Some Post Georgia Tech Perspective

I am reposting my thoughts after the GT game because due to a miscommunication, Gregg posted over top of my comments. Besides, as many have pointed out, the Vasquez issue has been beat to death. This is a nice segue to Miami on Wednesday……

At first glance the win against GT felt more like a stay of execution than a victory. A loss would have effectively ended the season, and it was discouraging to see the Terps struggle against the worst team in the ACC.

However, consider the following:

1. MD matches up poorly against the Yellowjackets. GT has a massive frontcourt and MD is well, challenged up front. So, it is not all that surprising that MD struggled. Some teams will just pose match up problems for the Terps (see Georgetown) and the fact that we won anyway should be encouraging.

2. MD clearly suffered from a hangover stemming from the Morgan State game. Vasquez shot terribly and what’s worse, his shot selection was awful. The whole team was pressing too much and GT took advantage. Yet, Maryland eked out a victory.

3. The Terps came to their senses down the stretch and executed (like good teams are supposed to do). Some role players had nice games (Mosley, JSK, and yes Dupree), so the Terps should be feeling better heading down to Florida this week.

Maryland does not make the dance without Vasquez becoming a 1st team All-ACC performer. Everyone knows this. But today, the rest of the team picked him up and gutted out a victory mostly without Vasquez. This should give everyone confidence.

Miami is now tremendously important. A win and the Terps can start to believe. A loss and they are on the outside looking in. Hopefully, Greivis will stop jawing with his own team’s fans long enough to realize what happened this afternoon.

(Editor’s note:   When I wrote this, I had no idea that Vasquez made those post game remarks, nor did I know the alleged content that Terps fans supposedly were spouting.)

It won’t be easy. Miami just went up to BC and won. MD will be a significant underdog on Wednesday night.

I may be crazy or suffering from irrational exuberance after watching the Ravens improbable win; but I think the Terps can leave Coral Gables with a W.

Some Post Georgia Tech Perspective

At first glance the win against GT felt more like a stay of execution than a victory. A loss would have effectively ended the season, and it was discouraging to see the Terps struggle against the worst team in the ACC.

However, consider the following:

1. MD matches up poorly against the Yellowjackets. GT has a massive frontcourt and MD is well, challenged up front. So, it is not all that surprising that MD struggled. Some teams will just pose match up problems for the Terps (see Georgetown) and the fact that we won anyway should be encouraging.

2. MD clearly suffered from a hangover stemming from the Morgan State game. Vasquez shot terribly and what’s worse, his shot selection was awful. The whole team was pressing too much and GT took advantage. Yet, Maryland eked out a victory.

3. The Terps came to their senses down the stretch and executed (like good teams are supposed to do). Some role players had nice games (Mosley, JSK, and yes Dupree), so the Terps should be feeling better heading down to Florida this week.

Maryland does not make the dance without Vasquez becoming a 1st team All-ACC performer. Everyone knows this. But today, the rest of the team picked him up and gutted out a victory mostly without Vasquez. This should give everyone confidence.

Miami is now tremendously important. A win and the Terps can start to believe. A loss and they are on the outside looking in. Hopefully, Greivis will stop jawing with his own team’s fans long enough to realize what happened this afternoon.

It won’t be easy.  Miami just went up to BC and won. MD will be a significant underdog on Wednesday night.

I may be crazy or suffering from irrational exuberance after watching the Ravens improbable win; but I think the Terps can leave Coral Gables with a victory.

Terps Cruise 86-58 Over Del. State

The game was over after 10 minutes. That’s about all the time it took for Maryland’s starters to build a 20 point lead. Unfortunately, the Terps played more or less even with Delaware State the rest of the way until they finally padded the lead in the final five minutes.

Greivis Vasquez had a fantastic game. 50% from the floor, 16 points, 8 boards, 8 assists. What more could you possibly want? Oh, and he committed only one turnover.

Milbourne had the smooth J working tonight and there was no one who could keep up with him on the baseline.

Tucker dished out 7 assists. It was nice to see him get playing time. He’s so far ahead of Sean Mosley that is kind of embarrassing.

Speaking of Mosley, I think he looks terrible. He’s slow, has no jumper, and thinks he can score on the low block with a pump fake. I just don’t see a guy who will ever be a scorer in the ACC. His jump shot is nowhere near where it needs to be. He lacks that explosive first step. Where are his points going to come from?

Mosley reminds me of Jordan Steffy. It seems like everyone but the coaching staff can tell this guy is lacking basic Division I level talent. You can’t teach that.

Fortunately, Maryland has enough backcourt scoring at the moment that we don’t need to worry about it. The frontcourt is still a mess. Jin Soo Kim is our best player over 6’7″ and he weighs 195 lbs. Dino Gregory is a hustle player who does the little things, but he will be out matched against bigger opponents. Dupree is a wasted scholarship at this point. He brings nothing to the table. He got a layup blocked by a guard tonight.

It’s clear that Vasquez has a made a concerted effort to hit the glass. I haven’t looked, but he has to be leading the team in rebounding. Let’s hope Burney comes back in time for the road the first ACC road game (Miami).

The Terps don’t play for 10 days as the head into Finals week and then it is cupcake city until the New Year.

Overall, I still like what I am seeing. 13-2 heading inot Miami or bust.
The crowd was awful tonight. Comcast was maybe half full. I realize Delaware State is terrible, but can our boys get a little fan support?

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.

Maryland Rolls Over Northwood in Tune Up

The score was 104-60 and it was over before it started. The Terps didn’t have the services of arguably their top two players (Greivis Vasquez and Sean Mosley); yet domintated throughout.

I missed the game; but clearly the Terps are not going to lead the NCAA in frontcourt scoring. The bigs didn’t give us much offensively, but if the skill players can shoot like this night in and night out; we will be fine.

Jin Soo Kim can fill it up. I realize that we are talking about inadequate competition but buckets are buckets. He started slow and caught fire. I don’t know about you but I think the Terps can use a steaky shooter or two.

The most remarkable aspect about the game was the balance. The Terps got 15+ points from five different players. They shared the ball well- dishing out 18 assists.

Perhaps the prettiest stat of all? Only 11 turnovers.

Maryland did not play well against inferior competition at any point last season. We should beat a team like Northwood by 44 points and we did.

I declare tonight’s game a success and remain cautiously optimistic about the season.

Terps Lose the Battle of Murfreesboro

Judging from the box score, the game was not all that dissimilar from a Civil War era slaughter.

The Terps came into the game against MTSU thinking it was a trap game. A trap game it was. Chris Turner played like absolute ass and the play calling was atrocious. Here’s a news flash for Friedgen and Franklin: if you only bring in Josh Portis for running plays, options, and QB sneaks; then the defense will put 11 guys in the box to stop it. This is not rocket science. Change things up a little!

The Fridge has gone from offensive genius to moron in a matter of 5 years. It can’t all be personnel issues. Where’s the creativity? It can be argued that Maryland has the best receiver and the best running back in the ACC (Da’Rel Scott had another strong game); yet we stink. 11 touches for Scott? 2 for Heyward-Bey? That is just plain ineptitude.

Defensively, the Terps have exactly zero sacks – on the season. Can we blitz some of the these 1-AA QBs? For the love of God, gets some pressure on these guys!

Even more frustrating is that the ACC is terrible this year, and given the talent; Maryland should have had a shot at a BCS berth. Instead, we are losing to Middle Tennessee State. I’m trying to recall the last time Maryland lost to a 1-AA school (or whatever it is those schools are called these days). I’m too tired to look it up, but I think that even the likes of Mark Duffner and Joe Krivak were able to steer clear of a loss like that.

The optimist in me is saying look at all of these also-ran programs that are beating big schools. East Carolina looks ready to challenge for the national championship. Utah goes into the Big House and beats Michigan. So Maryland went on the road and lost to a scrappy team? The pessimist’s response? Well, you can polish a turd all day and at the end of the day, you still have a turd.

So just how bad is the ACC? How about NC State’s rousing 34-24 win against William and Mary? Or maybe you were impressed when UVA stuck it to Richmond 16-0. ACC teams should be beating these teams by 30+ points. Instead, they are either scraping by or losing outright. It’s never been a football conference, but the ACC is embarassing itself.

I’ve gone from being bullish on the season to thinking that the Terps might win three games all year. California beat Wash St. (a Pac-10 team) 66-3 today. They are going to crush Maryland. I was in Byrd Stadium in the fall of 1993 when Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions came in and whupped the Terps 70-7. Next week could be that bad.

On the upside, Midnight Madness is five weeks away. Then, there will be a whole bunch of other things to complain about. Orioles, Ravens, and Terps. What did I do to deserve this?

EDIT: I have since been corrected. The Sun Belt Conference is D-I.  How I could have possibly forgotten that such a prodigous and powerhouse conference is D-I?  After all, beating Maryland may be the best thing that ever happened to the Sun Belt.  Now that is a sorry statement.

Terps Escape Against Wake, 74-70

Why is it that I feel the same after tonight’s win as I did after the first Wake game? If you’ll remember, the Terps and Deacons played a turnover and foul filled contest that left fans of both teams demoralized. If you go back to my post (entitled “When Winning Feels Like Losing”) and comments from that game, you will remember what I’m talking about. Tonight is different, we are all smiles, but I still see much to be concerned about.

For the third straight game, Maryland could not find the bucket in the last 8 minutes. It cost us W’s against Va Tech and Miami and should have cost us tonight (Wake missed plenty of open looks). A disturbing trend, our Terps need to figure out how to score down the stretch. Watching Hayes and Vasquez chuck up threes when the Terps had a commanding lead was maddening. Vasquez owned Teague on the low block all night. Not going there down the stretch bordered on a criminal act!

Milbourne was a no-show tonight and so was Osby. Osby was so bad that I actually think something was physically wrong with him. He didn’t start the second half and lacked his typical emotion. Between the Milbourne, Hayes, and Osby one of them needs to be a scorer each game. Tonight, none of them stepped up in a significant way (Hayes’ scoring was negated by his turnovers and 0 assists. Yes, that is right. 0 assists). Somehow the Terps still won.

Maryland was willed to victory tonight by our leaders. Jim Gist in particular, refused to lose. Why can’t he play with this attitude every night? This I will never know, but suffice it to say that we need another big performance from him against Clemson. Combined with Vasquez they totaled 55 of Maryland’s 74 points. I’m no math major but that is too much. We need production from other players.

The season now rides on the Clemson game. To date, Maryland has exactly one win against the RPI Top 50. Sunday night’s game represents Maryland’s last chance in the regular season to improve on that stat. That should provide us with the necessary motivation. If the noise emanating out of the Comcast Center is not registering on the Richter Scale on Sunday night, then the Terps don’t deserve to win.

Of course, if we go back to the first Wake game, Maryland followed that lackluster win with its most inspiring performance of the year: beating UNC. Here’s hoping they play with similar fire on Sunday. After all, the season only depends on it.

Finally, a little housekeeping. Turtle Soup is temporarily relocating to Buenos Aires. Yes, for the next 9 days, I will be in sunny South America with Mrs. Soup. Rest assured, I will still follow the Clemson game. Turtle Soup will still have regular posts, so please continue to make us your gameday headquarters.

Buenos dias, mis comprades. Vamos Terps!

A Win Is A Win

I was prepared to write about how shaky the Terps looked today, but as the headline suggests; the season moves forward as planned. What’s more, the Terps outscored FSU by 18 points in the second half and notched 52 points while doing so. Maryland did what good teams need to do. They followed up a poor half with good half.

However, it is safe to say that Maryland has played much better this season. I’d like to blame the flu bug going around campus, but Cliff Tucker was the only Terp listed as having the flu. If, as rumored, Gist and Hayes are sick as well then I will forgive their lackluster first half performances.

Again GreivisVasquez rose to the occassion today. Greivis hit big bucket after big bucket. His partner was Landon Milbourne, who played the finest game of his career today. He was 6-9 from the field and totaled 18 points. If Gary Williams can get that kind of consistent production from Milbourne, then the Terps will indeed win out.

Jim Gist and Eric Hayes need to wake up. Hayes’s tentative play really cost the Terps in the first half. How many weak entry passes is he going to throw? Gist continues to settle for fadeaways instead of taking it strong to the hole. He could learn a thing or two from his froncourt mate, Boom Osby. That man takes it hard to the rack every time.

The bench production needs work. I can’t discuss Dave Neal rationally as his presence on the court makes me feel like I am watching an intramural game. I understand that Cliff Tucker’s illness took away our only bench scorer, but was Jason McAlpin the best alternative?

Where are the big men? Braxton Dupree was a four-star recruit. Jerome Burney’s relatives have asked that a judge declare him legally deceased. It’s been that long since anyone has seen him alive. The same is true of Dino Gregory.

There is simply no excuse for Jason McAlpin and Dave Neal to be getting minutes on this team when there are legitimate D-1 players languishing on the bench. Are they that bad? Is their grasp of the offense that tenuous? More than anything, our bench production scares me the most as we head toward March.

The Terps can’t get to March without finishing February strong. Momentum is key as the season makes its turn towards the home stretch, and the Terps need to keep building it. Another weak opponent, Virginia Tech, comes to Comcast on Wednesday. The Hokies got massacred at UNC today and the Terps can’t give them any hope out of the gate on Wednesday.

Maryland should have plenty of motivation after the unreal loss that Va Tech dropped on the Terps in Blacksburg back in January. Here are the Terps marching orders: continue to take care of business and lock a Tournament before I head to Argentina on 2/29. I don’t want to be sweating out that Clemson game while chowing down at a Buenos Aires bistro.

Ugh. Maryland Loses. Dook Wins.

What can one say about tonight’s 12 point defeat at Cameron? Maryland played horrendously for the first 20 minutes. Maryland should have been down by 25 at the half. Vazquez kept us in the game, although his shot selection didn’t help matters.

We lost because Jim Gist was nonexistent. We lost because Maryland played terrible matchup defense throughout. The Terps did fight hard all game. We should have lost by 20, but somehow the Terps had a chance tie in the last 6 minutes.

I think I’ve figured out when to expect evil Nik Caner-Vazquez to emerge and jack up awful threes. It’s when there is no one consistently scoring on the inside. Without Gist contributing, we will have to endure more 25 footers with 20 seconds on the shot clock from Senor Greivis.

Grevis needs a ying to his yang. Without inside scoring, he gets impatient and feels like he needs to do it all. It is a viscous combination that Duke exploited to perfection. With that, Duke revealed the secret to beating Maryland. Neutralize either Gist or Vasquez. The other guys are just role players and simply can’t fill in the gap if our two-man show turns into a one-trick pony.

Defensively, Maryland could not match up with Duke. Osby could not check Singler out on the wing and Gist had the same trouble with Scheyer. I’ve never seen a team like Duke so fearlessly jack up threes with nary a rebounder in sight. Of course half of them are wide open looks, but they have nerve. Eventually, Duke will go cold when it matters and someone will beat them and crush their hopes and those of their dorky following.

Milbourne and Hayes were AWFUL tonight. Hayes had a five-footer to tie. Missed. Milbourne missed gimmies, fumbled passes. It was ugly.

The Terps were determined to keep Nelson and Henderson from beating them, but they forgot about the whitewash: Paulus, Scheyer, and Singler. How did we get beaten by those guys??

(Sidebar: I need to say one thing about the Duke students. The “not our rival” chant is so ridiculous. You know what? We aren’t your rival. We just hate you and everything you stand for. The dorks in face paint, the signs about our graduation rates. All of it. What kind of loser researches Maryland’s “0% graduation rate” for a sign? And furthermore, would you conduct said research for a team you did not consider to be a rival? Whatever. Go back to your pet snake and/or turtle.

For the record, the “stat” about graduation rates wasn’t researched. In 2006, Maryland’s graduation rate was 30%. What was Duke’s? 50% I just looked that up here (I guess I’m a loser too). Yet again, another example of the Duke student-athlete myth that media propagates unceasingly.)

In the end, the Terps were playing with house money. We did not need this game. It would have been sweet, but if Maryland can take care of business against FSU and Va Tech at home and become road warriors again at Wake and Miami, then they are a lock for the dance. How will they respond? The fate of the season lies in the answer.

Marylands Holds It Together Against UVA

I apologize for my tardiness with the post-game article. I was without access to the Internet last night. Fortunately, I was able to watch the game because ESPN remembered the University of Maryland has a Men’s Basketball Team. Shocking, I know.

Unlike the Duke game, where Maryland was only able to put together 20 minutes of exceptional basketball; last night’s game had about 33 minutes of good hoops.

Maryland completely dominated the first 10 minutes and were able to extend their lead in the middle 20 minutes. The final stretch saw UVA climb back into the game on the shoulders of an injured Sean Singletary (can someone put a body on him?).

In the end, the Terps held off the Cavs, thanks in large part to Bambale Osby’s FT shooting.

On the whole, there were more positives than negatives last night. The Terps were able to cut down on the turnovers. For most of the night we saw Greivis Vasquez, not his alter-ego, Nik-Caner Vasquez. Eric Hayes was deadly from three-point range, AND to my extreme excitement, I even saw Hayes run around a screen and hit a jumper. (It was the Juan Dixon curl play and he ran it to perfection).

Gist and Osby are a force in the ACC. Outside of Hansborough, I haven’t seen a frontcourt that can match up with Maryland. Osby’s FT shooting has vastly improved from last year and that makes him a real threat when he gets the ball in post. Gist has a tendency to fall in love with his outside shot and I think he needs to demand the ball more in crucial situations. But again, his play in the ACC warrants 1st team All-ACC consideration. He has been that good.

Here’s the bad part: a solid 33 minutes will not cut it on the road against Georgia Tech. Maryland needs to play a solid game from start to finish with no lapses. That is how road games are won in this conference.

These next two road games are crucial. Georgia Tech can match us athletically, but if our guards can limit the turnovers and Osby and Gist show up as they have been; the Terps can win. After that, it’s a revenge game against BC. I think these games are must-wins. But lets not look too far ahead.

Right now, it is all about beating Georgia Tech.

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