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.

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