Miami – Maryland

Tonight is a special night for Turtle Soup as I have temporarily reunited with Jeremy for our annual college reunion game.

Yes, Jeremy and and I will be present at the Comcast Center to witness the goings on.

For better or worse, we are here to see the Terp Circus. Will the madness continue or can they start to right the ship?

Beginning of the End?

First I’d like to offer my condolences to Jeremy on the loss of his friend. 

It’s not easy to change subjects after something like that, but here we go.

Today is not a good day to be a Terps fan.  As you sit down to watch Duke take on Wake Forest, all you need to do is look at the bottom line and you see some nice Gary Williams vs. the Administration comments.  You see the announcement that JSK is academically ineligible and you can imagine the recruits out there reading that and re-thinking their decisions to come to College Park.

I assume most of you have read the transcript from Gary Williams’ lockeroom interview last night.  If you haven’t, check out either the Post or Sun’s web page or go back a couple posts and find the link. 

One positive with Gary’s comments is that he clearly stated that he was not saying the administration had anything to do with Gus Gilcrhist or Tyree Evans not coming to College Park.  Whether or not that’s true, he made it public that it was his decision combined with the players decisions.  Now, that can go a long way in not making things worse, but usually when the media gets ahold of such a story, they will start digging.  And when they start digging,  something bad is bound to come up.

I don’t think this is going to end well, but I’m not convinced it will end this season.  Personally, I’m all for Gary seeing the next 2 years through and then making a decision.  If Gary is dismissed now, you can probably kiss our 2009 recruits goodbye.  Plus, our 2010 targets are likely to go elsewhere, so making a move right now may not be in the best interests of the program considering our lack of talent at the moment.

Like I stated in a comment last night, I don’t think we are far off from being right back in it.  One or two players could be the difference.  We have seen much to be encouraged about this season, but in order for these guys to learn how to win, something has to change.  Perhaps adding two inside players can do the trick.  Perhaps not.  Perhaps another season of experience. Perhaps not.   I’m lost to explain why the team is a bunch of chokers right now (and please don’t give me the “they are not good players because Gary didn’t recruit, blah blah).  We’ve been over that.  These are the players we have and every one of them have shown something good this season, so there is something there.  They are good enough to be winners, but they just can’t get over the mental block right now.

Anyway, back to Gary.  I’m not sure how this will all play out.  We are in for a long season and there will be plenty of talk about Gary’s job security.  Hopefully, Gary will calm down a bit with the media and avoid a major back and forth with the administration.  If they can all calm down and just concentrate on the task at hand, they can get themselves out of this mess.  This can be a quick turnaround with just one big recruiting class.  Gary has proven he has put more into recruiting in the past year and if we can keep the recruits from bolting, we have a chance to get back.  Once we get back into the NCAA tournament, we will be fine, I’m confident in that.

My Friend Jon

Today is a great day to be a Terp blogger.  Fireworks between the adminstration and Gary Williams.  A team on the court that can’t seem to win.  Frustration everywhere.  This is good for the blogging business.  There is lots to digest, disseminate and discuss.

Unfortunately, I don’t feel like talking today.  You see, my close friend, mentor, and colleague had a terrible accident on Sunday night and he succumbed to his injuries late yesterday at the tender age of 37.  I understand that 99% of the people who read Turtle Soup have never met or heard of Jon Alsop; but trust me when I tell you that the world is an emptier, colder place without him in it.

Jon was a Terp fan of the highest order and the last few years have been as hard on him as they have been on any Terp fan.  If he saw last night’s “performance”; he’d be as mad and frustrated as anyone.  He would want me to write about it and elicit the kind of discussion that makes Turtle Soup such a great forum.

However, in times like this, it is hard for me to care about the confidence issues of a group of 18-22 year-old kids and their beleagured coach.  Perspective is a mighty thing because it enables you tocategorize things into their proper order of importance.

For now, I will leave it to Gregg to create the proper forum to discuss the goings-on in College Park; but for the next few days, I’ll be too busy preparing to say goodbye to my friend, Jonny A.

Bounce Back?… BC Thread

After 3 days of reflection, embarrassment, calls for Gary Williams’ head, and analysis of the current players, the Terps return to the court tonight in another must win game. 

I believe we’ll find out in the first 5 minutes whether this team has what it takes to rebound from the crushing loss on Saturday.  However, it’ll take some adversity to determine the true state of this team.  Can they come back from a bad few minutes?  Can they withstand a BC run?  Can they actually hit a shot?

It’s time to find out.

A Reckoning

Moments like these beg the question:  is it better to be a fan or should we all find another hobby?

Maryland has never beaten an ACC opponent the way Duke trounced the Terps today.

41 point loss.  The Terps only scored 44 points.

Herm Edwards was ridiculed for telling the Chiefs they “could build on this!” after winning their first game of the 2008 season (preceded by five lossess).  It’s funny but was he supposed to say? He coaches the team after all.

It is a good question.  What on Earth does Gary Williams say to this team after this drubbing?  They completely quit on each other and then team.  There’s plenty of blame to go around but the bottom line is that the players don’t believe in their teammates or Gary’s system.

The team disgraced themselves on the court with their total lack of effort.  The University has been embarrassed in front a national TV audience.

This season is lost.  You show me a team that loses a conference game by 41 points and still makes the NCAA Tournament and I’ll start to believe.

Is this the absolute low point?  Can it get worse than this?

Gameday Thread: Maryland v. Duke

Maryland enters the first installment of its biannual dance with Duke at a crossroads.  At 13-5, the Terps desperately need a signature win to get back into serious contention for an NCAA berth.

Terp Nation is uneasy.  Clearly undermanned upfront, the Terps have played valiantly, yet they appear to be fatally flawed in a distinct way: Maryland is unable to put teams away and/or hold big leads.

The Terps have lost three games in January.  In two of those games, Maryland blew leads of 14 (Morgan St.) and 17 (Miami) points.  What’s more, MD almost blew a 15 point lead against Virginia on Tuesday.

In my view, the culprit is one of two things:

1. The Terps are prone to lapses in which they grow complacent and fail to execute for long stretches, thus allowing the other team back in the game.

2. Maryland’s offense is one dimensional and other teams are bound to figure out how to stop the Terps over the course of a 40 minute game and when they do, the Terps collapse.

If it is the former, then the Terps can get better this year.  They can learn to maintain concentration throughout the game and throttle teams when the Terps have the upper hand.  It will be tough, but the Terps can learn to win.

If it is the latter, then the season is lost.  If teams like Miami, Morgan, and UVA can handcuff the Terps for stretches of 10 minutes or more because they have figured out that MD’s offense can be permanently neutralized; then we are surely NIT bound.  Again.

I’m not enough of a basketball expert to say which it is.  My gut and heart says the former.

Maryland will be given an excellent opportunity to prove the doubters wrong this afternoon.  The boys travel to Comcast Center South — also known as Cameron Indoor Stadium.

On paper, this game won’t be close.  Duke is ranked #2 in the country and poised to take the top spot if they can beat the Terps.  Fortunately for MD fans, Duke usually brings the very best out of our players.

In the last 10 meetings, the Terps have won 5 contests, including 3 wins at Comcast Center South.  Last year, MD lead Duke by 10 points at halftime before falling apart in the second half.  In fact, that defeat was the first in a string of five such collapses in the last 12 months: Duke, Va Tech, and Clemson last year; and the aforementioned Morgan and Miami games this year.  As if you needed another reason to hate Duke.  They started this mess!

This trend must be reversed.  The inability to hold leads hangs like an albatross on the neck of the entire team.  What better way to exorcize the demon than to triumph against the team that started it all last year?

Duke is one of the few elite teams that Maryland can match up with favorably.  Duke won’t kill us on the inside, and the Terps should have the best athletes on the floor. I believe the Terps will be battling themselves as much as they will be battling the Blue Devils.  If Maryland can remain mentally tough; then they can win.

I will be interested to see if Gary Williams is able to stop Duke’s three point shooting with his new found love of the zone defense.

The Terps need to win badly.  A victory could turn the season around. Get busy living or get busy dying.

A Must Win: Virginia-Terps Thread

It’s clearly a must win game.  It’s most definitely a must win game.

The Terps can get some of that confidence back with a victory tonight at home.   With a win, I think the Terps can get themselves to 4-4 in the conference at the midway point.  That will give them a chance.  A loss tonight and the season is over.  So let’s see how much pride the boys have.

We are a 9 point favorite.  Can you believe that?!