Thursday, December 11, 2008

Did Somebody Say "Road Trip?"

Have you always wanted to visit Boise on a Tuesday in December but just couldn't find the right excuse?

Well here it is Maryland fans: The Humanitarian Bowl!

It's Maryland vs. Nevada for nationwide bragging rights on just WHO is the BEST 7-5 team in the country. Oh, it's ON people.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Massive Amounts of Love for Steve Blake in Portland

After the 2002 national championship season, who might you have guessed would be the most successful Terp from that squad in the NBA?

You may have thought Juan Dixon, just because he is, well, Juan Dixon and carried Maryland to that championship. But a longer and more thoughtful analysis would lead you to to the eventual and correct realization that he's a little small to be a force in the NBA at the 2 and not a natural PG to make an impact at the 1. Hence, he's had a journeyman's career, reliably putting up points when given an opportunity, but never developing a presence as an important and long-term piece of the puzzle on anyone's roster. It's a shame but it's true. I will always stop and watch when Juan is in the game for the Wiz, or whoever, because Juan is the THE MAN for many reasons, but an NBA star he is not. This year, it seemed like he was going to be a regular in the rotation for the Wiz under Eddie Jordan, but Juan hasn't played particularly well and new coach Ed Tapscott has forced Juan to have a lot of DNP-coach's decision next to his name. I'm sure it'll get better eventually, tough times for the Wiz right now.

Then there's Chris Wilcox, the freak of nature athlete who left after his sophomore year. He's making big money in Oklahoma City(about $7 million per) and has career averages of 9.5 points, 5.5 rebounds. Wilcox is solid, not great. Since he's been out west his whole career, I honestly haven't seen him play much. My take from reading boxscores and the occassion article is that he is solid, but has never done anything to distinguish himself from other very capable forwards who do enough to stay in the rotation, but not enough to carry a team forward in a meaningful way (like, say, an Elton Brand).

In other words, as coach Gary likes to say, from a production standpoint, he's a lot like his current teammate and fellow Terp alum Joe Smith (career averages of 12 and 7). In fairness to Wilcox, his career numbers would be much better if he played more during his first few seasons with the Clippers (he backed up Brand). In the last 3+ seasons, Wilcox is averaging about 14 and 8 as a starter. That's very good, not exceptional, enough to make a lot of money for sure. His numbers are a bit down this year, perhaps because OKC is horrible. As a pro, let's give Wilcox a solid, slightly disappointed B.

Then there's Steve Blake. Out in Portland this season, Blake is averaging a career-high 11.4 points with 4.2 assists and shooting a career-best 43.3 percent on three-pointers. He's my pick as the best Terp in the NBA (especially given that Steve Francis has fallen off with injuries the last few years. Remember Steve Francis???) Blake puts up good numbers and has earned a role as an important, well-liked piece on a good young team. It also helps that he has largely overachieved during his NBA career. I would have guessed career back-up, with a John Crotty like run of a dozen seasons getting 10-15 minutes a game and basically being counted on to not screw up.

Blake has found a home in Portland, doing his unassuming thing, just moving the team along, and recently taking more and more big shots. He hit a 3-pointer in the last 10 seconds Sunday night to give the Blazers a big road win in Toronto. Shockingly to me, he has become a better long-range shooter than Juan Dixon.

Allow me to let the Portland Oregonian's outstanding beat writer Jason Quick make the case for Blake and his impact and importance on the young and very promising (15-7) Blazers team.

Here's a choice excerpt from a recent blog post:

Behind the scenes, Blake is a fiery competitor who can instantly set a tone in Blazers practices. He is the player most likely to kick over a bench in practice or punt a ball into the rafters, and he is the only Blazer who spent part of his summer wrestling and working out with a professional Ultimate Fighter (Nate Quarry).

His teammates also call him one of the smartest on the team, knowing just the right time to call plays for certain players. But above all, he is perhaps the most selfless guy on the team -- not caring about his points, or statistics for that matter -- which is such an important trait for a point guard.

"He's just leading this team," McMillan said.

Here's a link to the full post. Don't miss the reader comments so you can read how much Blazers fans appreciate Blake. Good stuff.

Signs of Life

Terps showing nice signs of life last two games.
While the rest of the world was focused on Ravens-Skins, Maryland whipped GW Sunday night in a game that was never close, 76-53.
You know, I've been thinking a lot about how Maryland has zero good big guys down low, but they do have big guards, which has to help. Greivis is 6-6 and Eric Hayes is 6-4, and lately GV has been rebounding the ball - he went into double figures in boards the last two games.

After the two horrendous losses to Gonzaga and Georgetown, the Terps have bounced back nicely. The win over Michigan looks ever better now that the Wolverines beat Duke over the weekend; and after lots of tinkering, it seems Gary is starting the find a rotation he trusts.
Cliff Tucker, out. Adrian Bowie in.
Braxton Dupree out, Dino Gregory in.
Dave Neal - real minutes, every game = good news.

The last two games, the starting five has been Vasquez, Hayes, Neal, Bowie, and Milbourne; with Gregory off the bench first in the frontcourt and Mosley looking like the first guard/wing off the bench.

Not exactly sure how/why Tucker has fallen so far out of favor so fast - he started the season starting, but me likes some Adrian Bowie. Dude is the best finisher around the basket Maryland has had since Drew Nicholas and find ways to score time after time.

I still think this is not a great team, but they aren't bad either. Onward and upward.

Next up -- we now enter the "we better win this game" portion of the schedule, with six consecutive home games against Delaware State, American, Bryant, Elon, Charlotte, and Morgan State before the ACC schedule starts. Win them all and Maryland will be 12-2 and looking a lot like the counterfeit Clemson teams of the past 15 years who always start 12-2 and then go 6-10 in the ACC.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Zags Win Big

Time will have to tell whether Maryland's win over Michigan State on Turkey Day was indeed a big-time victory over a top 10 team. The Spartans' ranking said 6th, but they certainly didn't look or play like it. It was a perfect set-up for a Maryland win - their big 7-footer was out with an injury and their athletic, do it all, 6-8 forward got into early foul trouble and was never a factor. As a result, Maryland got to play a game against a team as small as they are; and the Terps got it done. 

Last night against Gonzaga, Maryland ran into a team that looked and played much more like a top 10 team. The Zags were huge and athletic and pretty much man-handled Maryland, winning easily, 81-59. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Last I checked, this was a "big time" program, right?

As readers of this blog and my other stuff know, I enjoy Maryland basketball. Even when it's bad, it's good. There is never a shortage of story lines and intriguing player developments. Is Greivis really that good? (maybe) Will Gary ever calm down? (don't bet on it) Will the fans embrace the team even if they lose more than they win? (only the die-hards). My favorite subplot this year might be just simply watching Jin Soo Kim. He's interesting.

Hell, wouldn't it be a little boring if Maryland just clicked along in the top 10 every year like ... well ... nevermind. Here at Terps Nation, we embrace the underdog role, we even like it.

So it is that to keep myself informed, I often venture over to to check on the basics, like the stats and the schedule and to find out which network is carrying the game, and then get annoyed when the SEASON OPENER is not on televesion. But I digress from where I'm going with this, which is online.

I am often amused, but the right word is incredulous, to see that in this era, the basketball program does not A) don't do anything particularly interesting or innovative on their site; and B) does not even make sure the content is up to date.

Here then, is a short list of exciting things you can do on the Maryland basketball portion of the website:

Watch a video with the click inducing headline "Maryland All Access," with about half the picture missing from the little box, encouraging viewers to buy tickets to the upcoming 2K Sports College Hoops Classic. The only problem is that this took place in early November. Last year.

Link to a copy of the 2007-2008 men's basketball media guide, just in case you wanted to re-read Boom Osby's player bio.

Link to the Coach Gary Williams website, where our fearless leader welcomes you with a "message from the coach" that begins, "The 2007-2008 season is quickly approaching and I am very excited about our team this year." I was too coach.

You can also link to the always fun, "Terps in the Pros" section of the site, which informs the inquisitive reader that Maryland's all-time leading scorer and ultimate hero, Juan Dixon, currently plays for the Toronto Raptors.

Listen, I'm not saying everything has to be perfect. I don't think anyone is going to bitch if you don't have the link to the team Mike Jones is currently playing for in Romania (link courtesy of the fabulous, "Maryland Basketball: Where are they Now?" But wouldn't it be fun if it did? Why shouldn't Maryland's own basketball website keep religious track of its former players in the pros for the enjoyment of its fans?

I simply cannot imagine that there is not a hoops crazy Maryland student who would like nothing more than an internship with the sports information department where his sole responsibility in life is to update content constantly on the basketball portion of the site. A few minutes cruising around to other ACC teams' sites might even inspire some creative new ideas. They could even just look at what the women's program is doing on the web, which is pretty cool. Tons of video and exclusive content.

There was a time, and it wasn't long ago, that Maryland didn't need to do much to promote its men's basketball team. They had great college players, won a national championship, and opened a beautiful new building. The fans came running, wallets open. Those days, however, are long gone. The seats will likely be filled for the top ACC games, but if the early season is any indication, there very little buzz about this team, and plenty of apathy. More fans than anyone inside the program would like to admit, even in the student section, seem to be disguised as red seats. One place where the program could get it right and encourage more and better fan interaction is online; and right now, the Terps are dropping the ball.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Greivis Heaves Us to Win, But it Was Not Pretty

I attended the game Friday night at Comcast and here are some thoughts, impressions, questions and random observations after Maryland's 89-74 overtime win:

They are 3-0 with wins over 2 bad teams (Youngstown and Bucknell) and one win over a quality small conference team in Vermont.

Vemont should have won the game. They played better.

Don't know about you, but if I'm UVM coach Mike Longergan, I foul Maryland with 10 seconds left when I'm up by three. To tie the game, Maryland has to hit two foul shots and foul again and hope for another possession; or make the first, miss the second intentionally, get the rebound and score. I am convinced that it's WAY more difficult to pull off either of those scenarios than it is to make a contested 3-pointer. Your D is typically paranoid and doesn't want to foul, so sometimes teams get good looks, and it just seems to happen all the time where the team that's trailing forces overtime. On the flip side, I've NEVER seen a team come back to tie or win when they are down 3 and then forced to shoot 2 and get a rebound and another basket, doesn't ever seem to happen.

Maryland doesn't appear to have anyone in the frontcourt who is even decent for this level.
Dave Neal might be their best big man, he can certainly shoot - made two HUGE three points to help save the Vermont game down the stretch - but I would venture to guess that Dave is not going to win a dunk contest anytime soon. Not that you have to win a dunk contest to be good big man. But you do have to be able to jump or be taller than he is (listed at 6-7).

Braxton Dupree started Friday night and played 8 total minutes. OK...

It's kind of an interesting coaching challenge for Gary. He really does have impressive guards and wings in abundance - Greivis has been outstanding and Hayes is solid. Both Tucker and Bowie appear to have improved since their freshman year and can be relied upon. Then there's the freshman Sean Moseley, who is skilled and strong at 6-4, 200+, but his minutes might be sporadic early on as he learns Gary's system. Milbourne is solid but clearly playing out of position as a 4; and then you have the X factor in Jin Soo Kim, the 6-8 South Korean who has yet to get off his feet for the jump ball that started the overtime period against Vermont.

So what we're seeing Gary do is play 4 skilled guys and one big man, and those four guys rotate among the group that includes all the guys I just mentioned. The 5-man is a rotation between Dupree, Steve Goins, Neal, and Jerome Burney. It's definitely interesting, not sure if it's any good, but it's interesting. Put it this way, James Gist would look like Dwight Howard on this team.

The crowd was about 2/3 to 3/4 full. Not a packed house, but I would say the house capacity was about the equivalent of my hair line back in about 1995; there were still remnants of the jew-fro, but it was retreating quickly. Now I don't expect Maryland's crowd to, uh, go Chrome Dome, but the Terps could use some Rogaine in the form of wins against good teams. [What ever happened to Propecia? I tried all that stuff in the 90s by the way and eventually just said forget it, I'll be a bald guy, been happier ever since.]

I sat for most of the game with friends who actually WENT to Vermont directly behind the Catamounts bench. Cool view to see what the coaches were saying and doing. Not so cool to not see about 1/3 of the action with the players an coaches standing. "um, excuse me coach, down in front?" Nah.

The Maryland fans love Jin Soo Kim. They go crazy whenever he gets in the game. Something about a 6-8, 135 pound Korean guy just gives them the feel goods.

You know, in basketball, it is possible to have a very good team with only one GREAT player and a solid supporting cast. Look at what the incandescent Stephen Curry is doing at Davidson. So if Greivis really is a special player and not just a good player, perhaps Maryland can have a solid year. But I think the reality is that Greivis is very good, like second team All ACC good, but he thinks he's Magic Johnson, and Maryland will be OK, but will be climbing uphill against any team with a decent front court.

This week will be a good test. It's Michigan State on Thanksgiving night, the winner or loser of Gonzaga/Oklahoma State on FRiday, and a consolation game Sunday.

Random plug here, but if you ever go to a Maryland game and can get there early and want to grab a drink, head straight to the golf course bar off 193, delightful scene in there, really.

After the game, we went to Bentley's for a few drinks. We got there are 10:30 and the crowd was light. By 11:30, it was a packed out college crowd. I felt ancient, but it was entertaining to watch the youngsters take lots of camera pictures, I assume to post immediately to Facebook. College.

That's all I've got for now, I can't decide if I want to care about this team.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Md. 73, Youngstown State, 49

Maryland won easily over another bad team last night, 73-49 over Youngstown State. From listening the game on the radio and reading a few reports, sounds like Greivis was great and everyone else was, eh. GV had 28, a career high, with his family in town in the stands. That's good stuff.

What's not is Maryland getting outrebounded by 10; I guess it doesn't matter when you're winning by 25, but the frontcourt, or lack of any talent on the frontcourt, will continue to be a problem.

Give credit to the schedule makers, for making sure that the young Terps were not tested by anyone decent en route to a 2-0 start; now it gets tougher.

Friday night, Vermont will come in expecting to win the game, as Gary said in his post-game press confernece last night. The Catamounts, coached by Mike Lonergan - who spent many years building Catholic into a DIII powerhouse and one year on the sidelines with Gary -- bring a quality squad to College Park. They were picked to win their league, the America East (same conference as UMBC) and are 1-1 so far, having blown out Yale and losing to George Mason in overtime.

By the way, no TV for the first two games is a joke for a wannabe big-time program. Find a way Maryland, how many regional sports networks does one market need before every game is on TV? I've also heard rumblings that Gary is pissed that the seats aren't full. I'm guessing the tickets are sold, but plenty of the boosters who ponied up when the Comcast Center opened don't bother attending the non conference games, hence empty seats and a subdued atmosphere. Maryland wanted a new, modern arena and to get it, they sold Terp points like PSLs and priced out the old, and brought in the new. The new blood doesn't care much about Youngstown State on a Tuesday night. Hopefully a Friday night game against a decent team will encourage more fans and more noise. Maryland might need it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Terps Beat Bucknell Await Youngstown, Vermont

Maryland is (whew) 1-0 through the first of its "you must win this game" games on its schedule, with a sound if not exactly smooth thrashing of visiting Bucknell last week. According to those who attended the game - who were, incidentally, the only people who actually SAW the game because there was, unforgivably in my opinion, no TV coverage -- Maryland played OK and Bucknell stinks to high heaven and doesn't have anyone who is any good.

So a bunch of guys scored in double figures, led by Cliff Tucker's 14, a career high; everyone played, and Maryland avoided embarrassment. Onward and upward to tonight's game vs. Youngstown State, then Friday night against Vermont. Then it gets real interesting, with a game on Thanksgiving night (no turkey for the Terps) against Michigan State in the first round of something called the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.

Having not seen Maryland play in actual competition, I will reserve judgment and evaluation on this year's team. I have tickets to tonight's game and may go if, at 7 p.m., I feel like driving to College Park for an 8 p.m. tip on a really cold night to see the Terps take on Youngstown State. I read somewhere that Youngstown has five Juco transfers on its roster which is, incidentally, five more than Maryland. I think this might be the first year since Steve Francis that Gary hasn't grabbed a juco guy, ending a line that included Ryan Randle, that point guard who got into a car accident, what's his name, Jamar Smith, Boom Osby, and I'm sure I'm missing a few.

My chief concern about this Maryland team is the fact that they don't seem to have anyone over 6-7 who belongs on the court in an ACC game. I am willing to suspend disbelief and give Braxton Dupree a chance to prove that he can become the second coming of Lonny Baxter's third cousin, Sal, who played briefly for Virginia Commonwealth and averaged 7 points and 5 rebounds a game back in the 80s, but I fear that he is a beefy, semi-competent placeholder until better talent arrives.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Welcome to the Start of the 08-09 Season, Inspired?

I have been kind of avoiding my own blog lately, not sure what to say about Maryland basketball these days. If you pay any attention to preseason polls or previews, most people think Gary and the Terps will be either A) bad or B) largely irrelevant.

The Maryland season tips off Friday night at home against Bucknell at 8 p.m. in a game they could definitely lose. Bucknell is a decent team and Maryland might not be.

The Washington Post pointed out that some previews didn't even mention Maryland in their ACC games, teams, or players to watch list; Maryland has become uninteresting.

Time will tell. I have always said, "let's evaluate the product on the court" as opposed to getting worked up about which players are on which recruiting top 100 lists. Put it this way, Juan Dixon was on no one's lists and Mike Jones was on everyone's. Who was the better college player?

So let's give Gary a chance this year to show what he can do with a new team. It should be interesting to see Greivis playing the 2 and the wing with Hayes running the point. I am curious just how good Sean Moseley might be; and if Landon Milbourne has improved from a decent role player to a solid ACC performer.

Then there's perhaps the season's most intriguing subplot. The 6-8, 190-pounder from Suwon South Korea, Jin Soo Kim. Apparently the dude can play, he had 20 points in 20 minutes in the Terps' only preseason game, and get this, he has three names, all with three letters, and he likes to shoot 3-pointers. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

On graduation rates and meaning

Of all the measurements of a basketball program's success, where should we rank "graduation rates?" Is it relevant? Important? If Chris Wilcox is making $8 million a year in the NBA, but never graduated, does it matter? Obviously Wilcox is an extreme example, but worth mentioning to put in context the dismal results of graduation rates from the Maryland program that came out this week.

It was revealed that a year after posting a big fat zero, the Maryland program improved to a 10 percent graduation rate among freshman entering the program from 1998-99 to 2001-2002. These players enjoyed the most successful and acclaimed era in Maryland basketball history, yet they weren't much on the student part of student athlete. All of this leaves me wondering, "does it matter?"

Even the most supportive advocate of collegiate sports at the highest level acknowledges the hypocrisy and conflict of interests involved. Every ACC basketball player on scholarship likely expects his career to be "basketball," for the next 10-15 years, realistic or not. And these players are celebrities on campus, given special treatment, and live a life that is so different than the average college experience that it's laughable. Think of it this way, if you had a game at Duke or Florida State or Clemson on ESPN at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday, how focused would you be for your sociology test on Thursday?

All of this is not to say that it's acceptable to just not graduate ANY players. That's pathetic and embarrassing. So is 10 percent and Gary should be called on it. The Athletic Department has already spun the data, saying it is not an accurate portrayal of the current state of affairs, but last I checked the same coach was in charge when the players covered in the current report entered and left College Park. We can't leave all the blame at Gary's feet. Players are given tutors and scheduling accommodations in order to counterbalance their in-season time commitments. As many have said, the players have to want to graduate.

But, and this is where I have a major problem with Gary, there also must be a culture where graduation is an expectation, not a rarely achieved "nice to have" reach goal.

If you don't think it's a big deal, imagine how much fun you'd have at the expense of Duke if it came out that Coach K's lauded program was graduating zero or 10 percent of its players. Think that will ever happen?

As a longtime fan of Maryland basketball, I am conflicted. I find it embarrassing that the school can't graduate players, but have a hard time calling guys like Juan Dixon, Wilcox, Drew Nicholas, Lonny Baxter, and Terence Morris -- all of whom are making big money playing in the NBA or overseas -- "unsuccessful." Clearly they are making it in their chosen career path, which is basketball.

And if Maryland and other so-called big-time programs exist to prepare men for life and their careers, then you would have to say they are preparing these and other players well. But that leaves the farce of their classroom education to be reconciled.

Or maybe not. Maybe it's enough for a player with professional basketball talent to put in some classroom and campus time to become a more well rounded and educated individual, and the ceremony of graduation is just that. Maybe it just doesn't matter.

The good news, I suppose, is that the numbers will improve over time. The program has already made a show of pointing out that D.J. Strawberry, James McAlpin, Boom Osby, and James Gist all earned degrees, so zero percent won't rear its ugly ahead in the near future.

It's a step in the right direction, but when you're DFL in graduation rates, the only place to go is up.

Here's discussion on the issue from the Post and Sun if you're interested.

If you read this far, please take a moment to vote in the poll on the right on the topic, it will be interesting to understand how fans feel on the issue.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Finally on, an updated roster

I noticed on Maryland's official sports website,, that they just recently updated the men's basketball roster to reflect the team that will take the court this season. For a long time, they had last year's roster up there, likely because this year's roster was not finalized; and perhaps because last year's basketball SID left Maryland to become the sports information director for the Southern Conference. 10 bonus points if you can name one school in the Southern Conference.

Got one?

Your best bet, and probably a top 25 team, is Davidson, of Stephen Curry fame.

Anway, Maryland's roster this season looks like this:

22Adrian BowieGuard6-2190SO-HSGreenbelt, Md. (Montrose Christian)
32Jerome BurneyForward6-9222SO-HSAtlanta, Ga. (Westlake)
4Braxton DupreeCenter6-8260SO-HSBaltimore, Md. (Calvert Hall)
25Steve GoinsCenter6-10260FR-HSChicago, Ill. (Curie HS)
33Dino GregoryForward6-7227SO-HSBaltimore, Md. (Mount St. Joseph)
5Eric HayesGuard6-4184JR-1VWoodbridge, Va. (Potomac)

Jin Soo Kim*Forward6-7180FR-HSSouth Kent, Conn. (South Kent HS)
1Landon MilbourneForward6-7207JR-1VRoswell, Ga. (Oak Hill Academy)
14Sean MosleyGuard6-4210FR-HSBaltimore, Md. (St. Frances Academy)
35Dave NealForward6-7263SR-2VMcLean, Va. (Bishop O'Connell)
23David PearmanGuard/Forward6-6188SO-HSColumbia, Md. (Oakland Mills)
24Cliff TuckerGuard/Forward6-6190SO-HSEl Paso, Texas (Chapin)
21Greivis VasquezGuard6-6190JR-1VCaracas, Venezuela (Montrose Christian)
The newest name is Steve Goins, the 6-10 freshman center from Chicago, who will hopefully shore up an otherwise small and unaccomplished front line of Dave Neal, Dino Gregory, Braxton Dupree and probably our best hope, Jerome Burney.

I really hope Gary does something a little different this year and goes with a smaller, running lineup to take advantage of the weapons he does have, wouldn't it be fun to see a starting lineup of Vasquez, Cliff Tucker, Landon Milbourne, Sean Mosley, and Burney? You might swap Eric Hayes for the freshman Mosley, or Dupree for Milbourne or Tucker to get more size up front, but something tells me "innovative" will need to be a word to describe Gary's approach this year.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Maryland Basketball Team Shares spotlight with Gymkana

Just passing along a press release from the Maryland sports info dept:


Free tickets available to annual Terrapin basketball showcase

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The 2008 version of Maryland Madness hits the Comcast Center on Friday, Oct. 17, with doors opening at 6 p.m.

Free tickets are available to fans on a first-come, first-served basis. Call the Terrapin Ticket Office at 1-800-IM-A-TERP to reserve seats.

The introduction of both the University of Maryland men’s and women’s basketball teams will highlight the evening. The annual dramatic entrance onto the floor by men’s head coach Gary Williams will again be one of the special moments of a great evening.

Among the numerous activities planned for this year’s Maryland Madness are games, giveaways and activities for fans and students. Students arriving early will receive a T-shirt, courtesy of Pepsi. The spirit squad, dance team and the Maryland Gymkana Troupe are scheduled to perform.

Following the performances, the women’s basketball team will be introduced to the crowd, including comments by head coach Brenda Frese prior to the women’s scrimmage. The men’s team, including Williams, will be introduced to the crowd following the women’s scrimmage.

The University of Maryland Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will again sponsor a canned food drive for the event. Fans are encouraged to donate items to the Capital Area Food Bank. Drop locations will be situated inside the Comcast Center entrances, manned by members of Maryland student-athletes.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Juan Dixon, Back Where He Belongs

Dixon signed with the Wizards, here's the report from the Post.

Juan Dixon Needs a Squad

The all-time leading scorer in Maryland basketball history, the man who led the Terps to their greatest glory and has proven himself to be a reliable, if underestimated, scorer in the NBA ... is a man without a team right now.

Chris Wilcox has a long-term deal with the Sonics; Stevie Blake is a favorite son in Portland, it's Dixon that has had a harder time establishing a relied upon role with an NBA team. There were some great games in D.C., and a nice run as a the starting 2 in Portland for a while, but after bouncing from Toronto to Detroit last season, Dixon has not exactly been a hot free agent. There's been some talk of a return to the Wizards, but the only offer is a non-guaranteed contract at the veteran minimum, according to a report in the Post.

Dixon just needs the right opportunity. He has always put up points when given an opportunity, but his opportunities are growing more elusive.

Here's hoping there's a GM with the roster spot and vision to put Juan in a position to succeed pulls the trigger. Soon.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Top 10 Reasons to Continue Watching the Orioles in 2008

Now that football season has started and the Orioles are on pace to lose almost every game in September, there seems to be little reason to watch them play.

I beg to differ.

Without further adieu, here are the top 10 reasons I still (truly) watch Oriole games in September:
10. Morbid curiosity.
9. You visit relatives in the hospital don't you? Even if they've been in a coma for 10 years, you'd still check them out once in a while, wouldn't you?
8. Aubrey Huff's chase for the Triple Crown.
7. Dave Trembley's inability to hide his contempt for his own pitching staff.
6. To hear Jim Palmer talk about Jim Palmer, mixed in with an anecdote about a guy who just so happens to go by the name of Jim Palmer.
5. Because you just never know when Brandon Fahey might slap a single to left, providing inspiration for every 5-10, 150 pounder who thought the majors were out of reach.
4. To see if Daniel Cabrera "finds it," or be-heads a hitter.
3. Because it's baseball and baseball is good, even when it's really, really, really bad.
2. To try to catch instances when the camera is forced to show how empty the stands are.
AND the number one reason to continue watching Orioles baseball is:
1. The heroic optimism of Jim Hunter.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Your Football Team Might Stink If...

I'm not saying that the Maryland football team stinks and isn't worth your attention this season just because they lost at Middle Tennessee State; but I am saying that losing by 10 at Middle Tennessee State is a reliable indicator that the Maryland football team might stink and might not be worth your attention.

Under Armour: Good or Bad for Maryland Football Karma?
Ralph Friedgen came back to College Park in 2001 to run the Maryland football program. He brought a Midas touch his first three years:
2001: 10-2 (Orange Bowl)
2002: 11-3 (Peach Bowl)
2003: 10-3 (Gator Bowl)

Prior to the 2004 season, Fridge signed an apparel deal with Under Armour. Away went the swoosh, in came the interlocking "we bad" UA thing. Here's the record since:

2004: 5-6
2005: 5-6
2006: 9-4 (Champs Sports Bowl)
2007: 6-7 (Emerald Bowl
2008: 1-1 (the we just lost to Middle Tennessee State and probably aren't going to a bowl)

Fridge's record at Maryland before the Under Armour deal: 31-8 (.795 winning percentage)
Fridge's record at Maryland since the Under Armour deal: 26-24 (.520 winning percentage)

No wonder Fridge wasn't smiling at the press conference.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

We Mus Protek Dis Hows

The University of Maryland and Under Armour announced this week that the Baltimore company will supply gear and footwear (where available) to all 27 sports teams.

Immediately my thoughts raced to the competitive cheer squad, perplexed as to whether or not the most aggressive brand ever created yet made shoes designed specifically for the needs of those who cheer competitively.

Maryland's excellent school paper, the Diamondback, answered the question in its report on the deal, here's an excerpt:

While most teams will sport Under Armour jerseys in the near future, many will need to wait on footwear. According to (Md Associate AD Chris) Boyer, the company does not yet make athletic shoes for volleyball, wrestling and competitive cheer, and men's and women's basketball, soccer, track and field, tennis, golf and cross country and won't provide footwear for those sports for the coming school year. Additionally, the company does not yet manufacture uniforms for competitive cheer, gymnastics, swimming or water polo.

The teams for which Under Armour does not provide footwear or uniforms will continue making deals for those products individually with providers, Boyer said, as teams did prior to this agreement. Under the contract, however, Under Armour retains the right to begin outfitting those teams with footwear or uniforms once Under Armour starts making them.

So as you can see, Under Armour does not yet make competitive cheer or basketball shoes, or tiny swimsuits for that matter. So I guess this means we'll see that interlocking U logo on the basketball uniforms, but the fellas will wear Nikes on their feet.

As for Gary, if he has any sense of humor at all, I'm sure he and UA could get together to make or at least joke about a moisture wicking suit, but what we'll probably see is one of those little lapel pins.

As for the water polo team, they are just going to have to wait for Kevin Plank and company to start manufacturing a moisture wicking banana hammock.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

On Second Thought, Maybe Don't Put Baltimore on the Road Jerseys

Apparently we have reached the now inevitable and annual point in the baseball season when the Orioles don't just lose, they regularly embarrass themselves. Tonight's debacle, was Boston 14, Baltimore 2. This isn't a road trip, it's a sure thing for the home team. The Orioles in September have become the baseball pennant race's version of a homecoming game.

The Orioles started Rad Liz Tuesday night and he went 3 and a third and gave up 9 earned runs. His ERA is almost 8. To borrow from Lewis Black, "I will repeat that!" His ERA is almost 8! (picture Lewis ranting about this and wriggling his fingers is horror).

So here we are, after a season of early, sustained optimism, some great comeback wins and an offense that is one of the most prolific in the game -- one of only five to put up more than 700 runs -- and once again the Birds have become a late season laughingstock. I don't feel angry or frustrated, I feel duped. I let myself think this year was different. It ain't. Well, it is on one account. The Orioles have a pretty good offense, even a great one. Aubrey Huff would be an MVP candidate if he played on a team anywhere near contention. Dude is batting .312 with 30 HRs, 43 doubles, and 98 RBI.

He leads the league in hotel incidentals and total bases. Aubrey Huff!

I could go on and talk about the ridiculous second half Mora was having until he pulled a hammy; or the all around excellence of Markakis and Roberts, but what is the point?

The Orioles starting rotation, right now, is not just bad, it has to be the worst collection of wanna-be starters on a major league roster since Cal Ripken needed a comb. Who could possibly be worse? I know they've sustained lots of injuries, and endured career flameouts, and all manner of bad luck, but wouldn't Rodrigo Lopez would look like Jim Palmer in his prime on this team? Speaking of Palmer, what's he doing this weekend?

There isn't a single guy in the rotation who... Wait, there really isn't a single guy in the rotation. They have no rotation. Guthrie announced he's hurt; Cabrera is out, and the rest of them are total bums. Bums! They barely belong in Bowie, much less Fenway Park. Guess what major league hitters do to pitchers who aren't very good? THEY CRUSH THEM! They 14-2 them.

Chris Waters? Brian Burres? Garrett Olson? Rad Liz? The ERA of those four are, dis-respectively, 5.45 , 6.08, 6.53, and 7.91.

Those aren't ERAs, they are good scores in the floor routine.

I love when MASN flashes to the dugout for in-game shots of Dave Trembley after a string of walks or yet another tape measure home run and he is so blatantly disgusted that you can almost see him consciously trying not to have a temper tantrum. Don't get me wrong, Trembley deserves none of the blame here, but he's carrying all of the burden.

The Orioles' skipper has developed a permanent squint-scowl that might be the maddest face I've ever seen. It's like the face of an 8-year-old after you say, "make a mad face."

That's Trembley right now. Every game. And can you blame him? He doesn't have a starter WHO CAN MAKE IT OUT OF THE THIRD INNING.

This guy toiled in the minor leagues for 20-some years for this? Wouldn't you think that after all that time, once you got a chance to manage in the majors, they'd give you, oh, I don't know, A FEW MAJOR LEAGUE PITCHERS??!!

I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Here's Something New: Orioles Look Miserable

I might be one of only about a half dozen people paying regular attention to the Orioles right now. I was half watching tonight's game at Tampa Bay. By the bottom of the 4th, it was 10-0 Rays, Jeremy Guthrie had been pulled, Melvin Mora pulled a hamstring, and Ramone Hernandez got throw out of the game. Earlier in the day, it was reported that Daniel Cabrera, who stinks, has a sore back. Guthrie was the Orioles only good starting pitcher and even he's been bad the last two outings. Their rotation is now so makeshift that it doesn't actually exist. Trembley doesn't have a rotation. Truly. He said he'll take every series on a "series by series" basis from now through the end of the season. Right now the Orioles rotation is Guthrie, Brian Burres, Chris Waters, and whoever is hot at Hagerstown, if not Wellwood.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

D.J. Strawberry traded to Houston

In my new quest to post something relevant to Maryland basketball every few days from now through the start of the 2008-2009 season, it is my duty to inform otherwise unaware Terp faithful that D.J. Strawberry, perhaps the best Terp in the post NCAA championship era, has been traded to the Rockets from the Suns for rookie point guard Sean Singletary from UVa.

According to a story in the Houston Chronicle, D.J. has a non-guaranteed contract, which means he has to make the team in training camp in order to earn NBA coin.

“He’s got a shot to make it,” general manager Daryl Morey told the Chronicle. “He’s different. He’s athletic, can really defend multiple guard spots."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

2008-2009 Men's Basketball Schedule is Out

Just got the new men's hoops schedule for the upcoming season and, like that bald insurance salesman says in Groundhog Day, it's a doozy. Terps are the only ACC team to play home and away against UNC and Duke, which coach Gary points out in the official press release, apparently already preparing his notes for why the Terps won't make the tournament. Oh, come now, I kid our beloved coach, now entering his 20th season at the helm.

Terps also have games against Michigan State, Michigan, GW, perhaps Gonzaga, and those giant killers from American University are back for more.

With the off balance ACC schedule the Terps and everyone else in the league plays every since those money grubbing bastards at the league office ruined the perfect harmony of the round robin hoops schedule a few years ago so that they could beef up football by poaching the Big East and wrecking 8 other conferences in the process in order to watch Va. Tech play in the ACC football championship game every year, Maryland plays only the following league teams twice: Duke, Carolina, Virginia, Georgia Tech and Miami. (Duke and UVa are on the schedule twice every year, the rest rotate).

Terps play at home against Boston College, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech; and on the road at NC State, Florida State and Clemson.

Notes from the official press release (in case you weren't sure, the comments above were NOT from the official press release)

Other highlights on the schedule include an ACC/Big 10 Challenge matchup in Comcast Center with Michigan, a battle against George Washington in the BB&T Classic at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., and non-conference home games against two opponents which won the regular-season title in their respective leagues – Morgan State (MEAC) and American (Patriot).

The Terps have a seven-game homestand between Dec. 12 and Jan. 10, with the final game in that stretch being a Comcast Center matchup with Georgia Tech that serves as the ACC opener. Maryland will play all 16 of its conference games in a row, including back-to-back home games against North Carolina (Feb. 21) and Duke (Feb. 25).

The Terps open play at home on Friday, Nov. 14 against Bucknell.


Day Date Opponent Time Television
Sat. Nov. 8 NORTHWOOD (Exhibition) 2:00 --
Fri. Nov. 14 BUCKNELL 8:00 --
Tue. Nov. 18 YOUNGSTOWN STATE 8:00 --
Fri. Nov. 21 VERMONT 8:00 --
Thu. Nov. 27 vs. Michigan State (Old Spice Classic, Orlando) 7:00 ESPN2
Fri. Nov. 28 vs. Gonzaga/Oklahoma State (Old Spice Classic) TBA TBA
Sun. Nov. 30 at Old Spice Classic, Orlando TBA TBA

Wed. Dec. 3 MICHIGAN (ACC/Big 10 Challenge) 7:30 ESPNU
Sun. Dec. 7 vs. George Washington (BB&T Classic, Verizon Center) TBA TBA
Fri. Dec. 12 DELAWARE STATE 8:00 CSN
Mon. Dec. 22 AMERICAN 8:00 CSN
Sat. Dec. 27 BRYANT 2:00 CSN
Tue. Dec. 30 ELON 8:00 --

Sat. Jan. 3 CHARLOTTE Noon or 1:00 CSN
Wed. Jan. 7 MORGAN STATE 8:00 CSN
Sat. Jan. 10 GEORGIA TECH* Noon Raycom Split
Wed. Jan. 14 at Miami* 9:00 Raycom Split
Sat. Jan. 17 at Florida State* Noon Raycom Split
Tue. Jan. 20 VIRGINIA* 8:00 Raycom Split
Sat. Jan. 24 at Duke* Noon ESPN
Tue. Jan. 27 BOSTON COLLEGE* 7:30 ESPN2
Sat. Jan. 31 MIAMI* 8:00 Raycom Split

Tue. Feb. 3 at North Carolina* 8:00 Raycom/ESPN2
Sun. Feb. 8 at Georgia Tech* 7:30 FSN
Sat. Feb. 14 VIRGINIA TECH* 4:00 Raycom Split
Tue. Feb. 17 at Clemson* 7:30 ESPN2
Sat. Feb. 21 NORTH CAROLINA* 3:30 ABC
Wed. Feb. 25 DUKE* 9:00 ESPN

Sun. Mar. 1 at NC State* 7:30 FSN
Tue. Mar. 3 WAKE FOREST* 9:00 RSN
Sat. Mar. 7 at Virginia* 3:30 ABC

March 12-15 at ACC Tournament (Georgia Dome, Atlanta)
March 19 & 21 at NCAA First & Second Rounds (Greensboro, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Portland)
March 20 & 22 at NCAA First & Second Rounds (Boise, Dayton, Miami, Minneapolis)
March 26 & 28 at NCAA Regionals (Boston, Phoenix)
March 27 & 29 at NCAA Regionals (Indianapolis, Memphis)
April 4 & 6 at NCAA Final Four (Detroit)

* - Atlantic Coast Conference game
All times and dates subject to change; All times Eastern; Home games played at Comcast Center (17,950) listed in BOLD CAPS

Radio – All games on the Maryland Sports Radio Network (Flagships: ESPN 1300AM, WJFK-FM 106.7) and
TV Key – ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ABC, Fox Sports Net (FSN) – national broadcasts;
Raycom Sports network; Comcast SportsNet (CSN); Regional Sports Network (TSN) – regional broadcasts.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Arenas Blogs About Juan Dixon

For no reason other than the fact that he is my favorite athlete of all time in any sport, narrowly edging Eddie Murray, I periodically look for Juan Dixon news online. The man who carried the Terps to the 2002 National Championship is basically without a team right now after finishing the season with the Pistons (but being unforgivably left off the playoff roster). The big name free agents have been scooped up; now it's guys like Dixon, Kwame Brown, and P.J. Brown looking for a home. If Gilbert Arenas had anything to do with it, Juan would find his way back to Washington, wouldn't that be cool?

Here's what Gilbert recently said about Dixon on his blog:

Juan Dixon -- Juan is one of those players out there that needs a team, because he can really help out with scoring. He needs a team to just let him play. I’ve played with a lot of players in my time in the league, and he has to be one of the top five I’ve played with in terms of points per minute. He’s just a high volume scorer. If you gave him 40-plus minutes of playing time, he’d give you 20-plus points per game average. He’s like a bigger Ben Gordon. We’ll see where he ends up. I’ll take him back in D.C. right now.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dog Days

After a flurry of negative press around the Maryland basketball program earlier this summer, the best that can be said is that it's been quiet for a while. I'll stick to my statement of waiting until the team takes the court before joining the hand wringing crowd. I was kinda going through my head in terms of who the starting five might be, and basically have no idea. There are actually plenty of good guards and swing men in the following guys: Greivis Vasquez, likely your starting PG; Eric Hayes, likely your starting two or first guard off the bench, freshman G Sean Mosley should help immediately; sophomores Cliff Tucker and Adrian Bowie both showed they can handle ACC minutes and shine at times last year. And then of course there's Landon Milbourne, who follows in the tradition of 3-men enigmas at Maryland, following the footsteps, of "first you think he's great, then you just don't know what to think" guys like Exree Hipp and Nik Caner-Medley, among others.

But that list is what? Six players long and all those guys are at least pretty good. I have no idea what will happen in the frontcourt, with Dave Neal, Braxton Dupree, and Jerome Burney coming back. That is a mess if those are the top players, but it does open the door for Gary to get creative and go small with a lineup like Burney at the five, with four guards/wings including Vasquez, Hayes, Mosley and Milbourne; they might get killed on the boards but they'd certainly force some defensive problems for the teams they face along the way.

Long way to go before college hoops season, so we'll save the full roster analysis for another day.

Like all Maryland fans, I find myself in something of a odd predicament rooting for Team USA in these Beijing games. I have long followed international basketball and I'm pulling hard for our boys to bring back the gold. At the same time, how can any self-respecting Maryland fan not hate themselves just a little while pulling for a team coached by Coach K? It is odd, isn't it? To some extent, it gives you a sense of what it might fee like to be a Duke fan and root for the front runner. I have to be honest and say it doesn't feel entirely bad. All these years rooting for the scrappy Terps and the crappy Orioles ... it's kinda nice to have a team to care about that should win.

Team USA will try to complete its quest for the Gold in the early morning hours on Sunday against Spain and I will probably just DVR-it and watch later in the morning. After beating the Spaniards by 37 in the prelimary round, I think the only real challenge will be complacency. USA 103, Spain 78.

Haven't posted about the Orioles in a while. They are hanging in there in terms of the potential to finish above .500 but the pitching is so awful. Basically you have one good starter in Guthrie, then Daniel Cabrera, who is good every other or every third start, and then a bunch of minor leaguers. I can't ever remember a starting staff this thin on talent. The last three starters are currently Rad Liz, Brian Burres (after being recalled from Norfolk) and probably someone from Bowie.

While the starting staff has fallen apart, the hitting has been explosive. The Orioles lead MLB in second half batting average at .303 and Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora have been red hot. In watching tonight's collapse against the Yankees, they posted a stat that Melvin Mora is hitting .411 in the second half. Wow. He's close to .290 with 20 HRs and 95 RBI. Huff is in the top 5 or 6 in many of the big offensive categories also, but you just can't beat good teams without good pitching.

That's gonna do it for today.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008 takes out the claws for Gary

Gary Williams must be wondering if will ever again catch a break. Not anytime soon, it seems. Looking for a meaty offseason feature to sink her teeth into,'s college basketball reporter Dana O'Neil chose the Maryland basketball program's alleged fall from grace as her target. Pass the salt and pepper.

"The Terps have made one NCAA tournament appearance in four years and have become the sort of once-in-a-season highlight team (see: upset of North Carolina, 2008; win at Duke, 2007) that feeds at the bottom of the ACC."

A "once in a season highlight team that feeds at the bottom of the ACC." Hmm. Well, we could take issue with that. Maryland was 10-6 in the ACC 2 seasons ago and last year they went 7-9, they've never been worse than 7-9 since the national championship and have never had a truly horrendous season. They certainly haven't been great, but they aren't 3-13 bottom feeders either. Another aspect of the article I don't like is that several of her sources are AAU coaches, who have the integrity of a bookie.

She goes on to point out the well chronicled succession of bad news coming out of the program of late, from its failure to land home-grown talent, to the revolving door of assistant coaches, and the whole mess with recent recruits Tyree Evans and Gus Gilchrist who became ex-Terps before they ever became Terps.


Suffice to say that James Gist's selection late in the second round by the San Antonio Spurs was the best news coming out of College Park hoops in more than a year. It remains to be seen if Gist will stick in the NBA, and Gary Williams' job security is as tenuous as it ever has been in 20 years in College Park.

My take -- lay off for a while people. Obviously things aren't peachy but they aren't that bad either. Is Maryland getting the nation's best recruits? No, but do you want the "one and done" guys? I don't. The Terps' first game is half a year away. Let the guy put a team on the court before you write him and his team off as finished.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

This is Pain

Two nights in a row?
Up by one, bottom of the ninth, no one on base, George Sherrill on the mound; two strikes on the batter ... and the Orioles lose. Two nights in a row. Did that really happen.

Looking on the bright side, I'll be more productive at work today because I can't bear to read anything about the game. Ridiculous.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tejada, Teshmada, O's Win Baby

ANOTHER come from behind, one-run win for the Orioles last night. Baltimore is 17-10 in one-run games compared to 13-31 last year.

I will repeat that:
Baltimore is 17-10 in one-run games compared to 13-31 last year.

Orioles are 36-34 after 70 games. They have never been more than 2 games below .500 this year. They have five different guys with 10 or more home runs before the all star break: Mora, Markakis, Huff, Millar, and Scott.

Adam Jones is starting to hit more, average creeping up to .260.

I said it before, I'll say it again, if you like baseball, the Orioles are really fun team to follow this year. Would be nice to get the sweep from Houston before hitting the road for 9 in Milwaukee, Chicago (Cubs) and D.C.

I am not sure where all of this is going, but I like it. Before I ever loved college basketball or followed the NFL, baseball was my passion as a kid, and following the Orioles when they are playing well is a pleasure. It's the day in, day out nature of baseball, watching the team grind out at bats and wins that has been incredibly gratifying to watch.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Orioles and Tiger and Rocco Oh My

What a sports weekend.
Carried right into a sports Monday.
What with the Orioles doing their best Orioles Magic bit against the Pirates at home; and the drama of the U.S. Open at an all-time high ... I'm just sayin that was good stuff.

If you thought Tiger's putt to force the Monday playoff was dramatic, just wait til' the Orioles are 81-80 on the last Sunday of the season; 2 on, 2 out, George "the duck man" Sherrill on the hill... here comes the pitch...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

O's Visit Fenway for Three

I have this sports dork fantasy where busloads of Orioles fans make their way to Fenway Park and take over the place (or at least 1/5th of one section) and Boston fans are meant to feel as we do when their legions invade Oriole Park.

Ah yes, picture Luke Scott at the plate, praise the Lord, launching a home run past the Pesky Pole and the stadium (or at least a few hundred loud people wearing orange), erupting in cheer. That would show em!

Perhaps not.

Regardless, the calendar says June 10 and the plucky '08 edition of the Birds are 31 and 31, an even .500. If they can just hang on for 100 more games, we'll get that 10 straight losing seasons gorilla off our back.

Here are the keys to getting it done:
Daniel Cabrera needs to throw strikes. Duh. It looked at one point like he had things figured out, then I watched him throw a pitch 4 feet inside on a 3-1 count. Had the pitch not hit the batter, it would have hit the bat boy. Come on Daniel.

The Orioles needs to score some runs for Guthrie. Jeremy Guthrie gives a quality start almost every time he pitches and the Orioles respond with a run or two. He is legit, for some reason the bats go to sleep when he pitches. He's 10th in the league in ERA but is 3-6. Come on bats.

A few players need to get very hot at the bat. Markakis just went through a hot stretch where he improved his averaged from the .240s to the .280s. Until that time, it seemed the whole lineup was batting .250. It'd be nice if the Orioles had at least 2 more scary hitters.

Wait. We interrupt this post that 15-30 people will read (thanks) to report that Chipper Jones is batting .420. Back to the action.

That's about all I've got; except of this ... just read the O's - Sox preview in the Sun and Boston is (wait for it) 26-6 at home this year. Wow.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Gilchrist Opts Out

Maryland and Va. Tech now have something in common -- Gus Gilchrist told both schools he'd play there and it turns out he won't play for either. After initially committing to VT, Gilchrist, who is thought to be a very skilled big man, difference-maker kind of a player, had second thoughts and got out of his commitment and enrolled at Maryland.

NCAA rules said he had to wait 'til the end of the fall semester to play for Gary's Terps. Maryland was appealing this ruling but apparently it didn't happen and today UM issued the release pasted below. We are to believe that Gilchrist is leaving Md. so he can try to play immediately somewhere else (i.e. not sit out in the fall). Dude would have missed what? One ACC game? All the real action in college hoops starts in the new year anyway.

This is either a very impatient, fickle young man, or things just ain't going well in CP. Perhaps a combo of both.

Will be interesting to see what's reported coming out of all this.


COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland athletic department announced today
that Augustus Gilchrist (Temple Hills, Md./Progressive Christian) has been granted a transfer release from the men’s basketball program.

Gilchrist enrolled at Maryland in January 2008. The ACC sit-out rule for Gus Gilchrist will expire the last day of Fall 2008 exams. Subsequent to that time, Gus would have been able to compete for Maryland in all remaining regular-season games, the ACC Tournament and NCAA Tournament.

“Gus has asked for a release to explore other options which may allow him to play more games at another university outside the ACC, pending an NCAA waiver,” said Head Coach Gary Williams.

“I would like to thank Coach Williams and the basketball staff at Maryland for all of their support and attempts in appealing this process,” said Gilchrist. “I wish them the best in the future.”

The release allows Gilchrist the opportunity to transfer to another NCAA school.—

Monday, June 02, 2008

Fenway Park at Camden Yards

I don't think any development in sports in the last decade has out and out depressed me as much as the complete domination of Oriole Park by Red Sox fans when Boston is in town. Manny's 500th homer Saturday night could not have been better for Sox fans had it been hit in Boston. It may as well have been. After all, our gorgeous ballpark seats some 15,000 more fans than Fenway, and most of its seats were filled by Red Sox faithful. Watching the highlight on sportscenter, all you could see were Sox-clad fans screaming and jumping up and down after it was hit in celebration.

As an Orioles fan, you just want to turn and look away. I cannot blame Sox fans for coming down and making a weekend of baseball in Baltimore a part of their annual tradition. After all, what's not to like? We have an amazing stadium situated downtown in walking distance to plenty of hotels, we have thousands of face value seats available, our team doesn't put up much of a fight, and you get to party with your friends and/or family as if you were home.

If the Orioles were great and our park was an outdated Matchbox car of a stadium where you couldn't even buy an obstructed view ticket without paying triple digits, I'd take a road trip too.

(That's the best I can do, by the way, in summoning some form of zinger to Red Sox fans, who have us beat, up, down and all around.)

But that's not really what this is about. This is about the visible, emotional, painful evidence of one team at the very top of popularity and success and another continuing to try to find its way. I believe in Andy MacPhail and the current rebuilding process, but it's going to take years and years to reverse the decay of the Orioles franchise and distrust of its fan base. Placing Baltimore on the road jerseys is a good first step. Becoming less hospitable hosts to our guests from the North is another. Someone make it stop.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

GREAT Orioles win, I see only parts that aren't exciting

OK, so quick story to share. Yesterday I'm at work and Sherm sends a text to tell me he has 4 great seats to the Orioles Yankees game and asks, "do I want to go?" Of course I want to go. Can I go is the other question. Two little ones at home, I didn't really help much that morning, and from 6-8:30 on most nights, it's daddy time. So of course I text back, "I'm in, might be late."

Cut to my house and it's dinner time. I casually mention the opportunity to my wife, who got up at about 5 a.m. with the 9 month old that morning. "Sherm has great tickets to the Oriole game, what do you think if I go after putting Ethan to sleep?"

Cut to crickets chirping.

I wasn't going to push this one. I wanted to hang out with the little guy, but also wanted him to get to sleep at a reasonable hour. So then it's 8:30 and I'm putting the finishing touches on story time and I'm in the car and on the way downtown by about 8:45. After finding parking around UMMS, I walk into the stadium and it's a few minutes after 9 p.m. and it's the bottom of the 6th.

"What did I miss?" I ask.

"Not much," said Sherm.

"Well, there were 9 home runs."


"And you missed two, four-run comebacks," he adds.


But there's three innings to go, so we settle in, and there were some great, exciting plays, but no runs scored while I was there.

In the top of the 9th, the rains come and there's a long rain delay and we all leave. I run about 7 or 8 blocks to my car, get home and wait another half hour and then the game resumes.

At a little after midnight, the Orioles win 10-9 in one of the more exciting games I've ever watched, partly in person, partly on TV. 19 runs in the game. I went to the game and saw none of them. But I'm not complaining, it was fun/funny.

Wow, what a game. I did Tivo it, so I re-watched all the home runs when I got home waiting for the rain delay to end. By far the most amazing play was the double play that Roberts turned in the top of the 11th.

A-Rod is up with the bases loaded. Roberts is playing halfway in. A-Rod absolutely scalds one right at him. Later, A-Rod said he hit it harder than the home run ball he hit earlier in the game (he also snidely remarked that Roberts made a "lucky" play. Here's his exact quote from the NY Times story.

"I hit that one better than the home run," said Rodriguez, who homered to center in the fourth inning. "That's the way it works sometimes. Stick your glove out, make a lucky catch and get two out of it."

Anyway, Roberts short-hops it in a fan motion meant for self preservation, then stands up, throws home, gets one out, then a second out is recorded at third as the throw from Quiroz just beats Jeter.

But Matsui cashes in for the Yanks with a two-out single, so it's 9-8 bad guys entering the bottom of the 11th.

Mariano Rivera had just pitched two lights out innings, but Joe "didn't take the Orioles job b/c he needed to spend more time with his family and now the Orioles are playing better than the Yankees and I realize it's just late May but still" Girardi doesn't think he can ask Rivera for a third. So he brings in LaTroy Hawkins, who stinks.

LaTroy pitched for the Orioles for a season. Poorly. I knew we'd win, knew it. Plus, Troy was operating with the horrible karma hangover from throwing the bean ball at Luke Scott last week. IF you watched that altercation on replay; after Scott points to his head and takes a step toward the mound saying "don't throw at my head," Hawkins repeatedly yells, "Shut the Fuck Up." You can see him clearly mouthing these words at least 3 times. I am not sure what you are supposed to say after you almost decapitate someone with a baseball after just throwing three feet inside on the prior pitch, but "Sorry about that," might have been more appropriate. Anyway, let's just all be grateful LaTroy was not serving his suspension but rather pitching for the Yankees while on appeal (can you appeal a suspension from the waiver wire?).

Where were we? Oh yeah, bottom of the 11th, it's about midnight at this point. Mora leads off with a single, just had a look in his eye like he was going to get it done. Markakis flies out to deep left. Then Huff comes up and rips one to the gap in left center and Mora flails his way home, does an awkward belly slide and the game is tied.

Huff is on third, so Mr. Family Time tells Mr. Bad Karma to walk the next two guys, including Luke Scott, who I would have loved to see face Latrobe in that situation. But it was even more poetic that Triple-A call-up and journeyman Alex Cintron lofted LaToya's first pitch to deep right, winning the game for the lovabirds.

10-9 Orioles. That was good stuff.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Worth Watching

If you love baseball, even if you just kinda like baseball, you should be paying attention to the 2008 Orioles. Much like a quality TV show that you get into only after hearing a few good things from friends (think Six Feet Under, Arrested Develpment, the American version of The Office), the '08 Birds have a little something going on. If you are late to the party, that's OK. There are about 120 games left.

I plan to post a few items about my favorite aspects of this year's team. I'll start with my favorite:

Any Dave Trembley interview or press conference.

My boy Sherm has a massive man crush on Dave Trembley and tells anyone who will listen that Trembley will be the second most popular Orioles manager to Earl Weaver within a few years. I am not going there just yet, but Trembley is entertaining and refreshing, particularly if you get a thrill from blunt honesty.

Do yourself a favor and watch one of his press conferences. I don't think there is a more no nonsense person in sports. Maybe on the planet. If a pitcher stunk today, he'll say he stunk. If a player isn't getting it done, he'll tell you not just that he's not getting it done, but why he thinks he's not getting it done. Check out this quote from Trembley after he decided to make Freddie Bynum the regular SS over Luis Hernandez:

"To be honest with you, there's been a lot of plays I thought could have been made, should have been made and weren't made," Trembley said "So we've got to try something different."

Did that sound PC to you? You think he was worried about hurting Luis' feelings?

Ask a question, he gives an answer and tells you exactly what he thinks. And what he thinks is what you would think a 56-year-old veteran of 20-some-odd minor league seasons thinks. "We pay attention to details. Every man on the team is treated the same." etc., etc. The man has more "no BS" wisdom in his sun-dried brain than any management guru on the planet.

The basic Trembley philosophy is this: play hard on every single play, make good decisions, be prepared, be accountable.

I am paraphrasing, but you get the idea. I am so glad that Joe Girardi needed to "spend more time with his family" in order to turn down Baltimore and take the Yankees job.

Trembley for president.

Coming Soon: An Ode to George Sherrill's hat

Monday, May 12, 2008

Should Maryland Have Recruited Tyree Evans?

The off-the-court troubles of recent Terps recruit Tyree Evans have been well chronicled in the local and national media. My question for Terps fans is this: Do you want him? Vote in the poll to the right and let me know. Point being, is it "by any means necessary" in terms of getting Ws and getting back to the NCAA tournament? Or should Maryland be more selective and less pathetically/obviously/embarrassingly desperate in terms of who it recruits to wear the red and white and yellow and black and gold form fitting jerseys?

By the way, I don't want him. And if he goes on to average 20 points and lead Maryland to the top 10 while leading scores of old ladies across the street, I'll still feel that way.

I got no problem with a guy getting a second or third or thirteenth chance to play college hoops and make something of himself. But I don't really want the 23-year-old, 8 school, convicted dope dealer slinging Js so we can go better than .500 in the ACC.

I get it, I don't like it.

Let Bob Huggins or whoever coaches Central Florida coach this guy. Let me ask you this, in one million years, would Roy Williams or Coach K. ever offer a scholarship to Tyree Evans? You know the answer. Hate those schools if you want, but they are the measuring stick, and Maryland's efforts to measure up have led them down a troubling path.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Terps New Signee Reeks of Program Desperation

This article forwarded to me from Terp nation reader Gregg "sweet music" Viola makes me sad. It's about Maryland's recruitment of a 23-year-old swingman named Tyree Evans who will likely play for Maryland next year. I am all for second chances, but can't Gary just get some talented freshman who develop with the program? Does anyone else dislike the reliance on juco players? I'm not saying they are all bad, lord knows I enjoyed the Ryan Randle era, but COME ON. Have some pride on your program, quit looking for the easy way out.

Here's the article from

Here are a few choice passages:
Evans told that Maryland's basketball staff was aware of his time behind bars -- "They know all about my past, and as long as it wasn't a felony, it was OK," he said. (GA -- Um, OK...)

The nature of Maryland's recruiting since winning a title in 2002 hints at an identity crisis, in that Williams is a national-championship coach, but has not brought in the same caliber of talent as other champs from this decade. Of those other title teams -- Syracuse, UConn, North Carolina, Florida and Kansas -- none have suited up multiple juco transfers, much less a recruit with a past that compares to Evans', since winning their respective championships. (The Jayhawks, for the record, signed two juco players for 2008-09, Mario Little and Tyrone Appleton, but neither have criminal histories.) (GA -- that's nice)

Even within the ACC, using junior-college players is relatively rare: According to the Washington Times, the Terrapins and Florida State have each signed six juco recruits since 2002, while the rest of the conference has signed six combined. (GA -- us and Florida State in basketball, great company; next we'll copy Duke's football strategy)

I certainly have not lost interest in Maryland basketball but I am increasingly losing passion. You know, the kind of passion that makes you make sure you watch every game, follow the team, read the articles, etc., etc.

Gary Williams is the leader and caretaker of Maryland basketball. He is the all-time winningest coach in school history. He has a national championship and two final fours to his credit. But the post championship era has not been a proud one in Maryland's hoops history and this signing of Tyree Evans reeks of desperation. P-U.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My Luck

I am not looking for pity, just stating a fact.
I was entered in a $20 pool that had 118 entrants. First place paid $1,400. I had Memphis and Kansas in the finals and if Memphas had won, I would have won first place and $1,400. When Kansas won, I won zero.  I thought about hedging but was very confident Memphis would win and just wanted to win the pool outright without messing with it. 

In other news... I just threw up. 

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Shifting our attention for a few months...

We now shift the Terrapin Nation's attention to the Oreos, and with it comes a color change to this blog's background. I know, I know, radical. Don't worry, when it comes time to pondering the merit of a three-guard lineup or Jermoe Burney vs. Dave Neal in the Maryland frontcourt, I'll shift back to red and black. But anyway... random things I've been thinking about:

UCLA, Memphis, UNC, or Kansas?
WHO CARES? Truly disinterested in this final four; thought if it's Memphis over Kansas in the final game, your truly takes home a nice pot from one of the pools I'm in.

Why do college basketball coaches insist on dressing like bankers? What point is it to wear $2,000 suits and scream at kids playing basketball? Isn't the whole thing more than a little preposterous?

I think NFL coaches have it about right when it comes to proper attire. They wear regular pants and a team pullover of some sort with a team hat. Baseball coaches wear the uniform, which is a lot like making a 50-year-old former stripper who has let herself go wear a g-string. I think hockey coaches wear suits right? Seems reasonable to wear layers around the ice, I'm sure it's cold. I don't know where this is going either.

The Maryland women got straight-up crushed by Stanford. Anyone else watch that game? I think the lady turtles got zero stops on defense.

How about dem O's? Big win over the Rays Wed. night in front of the smallest crowd in oreo park history. About 10K fans showed up on a cold night, against Tampa Bay, to see a home team that hasn't had a winning season in a decade and features Jeremy Guthrie as its No. 1 starter (7 career wins), Kevin Millar as its clean-up hitter (17 HRs last year, hasn't hit more than 20 since 2003), and the closer is a guy named George Sherril who wears his hat in the style of a circus clown. With the Orioles up by 3 in the 9th, Sherril walked the lead-off man and another hitter to bring the tie run to the plate. He got a fly out to end the game and when the camera panned over to him for his reaction, I kid you not, he screamed "F*ck!" Should be a fun season.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

That'll Do It

Think of it this way, in the last 2 seasons, Duke has played 3 NCAA tournament games, Maryland has played 2. What's the big deal?

Looking forward to fresh talent next season.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Maryland vs. Syracuse in March for a Trip to the Elite 8


Terp fans, we have reached the time of year when it's ALL on the line. Tonight, Maryland travels to Syracuse New York to face the Orangemen for a trip to the Elite 8.

It's Gary Williams vs. Jim Boeheim
Maryland's James Gist vs. 'Cuse's Donte Green
Greivis Vasquez vs. whoever plays point guard for Syracuse...

This one is big!

I, for one, will be watching this game, unless Belmont keeps things close with Duke.

I should also provide some commentary about Maryland's win at Minnesota the other night, attended by about 3500 diehards in a 15,000 seat building. I'm not kidding about the attendance by the way. Did anyone else watch? The ENTIRE upper bowl was empty. I actually felt kinda bad for the players, diminished as they were by not making the tournament, now made to care about a second-tier event that even the home team's fans don't give a crap about.

But Maryland finally closed a team out, if only because Minn. couldn't throw the ball into Lake Minnetonka (does anyone not think of Purple Rain when they hear the words "Lake Minnetonka?")

And how about Gary starting Adrian Bowie over Landon Milbourne? I think that was an interesting move, will be more interesting to see how it plays out next year with all these young guards and wing players returning. Unless, of course, someone doesn't return... and then there's the addition of Baltimore prep stud Sean Mosely, who might play someone out of a position. Too soon to get into all that.

Regarding tonight, interesting to see two former recent national championship winners (Terps in '02, Syracuse in '03) battling it out in the NIT. Maryland and Syracuse are mirror images of each other, program wise, as was recently pointed out to me by Turtle Nation reader M. Weiss of Baltimore. Since winning the title, both have been consistently inconsistent, bubble teams making their fans sweat it out.

Then, of course, there's the lacrosse thing. Both schools seem to care about the sport. So there's that.

If Maryland wins tonight, they will take on the winner of the hot, hot, hot UMass-Akron game. Here's a link to the NIT brackets, for you die-hards out there:

That's it from me for now.

Go Terps?

Oh, why the hell not, GO TERPS!

Wait, more link, this one to a "no duh," but slightly thought provoking column by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo sports. Dan points out all the hypocrisy inherent in college sports, enough to turn March Madness into just plain mad-ness.

Here's the link:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Randy, Paula and Simon Evaluate Maryland

Terps have a game tonight against BC in the ACC tournament. Tip should be around 9:30. Try to stay awake.

I have been thinking about how Randy, Paula and Simon might quickly evaluate Maryland's performance to date:

Randy -- What's up fellazz?? What up, what up, whaddup? How you feelin? A-ight, a-ight. What's goin on, what's goin down? WHAT IS GOIN ON DOWN??

"I don't know man. It's really weird man. It started a little rough for me, you know? Like I'm looking at you thinking you're gonna work this thing out and then it just doesn't happen, you know? You kinda found it in the middle there, but down the stretch dawg, you just lost it. It didn't really work for me man. I don't know man, I don't know ... it just didn't work for me man. I don't know."

Paula - "Greivis, I just love your spirit. You are like a bright shiny object that I want to hang from my rearview mirror. And you look wonderful tonight. And Eric, you are sooo cute. I just want to SQUEEZE you and hug you. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze! And James, what can I say? You glisten, you absolutely glisten.

Gary, I can see your passion and I think it's so passionate. So, I think you all really have it in your to be stars, big, huge stars, but you gotta just keep on working, keep on dreaming those big dreams.

You know I love you and, well, just be who you are and be true to yourself and you will get there. I just know you will get there. So, keep, you know, working and you are gonna get there, you just are gonna... get ... there"

Simon - "Absolutely dreadful."

"Sorreeeee. I am sorreee. When I first met this team I didn't think you belonged in the tournament and now you've proven me correct. You had a nice few moments in the middle, but overall it's been a horror show, an absolute horror show."

"It was all very YMCA for me."

Ryan, with his arm around Gary: "Well coach, what can you take away from all that?

Gary: "You can go f*cking f*ck yourself Simon. In other words, why don't you go f*ck yourself."