15 points on Boston College.
Here's the divide in Bowie's 2009-10 season, based on the actual calendar year:
2009: 12 G, 1 GS, 3.0 points, 31.8 FG% (14/44), 20.0 3FG% (4/20), 15.3 minutes
2010: 21 G, 0 GS, 5.8 points, 46.9 FG% (46/98), 58.3 3FG% (14/24), 15.9 minutes
So Bowie scored twice as much, played a tick more and shot nearly three times as well from the outside against better competition, since 17 of those 21 games were against ACC teams.
In the context of the last two seasons, Bowie's November and December is anomalous. He's also probably not a guy who will make 50 percent of his 3-point attempts, though his judicious use of the outside shot gave Maryland a significant lift several times (at N.C. State, Georgia Tech, at Virginia) during a seven-game winning streak.
Nonetheless, he will take a better outside shot into his senior season. The minutes will be there, especially with Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes graduating. Clearly, a lot will be asked of the Greenbelt native, and he'll have a chance to graduate into a role as a key secondary scoring option.
As for what he can take from this year, avoiding an early slump would be the best thing to avoid repeating. Maryland weathered Bowie's rough start, and he was back playing 25 minutes a night in the NCAA tournament (an actual uptick from last season's average).
It would be much better for the Terps and Bowie if he exploited his quickness and explosiveness to the basket earlier in the season. The difference was substantial, and it eventually opened up the rest of his game. If Bowie learns from this, his junior year will be much more valuable than his first dozen games ever would have suggested.