Welcome to Terrapin Nation, a home for ramblings about Maryland basketball, sports near and dear to the hearts of fans in Baltimore and Washington, and a repository for writing by Greg Abel.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Keith Gatlin interview available online
Terps Win, Almost Without Drama
Solid, workmanlike win for the Turtles this evening against UVa. The Cavs have one great player, Sean Singletary, and a bunch of guys you've never heard of, and the Terps did what they had to do. Jumped out to a big lead early, held it the whole game, gave us a little scare down the stretch, but never let UVa get closer than five.
All in all, a good bounceback win after the Duke loss, and hopefully the start of a tidy winning streak. The starters scored all but 4 of the 85 points (Diamond Dave Neal had a couple buckets); and Good Greivis played most the game, leading the Turtles with 25. Hayes was also great with 15 and 9 assists; but the TV guys gave player of the game to Boom Osby, who all of a sudden is the darling of the program. His big 'fro, his ready smile, his throwback style has em all captivated, so Osby gets kudos even though he only made two field goals (he went 7 of 8 from the line), grabbed six boards and had three blocks.
Whatever, doesn't matter. A win's a win, blah, blah, blah.
On to more important nonsense:
After the Duke game, I wrote how I was all outraged that the student radio guys lost their phone line for their broadcast to "some national college radio online start-up," called ISP sports. Turns out -- as savvy sports marketer and avid Turtle nation reader B. Edmonds in Charlottesville, Va. pointed out -- that ISP sports is the nation's largest collegiate sports marketing company. They are in business to buy the rights to sell university sports marketing assets, like radio and TV broadcasts, arena signage, sponsorship, and the like (they don't represent Maryland or UVa, Turtles and Cavs have a deal with Viacom I think). And their broadcast wasn't an online broadcast, they have a network of 70 affiliates.
So, um, they are not exactly a dinky start-up. Fine. But if you follow college hoops and cared about the Duke at Maryland game, my guess is that you were either:
A) at the game
B) watching on TV
C) listening to the play-by-play of johnny holliday and chris knoche on the terrapin sports radio network
D) listening to the Duke radio guys if you live in their area
E) Listening to the Md. or Duke broadcast on XM radio;
F) Listening to the game on an ISP sports affiliate.
I guess you choose option F if you are a truck driver or otherwise stuck in your car on a road trip and stumble upon the game while trying not to fall asleep. That's their audience. Or maybe you're just a Wimp Sanderson fan, b/c he is their color analyst and loves plaid. It could be that you just love the play by play of "veteran broadcast Bill Rosinski," I am not sure.
In any case, I don't really care what ISP does or have a grudge against them, I was pissed at UMD for not taking care of their student broadcasters.
Gonna let it go now.
Monday, January 28, 2008
More on Duke-Md
There are two Greivis Vasquezes. There's Good Greivis and Bad Greivis. You've met both of these guys. Good Greivis can be the best player on the court in any college game against any team in the country. He is a tall, rangy point guard with a nice outside shot, and an incredible gift to make things happen all over the court -- slicing and dicing a defense before dishing an assist, or going to the hole and hitting a running floater. Double G is disruptive on D, inspirational to his teammates and a guy whose jersey might one day hang from the rafters. In fact, let me go even further with the GG lovefest, Good Greivis is not just good, he's great, he's an NBA player, maybe an NBA starter, he really is that good.
But then there's Bad Greivis. Him we don't love so much. We saw much more of BG during the first 10 games of the season, he was the guy shooting an off-balance three before running any offense and catching only backboard; BG throws sloppy, soft passes at the most horrific times and generally his play is characterized by bad decision making.
But here is the Good News. As the season has gone on, we have seen MUCH more of GG than BG and Maryland really needs GG if it has any chance to be a tournament team.
It's interesting to see these two personalities battle each other during the course of a game by the way. GG controls our man's psyche about 80 to 90 percent of the time, but it seems BG is always whispering in our hero's ear saying things like, "just lob that pass on up to Landon, he'll catch it in traffic."
My general thought is that Maryland goes absolutely nowhere without Greivis playing well, of this I am convinced. Gist and Osby have been fantastic during this recent stretch of good play, but pay attention to the team when Vasquez is in the game (which is about 38 minutes), his teammates want the ball in his hands, he is their leader.
Let us now spend a little time on Bambale Osby. Can you ever remember any player turning out to be this much better than you thought he would be? I mean seriously, this guy abused Duke for 20 and 15, and he did it all with great footwork and strength. Last season, heck earlier this season, he'd come in the game and you would wonder aloud if he was an ACC player. You'd think thoughts like, "I wonder if he's an ACC player."
Well guess what? He's not just good enough to BE in the ACC, he's good enough to be VERY GOOD in the ACC. Amazing. I really can't get over how effective he's been against Duke and UNC.
Stuff I thought about while watching Duke:
The cast of athletes that Duke throws out on the court is very, very impressive. While some of Maryland's guys, especially the youngsters, are a little raw and skinny, Duke's guys, even their freshman, are filled out and just look like big-time players. I hate them.
Gerald Henderson and Demarcus Nelson looked like NBA guards against the Terps; strong, athletic, unshakable, very impressive.
Greg Paulus is a talented player, strong with the ball, annoying in the Duke mold, very good shooter; but last night he was the second-best point guard on Duke. The freshman Nolan Smith made Duke a better team every time he came in the game to replace Paulus, who was in foul trouble all night. That dude is scarcy.
Loved Gist all night. Loved the way he let the game come to him, took shots within the offense (aside from a couple ill-advised turnaround Js), loved how freakin high he gets up for rebounds, love that he is stepping up during his senior year to be the kind of big-time player we hoped he would be. Keep it going James.
People I saw in the arena worth noting:
(celebrity watch was a little light to be honest; back in the Juan Dixon days, you saw the governor, Cal Ripken, and Ray Lewis roaming around, this year Maryland is struggling to get more than 75 percent of its season ticket holders to show up when the game isn't against Duke)
Steve Bisciotti (natch, he was probably there for Savannah State, dude is a huge fan).
Nobody else jumps out.
Well, home against UVa Wednesday and at Ga. Tech Saturday, that's what now. So as much as we all obsess over Duke, there are 11 ACC games left and home vs. UVa Wed. is the next "biggest game of the season." I think Terps need to go 8-3 over the last 11 to get in the dance, and I also think they'll do it. They've figured something out the last month, let's hope they keep it up.
If you are anything like me, Turtle Nation, you hate reading the game stories the day after a painful loss. So last night, after I got home from Comcast, having done a 2.5 hour radio show devoted to Maryland hoops before the game, I was -- to coin a medical term, "All Terped Out." So my apologies if you visited this site earlier today to view lots of insight and venom about Md. vs. Duke and found only a lame promotion for yesterday's radio show.
I actually starting writing twice last night and stopped, unable to conjure the necessary inspiration. But today I was gently reminded by a friend that if I'm going to bother with this blog, I better damn well have something to say after Maryland plays Duke.
So here goes, and I'll add more later, because I have a notebook of thoughts at home and want to make sure I get to everything:
Comcast atmoshpere was amazing. Loud, electric, and fun. If you watched at home and thought you had a great viewing experience on your new flat screen, well, you did, but for my money nothing compares to the force of energy in a packed building for a heated rivalry college basketball game. Butterflies and goose bumps atmosphere, GREAT, GREAT atmoshpere.
The First Half - Great runs by the Terps, seemed in control of the ballgame, played with smarts and intensity. For a change, it was their coach who lost his shit and got hit with a T over questionable calls as opposed to ours, and a good time was had by all.
Actually that's not totally true. The Maryland student radio team did not have a good first half and it was not their fault. See, my media pass for 1300 puts me in the upper left corner of the media section, right next to the student radio guys. Last night because all the front-running, Duke following, don't go to other Maryland games, local and national media were in town, I actually had to sit on a stool, not a chair, and had to shimmy out of the way of people going back and forth to their seats.
But I am not complaining, it's a great seat to a great game. But that's not what the student radio team was thinking. See, someone who works for the University of Maryland, in all their gusto to take care of national media and not necessarily their own, gave away the phone line that the students use to transmit their broadcast.
Regular readers of this notebook will recall that I developed an appreciation for the enthusiasm and professionalism of the student broadcasters during the Ohio game. They care and they try very hard. So after seeing a few of them pace back and forth during the first half (while I shimmied my stool out of the way), I gave one of the guys a "what's up?" kind of a glance.
He came over and was eager to tell me what was going on, said something like the following:
"I am a senior. I've been waiting four years to call the Maryland Duke game. I have broadcast women's games for the past two years and this is the biggest game of the season. They gave away our phone line. I'm here, I'm ready and I can't call the game."
Apparently there was either a mix-up of a fuck-over (I love writing for a blog by the way and using the occassional f-bomb; moving from email to blogging is like moving from broadcast TV to HBO. No limits baby. Of course I do want my content to be somewhat family friendly for the kids, so I will limit the use of profanity to situations where I feel as though it is warranted. And believe me people, in this situation it was warranted. I felt so bad for this kid.) because ISP sports, some national college radio online start-up, was given the line that the University of Maryland student broadcasters typically use. They got it straightened out by the end of the first half, but the damage had been done and the point had been made. I told the kid to go tell one of the Washington Post reporters how the university treats its own and he didn't want to because he knows he needs them to help facilitate future broadcasts.
And here's the final zinger. He told me that when the Md. student radio team calls or emails the Duke sports information department to request credentials to cover the game, THEY DON'T EVER RETURN THEIR MESSAGES. Let's be clear, it is one thing to be told "no" it is much more insulting to not even be replied to. And what the heck is a college basketball program for, if not for entertaining and frustrating us, of course, but also to provide a venue for the students of the schools to practice their craft so that they can one day get a job or just have a great time while they are in college.
The cheerleaders get to cheer the game, the pep band plays, it's not like the university brings in the Wizards dancers and the organist from Madison Square Garden. So even if 10 people are listening to the student radio station, shame on Maryland for giving a line to some bullshit online radio station and not taking care of their own students.
I'll have more on the game later.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Duke pre-game extravaganza this Sunday on the GA Show
Inspired by the big win at UNC, I've got a rock solid lineup for this Sunday's GA show on espn1300. We are on the air from 3-5:30, then we turn things over to the "official" pre-game crew.
You can listen live in the Baltimore area on 1300 or online from anywhere at www.espn1300.com.
3-315 p.m. - banter with Abel and Herbst
3:15 p.m. -- interview/call with ex Terp Drew Nicholas, who will be checking in from Turkey. Drew is playing great in Europe, averaging about 17 ppg for Efes Pilsen, a top Euroleague club; here's a link to his stats:
http://www.euroleague.net/competition/players/showplayer?clubcode=ist&pcode=KNG3:30 - 4 p.m. - ex Terps assistant and current Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos stopping by in studio, perhaps along with Matt Kovarik.
4 p.m. -- In-studio visit from personal trainer Andre Miller, www.supernatural23.com
4:30 p.m. -- call in from Keith Gatlin, checking in from Carolina. Gatlin runs a basketball academy in the Greensboro area and stays up to date with Maryland basketball, very insightful and friendly guy. Love Gatlin.
Also, we'll go around the Association with agent on the rise Doug Neustadt.
If you'd like to call in, the number is 410-481-1300.
We'll probably ask people to call in with their best Md. vs. Duke memories/stories and Patsos will probably take a few calls.
Please use the comments section below to suggest any questions you want me and Herbst to ask our guests.
Also, regarding Md. vs. Duke, please vote in the poll as to whether you think the Terps might win. My thought: I really, really, really would like to see Maryland win. That said, Duke has been a much better team than Maryland this year. Witness last night's 17 point win at Va. Tech as just one example. They are very deep and talented. What else is new?
But here's the thing, that win at Carolina has to have Maryland players believing they can beat anyone. When you win on the home court of the undefeated #1 team in the country, there really isn't a tougher test. But everything has to break right... Our stars Greivis and Gist have to play not just well, but great. And the role players, Osby, Milbourne, Hayes, Tucker, Dave Neal, etc., have to step up and do their part, exactly like they did at UNC. Put it this way, Maryland was phenomenal at UNC from the opening tip and they still woulda lost if Hansbrough's 3 goes down at the buzzer.
So I am not picking against Maryland, because I don't pick against Maryland against Duke; Gary has proven two many times (twice last year) that he knows how to get it done. Maryland 78, Duke 73. (I hope).
Lastly, I'd like to get some more momentum for this blog. I don't necessarily want it to be a fan blather message board, but I do think there are many Terps fans out there who would enjoy the content and would appreciate it if you would forward the link to Terps fans you are friends with.
Until next time,
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Great Article on Terps on SI.com
I once heard a friend of Maryland coach Gary Williams describe him thusly: "He has an overriding sense of misery, which sustains him in times of happiness."
Here's the link, enjoy:
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Well THAT was new and different.
Maryland 82, UNC 80.
What a win for the Maryland basketball program.
What a great, great, program-uplifting, confidence-restoring win.
What a win to make you feel good about caring about Maryland basketball.
What a win for Gary and Greivis, the coach and point guard who have heard from their share of doubters this season.
Our boy GV deserves a few more "mucho gustos" on the poll to your right. After UNC went up 78-74 with 2 and a half left, with Brent Musberger saying the words, 'it's getting away from Maryland right now..' Vasquez went to the hole for a deuce and then after a Maryland stop, GV got fouled on a drive and made both free throws to tie the score. Like I've said earlier, Maryland is going nowhere without Vasquez making plays. Loved it when color man Steve Lavin said something to the effect of, "this Vasquez has quite a bag of tricks."
My favorite moments:
- When the buzzer sounded. The Tar Heels had 4 shots to tie or win the game in those last 20 seconds and Maryland survived. Finally. Barely.
- When Gist came from the weak side and rebounded a miss and dunked it on Hansbrough's head. First half I think. I rather enjoyed that.
- When Hansbrough, who is great, but is also a bully, was called for an offensive foul for lowering his shoulder into Dave Neal along the baseline in the first half. (quick aside: My brother Eric, who is a much better basketball player than me, has perfected this move since the early 80s; it's the one where you create space by leaning into the defender, especially if he's back-pedaling, which drives him back, and gives you a shot at the basket; and if you're really good at it, like Eric is on the level of a pick-up game on Monday nights at Pikesville High School, and Tyler Hansbrough is on the level of the ACC, then you not only make lots of baskets, you also get lots of calls, and piss off many of the people who play against you. Eric.) Anyway, after Hansbrough got whistled for the foul, of course he responds with the requisite palms-to-the-air, eyes wide maneuver like "who me?"; and Roy Williams throws his hands down from shoulders to waist at the refs like "Puh-lease." That was my favorite call of the game. I liked that call much better than the call with 10 seconds left when UNC knocked it out of bounds down by two, and even their students were upset because they knew it was Maryland's ball, but the refs decided to give Carolina one more chance, perhaps because Roy Williams is a swell guy and Tyler Hansbrough is just a hard working, blue collar type who we all admire. Or maybe they just blew it, I'm not sure.
Back to favorite moments:
- Loved Cliff Tucker in this game. The Maryland freshman played great, showed signs again of being a big-time ACC player by taking the ball to the basket against UNC defenders in the open court and converting on several occassions. This guy can play.
- When my wife came home from grocery shopping so I could properly pace and spaz out while watching. She left me with both kids (ages 3 and 5 months) and it is very difficult to maintain proper viewing intensity while attempting to be a responsible parent. On the other hand, dealing with the kids is a good way to ratchet down your boorish, psycho fan level. You can't exactly scream, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!" and "YES!!!!" with a fussy 5-month old in your hands. If you do, he will freak out, you will feel bad, and that will markedly diminish everyone's enjoyment level, even when Maryland is about to win at #1 ranked and previously undefeated North Carolina.
- One minute left. Tie score at 78. Gist at the line shooting two and every Carolina fan visible on the screen is sitting down, hands at their sides. I guess that's the alumni section. I would hope that even Robert Novak would whistle or something.
- The start of the second half. Lavin says the first five minutes of the second half are huge for both teams and Terps come out confident and firing, extend the lead to 8, and ultimately 11, which gave cushion for the UNC run that you knew was coming.
When Osby or Gist gets in foul trouble, Gary brings in Dave Neal, who is, well, Dave Neal, or Shane Walker, who is English. When Roy Williams goes to the bench for a big man, he brings in that dude Stepheson, who looks like Julius Peppers but probably a better ball player. (though Peppers could really play)
A few female Carolina fans were in tears after the game. TEARS? Are you serious? It was a regular season game in January. What are you going to do if/when they lose in the tournament? Cover the mirrors with black cloths and order deli platters?
Of course it was a great win, but this Carolina team wasn't going undefeated, whether they lost to Maryland Saturday or not. They are very good, have much more talent than Maryland, but the Heels shoulda lost to Clemson, almost lost to Georgia Tech, and finally gave one up.
We do know one thing for sure - Maryland will not suffer through a historically embarrassing season. Following the home losses to Ohio and American, we all worried if we might be in for a losing season and something like 3-13 in the ACC. It happens to programs once in a while. Not going to happen to this bunch. There's enough talent and desire to go 8-8 or better. Heck if they don't blow it at Va. Tech, they're 3-1 in the league and riding a 7-game winning streak.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
MD 82 UNC 80
Terps 82 UNC 80 baby!!! in a game where Maryland just played absolutely great.
Up and down the lineup everyone contributed and played well, from Vasquez at the point making good decisions, to Gist going off and winning that battle (or at least playing to a draw) with Hansbrough, to clutch 3s from Hayes, and steady contributions from Osby, Milbourne, and Tucker.
Wow, wow, wow.
That felt really good.
Much more on this later. Just wanted to get a quick post up for now in case anyone is taking a look just after the game.
Friday, January 18, 2008
A Tough Team to Watch
A Tough Team to Watch
I did not go to the Maryland-Wake game Tuesday night in
Now I am not a big Billy Packer fan. But I do have to give it to him for not holding back one iota in saying just how crappy both
Um Greivis, is anyone home? Hello?
I didn’t take direct notes, but here's what I think Packer said:
and Wake exhibited the lowest basketball IQ of any ACC teams he’s seen in recent memory. Maryland
- Neither teams showed any discipline or court awareness.
- He saved some of his harshest words for Vasquez. Even though GV led everyone in scoring with 22, he had eight turnovers and passed the ball with all the crispness of spaghetti. Packer basically said the guy didn’t belong at point guard.
Here’s a link to the Sun’s blog about Packer’s harsh commentary: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/sports/mediumwell/blog/2008/01/billy_and_the_terps.html
But at least
Is that good?
Packer was basically beside himself as Wake heaved up one brick after another. He wondered aloud when they might realize they couldn’t shoot. It never happened.
(Quick side note – just my opinion, but I don't think the current 3 distance is good for college basketball. Most teams love to shoot them and most teams aren’t good at it. They should move the line out to the pro distance and I bet we’d see better team play. I realize I just sounded very old.)
OK, let’s get into some rapid fire Terps basketball tidbits:
Better third guard – Adrian Bowie or Cliff Tucker?
I was on the Tucker bandwagon all year until the last two games when Adrian Bowie has been fantastic. He plays sticky D, finishes well at the basket, and gives the team a decent ball handling option with Hayes nursing the bum ankle. It appears that
Tucker, meanwhile, has had some nice moments, but right now Bowie is the better third guard.
Let’s Look on the Bright Side
But don't spend too much time beating up on GV, Terps faithful. Put it this way, they ain't going ANYWHERE if that guy doesn't play well. As dicey as he is, he can really bring it sometimes (remember the near triple-double AT Duke last year?).
And how about some kudos for Bambale Osby? The big fella does more with ability than anyone else on the team. He ain't smooth, but he is effective and he gives you all he's got.
Which brings me to wondering, is there any chance
GA Show Episode #2 to Air Saturday night:
In case you missed it, I have a weekend radio show on
On Saturday night, we are on from 6:30 to 9. I will be joined by co-host Ron Herbst, who has no real reason to be on the radio; though he does have a very natural and delightful on-air personality. Guest segments will include:
The Doug Neustadt Report (Neustadt represents NBA and European pro basketball players and does a fantastic Hubie Brown impersonation).
The Matt Bracken Recruiting Report – Matt is a blogger for the Sun -- www.baltimoresun.com/recruiting -- who covers local recruiting.
The KDK Entertainment Report – Top 5 Stories in Celebrity Gossip for the Week
Andre Miller Fitness Challenge – On-Air Workout with the World’s most unconventional personal trainer.
Just when you forgot he was still in the NBA, Joe Smith has found his game in
He had a monster 31 point, 11 rebound night against
In more depressing news, Juan Dixon is getting almost no playing time in
Friday, January 11, 2008
Terps Nation #2 - Maybe They Don't Stink?
On to more important matters.
What have we learned so far about he 2007-2008 edition of the Maryland men's basketball team:
If they don't play with intensity, they can play as poorly as any team in the past 30 years of the program, suffering unbelievably embarrassing home losses to mediocre teams.
As Gist and Vasquez go, so goes Maryland. Those two are the only seriously talented guys on the squad. The rest are OK, but not one of them is an impact player. Gist and Vasquez are impact players and when they are down, Maryland stinks. When they are up, however, the Terps can be, I think, pretty good. How good? Time will tell. 8-8 in the league might be possible if those guys keep it turned on. If they don't? Uh oh. Could get embarrassing.
Of the freshmen, I like Cliff Tucker the best. He seems to have the most "pop" to his game, where he makes an impact with energy and athleticism. The rest of them? Who are they? Braxton Dupree is OK, he's a big body, but seems pretty raw. Then you have Shane Walker, Dino Gregory, and Adrian Bowie. I get more excited when Dave Neal takes the court. Seriously.
No one seems to care all that much. You hear any buzz at all about this team or program? I don't. The seats aren't filled, even in the student sections, even before the ridiculous losses to American and Ohio. People just aren't that into it. Shame of it is that we are only one season removed from a really good year. Terps were 10-6 in the ACC last year, but the momentum was killed by that opening round loss in the ACC tourney to Miami and then getting beat by Butler in the round of 32 made it one loss shy of a great year.
But here we are at 10-6 heading into the teeth of the ACC schedule. That's the good and bad news. Actually it's only good news. You get a chance to play against the best and see if you're any good. You can redeem yourself from a home loss to American with a win at Duke or Carolina. It's a longshot but at least it's out there.
Maybe the losses to American and Ohio (and don't forget, Terps needed OT to beat Northeastern) were just a funk? That's the theory put forth by BMag editor and Turtle devotee M. Weiss. More like a really big funk, like a funkity, funky, funk. But the good news is that Terps are playing better ball of late, with four wins in a row, including one that almost qualifies as impressive with a blowout of a decent Holy Cross team.
What's next? At Va. Tech on Saturday -- don't forget to vote in my first poll up top -- and a chance to keep some momentum going. I have no idea who plays for Va. Tech other than that wiry forward with the longish dreads whose mom goes to every game and gets all kinds of camera time. OK, I just looked it up, his name is Deron Washington. And they have a point guard from Baltimore, Malcolm Delaney.
Tip is 2 p.m. and at least the game is on Raycom and not ESPNU, which I don't have. After the game, please ignore the NFL playoffs going on and tune into espn 1300 in Baltimore for the first ever GA radio show, which will air 5-7 this week, and perhaps never again if I put my foot in it enough times.
Until next time Turtle nation,
Thursday, January 10, 2008
First Greg Abel Show to Air on Saturday 1/12
Please tune in.