Tuesday, January 27, 2009

BC'in ya Later


I am not sure what to say at this point. Maryland led by 16 and found a way to lose to BC tonight. So the Terps are now 2-4 in the ACC and have blown at least three games that they've led by 16 or more at one point.

All around rough day in College Park, where Jin Soo Kim was also ruled academically ineligible.

We still have 10 ACC games and the ACC tournament left.

I guess I'll keep watching, you?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

That Was Particularly Bad

It was 40-15 at the half, ballooned to 60-20 and ended at 85-44, the most lopsided and pants down embarrassing loss I can ever remember in years, perhaps ever.

The Post's Terrapin Insider reported that it was Gary's worst loss in 31 years as a head coach, the 4th worst loss in Maryland history, and the Terps' lowest point total in 20 years with Gary as head coach.

[Side note: I'm typing this while watching the Wiz-Portland game and Washington has 31 points at the half, so they are on pace to score only slightly more than Maryland did today. Not a wonderful day of offensive basketball for the region.]

As Maryland fans, where do we go from here? Do we chalk this one up to just a horrible afternoon and just let it go?

Or do you think about throwing up your hands and saying, "these guys aren't worth my time." 

I don't think most Maryland fans with any sense of loyalty will dump the team, but this is the kind of game that makes you think about it. It's not just that Maryland got beat, it's that they got pummeled on the home court of their rival on ESPN in a game that not only wasn't close, it wasn't remotely close. 

It leaves one at a loss for words, so I won't waste many here. I am just bummed about it, bummed that I care about Maryland hoops and they are bad enough to get beat that bad. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Quality Losses

My friend Sherman, an occassional Maryland fan, came over with his family to watch the Ravens game Sunday night. Prior to the game, Sherms asked what Maryland had done the day before. When I informed him that they lost in OT at Florida State, he said, "they're bad, huh?"

And this is where I said, 'no, not really. They just aren't great. They play hard, they have some good players. But they are missing a few pieces'

His response: "They're bad."

And herein lies the challenge for Gary and the Terps, the 08-09 version. They are good enough to hang, but perhaps not talented enough to win. They are bad enough to lose at home to Morgan State, yet good enough to beat Michigan State on a neutral court. Good enough to come back from down 11 in the second half against Florida State, bad enough to blow a 17-point second half lead at Miami.

On and on it goes.

In the FSU game, give credit to the Terps for nearly winning on the road on a day when Greivis and Eric Hayes shot a combined 5 for 24 from the field.

Kudos to Landon Milbourne and Sean Mosley for stepping up the toughness factor for the Terps, as those two, undersized as they are, mixed it up inside and grabbed 9 and 5 boards at Miami. Mosley is a bit of a bricklayer from the outside, but no one on the team is tougher.

I do believe that quality losses help a team's confidence, perhaps not their NCAA tournament resume, but at least in their mind they know they are just as good as anyone on the docket.

What is most frustrating to me, and I assume all Terps fans, is the feeling of being outmanned in these games. Maryland's guards and wing players are as good as anyone, but in the frontcourt, we look a lot like a big backcourt.

A win tonight against UVa would be huge, get us back to 2-2 in the league with a date at Duke Saturday. It's funny how the tide can turn with one game, hopefully it starts tonight.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tough Loss, It Happens

Maryland played great last night for about 30 minutes. Adrian Bowie was fantastic, finishing at the cup better than any player since Drew Nicholas, playing with supreme confidence and showing Maryland that he is an offensive force for sure.

Greivis was also fantastic, I thought he played within himself and under control the whole night, making good decisions with the ball and not forcing his offense, other than when he had to, such as at the end of the night.

Miami pulled that one out for two reasons in my book, one is to their credit and one is something Gary Williams needs to think about:
1.) Miami got red hot from 3. Jack McClinton is a big-time player and he and his teammates made big-time shots. The threes were falling for them and they pulled off the comeback. It happens.
2.) At around the 10 minute mark, Gary had the Terps take their foot off the gas and slow down the offense. They started running clock instead of running to the hoop and their offense stalled and got tight. Everything Maryland did well to build the 15 or 17-point lead stopped happening.

Hopefully the fellas and Gary will learn from this one and get better. They gotta put teams away when they have them on the ropes. Maryland led both Morgan and Miami by double figures in the second half and didn't win the games. Like I said, it happens, but it can't keep happening if the Terps are going to have a successful season.

A win at Florida State Saturday will make this loss easier to live with. A 2-1 start in the ACC would be great, and then they host Virginia next week, so could get to 3-1.

There are plenty of things to feel good about from last night's game at Miami, just not the final score.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thinnest Skin EVER

If I were still hosting the pre pre-game show for University of Maryland basketball, I would have made it a mission this week to find a kid who sits in the student section who actually heard what was said to Greivis to set him off against Georgia Tech. Better yet, I'd try to find the guy himself and put him on the air, try to understand the student side of the story, could make or great radio. Perhaps that's why they did not have me back.

As you may recall, GV told his own student section to, ahem, Shut the F Up, while dribbling down the court during the last few minutes of a tight ACC game. Down the stretch, while making some game clinching free throws, he stared into the stands in the general direction of someone who must have said something to him to make him lose his mind. He put his finger to his lips in the SHHH motion and after the game, he said this of the Maryland fans:

"If they don't believe in us, they can get the hell out. We don't need them anyway."
Here are some reports from the Sun and Post about the incident.

I will now try to guess what was said to mister rabbit ears thin skin:

Maybe run some offense this time.
Stop shooting.
Consider passing.
You're killing us.
Donde esta el bano?

Like Sgt. Hulka told Psycho in Stripes, "Lighten up, Francis." Or Greivis as the case might be.

What a diva.

C'mon GV, you want to play in the pros, start acting like a big time player. Ignore criticism and shut people up with your play, not your mouth and your antics.

To quote Shakespeare for the first and probably last time ever on this particular blog, "me thinks thou dost protest too much." Which is another way of saying, "the truth hurts."

In other news, obviously beating Georgia Tech in a game when they had 30 (30!) turnovers is a lot better than losing to Georgia Tech when they have 30 turnovers, but Maryland made it close. That was about the ugliest win I've seen in a long time, perhaps prompting the student fans to question Greivis' competence.

We all know that he's the best player Maryland has. The Terps go with Greivis, so there you go. When he plays poorly, any team, including Morgan State, can beat Maryland. When he plays well, he inspires his teammates and they can beat just about anyone.

Unfortunately, Greivis is a little hard to like. The guy paused and preened after making a three against Morgan State while the Terps were losing in the second half. I will repeat that. With Maryland losing to Morgan State, Greivis finally made a three after clanging most of his shots, and had the chutzpah to pause and stare into the crowd like, "who's the man?"

Even JJ Redick wasn't this annoying. Problem is, he is a great player. He's made his last 37 free throws, which is awesome. He is capable of throwing the team on his back and taking them back to the NCAA tournament. But if he can't take a little criticism without having a hissy fit and making himself the center of attention, he needs to take a long look in the mirror, not the stands.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Notes and Random Observations

Over the next 8 days, Maryland plays home against Georgia Tech, then on the road at Miami and at Florida State.

There was a time, not all that long ago, when you would have thought: win, win, win, 2 out of 3 at worst. Remember that feeling? That is not the feeling I have now. I'm thinking they get a win in one out of those three games.

When Maryland lost to Morgan, which is a somewhat shocking result, there really wasn't any national press coverage. Whereas when BC lost to Harvard, it was at the top of sportscenter. So ... you decide what that means.

Sports at its best - The Ravens in 2008-09 have been so much fun. Low expectations to start the year, the rookie QB, the rookie coach, the second half push to the playoffs, the wins in "must-win" games. Rarely does a team ever get your hopes up unexpectedly, then deliver. The Ravens have done that and then some. And here we go again, playing a game they are not supposed to win. I'm saying Ravens 20, Titans 3.

If Obama fails to bring us out of the recession, out of Iraq, and out of the general "this sucks" atmosphere, BUT, he is successful in forcing college football to adopt a playoff system, he will have served his country well, poorly, but that would be cool.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Great Win ... For Morgan State

Just when you thought it might be safe to invest emotionally in the Maryland basketball program ... just when we thought the Terps could escape an embarrassing loss at home in the pre-ACC season ... just when things were coming together in a positive way ... pfffttt. The Terps throw up all over themselves, perhaps justifying the absence of thousands of fans who skipped this one to watch Duke-Davidson.

Great win for Morgan. Don't let anyone tell you Maryland was "looking ahead" to the ACC season. You can look ahead when you are a good team. If you watched the game, Morgan had a better frontcourt than Maryland, at least in terms of size and rebounding. I love Dave Neal, but when he is your most consistent force on the blocks, you've got problems. Maryland's got problems. Oh well, here we go again.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Is the Comcast Center Half Empty or Half Full?

Welcome to 2009 Terps Nation readers. And not a moment too soon. How did 2008 treat you guys? Good? I read the other day that the stock market lost 35 trabillion dollars in the last quarter of the year, marking the first time that the FED or the GOV or the whoever counts these things, had to use the word trabillion, which means, in lay terms, "take the biggest number you can imagine and add 6.5 kabillion."

I mean, it wasn't good, was it? 2008 was the year of the MEGA story, the Olympics in China, the Election, the Economy, the Madoff scandal, the collapse of the American Automakers and your 401-k account. Does anyone remember an HR meeting where the 401K administrator guy said, "now remember, after you contribute to this thing for about 10 years, don't be surprised if it blows up completely in the matter of a few weeks at some point. That is normal."

Anyway, back to, um, Maryland basketball.

I went to my second live Terps game of the season Tuesday night, taking in Maryland vs. Elon. Elon, for the uninitiated, plays in the Southern Conference (with Steph Curry's Davidson team), came into the game 4-4, and had a reserve guard with a dramatic flap-top in the mold of Kid from Kid n Play.

Their nickname is the Phoenix and famous alums include MLB umpire Joe West, Miami basketball coach Frank Haith, and NASCAR driver Ward Burton. The Phoenix were coming off a big win against Lipscomb, which is based in the suburbs of Nashville, and singer Pat Boone went there. OK then.

So the Comcast Arena was, let's call if "half full" for the game. The students are out on break, the public is also apparently on break, so I guess it would be a little harsh to bemoan the fact that Maryland basketball isn't exactly a hot ticket right now.

How empty was it? It was sooo empty, that my companion Gregg Sweet Music Viola and I sailed smoothly onto route 1 from 495 at about 20 minutes before game time, easily bypassing an area that backs up to roughly Owings Mills on a big game night. Oh it was a thin crowd people. How thin was it? The halftime entertainment was a team of batton twirlers from a local high school and they provided the most flawless, most exciting performance of the night. Not kidding. Half the crowd gave them a standing O, me included.

The extent to which Maryland hoops will become a hot ticket over the next two months will depend on many factors, some of which we'll get into now. To summarize the season to date, the Terps are 10-2; and 2-2 against teams in the top 25, with wins against Michigan State and Michigan and resounding defeats at the hands of Gonzaga and Georgetown. I'd feel a little more confident about this team's chances in the ACC if the Zags and Hoyas hadn't outright destroyed the Terps in those games, but at least Maryland held its own against the teams from Michigan, who may have been distracted by the "going out of business" sale currently being held by every business in their state.

I mean it's bad in Michigan right now, isn't it? How bad is it? I heard Tomos just bought Ford, that's how bad it is. I mean it's bad.

But Maryland basketball, well, they are, pretty good? A good bad team? A bad good team? They have no good big men, everyone knows that, but they do have great guards and the evolution of the rotation through a dozen games has been downright fascinating to watch.

The current starting five is Adrian Bowie at the point, Eric Hayes and Greivis Vasquez as wings, with Landon Milbourne at the 4 and big Dave Neal at the 5. Now a lot of people like to make jokes at the expense of Dave Neal because he's a big slow white guy, but I am not going to do that. I love Dave Neal. He can really shoot it, plays very hard, and even though he is nobody's idea of an ACC center, how do you not appreciate a guy who has forced his way into a starting role when everyone thought he was this group's version of Mike Grinnon. No, Dave Neal is no end of the bench, mop up minutes kind of a guy. He is Maryland's best 3-point shooter and largest body on the block with a clue. There are other guys who are big (Viola quote from Tuesday night, "can anyone prove that Dino Gregory and Braxton Milbourne are not the same person?"), but they are all NRFACCP = Not Ready for ACC Play. Seriously Gary, maybe you could sign one more mediocre frontcourt player, the Terps have at least four in Gregory, Dupree, Goins and Jerome Burney.

Gregory is probably the best of the bunch. He can rebound, can't score and is undersized; Dupree just isn't a good basketball player, not sure what else to say about that guy; Burney looks like Joe Smith but doesn't quite play like him, and Maryland signed Goins out of desperation to fill their roster before the start of the season. His second choice was Goucher, OK?

But the guards, the guards are solid as a rock. Greivis is an annoying showboat at times (how much would you hate him if he played for another team?) but he is borderline great, probably an NBA player, and fills up the stats sheet all over the place. Put it this way, Maryland is 2-14 in the ACC without him, of that I'm certain. With him? Not really sure, but I think 8-8 is do-able and might get them in the tournament, but that's a discussion for another day.

Hayes has been Hayes, very solid, not quite as good as you want him to be (I mean let's just say it, right? We want him to be Steve Blake and he's not nearly as good as Blake. Of course, Blake used to frustrate us too, and now he's a starting guard in the NBA, so maybe no one knows anything, which is probably the case).

Where was I? My favorite (and 11-year-old hoop prodigy Connor Werrlein's) favorite player on this Maryland team is Adrian "you can't keep him off the court" Bowie. Straight from the Dave Neal playbook, this guy looked like someone who'd play occassional minutes. He's only about 6-2 and not a pure shooter or ball handler, so why is he the starting PG?

Dude just knows how to play. He's the best finisher in a Maryland uni since Drew Nicholas and can rebound, defend and do all the little things. How could a coach (or a fan for that matter) not love this guy. It is officially time to start appreciating the Adrian Bowie era.

Then there's Milbourne, who is a small forward playing out of position, but he's going to get his points and he is a solid, ACC caliber player. And off the bench it's an interesting mix. Cliff Tucker started the year as a starter and looked like he might emerge as a star, but has since been pushed to the bench by Bowie's play, and pushed in the rotation by freshman Sean Mosley. Mosley is a work in progress, but the kid is strong and, give him some time, will do some great things as a Terp.

I could write 1,000 or just 10 words about the 6-8 South Korean on Maryland's team, Jin Soo Kim. I'll go with 10. He's not quite ready yet, but he's tall and has potential. (that was 11 words, but you get the idea).

OK, that's about all I've got for now. Should be a fun season. Hey look, after the national championship team we all thought we had reached the upper stratosphere in college hoops. That Maryland had finally re-arrived as a year-in, year-out national power. Hasn't happened. We're back to being scrappy underdogs. It may not have followed the script you had in mind, it's intriguing nonetheless. See you at Comcast, there's room.