Sunday, October 31, 2010

Not a Single Vote for the Terps? That Ain't Right

I'm not one to put a lot of stock in preseason polls. In fact, were I the King of All Things College Basketball, I would decree that no poll should be taken and released until teams have played at least five games. That way, the initial poll would be at least partly based on the actual performances on the court, and the not the reputation of the program, or Rivals ranking of the recruits.

But the world doesn't work that way and every year before a game is played, the AP and ESPN/USA Today release the "Top 25" ranked teams in college basketball. This year, a year after Maryland went 13-3 in the ACC, 24-9 overall and came within a buzzer-beater from the Sweet 16, the Terps received Zero votes in the AP preseason polls and 2 votes in the ESPN/USA Today poll, aka the Coaches Poll. It's not just that the Terps aren't ranked, not one AP voter thought enough of Gary William's program to give the Terps a single vote. Somehow Wofford, ODU, Utah State, and Ohio University received votes, but none for the Terps.

And so now I'm mad. And I'm guessing this is great for our program because Gary Williams will get mad, feel disrespected, and use this slight to fuel his team's performance. Which is all a very good thing for Terps fans, because no one is better than Gary as an underdog.

But what I'm annoyed about is that, really, how much does this program have to do to get a little respect? Sure, Maryland lost 3 senior starters in Grevis Vasquez, Landon Milbourne, and Eric Hayes, but do the voters think that the program has brought no one who's worth a lick in to replace them?

Just having Jordan Williams and Sean Mosley the starting lineup around three other decent players should get ONE voter to throw Maryland a bone. Hell, Duke or UNC could graduate every one of it starters and get ranked 15th in the preseason poll just because voters think, "those guys always bring in the best recruits."

But Maryland? Well, truth be told, Gary doesn't bring in the best recruits. He brings in good players, and sometimes he brings in great players. But give the man his due already. Maryland runs a quality basketball program. Even when we've complained in recent years that they aren't "good enough," the worst Maryland has ever done under Gary in the last 15-17 years is be "one the bubble." They are NEVER horrible, and they are often good. Just based on the fact that last year, Gary pulled off 13-3 in the ACC should be good enough for someone to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But no. No one thinks Maryland is any good, not even a top 50 team. Oh, how Gary and the Terps will love proving them wrong.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Embrace the Horror

This post was written and conceived entirely by Steve Sherman, known to Baltimore sports radio listeners as "Steve from Homeland." I hereby approve this message:

The Cusp of Greatness

When it comes to the Baltimore Orioles, fans like us are on the cusp of witnessing true greatness. Well, greatness at being not great. Greatness at losing, greatness at failing, greatness at sucking. And I think that's –well- great!

The Orioles (16-42, .276) are on a pace to win less than 30 percent of their games this year. In the last 60 years (that’s 60 with a “6” and “0” next to it), there have been two teams that have finished the season with less than a .300 winning percentage. The 1962 Mets* and 2003 Tigers-- That's it. Two teams. Yes, 2.

I calculated the following: 60 years X a rough average of 30 teams in the league= 1,800 seasons. The Birds are on pace to be ranked 1,798 (with luck maybe 1,799th or even 1,800th!). I say dare to dream.

Club 200

The O’s need to win less than 49 games to finish the season with a winning percentage that starts with a 2, which I hereby dub, “Club 200."

This is the kind of club that the B-Rated Hollywood stars go to at 4:00 a.m. to snort Oxycontin right off the lacquered tables. It’s so uncool, that it’s super cool. I’m picturing the bar scene in Star Wars and then Dana Plato , Gary Coleman , Todd Bridges does stand-up and starts puking out his teeth. Next thing you know, John Waters walks in with two trannies and you wake up 2 days later with no kidneys or wallet. The point is – Club 200 is an interesting (albeit disturbing) place to be.

And if the Orioles' season is going to be terrible (which it is), let it at least be interesting.

You Have to Earn You Way into Club 200

It's easy to be sort of terrible. Hell, the Pirates, Royals and even our Orioles have won in the recallable past. The Old Senators (think baseball, not Robert Byrd**) were never in Club 200. Even current terrible teams like the Astros can’t expect an invite. (Astros are at .390!).

But Orioles fans . . . we can expect an invite.

When the slit in the door opens, and the bouncer sees our squad of misfits (Izturis will need a box to stand on so he can be seen), we’re all getting in. First round is on Atkins.

I look forward to my captain and coke with Crowley.

Dare to Dream gentlemen, Dare to Dream-

Written June 9, 2010 by Steve Sherman

* The Mets’ Marv Throneberry was once ruled out after hitting a triple. He had missed both 1st and 2nd base.

** Robert Byrd (WV) was in the Ku Klux Klan and has served as Senator for 51 years.

*** By the way, the 1906 Cubs have the best record of all time at 116-36 (.763)—which is a real kick in the ironic pants.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Is Greivis an NBA player?

Recently, I read in the paper where Greivis Vasquez worked out for the Washington Wizards. As I pictured GV running around the top of the key, trying to impress Bullets brass with his ability to can open 3 pointers, I wondered to myself, "I wonder if that guy is going to make it in the NBA." And as I sit here writing this, I am not sure. I don't think anyone is. He's not a "can't miss" type of prospect like John Wall, or even a borderline lottery pick like Butler's Gordon Hayward who, my agent friend recently told me, is the best white North American player since Steve Nash. Not that that necessarily means anything.

But back to Greivis. I would love to see Greivis succeed at the NBA level, if for no other reason than no one on the planet just plain wants it more than that guy. I am quite certain that getting to the NBA has been on his mind all day every day for the past dozen or more years. He likely makes daily basic decisions based on whether or not that decision gets him closer or further from the NBA.

But desire is not enough. Playing in the NBA, if you're not a sure thing, requires the right mix of luck, opportunity, and timing. The good news is that only one team has to fall in love with Greivis and use one of its precious picks on him, most likely in the second round.

And if they take Greivis, what they'll get is a guy who will do literally anything to get on the court and help his team win. We learned that in four years during his career at Maryland. We learned that GV doesn't always make the best decisions, but he is capable of carrying a team, making clutch shots, throwing outrageous passes, and giving everything he's got.

Is that enough for the NBA? Is there' a place for a 6-6 point guard who isn't particularly quick and can't jump particularly high? Could he possibly guard the waterbug guards in the league like Chris Paul, Ty Lawson or Jameer Nelson? Probably not. But Greivis, with his long frame and ability to hit the running floater or spot the open man will give those guys match-up problems too.

Often in the NBA, as in life, it's about getting a chance. Here's hoping someone gives Greivis a chance. I think Maryland fans will agree that he's earned it.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Opening Day

During the baseball season we're going to blog from time to time on the O's. After all, the Terrapin Nation includes the home town team. Mostly we're just going to rant on how much we hate Dave Trembly. Well, not really hate - its just that he always seems to make the wrong decisions. Anyway, for today:

1. Why does Adkins "run on contact" as Gary Thorne or Palmer like to say. Is this in the "book." The guy (Adkins) looks slower than Aubrey Huff (anyone think that Aubrey Huff would be an upgrade over Adkins. Huff is making $3mm in San Fran, Adkins $4mm). Anyway, isn't it a different inning if its second and third w/ one out instead of first and second. Where is Roberts going to hit it in the infield that actually results in Adkins scoring because he "runs on contact."

2. Why is Adkins running at all. He plays first base for Gods sake. Can't anyone play first base for one inning. How about Julio Lugo. He would have gotten into the game and that would have put off his complaining about playing time for at least a day. Most managers would realize that the run at third is way more important than having a moderate risk at first base for three outs when your "closer" hasn't gotten anyone out all spring.

Question for the next game - How many regulars is Trembley going to bench so that he can "get everyone in the game." If Lugo plays for Roberts ...

Monday, April 05, 2010


I take it all back. Watching Duke celebrate is the worst. I am not only not OK with Duke's win, I am in pain. I hate Duke, now more than ever. And we've got like 11 more years of Plumlee brothers.
Thoughts from the national championship game:
Great game.
Hate the rotating, hovering, whatever that is camera.
Clark Kellogg is annoying.
We had to listen to Billy Packer for 30 years, how long are they going to let Kellogg blabber?
Both teams got some calls, I thought the officiating was pretty good, only blatant (and huge) miss was when Hayward drove and made a hoop and Scheyer clearly jumped in his path and got the charge call. Should have been a block. That was a 3-point swing.
Butler belonged, played great, coulda won that damn thing.

Why it's OK for Duke to Win

Duke vs. Butler for the national championship will tip off in a few hours, and I'm not afraid or embarrassed to say that I am 100 percent OK with it if Duke wins.

I'm not rooting for Duke. I don't hope they win. But I am not going to be all pissed off if they cut down the nets sometime just before midnight in Indianapolis.

Let's get a few things straight first.

I don't like Duke.

But I do have a lot of respect for Duke and its program. Their fans... that's another story. I find them annoying and geeky and over-rated. Put it this way, if Maryland played in a 8,000-seat high school gym with fans seated 3 feet from the court, our place would be loud (er) too. But that's a different subject for another day. For today, for a few minutes, let's think about the 2009-2010 Duke men's basketball team.

Let's even forget Coach K. for the sake of this particular discussion. He's annoying too of course, reaching the pinnacle of obnoxiousness with those Amex commericals a few years ago when he said something like, "I am not a basketball coach. I am a leader of men." OK, whatever. But even if you call him coach Ratface and love it when Gary gets the better of him - is anything better? -
you simply can't ignore the incredible run of great team after great team that he puts out there on the court. Every. Single. Year.

Tonight Duke will start Jon Scheyer, Brian Zoubek, Nolan Smith, Kyle Singler, and Lance Thomas.

Which of those guys do you hate? I guess the most hate-able guy is either Zoubek - because he's a gigantic, screen-setting machine who looks like a henchman from the 1976 Soviet national team (seriously, can't you picture Zoubek in a red CCCP jersey?); or maybe Singler because... hmmm.... because he's a pasty white guy who is really good?

Scheyer gets made fun of for his maniacal facial expressions, but this is a Jewish kid from Chicago who just plain lights it up and can play ball. Forgive me, but I like Jon Scheyer. He's the best Jewish point guard for a nationally prominent team I can remember since Doug Gottlieb dished out 8 assists a game at Oklahoma State. But Gottlieb couldn't shoot to save his life. Scheyer is a dead eye. I wonder if he kept kosher for Passover this week? I doubt it.

Nolan Smith is a Maryland native and the son of Derek Smith, who died suddenly at age 34 while an assistant with the Wizards. Nolan was only 8 when his dad died. He is a classy player who has stepped up his game massively this season. He averaged only 8.4 ppg last year and pours in 17.5 this season. He's electric with the ball and can really shoot it. I like Nolan Smith.

And the third of the big three is Singler, an athletic 3/4 kind of a player who can beat you inside and out. Who wouldn't want that guy on their team? I kinda like Singler too.

Back in 2001-2002, when Duke featured Shane Battier, Chris Duhon, Jason Williams, and Carlos Boozer... I HATED those guys. I thought they were arrogant and entitled and got every call. I don't feel that kind of hate for this Duke squad. Forgive me Maryland fans, I actually like the way this Duke team plays.

The biggest reason most Maryland fans and most other fans around the country hate Duke is for the name on the front of their jerseys, not the backs. These guys represent a school that most people despise because they're perceived as the preppy rich kids who win. And who really wants to see preppy rich kids win? Again. Not me for sure.

But, here are three reasons why I'm OK with a Duke win tonight.
1.) Duke represents the ACC.

Around here we like to think we play in the best conference in the country. The point is debatable. But when your league owns the national title, you can point to that and claim bragging rights. For everyone who hates Duke for being, well, Duke. Think about this - how much would it suck if Duke weren't great? How great is it that Maryland gets to measure itself up against Duke twice a year, every year? Every season when Maryland puts a team on the court, they get the chance to play Duke, home and away, for a very real test to see if the Terps are any good. When we're good, we usually beat Duke at least once. When we're counterfeit or just OK, they rip us a new one. Hate on Duke all you want - believe me, I hate them most of the time - but be thankful they are in our league. When you lose all of your meaningful non-conference games, you need Duke in your league so that if you beat them you can point that win and say, "See, we really are good. We beat Duke!"

2.) Maryland is the last team to beat Duke, downing the Blue Devils 79-72 on March 3rd at Comcast. My friend Max said she felt like Michigan State had "our" tournament run this year. I agree. Maryland coulda been playing tonight if that shot from Luscious doesn't go in But it did. I kinda like the idea of Maryland being the last team to beat the national champs. It's something (not much). Duke is 9-0 since and hasn't been seriously threatened in the tournament. (side note - if they do win, they'll have beaten the biggest bunch of NCAA tournament no names in history on the way to the national title - Arkansas Pine Bluff, Cal, Purdue, Baylor, West Virginia, and Butler. There are some decent teams in there but NONE with any tournament pedigree to speak of).

And 3.) Well, you gotta have 3 in any list, but I'm reaching for this one. My third reason why I'm OK if Duke wins tonight is because... hmmm.... because ... oh hell, who am I kidding...


(those Plumlee brothers, now THEY are hate-able)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Ultimate Dagger

My friend Gabe called it "the ultimate dagger." He called a few minutes after the end of the game, needing someone to talk to. I didn't pick up. Didn't answer the call from a few other friends either, just didn't feel like discussing it.

What was there to say?

That Maryland played with heart and courage.
That Greivis did exactly what a star is supposed to do. He put Maryland on his back, led an amazing comeback, and hit big shot after big shot.
It should have been enough.
It wasn't.

Michigan State made the last shot. Maryland lost an epic game, one in which the Terps came back from the dead to take the lead. And it wasn't like MSU choked (well maybe a little). The Terps came ROARING back into that game, refusing to go down without a melee.

It made me proud to be a Terps fan. Even though we didn't win, we left everything on the court. Gary's team fought like only a Gary team can, with every muscle in their bodies, to come back against an equally well coached Michigan State team.

There isn't, in my opinion, a whole lot to say. Maryland played great. They got beat. We'll get em next year.

Monday, March 08, 2010

What if Terps Win the ACC Tournament?

Right now the Terps are hot. They've won 7 straight ACC games, and just completed their best regular season record since the national championship season. The national champ Terps went 15-1, losing only at Duke. These year's Terps completed a 13-3 regular season with a nervy 74-68 win at UVa on Saturday.

How good is this 13-3 record? Well, in all of the seasons combined since the national championship, Maryland had a .500 record in ACC league play. This season, they are 10 games over .500 in the league. That's not just good, it's great.

It's "Gary Williams is the ACC Coach of the Year" great, and "Greivis Vaquez is the ACC Player of the Year" great. And it might even be, "Jordan Williams is ACC Rookie of the Year" great.

Those awards won't be announced until tomorrow, but I think both Vasquez and Williams have earned them, edging out Duke's Scheyer and Coach K. None of this is news to Maryland fans who have been paying attention, but it's new news to the college basketball nation at large, which is just now, in mid-March, getting an eyeful of the Greivis-led Terps, who jumped to 19th in the ACC and ESPN/USA Today polls out today.

Also today on, bracketologist Joe Lunardi slotted Maryland with a 5-seed, the team's highest projected seed yet.

So my next question is this - what if Maryland wins the ACC tournament? They'd be 26-7 and riding a 10-game winning streak, that would likely include another win over Duke, the only other ACC team that's currently ranked (4th).

Technically, just FYI, some consider Maryland 22-7 right now b/c the early season win over Chaminade doesn't count (they're a D-II team). That was so long ago, it almost feels like a different team. This team, the one that's roared in the ACC, is the one with the following key characteristics:

Jordan Williams has emerged as a true force inside averaging 9 points and 8 boards, and doing his best work during this late-season winning streak. Williams has very strong hands and gives Maryland an inside presence they've lacked since the Lonny Baxter years. He's very similar to Baxter actually. I'd say a little better rebounder and about the same offensively. Lonny was a better foul shooter.

Greivis has been off the charts for six weeks now. Last year, I didn't think it was a good idea for him to come back for a senior year. After all, he turned 23 this year, how much better was he going to get? What happened was that his teammates improved, he got hot at the right time, and has emerged as one of the elite PGs in the country. GV is the ONLY point averaging more than 19 points and 6 assists right now. If Maryland makes a deep run in the tournament, he has a chance to displace Juan Dixon as the program's all-time leading scorer and he's a lock to pass Bias to get to #2. Add to those career numbers his heroics against Va. Tech, UVa, and just about everyone else, and it's time to stop and say, "this guy is great." I've turned the corner on Greivis. It took 3 and a half years, but I now love the guy and you should too.

Gary has a well-defined rotation. Dino Gregory is the first big man off the bench; Tucker and Bowie are a great 1-2 scoring punch off the bench in the backcourt and wing; and James Padgett is there to consume some minutes if any of the big men get in foul trouble. The starters all have well-define roles and let's hear it for the steady hand of Eric Hayes who, like GV, is having an inspired senior year, making good decisions, making key shots, and playing, in general, great basketball.

So... back to the quetion - what if Maryland wins the ACC tournament? It kinda depends what the teams in front of them do... because it's a bit harder to push through the field from the back, as opposed to hanging on to a spot near the top. But... for my money, Maryland is a 3-seed if they win the tournament. There's still a good amount of doubting out there about these Terps, and I think a run from not ranked 2 weeks ago to a 2-seed might be too much to ask. But get Maryland in as a 3 and let's see what happens in the Dance. One thing is for sure, it's going to be fun to watch.

Who am I kidding? We will all be nervous wrecks. Except for Greivis, he seems to have this thing figured out.

Go Terps.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Terps 79, Dukies 72

Special thanks to Terps fan Big Russ Dlin for sharing this post-game shot. What a win.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Maryland Beats Duke on a Perfect Night

From my good pal and devoted Terps fan Gabe, couldn't have said it better myself:

Great start, great finish. Inspired seniors, clutch freshman. Stomping Gary, whining rat-faced Coach K. Father-son shimmying. Reborn Adrian Bowie. Erin Andrews. Crazy Greivis shot to seal the deal, and one last gratuitous 60 footer attempted at the buzzer. Maniacs storming the court. Perfect.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Remember Cole Field House?

As Maryland gets ready to play the Final Home game at Comcast for the season, I thought it might be the right time for a trip down memory lane for a look at Cole Field House. The last game at Cole was played on March 3, 2002 against UVa. Starting lineup for the Terps that day (you really don't need me to tell you this do you?)

Juan Dixon
Steve Blake
Byron Mouton
Chris Wilcox
Lonny Baxter

I made a video that day and cut it up into four parts, so here they are. Forgive the shaky camera .. but if you skim through it you get a great flavor for the sights and the sounds of an amazing facility.

Part One - arriving at Cole
Part Two - pre-game
Part Three - game
Part Four - celebration and post-game


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Post Game Thoughts After Maryland 104, Va. Tech 100 in Double OT

Post game thoughts:

That was a GREAT college basketball game. The kind of game that makes you love college basketball all over again. I was a nervous wreck the entire time.

I'd like to apologize to Greivis for all those times I yelled at him through the television. Sorry Greivis. This run he's on, carrying Maryland to their best ACC season since 2001-2002, has propelled him to the category of an all-time Terps great. His jersey will hang from the rafters and he deserves it.

If you are going to watch a game that makes you feel like you can't breathe and you love the excitement but hate the anxiety at the same time, I highly recommend watching said game with your 5-year-old offspring, in front of whom you don't want to act like a complete lunatic. It's calming.

That said, I had a whole conversation with my brother where we agreed that it's very hard to watch Maryland basketball. It just wracks the nerves. Both of us said that sometimes we record the game, then fast forward ahead to see what happened before settling in to watch because it's too hard to watch the game in real time and not be able to fast forward. Now that I think about it, this might be more of a family anxiety issue more than a Maryland basketball fan issue. Let's move on.

If the national polls come out on Monday and Maryland hasn't cracked the top 25, then they should shut down the national polls. At 21-7 and 11-3 in the ACC, Maryland should be a top 15 team, not just top 25. For the first time since the second half of the 2005-2006 season, I really feel like Maryland has a very solid team that can make a run in the tournament.

I stayed up late to watch SportsCenter, thinking that the excitement of this game might make it one of the top highlights. Nope, since they show highlights in the pecking order of the top 25, the SportsCenter that started at 11:30 didn't show anything about Maryland-Va Tech until after midnight. And the college basketball show that followed at 12:30 of course focused for a long time first about the losses from #1 and #2, Kansas and Kentucky; also spent a ton of time on Syracuse-Villanova and other Big East contests like Georgetown -Notre Dame and a West Virginia Cincinnati.

All of this annoyed me. ESPN should have recognized that even though Maryland and Va. Tech aren't currently ranked, they were the second and third place teams in the ACC, historically the best basketball conference in the country, and more importantly, had just finished playing one of the most epic, exciting, toe-to-toe battles in college basketball this season or any other. That was an amazing game. Here's Seth Greenberg's post-game quote in the Washington Post game story:

"It was a heck of a game," Virginia Tech Coach Seth Greenberg said. "It was like a prize fight, with punches and counter-punches, teams getting knocked down and getting right back up."

Terps already have the most conference wins of any Maryland team since the 2002-2003 team went 11-5. So if Maryland can win one of their last two - home against Duke or at UVa, they'll have the best ACC record of any Maryland team since the national championship team went 15-1 in 2001-2002.

I heard it first at NC State and again in the first half at Va. Tech. Home fans chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A," as Greivis Vasquez handles the ball. And on behalf of everyone with a clue, that is some non-creative, xenophobic bullshit. This is not the Iron Sheik against Hulk Hogan. This is a college senior who happens to be from Venezuela, but has never, ever had a negative word to say about this country and I would be that Greivis Vasquez loves America. I got no problem with opposing fans trying to rattle Greivis, but chanting "U-S-A" at him is weak and dumb.

Tech's Jeff Allen is very talented, athletic, and ... plays dirty. He throws elbows, pushes, and whines after every call. He also walks almost every time he makes a move to the basket. He does a quick little two-step and for some reason that I don't understand, the refs don't call it. I officially don't like Jeff Allen.

Dino Gregory is more important to Maryland basketball than you might think for the following reasons:
He plays with lots of energy and heart and plays solid defense.
He has great timing on blocked shots.
He can knock down free throws, shoots 84 percent.
Maryland was 5-3 without Dino; they are 16-4 with him.
I officially like Dino Gregory.

I don't think Va. Tech is a bubble team. I think they're an NCAA tournament team. those guys can play.

Malcolm Delaney is a bad man. He's a pro. His end-to-end play at the end of regulation was indicative of a guy who is a really smart and talented player. He knew he had enough time to get to the rack, knew Maryland didn't want to foul, and got it done. Shame on Maryland for not double teaming him and getting the ball out of his hands. Of course I'd rather see the drive to the hoop than a potential game-winning 3, but still.

I read in the post game reports that Hayes thought he had made a three and therefore did play as tight defense as he would have otherwise. Which is semi-defensible, but the Terps should NOT have just played phantom D with the game on the line like that.

Here's a great summary of how well the Terps took care of the ball from the Sun's Tracking the Terps Blog:

The Terps had only 11 turnovers in the game, and just two in the second half. It helped that the Hokies didn't press, but Maryland gave itself scoring chances nearly every time it had the ball. Vasquez had only two turnovers playing 48 of the 50 minutes. Eric Hayes had 10 assists and two turnovers in 40 minutes.

Grevis went 13 of 33 from the field, 10 of 10 from the line and scored a career-high 41 points. OK, 33 shots is probably too many, but more than anything, what GV did (again) was hit HUGE shots and was absolutely sublime in the second half. I think he got a little tired by the 2nd OT (who wouldn't be after playing 48 minutes?) but I have finally and completely come around to respect this guy 100 percent.

Seth Greenberg might be a bigger spaz than Gary. He pleads. He stomps. He sweats. He goes into anaphylactic shock after calls don't go his way. I like him. He's definitely done a nice job with Virginia Tech basketball which was never much of a program before his arrival. No doubt that joining the ACC has helped, but Greenberg is a great coach.

Maryland really should have won in regulation. Terps were up 80-77 with 22 seconds left and had the ball. That's when Milbourne threw it away. Then Tech made the 3 with 18 seconds left. Put me in the camp of people who think you should just foul and send a guy to the line when you're up 3 at the end of the game and the other team has the ball.

You see guys nail 3s to force overtime all the time. How many times have you seen it work when you force the other team to make a guy make 1 of 2 free throws, then miss on purpose and get the ball back and score? My count is never. It's definitely not a no brainer because there are risks - like if the opposing player is too quick and gets a 3 off while you're fouling him - but I think it's a better strategy than just playing D and hoping the opponent doesn't hit a 3.

Sean Mosley had a very quiet 17 but it's great to see him scoring again. I'm a little worried about Landon Milbourne right now. Doesn't seem to be in the flow of the offense and can disappear for long stretches.

Overall, I am personally very excited about Maryland basketball and I'm sensing more excitement in this region about the Terps for the first time since 2002. The Terps are playing great basketball when it matters most and seem to be coming together as team.

Duke at Mayland Wed. night will be a lot of fun and I think Maryland will win. They are ready to beat Duke. It might not happen, but at least you can think about it without feeling like you are being an unrealistic homer. Two more wins and the Terps will go 13-3 in the ACC for the season ... if they do that, and then get to the ACC finals, we're looking at a 3 or 4 seed. Win the ACC tournament and they'd be 26-7. Is that a 2 seed? Probably.

Terps have come a long way since losing at home to William & Mary, don't you think?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Do Terps Belong in the Top 25?

Certainly Maryland's recent run of strong play -- highlighted most recently by their buzzer-beating home win vs. Ga. Tech on Saturday -- has made them a team that feels deserving of being ranked in the Top 25.

Yet when the polls came out on Monday, Maryland was stuck near the top of "others receiving votes," hands pressed against the window, on the outside, looking in. That likely won't be the case when NCAA bids are passed out come the third week in March. With their current 9-3 mark in the ACC, Maryland has already won 2 more league games than it did last season, when they advanced to the round of 32 after winning a few nice games in the ACC tournament.

But back to this discussion of the Top 25. Today the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Barker reported that Gary Williams said, "We should be ranked."

If I was Gary, I would probably think so too. After all, Maryland sits alone in 2nd place in the ACC at the 3/4 mark of the league season. The ACC is typically regarded as one of the top 3 best conferences in the country. And if you're good enough to go 9-3 so far in the ACC, then you damn well ought to be considered one of the 25 best teams in the country.

I kinda like Maryland being kept out of the top 25 for now. Keeps em hungry. Keeps em feeling doubted and disrespected, and there's no better motivation to a player than to tell them that no one thinks they are any good. (unless, of course, you are former Terp big man Braxton Dupree, who wasn't any good).

Anyway, here are five reasons why Maryland should be ranked:
1. They've been smoking teams all season long. When Maryland gets a nice lead this year, they put teams away, big-time. Terps have defeated UNC, UVa, N.C. State, B.C., and Miami and a bunch of early season patsies by 15+ points in games that weren't ever close. That's the mark of a good team.

2. Maryland's 76-74 win over Ga. Tech on Saturday was electrifying. It's the kind of win that makes people take notice and often can/should/will propel a team playing well into the top 25. Didn't happen. Kinda weird.

3. Terps are .500 on the road in the ACC and perfect at home. That's the prescription for success and, in just about any other season, a top 25 ranking. Maybe top 15.

4. Because Maryland is good enough to beat any team in college basketball right now.

5. Because, as I wrote above, they are alone in second place in the ACC three-quarters of the way through the season. ESPN's bracketologist says 7 ACC teams should make the tournament, but the one alone in second place isn't ranked?

And here are five reasons why Maryland doesn't belong in the Top 25 and haven't don't squat yet:
1. Terps are 0-3 against Duke, Clemson and Wake. Those are 3 of the top 5 teams in the league (Maryland plays at Va. Tech Saturday, big game to see who will be #2 or if Maryland will have a chance to knock Duke off at the top).

2. Maryland lost, at home to William & Mary. I know William & Mary is having a good season and was hot at the time. It's still inexcusable. You don't lose at home to William & Mary.

3. Maryland lost to every decent out of conference team it played this season. 0-3 against Wisconsin, Cincinnati and Villanova (and you can throw in William & Mary if you feel like it). Wisconsin and Villanova are both very good, but Cincinnati is 6-8 in the Big East and a bubble team at best. Maryland just didn't beat anyone good... until the ACC started.

4. Maryland didn't even give Duke a game. I know Duke is really tough to beat at home. But if you're legit, you don't just get pummeled from the tip and allow that stiff Greg Zoubek to have the game of his life.

5. The ACC is down and Maryland is benefitting from playing weak competition. It's a fact that this week is the first time in 33 years that only one ACC team - guess who - is ranked in the top 25.

So, what's this all mean? Not a thing, really. Being ranked is just something to keep fans interested and provide some semblance of a pecking order among 300+ teams until the NCAA tournament starts.

For decades now, college hoops has been all about the NCAA tournament. Certainly regular season wins, and league championships matter, but they all pale in comparison to what happens in the tournament.

Did you make it?
How many wins did you get once you got there?

More than anything, what's been nice about this year's team is that they look like they belong. Early season losses aside, Maryland has been very good in 2010 and it's the second half of the season that matters. Maryland has a bona fide superstar in Greivis Vasquez, the kind of guy who can throw a team on his shoulders (he can also make you want to throw your shoe at the TV, but less and less).

So... here we go. Down the stretch ... home against Clemson, at Va. Tech, home against Duke, then at UVa to close it out before the ACC tournament. 2-2 will be good enough. 3-1 would be great. 4-0... and Maryland could earn a 3-seed.

The last chapter for Greivis Vasquez and company has yet to be written in Maryland basketball history. The view from here says we are going to do some celebrating this March. I'm looking for 12-4 in the league, a finals appearance in the ACC tournament, and a run to the Sweet 16. That would make for a GREAT year, top 25 or not.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Quick Reality Check

It's Feb. 19th and Maryland has five ACC games left:

Home vs. Ga. Tech, Clemson and Duke
At VT, at UVa.

Let's take them one at a time:
Ga. Tech - should win that one. GT is just OK, a .500 ACC team and has been sliding lately.

Clemson - see Ga. Tech.

at VTech - Hokes are 21-4 and tough at home. We are probably going to lose.

Duke - we ought to beat Duke at home. That would be the only marquee win we'd have. We have no other good wins. The only team Maryland has beat that will probably be in the NCAAs is Florida State. The rest of their wins are against the bottom half of the league (NC State twice, UVa, Miami, UNC, and Boston College).

at UVa - should win that one.

Best case - 12-4
Worst case - 10-6
Mostly likely 11-5 - best ACC record since Drew Nicholas and Steve Blake were seniors, that's 7 years ago.

Are they legit?
Not really. But you know what? They are legitimately pretty good, if that makes sense. Much better than last year, even though this year's ACC is very weak. Worst overall ACC I can remember in a very long time.

Greivis has been sublime at times. About 70 percent of the time. Which is great.

Best quality about this team is that when they get up on a team, they pummel them and put them away, very few Md. teams have ever really done that.

Terps already have 8 ACC wins and And last year, god love Dave Neal and all, but when Dave Neal is the starting center on your team and you play in a good ACC, I'm sorry, but you suck.
Go Terps.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Terps are Playing Great Ball Right Now, but I Still Have Some Questions

Some Questions following Maryland 81 Miami 59 (and it wasn't that close)

Is Maryland really legit?
Can they keep this going?
Have they beaten anyone yet who is really good?
Is this the best stretch of Terps basketball since the 2006-2007 team won its last 7 in a row in the ACC?
Does the ACC stink this year?
Will Gary Williams ever get a technical for standing on the court during the game?
Anyone know what this says?
Is there a better finisher around the rack than Adrian Bowie?
Is Greivis finally more productive than annoying?
Is Sean Mosley not a bad man?
Is Jordan Williams the next Ben Coleman?
Will Maryland win at Clemson on Sunday?
Does anyone like Sunday night basketball?
Is Greivis an NBA player?
Should Maryland be ranked, even if they lose at Clemson on Sunday?
Has anyone seen my navy blue 1997 Cadillac NFL Golf Classic fleece?
If Maryland wins at Clemson on Sunday, how high should they be ranked?
Does it bother Gary that no one makes eye contact with him when he turns around and yells at the bench?
Isn't it wonderful to see the Terps get leads, build leads, and put teams away?
Who are these guys?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Makings of a "Pretty Good" Team

Maryland basketball is pretty good this year. They are not great, they are not miserable. They are pretty good. After the convincing win up at BC yesterday, the Terps are now 11-5 overall and 2-1 in the ACC; a league that appears to be down overall this season.

As for Maryland, give the team credit for going up to Boston and taking care of business against a team the Terps said appeared "disinterested" in their post game assessments. The Eagles aren't very good this year and do not count as a marquee win - but an ACC win is an ACC win and Maryland will take each and every one they can get.

After the home loss to William & Mary, I predicted Maryland would go 4-12 this season in the ACC and I now must admit that I was wrong. They aren't that bad. The ACC isn't that good. Maryland can easily put together a 9-7 or 10-6 campaign and earn a bid to the tournament, especially if they keep playing with the passion and hustle they've shown since the start of the league season.

I do have a hard time understanding how it is possible for Maryland to lose at home to William & Mary, but pershaps that loss will continue to serve as a reminder for the rest of the year that the Terps aren't good enough to loaf to a win. BC loafed yesterday and got absolutely pummeled by the Terps.

It was great to see a more balanced scoring attack, especially the punch off the bench from Adrian Bowie - Maryland's best finisher around the rack since Drew Nicholas -- who scored 15; and Cliff Tucker, who looked like a big-time player yesterday with 14 points. Time will tell if Maryland basketball can reassert itself as a formidable program, but suffice to say that this will not be the year it all goes wrong. The Terps are pretty good. We'll see how far that gets them.

It's Official - Juan Dixon to Spain

From the Euroleague website:

Unicaja lands guard Juan Dixon
Juan Dixon One day after the end of the regular season, Unicaja announced the addition of guard Juan Dixon (191, 31) for theremainder of the season. Dixon arrived from Aris BSA 2003, where he was playing until last month. In Eurocup action, Dixon averaged 14.3 points, 4.3 boards and 2.8 assists in 4 appearances in over 27 minutes per game. Before Aris, he was in Washington in the NBA, where he averaged 5.2 points and 2.4 assists in 50 games last season. For his career, Dixon produced 8.4 points and 1.8 assists in 436 games with Portland, Toronto, Detroit and Washington. His best season came during the 2005-06 campaign, when he averaged 12.3 points and 2 assists in 76 games for Portland. Dixon first made a name for himself playing college basketball at the University of Maryland, where he was a teammate of current Euroleague stars Drew Nicholas of Panathinaikos and Terence Morris of Regal FC Barcelona as well as big man Lonny Baxter of Eurocup side Besiktas. Dixon was one of the greatest players in the school’s history. He led the Terrapins to the 2002 NCAA championship, earning NCAA Tournament MVP and Atlantic Coast Association Player of the Year honors along the way. He is still Maryland’s career scoring leader with 2,269. Dixon will make his Euroleague debut with Unicaja with the start of the Top 16.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dixon's Next Stop - Spanish League?

After being released by Greek team Aris, looks like Maryland's all-time leading scorer Juan Dixon might be headed to Unicaja of the Spanish League.

This would be a good move on a couple of fronts. First, Juan needs a job. Second, Unicaja is in the Euroleague, which is at the top of the pecking order when it comes to European basketball.

Here's a link to a story in a Spanish paper, La Opinion de Malaga.

The caption for the photo of Juan reads:
"Juan Dixon, a former NBA, is number 1 on the list to strengthen the roster of Unicaja"

And here's the English translation of the article (via Google translator, excuse the typos):
AFAEL M GUERRA. Vitoria Unicaja wants to close over the next few days the addition of Juan Dixon, a shooter to strengthen the staff and try to stop the bad gameplay and results. The sporting director Juanma Rodriguez, will try to finish off today and tomorrow's arrival of the escort to the end of the season, once the Efes Pilsen has said he does not want to dispense with Igor Rakocevic, Aito great goal and 'chiefs' of The Guindos to change the team dynamics.
It will not be the only operation that has to do. The club will communicate to Shammond Williams will not renew his contract and that, therefore, from this week ended their contractual relationship with Unicaja. The club will sign a point guard to replace the U.S. with Georgian passport. On his replacement has not been much progress and there are different options on the table.
The operation itself is well on that of Juan Dixon. The sacrifice, as is 'vox populi', will be Taquan Dean. Aito Garcia Reneses has lost confidence in the U.S., to be 'cut' when the talks bear fruit that the entity has already undertaken with Dixon.
The aim is that the former NBA is in Malaga for the premiere of the second round league, next Sunday in Fuenlabrada. Dixon, a converted basis to guard, very scorer, 31, joined to the end of season for Unicaja. The 'Brownie' is free, after last week dissociated Aris Thessaloniki, and is enthusiastic about the idea of playing the ACB and the Euroleague with Unicaja.
Dixon, a base-guard. Born on 9 October 1978 in Baltimore (Maryland), Dixon is an emergency solution to alleviate the crisis. Unicaja has discarded other possibilities, since they had the required quality. And yes shooters who liked Aito Garcia Reneses had no contract and the clubs have agreed to free them. These are cases, as we reported yesterday, Igor Rakocevic and Charles Smith of the Ottoman Efes Pilsen.
Dixon has no experience in the ACB, one of the requirements requested by Aito, but his impressive career and his brief experience in European basketball represent insufficient guarantees.
Dixon has played 436 games in the NBA, averaging 8.4 points and 1.8 assists. It was 'drafted' by the Washington Wizards in 2002, being elected in the first round in 17th place. After playing in Washington, Portland, Toronto and Detroit, returned last year the franchise back to the capital.
This season he found a good contract in the NBA and decided to pack up and start heading for the first time in his career, to Europe. The Greek Aris Thessaloniki tempted him and accepted the offer from helena Dixon. However, it has come to fruition and terminated his contract last week.
Dixon is a 'gamer', a very fast and electric, very talented offensive, good long distance shot and excellent penetrator with both hands. Unicaja must act quickly if it wants to, because in recent days there has been speculation that the Caja Laboral is interested in recruiting him.
If incorporating fruits Dixon, the club will disenroll Taquan Dean, shall indemnify, assume the error that led to its recruitment and pass page. Then Shammond will do the same with Williams. The base signed to replace another 'temporary', Pooh Jeter, their performance has fallen sharply in recent weeks. The entity must now renew the player until the end of course and decided not to execute that option. Going to 'cut' and will also pay an incorporation, in addition to Dixon.
To strengthen the base station there is still no specific names on the table, and yes many alternatives. One of them, without going any further, embodies the basic Singletary, who will 'cut' by the Education Fund this week. Many fronts, two signings, two outputs and a future ahead. Unicaja has launched the Operation Resurrection '.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Nice Day

Today's Topics:
Ravens 33, Pats 14
Maryland 77, Florida State 68
Juan Dixon is Out at Aris (not so nice)

Ravens 33, Pats 14
Good day for the region's sports fans my friends, this doesn't happen all that much, so let's enjoy it.
First, let's talk about the feeling of satisfaction that accompanies drubbing the Patriots. The feisty Baltimore fan in me is perhaps most pleased to see our team go to the Boston area and beat the living crap out of their team, very much like what the Red Sox have been doing to the Orioles for the past decade or so; and certainly the Pats had owned the Ravens in the Belichick era. Until today, of course. That was a beat down.

The invasion and outright takeover of Camden Yards in recent years by Boston fans when the Sox are in town has been sickening to watch. They take over our building and root for their team and usually win. It's humiliating. Therefore, I am particularly grateful to the Ravens for going to New England and not just beating the Patriots, but pummeling them. I was nervous for much of the game, like probably every other Ravens fan, but that game was over five minutes in. Ray Rice for 83 yards. T-Sizzle gets to Brady for the strip... and Baltimore had its way with a team EVERYONE in the national media picked to win the game.

The Ravens have had a crazy season. They really only lost badly once - at Cincinnati. Literally every other game they coulda/shoulda/woulda won down to the last few plays of the game. So it was nice to see the Ravens put together a complete effort and do so at the Pats' expense. Now, of course, Joe Flacco is gonna have to throw for more than 34 yards to win in Indy... but that's another discussion for another day. Today is a day to smile and enjoy the win.

Terps 77, FSU 68

An hour or so after the Ravens game ended, the Terps took the court at home vs. Florida State. Florida State came in ranked 19th, with some good wins on their resume - Auburn, Alabama, Marquette, and Ga. Tech. They were 13-2 entering the game. So... definitely a great test for the Terps. But let's be serious for a second here. It's Florida State basketball. The last time they were really legit was when Sam Cassell played there in the early 90s. If you are going to be a good basketball program - and Maryland should be a good basketball program - you don't lose to Florida State at home.

To Maryland's credit, the Terps came out and played hard from start to finish, controlled the boards against a bigger team and got the win. Great shooting day for a change, especially from 3, where Maryland went 10 for 16. Greivis led the way with 22, Hayes had 17 and Milbourne 13. Looks like Grevis has his game back, he's been very good the last 6 or 7 games, averaging well over 20 points.

Bottom line is that GV is the only truly big-time player Maryland has. When he's playing well, Maryland can win anywhere, against anyone. When he mopes and misses shots and makes bad decisions, the Terps are a pretty mediocre team.

I also liked Gary's rotation better for this game. His 3 big men - freshmen Jordan Williams and James Padgett and Junior Dino Gregory, got 18, 10, and 18 minutes respectively. Bowie and Tucker both got double digit minutes as well. It's a nice mix right now.

Just one day off and then it's Maryland at Wake Tuesday night. A 2-0 start in the ACC would be great to see.

Juan Dixon is OUT at Aris
Because Juan Dixon is my all-time favorite athlete, I bookmarked the Eurobasket page where you can check out the boxscores for his games. Last year, after getting cut by the Hawks, Juan was signed by a Greek team called Aris, which plays in the Greek national league of course; and another league called Eurocup, which competes against other teams from different country leagues.

Juan had some big games, including a 31-point outburst on Dec. 19th against AEK, a Greek power. But after scoring those 31 points in 33 minutes, Juan scored just 1 point in 14 minutes the following game. I thought that was weird.

And then when I looked back to see how he was playing in the first games of the new year, I didn't see any new numbers or his name in the boxscore. Uh Oh.

So a little looking around on the Ineternets revealed that Juan was released by Aris on Dec. 30th.
The post said, in part:

Juan Dixon couldn't conform to the european style of basketball so it was time for him to leave.

Juan Dixon(1.91-SG/PG) and Aris Thessaloniki mutually parted ways today and it was announced via the official site of Aris. The NBA veteran was brought to Aris to provide a much needed scoring touch to the team but his recklessness was too much for his coach to handle and so the decision was made for Dixon to be replaced.

Dixon was the top scorer of Aris in the last few games averaging 14.3 points 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 7 games in the A1 league and also 11.6 points 1.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 4 games in the Eurocup but his focus in the game was questionable.

Hmm.... not sure what to think here. Doesn't completely shock me to learn that Juan - after playing 7 seasons in the NBA - perhaps didn't see eye to eye with his new coach. I mean imagine if you are Juan and you've been playing against Iverson and Lebron and Kobe all these years and all of a sudden, your coach is Fotis Katsikaris and he's telling you to pass more to make sure Prodromos Nikolaidis gets a few more looks... you might just play like, forgive me, 'that's Greek to me...'

Because yours truly is a Facebook member of the group previously called "Juan Dixon Fan Club Greece," [now named "Juan Dixon Fan Club"] I posted a question on the board. Please understand that this is/was a fan club started by a Greek league fan named Nikos Sfakianos. I joined it a few weeks back and here's how it is described on FB:

A group dedicated to a great player..JUAN DIXON ....who this year signed with ARIS Thessaloniki GREECE, one of the most famous European basketball teams.several great players played for ARIS in the past: Nikos Galis (the top European Scorer of all times), Roy Tarpley, Gary Grant, Walter Berry, Jose Ortiz, Reggie Theus, Abdul Rauf, Harold Ellis etc.

Prior to Juan getting released, all the posts on the wall of the page were written in Greek; so it was a place for Greek fans to get their Juan fix. After Juan got released, I posted a question, "Can someone please tell me in English what happened with Juan and Aris?"

And here's the reply I got:

Nikos Sfakianos
sure....Well, nobody really knows. Basically during his last 2 or 3 games he scored 20 to 30 points but he missed a lot of crucial shots and didn't pass the a result the team lost these games. When the coach told him to be a more "team" player and pass the ball...he got it the wrong way or was simply pissed, in the next game he ... See Morepassed the ball all the time (most of the passes were bad) and attemped only 2 shots !!! the end of the game the coach complained to him and Juan swore (he said 'Fuck you" )..this is what the Press said..but I think it has to be more than that..the mistake was basically that ARIS signed Jeremy Richardson, Aaron Miles and we also have Kiki Clark and several other good Greek players..someone had tp leave so that we could sign a power forward or a center..unfortunately it was Juan who left..too bad..but ARIS has a great history in Europe and doesn't depend on a player. we will always support Juan and we wish him good luck in his present and future career. thanks for asking Greg. take care !

So, to the extent that we can trust the reporting of Nikos, the head of the Juan Dixon fan club in Greece, that's what happened with Juan and Aris.

Go Terps. Go Ravens. See you next time,