Monday, June 05, 2006

Terps Basketball Will Be Okay

I'm not sure what all of the panic surrounding the Maryland Men's basketball program is about. There has been a lot of assistant coaching turnover the last few years and that has now lead to one recruite changing his mind about committing to Maryland. Okay. The assistants have turned over because they learned a bunch from Gary and now they want a crack at some other positions where they are either in charge or have a chance to get a position where they are in charge. Several of the assistants where not around more thana year and that hurts consistance and recruiting a bit.

Let's not go off then handle here though. People are now saying that Gary doens't do enough recruiting himself and that he isn't a good recruiter. That is crap. Take a look at the last few recruiting classes that he brought in before the last tow years. He didn't have good recruiting the last few years because had very few scholarships to give. When he did, he brought home what looked like some of the best classes in the country. Take a look at the archives on Scout.com or on Rivals.com. He had top five classes for two years in a row. The propblem is that the guys didn't work out in these classes. We all know what bust the McCray, NKM, Gilcrest, Garrison class was. Most of that was personal issues with the players. The next class was highly touted as well. Mike Jones, Ibekwe, Bowers, Fofana, and DJ Strwaberry. Take look at this. Jones has never lived up top the hype. Ibeqwe is not the stud we thought he could be. Fofana just plain couldn't do anything but foul, so he never saw playing time. Bowers looked like he might develop, but had a very disappointing year last year. The only person who really might exceed expectations is DJ. Having to take on the roll of the PG last year made his ball handling skills much better. He will never be a stud PG, but he can be a very dangerous and skilled player at the 2 down the stretch if they have a good PG to pass to him.

So what does this all mean? Nothing. Gary will regroup and get the players he needs to be competative again. It maybe better if the Terps don't get all ofthe nationally touted players. The champoinship team and the final four teams that the Terps fielded were made up of players that Gary found and liked. He didn't get them off the McDonalds All American roster. They just worked hard and played well as a team. One thing that people are overlooking when they look at the last two years is that Maryland only missed the tournament by one win both years in most likelyhood and that was without a really good PG. If Gilcrest had not been a psycho and totally screwed the team chemistry up two years ago and last year they had a true PG to run the offense, there is no question that the team would have been good enough to get into the big dance both times.

What Maryland needs is a stong effort by the incoming freshman class and then a solid class behind that one and all of this will be long forgotten. We will have 2 of the three main ingredients to a successful team after this class comes in. 1. a solid point guard and 2. a shooter who can score and be a leader (Vasquez). The third thing is a SOLID player in the low post. We will have that the following year with B. Dupree. Has anyone noticed that when we have a solid big guy down low we are competative? Lonny, Jamar Smith, Randle, Obinna. These guys helped a ton. The last few have either beenthe "wirey athletic" type like Ibekwe or just lame like Garrison. In order for the lean, athletic big guys to be effective, we have to have a bulky, rebounding, back to the basket player to compliment them. The big guys that we have had recnely liked to shoot jumpers more than muscle their way inside. We need a Craig Smith type of player to post up inside to open up the outside for Jones and Company.

Forget the crappy sports writers at the Baltimore Sun. They know nothing about the Terps and just like to use shock value to try to gain readership. They are the newspaper equivilent to a reality TV show. Crap. No substance.

Mark my words. You heard it here. Maryland will be better this year than last year. Eric Hayes will be a huge help at PG, Jones got better as the year went on last year because he actually got to play, DJ can be great if he is consistent and the other incoming freshmen will bring a new level of engery to the team. Having only one or two new players on the team the last few years has hurt the energy level and it has shown. Maryland WILL go to the tournament next year and will return to the top part of the ACC standings within 2 years.

Gary knows what he is doing. He didn't just get lucky before.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Terps Survive UVA

The Maryland Terrapins barely survived against UVA on Tuesday night at The Comcast Center. I was stuck in traffic and didn't make the game until about 10 minutes of the game were already gone. Thank God. I walked in and almost couldn't believe it when I saw that the Terps were already down 23-10. I knew it was going to be a long night and wasn't until about 10 minutes left in the second half that I thought we would win.

Finally things started to drop in the hoop for the Terps and they started to get some defensive rebounds. Finally Ibeqwe woke up and dominated the boards. When the Terps control the boards and don't give easy second chance baskets away they seem to thrive. It's almost as if the offense is fueled by the defense (and I'm not talking about fast break points).

Several observations...The first is that if the Terps are scoring with either Strawberry or Parrish Brown at the point Gary should leave Sterling Ledbetter on the bench. Several times in the game, Gary substituted him in and both times the offense went from scoring well to dead in the water. That is no joke. It wasn't that he didn't pass well or turn the ball over. It was just for some reason when he was at the point no one seemed to be able to score. Shots that were working before just would rim out or the guys in the front court couldn't get enough space to make shots. Maybe having DJ's ability to drive the basket opens up the front court and makes everyting about the defense looser. I don't know.

Second observation is that Mike Jones needs to be smart. What was that pathetic attempt at a turnaround jam with only a two point lead? Gary had to be fuming. I think that if Mike Jones just used his head a bit more he would be outstanding. He make great shots, but for every shot he makes he seems to screw up 2 or 3 times.

The turnovers are way down over the last few games and that is huge heading into Saturday's matchup agains You-know-Who. This game will be critical. A win on Saturday would look great to the selection committee. The Terps are teetering on the edge of making the big dance and they could really use a marquee win.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Maryland Blows Great ACC Road Win Opportunity

Once again the Maryland Terrapins blew a chance to win a big ACC game on the road. A win at NC State would have been a great resume builder for the NCAA tournament committee. Maryland was offensivly inept and did not take advantage of the opprotunity. The Wolfpack didn't play particularly well and the Tpers had many opportunities to take the lead and stretch it.

There are several things that the Terps will have to do to win down the stretch. First, they need to defend the three point shot better. Teams are making double the number of 3's against the Tpers than they usually make. This is killing them. The second thing that needs to happen is improvment inside. Where has Ibeqwe gone? He was great at the beginning of the year. He has had little to no production over the last few games and the Terps have lost because of it. What about Garrison? This guy is a huge letdown. Please graduate already. He may be the worst McDonald's All American ever. Can you say bust? Just go already.

Maryland will need some inside scoring to open up Jones and company on the outside. Until the Terps prove to be a threat underneath the basket, people will smother Ibeqwe. At least Gist looks decent.

How about a a few rebounds? We are getting killed on the boards and the opponents are getting tons of second and third chance points.

I am going to the game on Tuesday night against Virginia and for the first time in years, I am actually not looking forward to it. I just can't stand to see a team implode like ther Terps are.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Terps Fail to Gain Any Consistancy

Maryland let another game slip by on Thursday night when the Tar Heels came to College Park and beat the Terps on their home court. The second half offense for Maryland was pathetic and Maryland's inability to play any kind of half court defense led to their demise. You can't afford to go cold on offense if your defense is giving up wide open three point shots. This has been a problem for the Terps in the past and once again this year it is a huge problem. Guys from Carolina that almost never score were knocking down wide open 3's. Who couldn't? There were shots that were so uncontested that they looked like free throws on a technical foul.

Where were the Terps on the boards? They got dominated and spanked on the boards last night and that lead to a bunch of second chance points for the Heels. If this team has any prayer of making the tournament they are going to have to step up. DJ Strawberry carried the offese in the first half and then disappeared in the second half. Nik had a terrible night. Ibeqwe looked the worst I have ever seen him and James Gist was really out of it when he went to take shots. He was throwing up terrible airballs that he would normally nail. Just a bad game all around.

The only positive that they can take from this was that they didn't turn the ball over as much as they have for the past few games. It doesn't matter though if you can't hit any shots and you lose the game.

Step it up Terps or you'll be sitting on your butts in March. Again.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Mike Jones, the Sweet and Sour Chicken of College Basketball

Losing to Temple was pathetic. I'm sorry, but there is just no excuse for that. I want to say that Maryland gets unlucky in that teams always seem to have their best shooting day against us, but after a while it just comes down to one thing. Maryland plays very poor half court defense. They over committ on shots and then leave other guys wide open for easy 3's. They fail to box out on many occasions and give the other team easy second chance opportunities, and the turnovers on the offensive end become easy points for the other team.

Mike Jones! What is up with that guy. He was on fire, but at the same time I have never seen anyone have more turnovers. It is not really all that helpful to your team to score 23 points but turn the ball over 6 times all by yourself. That doesn't even count all the passes that didn't get stolen, but were tipped and disrupted the offense. The guy has so much upside, but he always counters it with poor decisions as well. His stroke is sweet, his passing is sour. He's the guy that needs to step up if this team wants to make a run down the stretch.

The turnovers just need to stop. I don't know why that is so hard. Are they telegraphing their passes or something? Every team seems to be able to get in the passing lanes so easily this year against us.

Scoring isn't the problem for the Terps. Playing smart on both ends fo the court will win us some games. It's the mental errors that need to be addressed and I'm not sure these guys are capable of doing it. I have a source inside the organization that said, "These guys are just dumb." That's not good when your own people don't think you are smart enough to be a great team. The Terps are plenty athletic. They need to work on mental skills and toughness.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Terps Okay Without McCray

Everyone, including me, wanted to see how Maryland would hold up without senior Chris McCray last night at Georgia Tech. It was the first game that the Terps played since finding out that Chris was suspended for the rest of the semester. Finding a way to replace their leading scorer and defender is going to be a test for the rest of the season.

Last night the Terps proved that they have enough fire power to win some games. Georgia Tech is a bit down this year, but any road win in the ACC is a good win and it is just what the doctor ordered for Maryland.

Nik Caner-Medley was a beast in the game and carried the Terps offense in the second half. I know there are a lot of Nik nay sayers out there, but he has been great the last few games. If Nik can hold on to that level of play and Jones steps up to fill in the gaps for McCray, the Terrapins will be okay down the stretch.

I think Chris McCray was a good player and he was the team's leading scorer and defender, but losing him is not the end of the world. Let's look at the facts. The team's defense with him wasn't so terrific, so they may not lose a whole lot there. He was the leading scorer, but he was also playing a ton of minutes. I am willing to bet that if you gave Jones that many minutes he would outscore McCray. Jones supposedly isn't the defender that Chris was, but maybe if he is getting more minutes and he gets his confidence up we will see a different level of play out of him. In my humble opinion, Jones has been playig scared since the day he started playing for Gary. When he looks relaxed and just goes out and plays he does well. When he isn't playing well it always looks like he is nervous. I think he is scared that if he makes one bad play Gary will yank him out of the game. Guess what. I think he is right. Now that the team is going to have to play him, I think he will relax and step up.

We're sorry to see McCray's career at Maryland end this way, but it's his own fault and the team has to move forward without him. I've said it before, the Terps don't have a stud that they can count on to carry them game in and game out. Different people are going to have to step up and contribute. They have plenty of fire power. On any given night Caner-Medley, Gist, Ibekwe, or Jones could have a huge night. Garrison and Strawberry have had a few big games as well and could have one any time. This is going to be an interesting season going forward, but in the long run losing McCray may make the other guys better players.

Good luck Terps. We'll be watching you.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Terps Look Like A High School Team Against Duke

I have never been as disappointed in the University of Maryland Terrapins as I was watching the MD vs Duke game last night. I will give Duke credit. They played good defense and hit a bunch of 3 pointers when they were open (and sometimes when they were covered).

My problem with last night's atrocious game was the turnovers. Some were forced, but many were just horrible. People passing the ball so hard that the other guys couldn't catch it. Passing the ball so soft that it gets stolen by Duke. Dibbling the call off our own feet. The list goes on and on. The stats show 30 turnovers, but is really more like 50 when you look at how many forced shots the Terps took. There were so many shots taken that had no prayer of going in that you have to call them turnovers. Garrison, McCray, Nik, what were you guys doing? You are seniors. I can't believe how you caved under the pressure. It was sad. It was ugly. It was pitiful. If they continue to play even close to that bad they are out of the tourney again for sure. They won't even make the NIT playing like that.

Duke actually tried to let them back into the game early in the second half when they went totally cold for a long time. The problem was that MD didn't step it up.

Not even counting the crappy shots that they missed (and there were a lot), if Maryland could have scored on 30% of their posessions that ended in turnovers they would have been within a few points of Duke. Think about that. 10 of the 30 turnovers converted into 2 or 3 points a piece and you have at least 20-25 more points. You do the math. They could have won this game if the offense was even mediocre. Sad. Mark my words. Duke will not win the National Championship. Reddick and Williams are really all they have. The rest of the guys are role players at best for now. If a team with a strong front court goes after Shelden Williams and gets him in foul trouble. They become a one man show. Reddick, and as good as he is, that won't be enough against a talented and balanced team. That is how the Terps kept on beating Duke over the last few years. Get Duke's thin front court in foul trouble, then dominate the paint and the glass. Maryland couldn't complete a pass inside last night, so there was no hope of challenging Willliams in the paint.

One last comment. Why does anyone even try to hit garrison with a crisp pass in the paint. I love the guy because he's one of our boys, but he has hands of stone.

Terps better get their S__t together quick or they will be buried in the ACC.