Archive for January, 2008

31
Jan
08

Recruiting News and GT Game Notes

I usually don’t like to talk about recruiting as I don’t know much about it besides what i read online, but this was a big day for the Terps so I thought I would touch on it. First to football.

WR Kenny Tate committed to Maryland Thursday night, and has been ranked as high as the 16th best WR in this year’s national recruiting class. Combined with the commitments of WR Kevin Dorsey and Kerry Boykins, both top 100 WR prospects, the Terps bring in an amazing WR recruiting class. If the team finds a quarterback who can use these three new weapons in the next 5 years(if they redshirt), we could be looking at a very potent offense. I will blog more on football recruiting as we get closer to the spring game in April.

On to basketball. News has surfaced that JuCo forward Ken Bowman has been offered a scholarship for next season and has accepted it. The reason why this is big news is because this would be their 4th scholarship player to sign for next year including JuCo Bobby Maze, Sean Mosley, and Gus Gilchrist. With the terps not using one of their 13 scholarships this year, and Gist and Osby being the only scholarship players to graduate ( McAlpin is not a scholarship player) following this season, this only adds up to 3 available scholarships for 4 players. Something fishy is going on. Many things could be happening. One possible solution is that Gus Gilchrist will not be allowed to play next year because he committed to Virginia Tech before deciding to come to Maryland. If that is not the answer, than somebody is leaving the team; either by transfer, graduated early, or being kicked off the team.

Now this is all speculation on my part, but these are some of my thoughts on what may be happening. If someone is graduating early, it would probably be Neal, although I have heard nothing about this. Another possibility is that his shoulder is more injured than we know and he has decided to quit following the season. In terms of a player transferring I would look towards Burney or Gregory as they have sat out the longest period of time since last playing(note: Pearman has not played often this year, but to the best of my knowledge he is a walkon). Gregory last saw action against Wake on Jan. 15th and has not seen significant minutes since Jan. 8th against Holy Cross. You have to go all the way back to the Jan. 2nd game against Savannah State for the last time Burney played. Again, this is just speculation on my part, but I would look towards Burney being the opening of this scholarship, and if not him Neal. For those of you who think Vasquez may be thinking Pro, he is not ready yet, and I am pretty sure he knows it.

Now for a quick preview of Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are 10-9, 3-3 in the ACC, and will have been off for a week following their victory against Virginia on Sunday. They lost a lot of close games out of conference, including a 4 point loss at #15 Indiana and a 5 point loss against #3 Kansas. They also almost upset then #1 UNC right before the Terps knocked off UNC, losing to them 82-83. The Jackets also come into this game with a 3 game winning streak including VT, N.C. State, and UVA. The big three players to watch out for are seniors Jeremis Smith and Anthony Morrow, as well as Junior Lewis Clinch. Matt Causey has also been on fire for them lately. None of this should matter though if the Terps play their game. Now I wouldn’t expect another 3 point outburst from Hayes and Vasquez, but timly shots by them, as well as pounding it inside to Gist and Osby should get it done at Georgia Tech. This team showed us something by playing well against Virginia following a tough loss against Duke. I think this team gets it, and knows what it must do to win. They have been playing great of late and the only criticism I can find for them is lack of bench points. If they can get more points off the bench, it will only help their chances at making a nice run and making the NCAAs. The starters are going to have off nights sometimes, and we need our bench players to pick up their game a bit.

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28
Jan
08

Duke and Virginia Thoughts

Well I think we were all disappointed Maryland wasn’t able to get the job done against Duke, but we must take away some positives from the game. We proved that the UNC upset was no fluke, this team can be competitive with almost anyone as long as they want to be. The team just came out flat at the beginning of the second half, and it was apparent Duke was set to not lose this game. Unlike the Boston College game, I think this was a legitimate loss. Yeah, some calls by the refs were bad, but it went both ways, unlike the Boston College game where I am convinced we would have won had the refs called a better game. Duke had more fight in them and they were deeper. Smith off of the bench proved to be the X-factor for Duke as Paulus was in foul trouble all night, and Henderson could not miss a shot if he tried. Nelson, as always, killed us, but luckily this is the last year we have to deal with him. All in all, I am not troubled by this loss at all. Duke was the #3/4 team in the nation and we lost to them, just as most expected us to. However, we did prove we can hang with the big boys and now this team has no excuse to play flat and lose to mediocre and poor ACC teams. Speaking of mediocre and poor ACC teams, what is going on with Virginia?

UVA is 11-7 overall, but a dismal 1-4 in the ACC. Their only win was at home against BC, while their losses including games against Duke, VT, Florida State, and Georgia Tech. Virginia was picked to finish 5th in this year’s ACC media preseason poll, and so far are not living up to that prediction at all. Unfortunately, I have not gotten a chance to see UVA play yet this year, but looking at their schedule, they had an impressive 3-point victory at #17 Arizona earlier in the season. However, this is the highlight of their out of conference schedule, losing to middle of the pack Big East schools Seton Hall and Syracuse at home and getting clobbered by a good Xavier team on the road. For some reason, this team is just not gelling together as it should. Sean Singletary is still playing well, as well as senior forward Adrian Joseph, but the team is struggling to find consistent scoring anywhere else. Maryland should win this game. Maryland has proved that it is a good team, and much improved from its December version of itself. However, after two games against top 5 teams, will Maryland be able to get up for this game? Maryland has a recent history of losing to inferior opponents for no apparent reason. This should be an easy Maryland victory, but something tells me I might be very disappointed Wednesday night.

25
Jan
08

Big Weekend for the Terps

It’s another big weekend for Terps basketball. On Saturday the Women head down to Chapel Hill to face #3 North Carolina in a game that could determine who wins the ACC Regular Season Championship. It will be a tough game, especially on the road, but there is no reason the Terps cannot win. The game could go either way, but with North Carolina coming off of a loss to #1 Connecticut, they will be very motivated to win this game. If we do not show up with the energy needed to match them, this game could easily end up in the Terps second loss of the season.

The game everybody is looking forward to however is the Duke game, this Sunday at Comcast. Duke won Thursday evening at Virginia Tech so we will be playing a legitimate #3 team, not one coming off of a loss. This Duke team is much better than teams Duke has had in the past couple of years. They have two freshman who contribute a lot, King and Singler, to go along with Senior Guard DeMarcus Nelson and Junior Guard Greg Paulus; the only upperclassmen who see minutes at Duke this year. This will be an extremely tough game, but if the same team that beat UNC shows up, then a win is very possible. I doubt we will see the huge 26-6 run that began last year’s Duke game at Comcast, but if we show up, there is no reason we cannot win. Should we win this game? Probably not, Duke is much more talented. But that has never stopped us in the past and hopefully it will not stop us Sunday.

In football news, Freidgen has hired two more coaches. Danny Pearman will coach tight ends and be the Special Teams Coordinator. Pearman has coached at Duke, UNC, Virgina Tech, and Alabama. Kasey Dunn will coach the wide receivers; he comes from Baylor, and Arizona prior to that. John Donovan will remain on staff but switch from quarterbacks coach to running-backs coach. Offensive Coordinator James Franklin will coach the quarterbacks.

21
Jan
08

Basketball Roundup

Well it was an exciting weekend to be a Terp. First on Saturday the men headed down to Chapel Hill and defeated #1 North Carolina 82-80. On Sunday, the women faced a stiff challenge from Georgia Tech and escaped with a 99-95 win in a double overtime thriller. Lets look at these two games.

The Men easily played their most complete game of the season. Vasquez finally played a solid game as the team’s point guard. With him slashing to the basket well, and not turning the ball over, this is a whole new team. Gist also had a great game shooting from the field, and Boom’s defensive presence on Hansbrough was amazing, as well as his game-winning layup in the game’s final minute. Shane Walker, Adrian Bowie, and Dave Neal provided some solid minutes off the bench and the team just seemed focused on what needed to be done to win. Also huge was the return of Eric Hayes. He did not start, and did not play a ton, but he came into the game when the Terps needed some scoring a hit two three-pointers. The last I read he is still at only 65% so who knows if he will be available to start Sunday against Duke, but if he can provide some shooting from the bench, and Vasquez plays another smart game at point, there is no reason that Maryland cannot upset Duke. Maryland also jumped in the RPI from the 120’s to the 80’s. This win alone will not put the Terps in the NCAA tourney, but it certainly awoke the possibility that if Maryland takes care of business the rest of the season, it is a possibility despite their rough start to the season.

After beating Duke last Monday, the women played a lackluster game in Charlottesville Thursday but escaped with a 74-62 victory. Sunday proved much tougher for the Terps as it took double overtime to take care of Georgia Tech, a team that beat Maryland last season. It wasn’t that Maryland played badly, its just that GT played a full court press for 50 mins. The Terps have struggled when pressured all year so it was no surprise to see the Terps having problems holding onto the ball. Georgia Tech was very physical and picked up 34 fouls, but the whole game it seemed as if the refs were letting half of the fouls go. I wasn’t counting, but there had to be over 50 fouls committed by GT between the ones that were called and were not called. The most impressive part of the game was Maryland’s ability to erase a 6 point deficit in the first overtime to eventually send it into a second overtime. While this game was not against a high ranked opponent, it was a strong motivation boost for the team to know that even when they don’t play well, and are facing a type of defense they struggle against, they do have the ability to fight through and win. It would have been a huge letdown to Terp fans to witness the Women lose a day after the Men knocked off the number 1 team in the land, fortunately that did not happen and everyone in College Park left for home happy.

18
Jan
08

North Carolina Game Notes

It appears that guard Eric Hayes will sit again Saturday against North Carolina with an ankle injury. This probably drops Maryland’s chance of victory from very slim to none. North Carolina has probably the most talented team in the country when you look at their starting 5, and then down their bench. There is probably not a Maryland Starter who would start on that team, and a few of their bench players would probably start ahead of current Maryland players if they played for Maryland.

My biggest question for the game is whether Bowie will get the start at point guard. He has played amazing off the bench the past two games (at Virginia Tech and home against Wake Forest). Vasquez also seems to struggle playing the 1 position, and when he switched over to 2 when Bowie came in against Wake Forest, Vasquez settled down and had a nice performance. Starting Bowie would move Tucker to the bench, but I don’t see that as a problem as Tucker has not done enough in his starts to warrant him the designated starter until Hayes returns.

I’m praying for a win over #1 UNC, but on the road, that may be too much to ask for, especially without your starting point guard. If the Terps keep the game close that will be a victory in itself. I hope Gary gives Bowie the start because if he continues to play well, Milbourne better watch out. Milbourne has struggled this season, and with Vasquez’s ability to play position 3, a Bowie-Hayes back court could be a possibility for the remainder of the season.

16
Jan
08

Questions about Frese’s Coaching Strategy

As I sat in my usually spot in Comcast watching the Women take on Duke, attempting to beat them at home for the first time in 10 years, I really started to question something I have seen Brenda do all to often in my opinion. Now, let me preface this by saying that I was going to write this article win or loss in the Duke game, and we won 85-70. I also want to mention Marissa Coleman’s performance which may turn out to be the best game of her career when all things are set and done. 30 points, 4-5 from three, 6 rebounds, and she handled point well when she was forced into the role when Toliver picked up her 4th foul. But this is where my trouble with Frese begins.

The Situation:

Maryland is holding a slight lead over Duke, 62-65 with 7:30 remaining in the game. Toliver, in an attempt to “make something happen”, but in reality was a dumb move, cuts in front of a Duke player with the ball at mid-court and commits her 4th foul. Here is the foul situation Maryland found itself in with 7:32 left in the game (Starters in Bold):

Toliver: 4 Fouls / Harper: 4 Fouls / Langhorne: 3 Fouls / Strickland: 3 Fouls / Coleman: None / Perry: 2 Fouls / Newman: 2 Fouls

In the remaining 7:32, Newman would commit one foul, the last one Maryland would commit the rest of the game. But with 2 starters in severe foul trouble (Toliver and Harper), and 2 starters in foul trouble (Langhorne and Strickland), the question is what would Maryland have done had these players fouled out, a very real possibility when the score was tied at 65 and 68, overtime was looking like a possibility.

Maryland committed 19 fouls in the game. Duke committed 28 fouls in the game, many coming in the first half when it did not appear a call could go Duke’s way. Here is the breakdown of Duke fouls in the entire game (Starters in Bold):

Cheek: 5 Fouls / A. Waner: 4 Fouls / Black: 3 Fouls / J. Thomas: 2 Fouls / Smith: 2 Fouls / Gay: 3 Fouls / K. Thomas: 4 Fouls / Jackson: 3 Fouls / Christmas: 1 Foul/ Mitchell: 1 Foul

Now look at Duke’s Foul situation with 7:32 left to go in the game.

Cheek: 4 Fouls / A. Waner: 2 Fouls / Black: 1 Foul / J. Thomas: 2 Fouls / Smith: 2 Fouls / Gay: 3 Fouls / K. Thomas: 4 Fouls / Jackson: 3 Fouls / Christmas: 1 Foul / Mitchell: 1 Foul

Joy Cheek has 4 fouls, the bench has a little trouble, but the 4 other starters, are not in foul trouble. If the game had remained close, Maryland would have probably picked up more fouls in the final 7:32, and Toliver, Harper, Strickland, and Langhorne would have been in trouble. Duke used 5 bench players which helped to absorb their foul trouble. Frese only used 2 bench players, and if players had begun fouling out, she would have been putting in her bench freshman not just into a game against Duke, but into a game against Duke, in the final 2-3 minutes or even in overtime, cold, having not played the entire game.

My problem with Frese is that when she plays elite teams, she refuses to use her bench. Newman and Perry are both Seniors, so perhaps probably trusts them more, which she should, but she has Freshman she could have plugged into the game for 5 mins even, to help alleviate foul trouble, pick up experience, and help win the game! These freshman were a top recruiting class, they can play!

The two players that would make sense to put in are Kay Lyons and Drey Mingo. Now, I have been critical of Mingo’s play a bit this season, but she needs to gain experience against good opponents, and plugging her into a game against Duke in lets say the final 5 minutes of the first half, when Duke had subs in because of their foul trouble could go a really long way. I much rather Drey Mingo or Kat Lyons get their 5 minutes of experience against Duke in the middle of the game, than in Overtime, when if they are clearly over-matched, you cannot go to the bench, because the starters are fouled out. I think it is very risky what Frese does.

Against LSU earlier this year, the team was not in foul trouble, but without Jade Perry. As a result, Mingo racked up 16 minutes of play. LSU is a quality team, and probably better than Duke, so why did Frese refuse to play her against Duke when the team really was in foul trouble. Someday, this will come back to bite Frese. If she sees the team heading for foul trouble, which was obvious Monday as the refs were calling many fouls, she needs to use her bench more. She has the luxury of a healthy bench and she should use it. I will close with a similar foul situation Frese has faced in her career, but when she did not have a bench to use.

When the Women lost to Mississippi last year in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament, Frese already had a team that was short of players; to make matters worse, some of her team was sick and unable to play. Here is the player-foul breakdown at the end of that game (starters in bold):

Coleman: 5 Fouls / Doron: 5 Fouls / Wiley-Gatewood: 4 Fouls / Harper: 2 Fouls / Langhorne: None / Toliver: 3 Fouls / Newman 3 Fouls / Noirez: None

These were the eight healthy players Frese had for this game. Two of her starters fouled out. Another had 4 fouls. Two more players had 3 fouls. This is a terrible situation to be in. Now the team lost this game for more reasons than foul trouble, but the point is that Frese had no choice. She didn’t have much of a bench for this game and she had to play her players despite their foul trouble. Brenda, if you have the luxury of throwing in a bench player for a little bit and your team looks like it might have foul trouble, then go ahead and do it. You can’t help yourself if you only have 8 healthy players like you did against Mississippi, but against Duke you had 10 players who could go into the game. Now you might not want to play all 10, but if you had thrown in an 8th or 9th player for just a few minutes, you could have prevented a very bad foul situation.

Now of course everything is fine and happy because we won and beat Duke. But had we lost that game because Toliver and Harper had fouled out because you couldn’t let Kat play a little or Drey play a little, the loss could be blamed on nobody but you Brenda.

11
Jan
08

The State of the Men’s Basketball team

Following Maryland’s 73-48 victory over Holy Cross on Tuesday, the men have finished the out of conference portion of their schedule 10-6. Some wins have been good, some losses have been bad. I am going to break down the 16 games into 5 categories. Great Wins, Good wins, Disappointing Wins, Understandable Loses, and Bad loses.

Great Wins: None

Good Wins: North Florida (79-50), Lehigh (72-51), Illinois (69-61), Morgan State (85-69), Delaware(76-46), Savannah State (75-48), Holy Cross (73-48)

Disappointing Wins: Hampton (70-64), Northeastern (74-72 OT), Charlotte(76-72)

Understandable Losses: #1UCLA (71-59), Missouri (84-70), VCU (85-76), Boston College (81-78)

Bad Loses: Ohio (61-55), American (67-59)

As you can see, no Great Wins yet. A victory over UCLA, Missouri, or a big victory over BC would have qualified, but none happened. There are also two bad losses; Ohio and American. Under no circumstances, should a program like Maryland be upset at home by these teams. Those losses are unacceptable and could come back to haunt the team in March. The loss to UCLA was understandable and predictable. UCLA is great and it is tough to beat great teams, especially if you do not play them at home. The Missouri loss was disappointing, but with the game being played in Kansas City, it was also expected. Boston College got help from the refs in that game so its a wash. VCU was a beatable team, but Maryland played poorly and suffered a loss.

This brings us to the wins we have. North Florida, Lehigh, Morgan State, Delaware, Savannah State and Holy Cross were all big wins over lesser talented teams. Big wins were expected in all of these games, and the Men were able to dominate those games like they should. The Illinois loss was good because it was the ACC/Big10 challenge game, unfortunately, Illinois now sits at 8-7, and the victory does not look as impressive as it did in November. The Hampton and Northeastern wins at the beginning of the season were big struggles and despite being only the second and third games on the schedule, should not have been so close. Lastly, the Charlotte win was disappointing only in the sense that they blew a 20 point lead and held on to win by only 4. The game was a positive though because it was a win against a decent opponent(they just beat #19 Clemson as I am writing this) and it was Maryland’s first true Road game of the year. It’s been an interesting first half of the season, and sitting at 10-6, the Terps certainly aren’t out of the NCAA tourney picture, but they did hurt themselves with some of the losses and close wins; the Ohio and American losses at home, and their close escapes from Hampton and Northeastern could come back to bite them.

There are a few things that have defined this team so far. Some players have played good this season, while others have struggled. After a very slow start, Vasquez has improved his 3 point % to over 35 %. Hayes is shooting about 37% from three. The problem with Maryland is, these are their only good three point threats who are taking shots. Cliff tucker is 7 for 18, but doesn’t shoot often enough to be considered a big threat. James Gist is shooting a terrible 24% from three which is really hurting the team. He essentially turns the ball over by missing three’s, and the team was probably expecting three pointers from him that he just isn’t giving them. He shot 43% from three last year and Gary even said he had the best shot on the team. With his poor 3 point shooting this season, combined with a team that doesn’t have many threats from deep, it certainly has been a huge problem. Hopefully this can be solved with the improved play of Vasquez, more shoots from Tucker, and hopefully an improving Gist.

Lastly, turnovers are still a problem. The situation has gotten better, but the team still consistently is in the high teens in turnovers. The team has improved from the numbers they were posting in the beginning of the season with turnover numbers in the twenties, but in ACC play, this is a recipe for disaster. At least the team is on the right track.

One final thing to look at is who is going to step up and be the 2nd big man off the bench in ACC play. Braxton Dupree is back to the bench, but he is Gary’s first option down low. However, between Shane Walker, Dino Gregory, and Jerome Burney, none of them has proved that they are better than the other two. All have shown glimpses of promise this season, but for the most part they have struggled. If one of them steps up, it could be a huge help to the team. Dave Neal is a nice story, but he shouldn’t be your second big man in the game against a team like North Carolina.

Well, Its time for ACC play to really start. I think this team can do well and post an above 5oo record in ACC play; but we have all seen how bad the team has looked at some points, and a 3 or 4 win ACC season is a very real possibility. Hopefully this Saturday at Virginia Tech will be the first of many ACC wins. If the Terps lose to VT, which is probably the worst team in the league this year, its going to look very dim for any NCAA tourney aspirations the team may have.