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April 8, 2008

Season recap: Bobby Maze

Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College point guard Bobby Maze started his lone season at the junior college level with a fairly prominent target on his back.

Having left Oklahoma after his freshman season and resurfacing at Hutch as a sophomore, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Suitland native was well-known among JuCo players, coaches and fans before he ever suited up for the Blue Dragons.

But according to Hutchinson head coach Ryan Swanson, Maze not only embraced that spotlight -- he thrived in it.

“Bobby started the year at an extremely high level,” Swanson said. “He had some 30-point games for us early, he had some 12- and 13-assist games early, and he never got tired. He never fell off. I would say he might’ve gotten a little bit better at deciding when he needed to score and when he needed to get his teammates more involved. Bobby is a pass-first guy, but he knew we needed him to score.

“By the end of the year he got really good at reading what the defense was giving him. Some teams would box-and-one him, or do anything they could to not let him get 30 points, but then he’d get a bunch of assists. So he was a very good teammate in that regard.”

When Maze verbally committed to Maryland in December, his already high profile was elevated to another degree.

“Oh yeah, a lot was made of [Maze’s commitment to Maryland], especially when he had so many good games early,” Swanson said. “After we started out of conference after Christmas -- and that was about the time he committed to Maryland -- that was another bit of bulletin board material for another team. Hutch is one of only three junior colleges in the country with 1,500 wins. There’s a lot of tradition here and a lot of championships. As a team, we’re used to getting everybody’s best shot anyway, just like Bobby was individually getting everybody’s best shot.”

Maze responded to ‘everybody’s best shot’ by averaging 20.7 points, 6.8 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. He also shot 50.5 percent from the field, leading Hutchinson to a 23-9 record. For his efforts, Maze was named Most Valuable Player for the Jayhawk Conference Western Division.

Swanson said Maze’s play probably helped him immediately ascend to the role of team leader. But beyond that, Maze’s attitude and work ethic was embraced by his teammates and the coaching staff.

“Bobby was clearly our best player, but I think the guys also respected Bobby because he was also our hardest worker,” Swanson said. “He always stayed after practice to work on his game and encouraged others to do the same. So it was an easy transition for him. The thing that I appreciated about Bobby was that he didn’t come in thinking that junior college was beneath him like a lot of guys who transfer from Division I do.”

Swanson thinks Maze’s experience at Oklahoma and Hutchinson will help make his transition to Maryland rather seamless.

“I would think that he would have a lot easier time than most junior college players for two reasons; one is because he’s extremely talented, and two because he’s already been at the high-major level and been productive at that level,” Swanson said. “The talent level of the opponents, even though it’s going to go up drastically, is not something he’s never seen before. This is a kid who guarded [Kansas point guard] Sherron Collins and people like that. By no means will he be intimidated.”

Maze is currently finishing up his associate’s degree requirements. After that task is complete, Maze will enroll at College Park, completing a circuitous path which took him from Suitland to Patterson Prep (N.C.) to Oklahoma to Hutchinson. Swanson thinks Maze is finally ready to return to his home state.

“Right now he’s just focusing on trying to finish up academically strong,” Swanson said. “And he’s excited. It’s a chance to go back to playing in one of the best conferences in the country and a chance to go home to play. I think he’s extremely excited to go home and play.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:44 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Season recaps

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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