Carmelo, Gay, and Durant

Former Maryland high school standout, Kevin Durant had 37 points and 23 rebounds tonight for the University of TEXAS!

Gary Williams has done a tremendous job building a program without getting guys like that.  It truly is amazing.  However,  wouldn’t it be nice if just once, a blue-chipper came to College Park?

I’m not so cynical that I believe that it is only about money.  I have to believe that if Gary really recruited these kids, hung out at their high school gyms, and made them feel that he cared about nothing else but getting them in a Maryland uniform; then one of these kids would have come here over the years.

College Park has enough to offer that you can’t blame the campus.  I think it is beautiful (although PG County sucks). Last I checked, there were tons of hot co-eds there.  It’s not that.  Seriously, where would you rather spend 4 years, the DC area or Storrs, CT?

I’m glad we got Hayes and Vasquez (he attended a local prep school), but how were not even in the running for Durant?

Decidedly Not To Be

We stink. But you know this already.

Before we try and figure out where the program goes from here, let me just say this about tonight’s loss / embarassment. Florida State is 11th in the ACC in Assist/Turnover ratio. UVa has the best guard tandem in the country. Which team did Gary decide to press? UVa of course.

Why not press the Seminoles? Here was matchup Gary could actually use his beloved press to exploit the Seminoles’ weaknesses, yet he chose not to. Instead, Gary’s game plan allowed FSU to set up their half-court offense and they destroyed us with it. Inside, outside, they ate us alive. This is the second straight road game that Gary failed to put together a game plan that should have been so simple; I could have written it on a cocktail napkin.

I’m running out of questions and answers. The playing field is relatively level in the ACC this year. Aside from UNC, no team is dominant. Victories will come to those who prepare to play each opponent properly. This is something we do not do. What happened to this program. What happened to Gary?

Strawberry is an unmitigated disaster. HE is a baseball player masquerading as a basketball player. He is the eighth man onUNC and he is our “leader”. I can no longer discuss him in this space. He needs to go away. And soon.
Here are some stats for you:

The Terps lead the ACC in FG% Defense.

The Terps shoot the best 3PT% in the ACC.

We are 2-5. How is this possible?
How do we change the culture of mediocrity? First it was Gilchrist. He was the problem. After he left, we blamed his fellow classmates for our continued poor play. Garrison, McCray, and NCM lacked heart, discipline, and court sense, respectively. Surely, after they left; the culture of losing would dissapate. Now that it is clear that the current seniors, Jones, Strawberry and Ibekwe also suck; where do we turn for answers? I’m tired of the excuses.

Does anyone have suggestions? Pretend for a minute that Juan, Steve, and Lonny never happened. Gary would be fired at the end of this season. Is there even a question about this? I’m not trying to be dramatic, but just remember all the grief that Gary got before the break through in 2001. Without those magical two years, these last three years would have spelled the end for Gary.

Now that we have clarity regarding this season (With a 2-5 conference record; two games against Duke and one vs. UNC still on the schedule; we need to win one of those games and sweep the rest of the games to finish 9-7. Who is not convinced it is over?); I can firmly say that Gary Williams will be fired if we fail to go to the Tournament next season. How on Earth did it come to this?

Oh by the way, Gist is coming alive. He is the lone bright spot right. Can’t you just feel the excitement?

To Be Or Not To Be

That is the question.

Are the Terps going to be a Tournament team or not? Tournament don’t lose must-win games against also-ran opponents.  Even if it is a road game.  The Terps need this one (and Wake too, but let’s focus on tonight). The good news is that we will likely know within five minutes whether we will win or lose the game.

Gist: What Took You So Long?

I decided to write as I watch the game tonight. However, I am sitting in my apartment listening to Mr. Holiday because ACC Select punted yet again. Despite advertising the game on their site, it is “blacked out” in Chicago. Sure. Whatever. All I know is that it is not on TV here, and I can’t imagine that another Internet entity purchased the rights. Boy, the Wall Street Journal was wise to do a feature on these morons. I had an inane conversation with one of their customer service agents, but more on that later.

I am going to just give you my random thoughts as I listen to Johnny’s dulcet tones…..
So far the Terps are playing well. As we all know tonight is make or break, so depending on how things go; you may see my writing become stilted and acrimonious. If things continue on its current trend, well it will be peanuts and balloons the rest of the way.

We are at the 8 minute mark of the first half and we are up 24-13. We are shooting nearly 50%. I couldn’t tell, because I was busy arguing with ACC Select, but I think Hayes started. He is a pure PG, and maybe that is the difference. I’m not so sure though. James Gist sounds like the second coming of Len Bias. He is dunking, hitting threes, he cannot miss. With an inside presence, the Terps are a different team.

With four minutes left, we have Tech doubled up at 39-19. Can we bottle some this for Florida State? Even more encouraging is that if you take away Gist’s otherworldly performance (16 points), the Terps are still winning.

It’s halftime and we are up 17. Pinch me. As an added bonus, my rigatoni dinner is delicious.

The second half just started and I heard Holiday say that the Jackets are 1-9 from the FT line and have 14 turnovers. I’d say that they are beating themselves. I guess we are playing well, but this is an epic turd that Tech is turning in. I guess we shouldn’t starting sucking each others’ you-know-what yet. Tech sounds abysmal.

Is anyone else starting notice a pattern with freshman PGs on the road? Crittendon has a boat load of TO’s. What can we do to keep Hayes and Vasquez from doing this to us against FSU?

Bowers just took a ten-footer. I’m glad I’m not watching. So what do you think is going through Bowers head when he releases 10-footers? Perhaps, it’s something like, “My shooting percentage for jump shots is about 2% and I know that no one in this building besides the guys on the opposing team want me to take this shot, but screw them. Bombs away!” Sheesh.

Tech cuts the lead to 11 with 12 minutes to play. Don’t do this to me. I seriously can’t handle a collapse. The Terps have 7 field goal ATTEMPTS in the second half after 8 minutes of play. What a shock. The Terps are in a scoreless drought.

Speaking of which is there a better theme for the last three years of Maryland basketball? “A 5+ minutes scoreless streak. Guaranteed.” No one and I mean, no one does it better than Maryland. Someone call the guy who patented “Fear the Turtle”. I may have another winner here! Wouldn’t that look great on T-shirt?

I just learned the following: Hayes has taken a grand total of 8 FT’s all year. Umm, that’s not enough. Can someone show this kid the lane? Drive to the hole, son. It’s a requirement of the PG position.

The immortal Dave Neal is about to attempt a pair of FT’s and there is 7 minutes left. Did I fall asleep and wake up in garbage time? We are only up 14, Gary.

Apparently, Neal has ice water in his veins. Meanwhile, our starters are shooting 50% from the line.

OK we are up 16 and we have made to the last TV timeout. We have now entered garbaaaage time. Now that the game has been decided, I can finish venting about ACC Select.

I still can’t get over what a load of crap their product is. I spoke with a customer service agent and the conversation ended thusly, “Good luck selling subscriptions to ACC women’s gymnastics events. You will be out of business in three months.” Seriously, if all men’s basketball games wind up getting blacked out; then what service do they have to offer consumers? OK that is it. In the words of Stephen Colbert, ACC Select is dead to me.

Tonight’s win was great. However, all it means is that our season is not over yet. We MUST follow this up with at least one road win. We have FSU and Wake on the docket. A sweep is possible and frankly, it is desperately needed. If we go 0-2 on this upcoming road swing, we can pack it in. It’s over. For now, we have a reprieve. Terp fans have six days to enjoy this, and after that our Terps have a reckoning with their nemesis: ACC road games.

Embracing Defeat

I’m not pissed that Jones did not take the three. I’m not pissed that the Terps fought valiantly and still came up short in OT. I’m not pissed the Gary Williams refused to call time out with the clock running down in regulation (actually I’m pretty damn pissed about that). What I am really pissed about is the damn mediocrity!

Five years after the once unthinkable National Championship and the program is mediorce at best. The only thing consistent thing about them is their inconsistency. Blame it on the freshman if you must. Personally, I think Vasquez is the only one out there who really knows what he is doing. He commands the ball. He knows where it is supposed to go and he is not afraid to take the big shot. Sure, he might miss it, but I look at him and I see a kid who understands the game of basketball.

I look at DJ Strawberry, and I wonder what I did to deserve this. He knows not of basketball. He does not possess a deep fundamental understanding of the game and how it is supposed to be played. He tries to make up for it with athletic talent and hustle, but we have seen the limit as to how far that can take us. I used to think “well, he might not have a clue on the offensive end, but at least he plays shut down defense.” Not true anymore. Va Tech guards drove past him all game long. He is a baseball player masquerading as shooting guard. Give the kid a bat and a glove and be done with it.

There are many reasons why the Terps lost tonight and care not to run through them all. We all saw the same game and we all felt like ass when Jones foolish lay-up attempt failed.

Here are three things that I do know:

– In a year, when this is Vasquez’ team, we will be better than we are now.

– Eric Hayes is scared to be out there. He needs to get some confidence. When he is out there, our opponents do not have to guard him. He is the best shooter on the team supposedly. Prove it to us. Son, no one will be mad if you miss it. Just look for your shot and take it.

– The season is on life support. At 1-4, the situation is grim. All is not lost, the Terps actually have some winnable games ahead, but if they don’t get within ear shot of .500, it’s over. We need to win the next two games or we can forget about the rest of the season. 1-1 over this stretch won’t do. We need to win both contests.

Bears Highlights vs. A Real Basketball Game

How many times does the local yocal Comcast Chicago studio guys need to review Bears highlights?  The Terps are playing a real game, I don’t need to see Jerry Azumah break down the highlights AGAIN.  The schedule is saying Terps v. Virginia Tech.  Go to the game, already.  It’s halftime!

Don’t get me wrong, I am excited for Bears fans and Chicago in general, but cut me a break, please.  My team is struggling and we are in a game on the road.  Give me the second half, that is all I can ask for.

Pressed to Lose

Welcome to the grind. The grind is a place where our team leader (Strawberry) does not understand the fundamentals of team basketball. The grind is a place where the head coach insists on pressing regardless of whether or not it is working and regardless of the number of layups it causes on the other end. The grind is a place where our guards are too young to be counted on away from home.

Clearly, we played bad, but I am sick and tired of the officials in the ACC being completely overmatched. What was the foul shooting disparity tonight? 3 to 1? Teams cannot win on the road when they play the entire second half in foul trouble. It is not unrealistic to expect a fairly called game.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not blaming this loss on the officials. The Terps lost because of the game plan, not the poor officiating. We start a freshman point guard (Vasquez) and a shooting guard (Jones) who is not known for his defense. The Cavaliers start two experienced guards (Singletary and Reynolds) and may have one of the best backcourts in the ACC and perhaps, the nation. Their guards are faster than our guards. Yet, Gary insisted on pressing for the majority of the game!

Why? Is it stubborness? I’m not sure, but this was not a good game plan. The Terps had a clear size advantage and pounded the ball inside with success. However, we negated our strong half court play by giving up layups and wide open threes on the other end. Those easy shots were sparked by Singletary consistently beating our press after made Terp buckets. How did Gary not see this? We played right into UVA’s strengths, and allowed them to take advantage of our weaknesses.

The Terps will be a big underdog on Sunday night, which means we should all expect them to be 1-4 in conference play. The schedule becomes easier after that, but we need to start playing consistently and it starts right at the top.

Season Saved, For Now

Phew. We needed that. A season saving win against Clemson obviously impressed the pollsters as the Terps actually moved up to No. 22 in the polls despite losing to a team with an RPI of 161 earlier in the week.

Everyone contributed to Saturday’s win and it appeared that Ekene Ibekwe was revived from his month long slumber. At 15-3, the Terps record looks nice (It would be a lot better at 16-2, but I’m not going there), but the job is far from over.

At 1-2 in conference, the Terps face two tough road games against experienced back courts. UVA is in a brand new building and would love to avenge last season’s loss to at home to the Terps when the Cavaliers were closing their gym. UVA shoots threes extremely well and that is one of the Terps biggest defensive weaknesses. Working in our favor, is that we seem to have had the upper hand against UVA in recent years and the Terps essentially beat the same UVA team in Charlottesville last year.

The second game this week is against sudden conference powerhouse, Virginia Tech. Fresh off two straight wins against wins Duke and Carolina, the Hokies will be favorites against the Terps in Blacksburg, VA this coming weekend.

A pivotal week. One win is a must. The Terps cannot afford to end the week with a 1-4 conference record. 2-3 will be palatable, but will indicate that the rest of the year will be a grind. If we are somehow able to win both road games this week, the Terps will have established themselves as an upper-echelon team and a virtual lock for the NCAAs. The outcomes this week will determine which game was an aberration: the Clemson game or the Miami game.

The up and down Cavaliers have been equally frustrating to their fans and they desperately need a win. Tomorrow’s game should be a dog fight. I just hope that Terps are firing real bullets and not the blanks they brought to the Miami game.

A New Low.

I’m just about done. It’s been beaten out of me. I can no longer take it. Blow it up. Start from scratch. I don’t care anymore. I just can’t get emotionally involved in this team. They are all tainted with the curse. Someone sold their soul to get that championship in 2002. The price was what seems like an eternity of inexplicable and mind numbing mediocre seasons.

In this years’ version of “let’s rip out the hearts of our fans and alumni”, the Terps built us up. “Hey look at us” they said. “We won the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic”. “We beat Illinois on the road “. And then reality a set in. A couple of sub par performances in winnable games against Notre Dame and BC and suddenly, we all felt vulnerable. The cupcakes restored some confidence, but we were wary. Despite our wariness, we thought, that we would certainly be OK tonight. We were playing Miami and they were missing their best player. The real test would be Clemson. Then, whatever it was that just happened, happened. And we are all dumbfounded.
They had a month, a fucking month to prepare for this game– and they blew it.

And you know what, you could tell in the first 10 minutes that we were going to lose. We didn’t come out ready to play. How that can possibly happen, I will never know. It’s everyone’s fault. No baskets in the last 9 minutes and 50 seconds of game time. What the fuck?

For the last 10 minutes, I have been racking my brain to come up with a worse performance from Maryland. I don’t think it exists. The game that comes closest is the loss to Florida St. in 2001 following the Duke loss when we gave up the 10 point lead in 53 seconds. That game, while inexcusable, at least came on the heels of the most demoralizing loss imaginable. Tonight’s defeat? Nothing. No reason for this.

The only hope for the program is that the Freshman do not get tainted by the hideousness of our upperclassmen. Not the the freshman played well tonight. They were atrocious too.

I have never been more ashamed of the Terps.
If we lose to Clemson, then the season is over. I’m saying it right here. No coming back. I’m going to be ill. I can’t even type in complete paragraphs anymore.

Two parting random thoughts:
If I were to rank my all-time least favorite Terps, 8 of the top 10 would be from the last 4 years.

What does Gary do if we miss the NCAAs again this year? Does Yow consider firing him? I love Gary, and at my core, I don’t think this is his fault. But, it is just not working.

ACC Select Sucks and so do the Terps.

Great Job ACC Select. You get free PR with an article in the Wall Street Journal. You spend the entire first two months promoting your service. What happens when the ACC season starts? The server overloads. How could they not address their server capacity? Now I have to listen to the game on the radio instead of watching it.

Maybe I am being spared. 20 minutes in to the game, we are getting outrebounded 25-11. Ugggghhhh. The Terps can’t shoot and Miami is getting every defensive rebound. Hence the differential. We need to be blowing these teams lower division teams out. This is a horrific start. No one besides Mike Jones can score. Miami has 12 offensive rebounds. I would write more hideous statistics but I just vomited all over the keyboard.