Picking Up The Pieces From A Blowout

Tonight was an utter disaster. There really is no other way to say it. I can’t recall a Terps squad getting so thoroughly manhandled. When was last time Maryland lost by 27 points? Not only did the Terps get embarrassed by a local rival on national TV; but a blueprint for how to beat the Terps was unveiled. Smother Greivis Vasquez and force everyone else to beat you.

Maryland is a team with serious deficiencies. Our best three players are point guards (Vasquez, Bowie, and Hayes); and our worst player starts at center.

Let’s start with the big stiff. Braxton Dupree is horrible. I mean horrible. I have given up on him. He took a five-foot hook shot and missed the rim. He can’t play defense and does not rebound with consistency. His only offense comes from put backs or “thank you” layups from a cutting guard who has drawn the defense away– and half of those opportunities; Dupree fumbles away. To quote the great Roberto Duran, the kid has “manos de piedra” (for the spanish language-challenged that’s “hands of stone”)

I wish the problems ended there. Landon Milbourne has fallen off a cliff. He can’t shoot or do much of anything else right now. He has been terrible since the Youngstown State game. Maybe it’s the constant rotation of players that is knocking Milbourne of his rhythm; but he needs to adjust because right now he is a liability.

Sean Mosley scares me. I just don’t see the stud that everyone keeps talking about. He seems a step slow on his drives and he has a slow release on jump shot. What’s more, he is laying brick after brick with those shots. There are problems on the defensive end; but he is a freshman so I’ll be more forgiving in that department. However, a lack of quickness and a bad jump shot are not easily overcome. I’m just not seeing the talent that I expected out of this kid. Am I crazy? I read the comments from the game thread and others seem to like what they are seeing out of Mosley. What am I missing?

The Terps are teetering on the edge of disaster. The Michigan game is now of utmost importance. A third straight double-digit loss and our Terps could fall right into the abyss. I still believe that this team is better than last year’s squad; but I am recalibrating my assumptions.

I had said in a previous post that our floor was not as low as last year’s team. I no longer believe that. We are capable of playing terrible. If teams can shut down Vasquez; we have almost no chance of winning. Without his scoring and playmaking abilities; we can look like a high school team.

Where will the rebounding come from? Personally, I think Gary needs to banish Dupree to the back of the rotation and he needs to insert Jerome Burney and (gulp) Dave Neal as the two-headed monster down low. Burney can block shots and he is very active. Dupree is neither a shot blocker nor active. End of discussion. As for Neal; I think he is the only guy over 6’7″ who knows what he is doing. He has earned the playing time. Throw in a little Dino Gregory and that’s our frontcourt.

The Comcast Center crowd will have to help against Michigan. These kids will need the support of the home crowd if they are to overcome the embarrassment of being outscored by 49 points in two games. They don’t have much of a break. Tipoff is Wednesday at 7:30pm.

Georgetown – Maryland Thread

I do not have much time to write anything as I will be traveling most of the day; but I can’t let a Georgetown-Maryland game pass without commenting on the importance of this regional contest.

The first MD-Georgetown game of recent history signaled the rebirth of the program.  Joe Smith unveiled himself to the world and the Maryland program finally emerged from the depths of the Bias saga.

The second MD-Georgetown game of recent memory ocurred during the Terps first successful March to the Final Four in 2001.  If you will recall, the 1990s witnessed countless sweet sixteen appearances for the Terps; yet never any appearances beyond.  Yet in 2000; on the brink of our first ever Elite Eight appearance; the Hoyas stood in Maryland’s way.  Again, the Terps prevailed.

Today, Maryland will be meeting Georgetown at a pivotal moment.  The decline of our program has been well documented; yet the Terps have a chance to reassert our regional dominance today.  With a win, Maryland can put a stamp on this year’s team that says “we are going to the NCAA Tournament”.

I will weigh in after the game.  Go Terps

A Football Wrap

Well, the regular season is over.

The Terps went 7-5.  A lot better than we all had to sit through from 1990-2001, however with the talent this team seemed to have, it’s just a disappointment.  They were a couple plays from being 5-7 and a couple weak outings from being 9-3.

So, how do we look at this team?  Who is to blame?  What can they do to get better?

Here are my thoughts on the season.

First of all my initial thoughts on the entire program are that we have lost something.  I have many games on tape from Ralph’s first 3 years here and there is so much of a difference between the team they were and the team they are now.  First, it has nothing to do with talent.  Yeah, they may have had a little more talent in the past, but would you compare Gulian Gary to DHB?

The difference is their style of play.  Their whole attitude.  In those early years, the Terps were aggressive.  They took it to their opponents.  Sometimes it didn’t work out, like against FSU that first year, or Notre Dame the 2nd year.  But for the most part, the Terps were coming after you.  They were aggressive on offense.  They would knock you down and Bruce Perry (all 5’2” of him) would run right by you.  They trusted the players on the field and let them do their thing.  On defense, they were all running to the ball and putting some big hits on guys.  Remember the comeback against NC State after Novak missed the PAT?  The defense came on the field and got the ball back for the offense immediately and they got it done.  They blitzed, but also were smart.  It just seemed like they had the confidence they could win every game.  This team does not have that.

Even in our wins, there was something missing.  The Terps have become a conservative team that just hopes to score enough points to win.  We need to get back to the team that would come out and want to score 50 every game.  You can see this attitude in the last couple years in the ‘creampuff’ games early in the season. Earlier in the decade the Terps would win games 45-17, now they just get by teams like Delaware.

There is talent on this team, but they are not being used properly.

Offense – This year we were supposed to have a veteran offensive line that would pound people.  We showed that in about 3 games.  The rest of the season, the line was atrocious and actually stunted the growth of Chris Turner.  Did you notice the ‘happy feet’ during the BC game?  He never had those before.  Turner was always confident in the pocket.  He never looked scared.  Not all of his passes were great, but he looked calm all the time.  By the end of this season, he looked like he thought he was going to get slammed every time he went back to pass.  He still stayed in there to take a lot of those hits, but it made a difference.

I’m willing to give the offense another year.  We all know the main reason Franklin is back with the Terps is his ability to recruit.  I will always wonder why college teams use the west coast offense when it’s an offense that most people say takes multiple years to learn/perfect.  That just doesn’t work in college when there is a turnover every 2/3 years.  I don’t understand it, but we are bringing back an experienced QB who I hope is challenged and 2 solid running backs.  I like Torey as a WR and hopefully Dorsey will be able to do something as well as Tate possibly moving back to offense.

The offensive line will again be a question mark, but they can’t be as bad as they have been 3 of the last 4 games.

Defense – We need a change.  Look, I’m not saying Chris Cosh has no clue.  He has been around and the read-and-react is his style.  But it does not work for this team.  The defense was unable to get a pass rush with 4 guys and once he was able to realize that, Cosh had to adjust and blitz more.  He didn’t and the defense ended up being on the field WAAAAY too long in games and that is a big reason why they tired and the end and couldn’t come up with stops.

We need to get back to an aggressive defense or at least a more aggressive one.  We did not force enough turnovers.  Somebody also has to teach our corners to look back at the ball and make a play.  Too often, long passes were completed when all our guy had to do was turn around.

I just think this team needs a different philosophy.  That will help the inconsistencies.  When Ralph questions the team and wonders why they are good one week and bad the next, it’s the attitude.  They don’t have a killer instinct, and they need to believe in themselves every week and I’m not sure these guys did that.

I still support Friedgen and believe in the recruits we have gotten the past couple of years.  I think the team has a bright future, but in order for these guys to rise above mediocrity, they need to get that attitude back.  Other teams really need to start Fearing the Turtle again.

Terps BC Thread

I know it’s an anti-climactic way to end the football season, playing to not have to go to Boise for the holidays, especially two days after a big basketball win, but the Terps football squad looks to end the season on a good note today.

Will the good Terps show up? Will they go in and do like FSU did last week and ruin BC’s senior day and cost them a chance at playing in the ACC title game? Or will the bad Terps show up and get creamed in a road game where they have much less to play for than the Eagles?

This is the “Chris Cosh tries to save his job game”. Once again, like against Va. Tech, you are facing a redshirt freshman quarterback, one who fumbled twice last week. If you do not blitz and you allow this guy to sit back there all day long, you will get beat. I’m not saying send the house every play, but it is imperative we get pressure on Davis. If they play the usual read-and-react, we are doomed and I suggest all Maryland students head to the football offices and demand Cosh be canned!

Let the game begin.


Maryland – Gonzaga Thread

Due to the start time; I will be forced to tape this game as well.  I’ll be back in the aftermath to give you my thoughts.  Until then; make good use of the thread below and go Terps!

Maryland Trounces #6 Michigan State, 80-62

The Terps took it to Michigan State.  Boy, did they ever.  Tonight’s victory was a season defining triumph. It was Gary Williams at his best.  No one gave the Terps a chance.  Most Soup readers thought that Maryland had a chance if everything fell our way.

I’d say when Dave Neal SCORES 17 POINTS that everything is falling your way.  Sure, critics will say that the Spartans got themselves into trouble.  Their bigs got into foul trouble and they couldn’t hit free throws.  I don’t care.  Maryland played a fantastic game.

The committed only 10 turnovers and four players scored 13 points or more.  That is balance.  They held their own in rebounding and nabbed 8 steals.

Sean Mosley played a great game and did all of the little things.  How about that steal off of a Mich St. offensive rebound followed by a 60 foot pass for a Bowie layup?

Every Terp hit the glass tonight.  Eric Hayes led the team with 6 rebounds.  Eric Hayes!!

I think we can answer the question about the importance of solid guard play in college basketball.  Vasquez and Hayes are playing with the maturity  needed to lead a team into the NCAAs.  Pundits look at the Terps roster and see no inside play.  What they missed is one of the deepest and talented backcourts in the country.

The Terps will go as far as their guards can take them.  Right now, their ceiling is being recalibrated.  We know their are flaws and Maryland will be tested again in less than 24 hours.

This is a deep tournament and Maryland will have to do it all again tomorrow.  Sitting at 4-0; Maryland is position to acheive a Top 25 ranking with another victory in Orlando.  I’m not prepared to contemplate beyond that.  I am going to savor every minute of this one.

Go Terps!

A Reasonable Michigan State Thread

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I don’t know about you, but tipoff will occur right about the time that my family is sitting down to dinner.  Needless to say, I will be taping the game (taping the old fashioned way as my parents have yet to embrace the DVR concept).

The purpose of this post is to create a repository for a reasonable discussion of tonight’s game. I say this because I think tonight’s game represents unchartered territory for Terps fans.  Most Terp fans do not think our guys have a realistic chance of winning this game.  Aside from last year’s UNC game (a game we won by the way); when was the last time this happened?

There are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about this season, but I think the positives outweigh the negatives.  The Terps are limited in some important areas; but are stacked in others.

Last year’s team could have been called the cardiac kids.  The highs and lows were almost too much to bear.  I think that we will find that this year’s squad doesn’t have as high a ceiling as last year’s; but the floor is much higher too.

We won’t see Clemson-like collapses; but we may not see UNC-like wins either.  On paper, that puts Michigan State out of reach.  I’m not willing to bet on it though.  Vasquez is a true leader and could indeed will this team to victory.  We have lots of weapons and if the bigs can hold their own on the defensive glass; we might just pull this one out.

Previewing Michigan State

I can’t start this without sharing this quote from MSU coach Tom Izzo today:

“Vazquez is like the ‘Magic Johnson’ of Maryland”

Now,  he meant it as to say Vaz does everything for the team, including being the leading rebounder, but it just made me chuckle to hear him say that!

I’m listening to Izzo’s press conference today (an advantage by working in the media in Detroit), and Izzo shared his thoughts on the Terps.  He was very complimentary as you would expect with him being buddies with Gary. 

Good news for us is that their senior big man Goran Suton is not expected to play much if at all due to a knee injury.  He’s the type of guy who could have dominated the boards with putbacks both on the offensive and defensive glass.  Marquis Gray will be playing and he’s a big guy who we should be aware of, as is Delvon Roe.

The Spartans guards are very quick, so we’ll have to do a very good job taking care of the ball.  It will be difficult to press them as well. 

This will be a difficult game as I don’t think we match up well with Michigan State.  But you never know what can happen, and the gutsy win last Friday could help the guys’ confidence going into a big time atmosphere.

Obviously our guard play will be key in this one as I’m sure they’ll zone us a lot, but if we can get both Hayes and Vaz to get aggressive (not too aggressive Vaz!), and drive to the basket, then dish, or at least look to get fouled, we can have a chance.  With a zone defense, we could look to JSK to try and get hot from the outside and make them pay, but JSK is very slow on the defensive side of the court, so it’ll be a pick your poison.

If our guys can match MSU’s physical play down low, it could make a difference, but I have yet to see our bigs be able to do that against much smaller competition, let alone a Big Ten team.  It’ll take a great effort to win this game, but do they have a chance?  Yes, sure they do.

O-line, Turner Horrid

You know, Ralph Friedgen is always complaining about lack of fan support for the football team. Well, if he expects to have good crowds, I would think he’d like to show up in the biggest game of the year.

The offensive line, one that is big and experienced should be ashamed of themselves. They have been just miserable and they should offer apologies to Chris Turner. 5 sacks???!!! Give the guy some help.

Second, Turner should offer apologies to the defense. When he has had time, he’s been horrible. We were getting right back into the game late in the 2nd quarter and he had Davin Meggett so wide open, yet he decides the throw into quadruple coverage. I know he’s getting nervous back there with all the pressure, but my goodness, complete a pass.

The entire team should be ashamed.

Oh, and did anyone know that there is this Rolle kid who was arriving late tonight?

Just When I Thought I Was Out; They Keep Pulling Me Back In!

I admit. I jumped the gun a little. Here’s the post (unedited) that I started writing with 10 minutes left to play. I’m still standing by most of my comments; but boy that Vasquez sure has a way of seizing the moment, eh? Shades of Drew Nicholas!

Overtime illustrated what confidence can do for a team. They looked like a powerhouse out there. I have to keep telling myself that they are just kids.

I Hate Sports, Life….

This is awful. Another embarassment in what has become a long line of embarassments. There are 10 minutes left to play as I am writing this; yet I am already sure of the outcome.

Maryland has no offensive flow. Maryland has no inside presence. Maryland looks like Towson University out there tonight. This is not the same thing as losing to American University, but it is damn close.

Can we just fast forward to next November please? All of my hope for the season just went out the window.

Aside from the horrific play; the fact the Dave Neal is playing crucial minutes tells me all I need to know about the rest of the season. How bad is Braxton Dupree that he is losing minutes to this guy? Where the hell is Jerome Burney? Are you telling me he could play better defense than Dave Neal?

Dave Neal is not a borderline ACC player. He is a borderline Division I player. Yet there he is– catching passes on the elbow and front rimming 10 footers. What did I do to deserve this fate?

Gus Gilchrist can go to hell; that is for sure.

The defense on Blakney was non-existent. How many times can he pull out that baseline spin move before someone stops him?

Vasquez is up to his old tricks again. Dishing out turnovers left and right; getting frustrated and bull-rushing to the basket.

At least last year we knew that the Terps were underachieving. Gist was an NBA prospect. This year, Maryland fans are just hoping against hope that all of our interior weaknesses don’t kill us as badly as we know they probably will.

I’ve officially added a new “tag” for my posts. Historically, I categorized all of my posts after bad losses unde the tag “Frustration” (Notice how big it is on the right hand side). Tonight, with this post, I christen a new tag: “Despair”. It is no longer frustrating to lose to teams like Vermont and American. It is pure despair. the program is at rock bottom and we all know it.