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Friday, November 30, 2007

San Fran, Here come the Terps!

The world-famous Diamondback reported today that the Terps have a "nine in 10 chance" of being invited to the Emerald Bowl, according to the bowl executive Gary Cavalli.


- Well, I certainly can't afford to go, but good luck!

- The Terps will face a Pac-10 team, which should be a great test for the program. The Terps already proved last year that they could roll with Purdue and the Big Ten in the Champs Sports Bowl; now it's time to play one of the elite conferences. Who are the candidates? The Pac-10 is a mess right now, with literally half the teams fighting for a share of the conference championship. The most likely candidates are UCLA, Cal and Oregon State. We really can't talk about opponents until after this weekend.

- Finally, we get to see what we can do when we're actually healthy.

- San Fransisco, check out the wonderful fans you'll be bringing in:

Go Terps!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

ACC/Big Ten Challenge Vol. II: The Ladies Get Down

Tomorrow night, the Terp women are up against No. 17 Ohio State for the inaugural ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

To which I say: Big whoop.

Maryland will win this game, just like they beat No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 4 LSU. Here's what Ohio State seems to bring to the table:

- A great freshman center in Jantel Lavender, who, besides having a nice picture in her bio, is playing some great ball and averaging 16.7 points and 93. rebounds per game, good for No. 6 and No. 3 in the conference respectively.

- A great scoring guard Marscilla Packer, who is averaging 17.7 ppg (good for No. 3 in the conference) and 2.67 apg as well.

- A team that is tops in scoring, defense, assists, steals and margin of victory in the Big Ten.

Now, here's what will happen.

- Maryland will contain Lavender like the bigs they contained before. They successfully held big-time frontcourt players Sylvia Fowles and Courtney Paris in check in their routs of LSU and Oklahoma. Where have you heard those names before? Oh right, the preseason first team All-America list.

- The Terps average 3 more rebounds a game than Ohio State and score 5 more points per game. Ok, maybe not a huge difference... until you consider that Maryland has beaten two top-10 teams (convincingly) and a No. 25 team. Ohio State has played one ranked team: No. 24 Auburn ... and lost ... at home. Yikes.

- The Lady Terps have Kristi Toliver, Marissa Coleman and Laura Harper all in the top 12 in ACC scoring. And the team's best player has just returned from injury!!! Plus Toliver is leading the ACC with 7.78 assists per game (two better than the next closest player and three better than the top Big Ten player).

- The Terps are lights-out shooters right now. They lead the ACC in FG% with 49.9% of shots going in. And it's not just the post game. The team is shooting an unreal 46.5% from 3-point range! They've had 12 treys in two different games this season. Maybe the boys should take a lesson in shooting threes from them (28.2% from beyond the arc).

So tomorrow night, I'm going to go to Comcast Center, sit back in the mostly empty student section (See 5,500 fans per game in a 17,950 person arena) and watch the Terps become the first team in the country to rack up 10 wins. I'm looking forward to it and maybe some of you other "fans" should show up.

See you there and go Terps!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Maryland beats Illinois: A Somewhat Statement

Before the game, a friend asked me if I thought Maryland was going to win tonight. I politely said that games aren't always about winning and losing and that I was going to support the team I wanted to win.

"Illinois is gonna win," he said.

Well I'm glad I stuck to my guns (kind of) because the Terps came out with the win, 69-61.

OK, Illinois is unranked and we beat them at home. Normally, that kind of game would not mean anything. But for this basketball team - a team with two losses in their previous two games against good teams - a couple things came out of the victory.

Here's the stats. Here are the statements, however mild they may be:

- The freshmen can play. Braxton Dupree made his second career start with 14 points and 5 rebounds. He's as solid as a rock in the middle: I mean, he's not going to be very mobile on defense or rebounding, but at least you'll know where he is. Meanwhile, Cliff Tucker came in for 12 minutes and ended up 4-of-6 with 9 points. From what I saw, the boy hits open shots, but also can create opportunities himself. I predict that he may overtake Landon Milbourne in the starting lineup if he continues to play like he did tonight.

- James Gist will take over if he has to. It was crazy. I couldn't believe that Gist, a player that often underachieves and disappears for stretches at a time, was owning the post. He had 12 points and 9 rebounds, which are unspectacular stats, but we all know that oncourt presence aren't always reflected in the numbers. He looked every bit the athlete he is, jumping around and hustling for the ball, trying to grab spectacular alley-oops (classic one on Illinois) and moving around the slower Illini forwards. He also stepped up his defense with 4 blocks. More proof of his D? Center Shaun Pruitt and forward Brian Randle, the top Illini frontcourt players finished a combined 6-24 from the field. Now that sounds like senior leadership. Especially on a night when Greivis was off (2-for-14).

- We can beat someone, as in a REAL someone. Illinois projects as middle-of-the-pack squad in the Big Ten. The only other team they've lost to is Duke. Hey, it's better than beating Concordia or Northeastern. At least the Terps played someone relevant and won.

Soon we'll be taking a closer look at the upcoming ACC schedule and how the competition is going to stack up. But although it's not much, beating Illinois gives this young Terrapins team a bit of credibility that they really need. I'm glad Gary Williams checked his to-do list.

Go Terps!

EXCLUSIVE: Gary Williams' To-Do List

Hey everybody, I have some exciting news! I was hanging out by Comcast today and when I picked up a non-descript piece of paper with some hasty scrawl on it. Upon further examination, I discovered it was the lost to-do list of Gary Williams! It seems mostly focused on the game with the Fightin' Illini tonight.

by Gary Williams

- Shower and wear some

- Make fun of Illini coach Bruce Weber on the ridiculous shirts he wore at the Maui Invitational.

- Make Chuck get some extra towels to wipe the floor in my coaching box.

- Ask James Gist his shoes size. About 15? 16? Ask him height: 6'8, 6'9? Are you athletic? Yes? OK,
now play like it. And remind him he can't make the sky hook.

- Tell Greivis that he doesn't need to take the jump shots. Try and slash first, and if it isn't there, just dish. You're still a star, baby.

- Give thanks that
Eric Gordon went to Indiana.

- Remind Eric Hayes that he's a stud beyond the 3-point line and at the charity stripe.

- Tell Landon Milbourne to not be afraid to
get into the post and slash because his 3-point shots just aren't going in.

- Make sure Boom doesn't try cornrows; FREE THE FRO!

- Get an extra jersey for Keith Booth in case he needs to go in when the starting bigs foul out.

- Make Chuck get more towels at halftime.

- Don't forget what happened last year.

Good luck, Gary.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The One-Two Punch gets dissed

All-ACC teams came out today. If you know what kind of season the Terps had, then you know it's not a big deal for Maryland today. OK, Erin Henderson. OK, Dre Moore. OK, Andrew Crummey, even though you missed 5 games or so (which I find amusing).

However, I did want to mention one little thing: Refer to these stats.

It's funny how Maryland had the most rushing touchdowns in the ACC, the third-most rushing yards in the ACC, and only managed to get one rusher on the team. Ladies and gentlemen, Keon Lattimore. HONORABLE MENTION?

Looking at the individual statistics, that makes some sense. If you want to overlook the fact that Lattimore and Lance Ball are the top two in rushing touchdowns with 13 and 12 respectively, yes, you can see Lattimore (who was gimpy for awhile as well) is 5th in individual yardage and Ball is back at No. 7.

BUUUUUTTT... if you want to evaluate how important the rushing game was to each team, I feel that Keon and Lance both rise up that list to at least the second team. For example, second-teamer Andre Callender rushed for over 900 yards and nine touchdowns (whilst also being shut out of the end zone and gained only 56 yards at Maryland). But don't you think he was helped by Matt Ryan and the No. 1 passing offense in the ACC. Boston College only had the No. 9 rushing offense anyway, and defenses so feared Ryan's arm, sure they're going to let Callendar run around a little if it means they can contain the pass. I think there is a similar relationship between James Davis and Cullen Harper of Clemson, but Davis is a good back.

In all, when you evaluate Keon and Lance, the self-named One-Two Punch, they were critical to the little success the Terps achieved this year. The offense mustered up 35 touchdowns, 28 of which were rushing touchdowns, 25 of which were carried in by the dynamic duo. That's pretty incredible.

If only they were one person... oh well. The ACC teams to recognize individual excellence, and that's what they reflect, I suppose. Except Andre Callender, that jerk. Yeah, just feast on those prevent defenses. You have to work REAL hard for those yards, I bet.

No good bum.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Greg Paulus is a joke. Plus links!

Hey everybody,I'm feeling lazy today and not much doing in College Park sports. So I'm gonna send you to some links. But before I do, I just want to comment about something silly I saw.

The intrepid Doug Gottlieb tried to defend the Duke basketball team earlier this week and their hapless point guard Greg Paulus. I actually enjoyed this because he suggested that Paulus' criticism was unfair AND suggested that Duke's best lineup was without Paulus on the floor in the same sentence. The truth is Duke is hung up on an unsuccessful point guard who can't score or make decisions, or at least the right ones. Duke's own statistical database backs it up (Career 9.1 pt avg; 3/2 assist to turnover ratio; nearly 1.2 A/T ratio last season). Duke sucks.

- Yes, the Gilbert Arenas Zeros are out and the commercials are hilarious. Unfortunately, the man himself is on the sideline for three months. At least Michael Wilbon thinks they might be OK.

- Jin Soo Kim continues to impress scouts... with a little attitude. "Block that s***!"

- Originally it seemed as though UMD football target Zach Brown had not actually committed, but then he actually did. Friedgen then appeared to withdraw a scholarship offer Steve Slaton-style to give him a hard time, but then told him he was kidding.

- I swear I thought of this, but now I have to give credit where it's due. Very funny idea.

- I finally overcame my recent annoyance with Bill Simmons to listen to his interview of Gus Johnson. Very worth it. Here's a good rundown of the good parts.

Go Terps!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

37-0?!?! Holy Crap!!!

It's times like these when I ask, "Why the heck did we lose to Wake Forest and Virginia?"

The Terps have been the absolute model of inconsistency this season. While no one complains when Keon Lattimore runs in for the fourth team touchdown of the day, it does make all those squeakers and 4th quarter/overtime losses that much more frustrating. I never would've predicted that the same defense that allowed James Davis to torch them a few weeks back would have pitched a shutout today. I might have guessed the offense would light it up- like against Boston College - but not the same offense that scratched up a measly 16 points last week. It's difficult to put faith in a team that can beat two top-10 teams but can lose to North Carolina. Ick.

But to give them their due, they won when they absolutely had to. And Friedgen showed he could actually prepare his team with his job on the line. Imagine that. (I'm going to refrain from writing any of the nasty jokes that are popping up in my imagination right now.) That's why I try to be patient to see how things shake out before I call for a coach's head on a platter.

Honestly, the win may not save his job, but he did what he was supposed to do. As did the team. I'm glad Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore didn't have to go out with a loss away; hopefully there will be some space for them and the rest of the Terps in San Francisco.

Go Terps!

Friedgen better hope we go bowling...

I talked to a reader today and he suggested that I write a letter for the firing of Ralph Friedgen.

Here are two conditions for me to consider this:

1) I would feel comfortable saying it to his face.

2) We finish this season tomorrow, without going to a bowl.

One or two of these conditions could be met this afternoon when the Terps take on N.C. State in Raleigh. I'll be the first to say that injuries have helped cripple this season. Plus, we did beat two top-10 teams (Rutgers and Boston College).

But that is no excuse for the unimaginative play-calling and lousy motivation of this football team. I have seen games end before we even lose the lead. We look slow and unable to execute many times. And Friedgen is working with his own recruits now (plus he hasn't been able to lock down the Maryland prospects). There is mounting evidence that he should be out the door, and this may be the case, whether he wins or loses today.

I think it comes down to this: Can Friedgen get this team to win with not just the season, but his own job on the line?

N.C. State is hot and has four wins in their last five games. They too are fighting for bowl-eligibility. But doesn't Friedgen have more to lose?

If the Terps don't win today, expect the Fridge to be sitting on one of the hottest seats in football.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In lieu of boring analysis, DUNKS!!!

The men's basketball team lost again, and the women's basketball team won again.


So instead of doing what I've been doing the past week or so (analyzing until you stop reading), today I'm just going to post bunch of my favorite basketball videos.

I'll begin with one I really liked the other night by James Gist. And after this, amateur hour is over.

Dwight Howard is a massive man with a massive wingspan. This really impresses me.

I know it's a highlight tape, but this montage of Charles Barkley always gets me pumped. It's just dunks and blocks - how sweet is that? But stop when the music changes.

This Vince Carter dunk over a 7'2 French center is pretty classic - a classic display of how the French are wimps. I can say that; I take French.

Dominique Wilkins has always been a favorite dunk artist of mine. Maybe you see why...

And for those who think anyone today is better than MJ, just watch this. It always ends with me shaking my head.

Maybe tomorrow I'll tackle the Terps, but until then, do what I do:

Ignore it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

OK, Kevin Love IS good.

For those of you who couldn't watch it all, Maryland men lost tonight, 71-59.

So Kevin Love IS actually good. I really should've expected as much. He nearly had a double-double at the half. The guy is ridiculously good at blocking out and following up on missed shots for putbacks. Our freshmen... well, they looked like freshmen against a very dominant UCLA defense. All I can say is I didn't believe some of the hype about Kevin Love, but now I do. He can bang with the best of them... in college, at least.

However, I do think that every UCLA game recap should stop being an "Ode to Kevin." Seriously, as if he's the only player on the entire court. The lead is "Kevin Love is proving to be a fast learner." What does that tell you about how the press views this game?

Honestly, UCLA is the better team and they proved it. Stats:

- Their bigs picked up 26 rebounds compared to Gist and Osby getting just five. Besides rebounds, Boom was everything he could be, going 5-of-9 for 13 points, but Gist disappeared after the first couple minutes and ended up with only 7 points. He was an unbelievable 3-of-13 from the field, and I don't attribute to defense, even though UCLA's D was solid all night. Somehow Gist believed that he was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (UCLA alum/Wooden student inducted into the HOF last night) and tried to go for incredibly difficult hook shots all night. Plus, I almost threw up when he started crying after he and Boom fouled out. It was a frustrating game, but it was a game. And one we weren't supposed to win. If you want to cry when it's over, play with emotion throughout, not at the beginning and end.

- I have not really seen better perimeter defense. If not for Eric Hayes shooting a desperation 3 in the last minute, the Terps would've been shut out from beyond the arc for the first time in 8 years. Greivis played like Greivis - playing OK throughout, giving up turnovers and scoring at the end - and Hayes (bless his heart) was not athletic enough to defend Shipp or Westbrook. And surprisingly, the UCLA guards seemed much bigger than our protypical "big" guards. And faster.

- K-Love: 18 points. UMD freshmen: 8.

- K-Love: 16 rebounds. UMD freshmen: 10

I don't need to grind our team down anymore, but I hope Gary gets them back to fundamentals.

BTW: Did anyone notice in the news recap that Nick Collison left the Supersonics to play for UCLA, but now he's injured? Oh right, that's Darren Collison. My bad, Associated Press. I'm sure everyone knew who you meant.

(Thanks for the picture, though. Copyright AP.)

The Dominators

Name a team in college basketball that has already beaten two top-ten teams this season while playing without their best player.

One: the Maryland Terrapins. And I'm not talking about the team that barely beat Hampton.

The Maryland women are 5-0, but that's not the impressive part. They've already beaten No. 25 Notre Dame, No. 6 Oklahoma and, last night, No. 4 LSU. The Lady Tigers got whipped last night, hardly seeming like a match of two top-five teams separated only by one in the rankings. Plus, this is an actual quote by LSU coach Van Chancellor:

"This team is capable of winning a national championship if they keep playing like this."

This presumes a couple of things:

- Chancellor is conceding that Maryland is simply a better team than LSU.

- He believes that Maryland is better than any other team when they play at their highest level, or at least the level at which they played last night.

- It implies that Maryland could beat LSU again if they meet in the NCAA tournament.

The Terps have officially arrived.


- Jade Perry helped win this one with a double-double in relief of All-American Crystal Langhorne, grabbing 11 boards and banging in the post for 14. Definitely one of the underrated players on a roster filled with talent.

- Kristi Toliver continued her stellar play, scoring 23 and dishing out 7 assists (We'll overlook the 9 turnovers). She is definitely reaching for that All-American team spot.

- Marah Strickland was 3-of-3 behind the arc. Yeah, No. 2 recruiting class last year. You go, girls. P.S.: Will you be my girlfriend?

- I'm not really sure how this happened, but Maryland had 18 turnovers - to LSU's 8 turnovers. And we won. Maryland did own a slight advantage in rebounds (50 to 34).

Seriously, I've said it before: Give these girls some respect. They are playing as well as anyone right now and the rest of the country needs to check their back.

Or don't check your back. I wouldn't mind seeing Maryland cruise to a championship Patriot-style (only with a soul; Celtic-style, really).

It's cool.

(Thanks to the Diamondback and Adam Fried for letting me borrow this picture.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Terps Lose - But Why Did Steffy Play?

After the Terps' loss to Florida State today, I had one question:

Why the hell did Fridge play Jordan Steffy?

Right after Chris Turner had his best drive of the game thus far, leading the Terps 64 yards to set up a field goal, Fridge puts in Jordan Steffy.

The result: two drives for a total of -17 yards. Steffy's line for the day, 1 completion, 3 attempts, 1 yard passing; 2 rushes, -7 yards rushing.

I'm going to say this once and I'm going to say it very slowly so everyone can understand:








Now, this isn't the only reason the Terps lost the game - the fact that Florida State is just straight more up talented than Maryland was probably the deciding factor, alongside the fact that Maryland couldn't capitalize on any of FSU's eleventy billion fumbles.

But why would you play Steffy? It's simply a mind-boggling decision on Fridge's part. Turner had a fantastic game in the upset over Boston College and although he had made a few bad throws, wasn't playing awful against FSU - why bring in Steffy?

Basically, the Terps completely wasted two possessions.

Other notes from a disappointing performance:

  • I have no idea who the color man was for this game, but apparently Chris Turner beat up his mother or something, because he was relentless in criticizing Sunshine's performance.
  • The solid performances from Isiah Williams and Heyward-Bey were encouraging - the Terps are going to need to become a passing-oriented team next year....
  • Unless, that is, Da'Rel Scott steps up huge - which is beginning to look more and more probable. He needs to get a lot of carries in the NC State Game and should have been getting more carries all season long.
  • Even if the Terps beat NC State next week to become bowl eligible, I don't think they deserve it. And honestly, most of them would probably prefer not to spend Christmas in Boise anyway.
  • This was apparently Bobby Bowden's 300th win at FSU. I am absolutely shocked the announcers didn't relentlessly harp on this throughout the game. The fact that didn't is a good thing, but they didn't mention it at all, as far as I noticed - which is both incredibly odd and pretty poor, announcing-wise.
P.S. Bobby Bowden is a lucky man.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Let's play Wacky Stats with Maryland!


So Maryland was pushed to overtime by perennial powerhouse Northeastern. Please help me understand this.

Anyways, beyond the score, there were some interesting statistics after the game.

- Boom Osby ended up with 16 points and 13 rebounds... but only made one shot from the field. Northeastern Hack-a-Shaq'd the hell out of him and he ended up 14-of-20 from the line. Heck, he probably read my column the other day and worked on his shot! (Humor me. Let my imagination wander.) Thanks, big guy, for getting the Huskies' two leading rebounders out of the game! Plus six blocks!

- James Gist (pictured) scored 27 points, a career-high. He also led the team in... steals? Four, to be exact. Also 9-of-11 from the charity stripe for a 81 FT%. Not bad for a guy with a career average of 67.4% (see bottom). He's actually 11-for-14 on the year.

- Northeastern and Maryland had the same number of rebounds, 43. Compare NE's offensive rebounds (19) to UMD's (11). I sense 2nd-chance opportunities made a difference in this game...

- Greivis controlled the ball well, dishing out 10 assists to a paultry 2 turnovers. But still went 2-of-10 from the field. Incredibly, both shots were threes.

- Jason McAlpin played.

I'll let someone else interpret the stats. But more than likely... they probably mean little.

Let's do better next time.

Hope Abound: Maryland Recruits

Some events are coinciding that really make it a good time to look at what Maryland is doing with recruiting. Let's take a looksee:

- Davin Meggett, son of former NFL baller David Meggett, is tearing it up with Surrattsville. There's an article in the Washington Post profiling the young man and telling about how he's basically carrying the team on his shoulders. From a scouting perspective, he projects as a faster Lance Ball: about 5'8 and 210 pounds, and 4.4 speed. I would link you to his highlight video, but it doesn't really show that much, honestly. During the season, he has amassed nearly 2,000 total yards and 30 total touchdowns. You can keep track of all of the football recruits weekly at Recruiting Report.

- Speaking of Recruiting Report, the commencement of the college basketball signing period saw Maryland ink shooting guard Sean Mosley and center Augustus Gilchrist(A.K.A. No. 52 on Rivals.com). Matt Bracken, the guy who runs Recruiting Report, wrote an excellent profile of Mosley and why he decided to come to Maryland. I wouldn't say he's the next Juan Dixon, because Baltimore has been giving this guy love for years, but it is nice to have a "hometown hero" joining the squad. Next year, we'll have one of the deepest teams in the conference - with Mosley and Gilchrist plus the 6 freshmen from this year backing the veteran leadership of Vasquez, Hayes and Milbourne. This is why I don't want to study abroad next spring semester. I honestly mean that.

- About Recruiting Report, on a personal note, I find it extremely helpful. Bracken really does a bang-up job of helping Terp fans know their recruits before they even step on the field or the court for the first time. He does a lot of work on it and takes special care to cover local athletes. I read it almost daily. Plus I get to find out nice little tidbits, like how UMD commit Cody Blue crushed my high school last weekend in football. (By the way, my friend who is a freshman OT at Richmond this year says he can take Blue any day of the week, and that he routinely owned him in protection when they played each other. I'm not trying to be negative, but I believe it.)

Anyway, that's enough for now. Go Hebron!

... and go Terps, too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Total Terp Breakdown

Ok people, the Terps actually caught their first real snag on Monday against the Hampton Pirates. They barely managed to escape with a 70-64 win.

How did this happen? Take a look at the stats.

- TURNOVERS: The Terps lost the turnover battle 22-15 last night. Greivis Vasquez, our top scorer with 21 points, was unfortunately the main culprit of the ball-handling bumbles with an ugly 8 turnovers. This problem was also present on Sunday night, as they gave up 20 turnovers, but it was overshadowed by the fact that North Florida gave up the same amount. Who gave up the rock the most? Greivis? Uh oh...

- BRICKS: When a team shoots 40%, that team usually loses the game. The Terps were aided by fact that they're bigger and Hampton could only shoot 41% around the long-armed Maryland defenders. They have several role players that should be shooting better: Supposed dead-eye marksman Eric Hayes (1-for-7) and Boom "The Postman" Osby (2-for-6, not to mention a Shaq-like 2-for-8 performance at the foul line). I hate to pick on this guy again (especially since he won the game) but a 6-for-15 performance from Greivis isn't going to help the team either.

- FOULS: If you look at the box score, you'll see that Landon Milbourne fouled out with 2:30 to go. He had this problem last year, I recall. As a result, Milbourne was only in the game for 20 minutes and Osby, who had 4 fouls in 28 minutes, was also close to fouling out at the end. James Gist had 3, but in general this can be a weak point for him. Against savvy bigs like Lorenzo Mata, Ben Costner, James Mays or Psycho T, he really has to be careful, especially because the team needs him to wipe the boards (12 rebounds in his first start).

- LOUSY FAN SUPPORT: Ok people, I have a horrible confession. After scanning the ticket for Monday night's game, I left almost immediately. I'M SORRY! I wanted to see the game, I really did! But I had to honor a commitment I had made previously and by the time I remembered the game, I couldn't cancel my ticket! I had no choice and I scanned and left, feeling very much like a rat scurrying away. So imagine the pangs of guilt I felt when I read Comcast was half-empty. Everyone, including myself, should go to the games to watch the games. Hampton is not even an awful team: They routinely earn an NCAA berth by winning the MEAC division. I promise that I will try harder if you will try harder. We can't have anymore games where the Terps are losing to a mid-major and no one is cheering them on. We have responsibilities too, boys and girls.

Go Terps!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dedicating one for the ladies...

One of Maryland's most dominant teams is always underappreciated.

Even by the writer of this column.

The Lady Terps defeated No. 6 Oklahoma tonight and sealed their status as title contenders once again. They effectively shut down the normally beastly Courtney Paris and played their best despite the obviously gimpy Crystal Langhorne. Four starters scored in double figures and Marissa Coleman, Kristi Toliver and Laura Harper all earned double-doubles. What a win. Even the mighty ESPN is paying tribute.

Toliver scored 16 and dished out 11, but one troubling statistic: 7 turnovers. Ball-handling is something to watch on this team, as Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood seems like she might not play many minutes this year and the only backup after her is a frosh. Otherwise, the Terps out-everythinged the No. 6 team in the country that suddenly looks very common after all.

Nice job ladies.

Other notes:

- The Maryland men also showed a lot of character tonight, beating down North Florida to where they belong, 79-50. Vasquez (that's "vas kez" for all those inept announcers out there who are unfamiliar with hispanic names) led with 18 points, 6 assists and 7 rebounds. Nice. Eric Hayes, Boom Osby and Adrian Bowie also scored in double digits and had nice overall stats. Even walk-on Jason McAlpin scored. Good to see Boom in the cornrows: He does it for big games. Reminder: they did it without two starters. I know Michael Wilbon isn't impressed yet, but we'll see what happens if we get to play UCLA.

- Also, I met Michael Wilbon.

- About the BC game: Yes, that was not the actual Terps. It was a team of superheroes dressed like college football players with Bill Walsh calling the offense. Honestly, that game was like a breath of fresh air to football fans that thought Maryland was dead in the water. And taught them a lesson. Even though I called out Matt Ryan several weeks ago, I did not expect such a dominant performance (up until about 7 minutes left). A while back, Chris "Sunshine" Turner told me he didn't eat breakfast. Well he's a liar: I know he ate his Wheaties on Saturday morning.

Oh yeah, Maryland! Good weekend!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Matt Ryan has two first names, ergo, you should not trust him

After Boston College choked last week against Florida State, I figured the Terps had no chance this week, as much as I wanted them to destroy the Eagles. History has indicated that BC blows the big one once a year - no more, no less.

However, the history of this season indicates something else - once undefeated teams lose, they lose repeatedly. Cal was #2 in the country - now they are 6-4. Florida looked unstoppable - before losing 3 out of 4 games. South Florida was this year's Boise State - before losing three in a row to Rutgers, UConn, and Cincy.

So really, based on the trends of this topsy-turvy college football season, BC's loss to Maryland shouldn't have been all that surprising.

Still, after watching Fridge take the training wheels off the offense with some inspired play-calling and seeing Chris Turner pick apart BC's defense for 337 yards and 3 TDs, my main emotion when rushing the field was "What? We just did that, right?"

The game had long been decided - although considering what BC did to Virginia Tech, I wasn't about to celebrate prematurely - and rushing the field seemed anti-climatic. Unlike last year against FSU, where the Terps blocked a field goal with precious seconds remaining, rushing the field yesterday didn't feel spontaneous or joyful - it was more just the fans playing their role in the script of an upset.

Still, I won't complain about an upset over the #8 team in the country. Particularly when the game was won because the Terps' biggest weakness this season - shaky play calling from the Fridge - became a strength. Although he was occasionally predictable - I swear we ran the ball on virtually every second down of the entire game - he had two key play calls that worked out.

The first was the screen to Da'Rel Scott. The second was the reverse to Heyward-Bey. Both were creative ways of getting the ball into the hands of two of the Terps' fastest - and most underused - players. The fact is that Scott and Heyward-Bey should both be touching the ball at least 10 times a game.

Other thoughts:

  • Who is Emani Lee-Odai (3 catches, 78 yards) and why hasn't he been playing all year?
  • Where did this pass rush come from? Some of it has to do with the fact that Terps repeatedly blitzed their corners, something that apparently shocked BC.
  • I'm estatic to note that a lot of the Terps' seniors stepped on Senior Night. Jason Goode had two touchdowns, Dre Moore not only had an interception (!) but also put pressure on Ryan all night. Even the much-maligned Isiah Gardner played very well.
This win puts the Terps in position to get to a bowl game. After this, even if we do only go 6-6, I think Maryland at least deserves a spot in Boise for the Humanitarian Bowl.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Bill Simmons and the Team Without a Soul

Look, Bill Simmons is great. I wish I had his job - I really, really do. He's usually funny and is on point most of the time, although I disagree with him on occasion (particularly about the Red Sox letting Orlando Cabrera go after '04, something he still hasn't shut up about). Without him, I probably wouldn't be blogging - hell, I would say virtually all sports bloggers have been inspired, either directly or indirectly, by Bill Simmons.

But his column today is insane.

There is no NFL conspiracy against the Patriots. The Patriots are not 100% innocent (but neither are the Colts, despite Gregg Easterbrook's insistence). They cheated in the first game of the year against the Jets. It probably didn't help them win that game and it certainly shouldn't cast a shadow over the three Super Bowl wins - the earliest complaint of anything like this happening was last season - but the Patriots broke the rules.

Were there bad calls in that game? Most freakin' definitely. But I think many of the errors Simmons points out were just that - errors, or calls that could have gone either way.

The Patriots have taken the 'disrespect' heaped on their Super Bowl rings after SpyGate and used it to motivate themselves this season. As a Patriots fan, I find this wonderful. I believe the Pats will go 19-0 and I really want them to do so. There's a good chance that this might be the greatest team in NFL history.

The Patriots are ruthlessly efficient. They've assembled an absurdly good roster and are still roughly $6-8 million below the salary cap. (NOTE: This is a good time for me to explain why the Patriots are not the Yankees. Simply, the NFL has a salary cap. The Patriots didn't buy all their players - the picked them off the scrap heap or drafted them, albeit with a few notable exceptions. In other words, the Yankees were ruthless. The Patriots are ruthlessly efficient.)

They score at will and have an offense that is simply awe-inspiring. The defense, while not dominant, is exceptionally solid. This team shouldn't lose a game this year.

I just wish they weren't acting like such jerks while doing it. It's not one player in particular. It's a collection of acts - Colvin spiking the ball on the logo, Brady randomly berating refs (although he has always done this), the team celebrating too much at certain points. This shouldn't really matter as long as the team keeps winning... but it does.

But I'm not really enjoying this as much as I should be.

Maybe it's because I'm forced to watch the games on Slingbox and I've missed quite a few of them. Maybe it's because I've expected to win every game this year. Maybe it's because I'm far away from fellow fans to share the victory with.

Or maybe it's just not fun rooting for a team with no soul.

I love the way this team plays. But I frequently hate the way they act. Simmons' column is a celebration of the way they act, writing off arrogance that could be the Patriots' Shakespearean downfall.

This doesn't mean I'm going to stop rooting for the Patriots. It just means that I'll be rooting for them to do two things: win and change.

Be a Good Neighborino ... no matter what.

In university news, the University Senate is looking at a proposal to protect students from disciplinary action when they call in an emergency dealing with alcohol poisoning and/or overdoses. I find this disappointing.

Yes, it may be true that students in on-campus housing are afraid of calling in true emergencies in fear of the punishment they might get. But is that on the university? No, that's on them. Students, regardless of how socially acceptable they believe drinking to be, understand and accept the consequences of their actions. If you drink in a dorm and get caught by an RA, there's not much to appeal. Another potential consequence is alcohol poisoning. I feel as though a lot of people don't try to push their limit like that, but it happens.

It is on the students, then, to recognize the seriousness of the situation and be good samaritans despite the possible disciplinary actions. I can't blame university policy if someone dies after a hard night of drinking and their friends were too nervous to get them help. It is a friend's responsibility to understand that something is a matter of life and death and suck it up.

Just in a second, I can think of many ways such a rule can be exploited. I say this time and time again: If we as students want to be treated like adults, we must accept more responsibility for our actions.

Other notes:

- The Lady Terps open their season tomorrow against Princeton. I didn't really have the time to put together a detailed preview of the game like I made for Concordia, but let me just say this: It would be a closer game, I think, if it was the Terps' basketball skill against Princeton's brainpower, this might be a closer game. But the Terps would still win. Two words: LAURA HARPER.

- I hope all of you heard that Maryland did, in fact, beat Concordia, 75-42. I was disappointed that Concordia was unable to match my projected point total. Dwayne Buckley could've definitely turned in a better game, just look at the box score: 3 rebounds, 4 turnovers and NO POINTS? And he's supposed to be their star! Anyway, Maryland will face another lesser-known opponent, North Florida, for the season opener. However, this will actually be a challenge, due to the loss of James Gist and Landon Milbourne. Thank you, semi-bogus rule.

- After a loss to Wake Forest in the ACC tournament, the No. 3 field hockey team is hosting the first and second round of the NCAA tournament at home. That's right. Here. In College Park. They are defending a national title. The other team playing at home is football against No. 8 Boston College. Have I made my point? Cheer on Katie O'Donnell and the girls and watch a team that wins.

Have a terrific weekend!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Maryland v. Concordia: The Preview

Finally, tomorrow night, basketball season will be upon us.

At least in exhibition form.

The Concordia University Stingers, from the faraway lands of Canada, will be gracing Comcast Center with their presence tomorrow night. It should be a tough matchup: The Stingers lost a heartbreaker on Monday to perennial contender Rhode Island, 106-63.

Knowing the enemy is the first step to annihilating the enemy. "Who is Concordia?" you may ask. "Who are their main players? Do they pose a threat to us? Should I scan-n-go?" Heck no! This is an exciting matchup - one that I've taken the liberty of outlining for you and breaking down in an easy-to-read, indispensable guide. No one else has it!


The backcourt starters are junior Pierre Thompson and senior Levi Vann. Since both of them are 5'10, Eric Hayes and Greivis Vasquez - both who check in at about 6'4 or 6'5 - will have to be careful down low and make sure the crafty upperclassmen don't dribble under/between their legs. They will also have to remember that these guys won't pass the ball: Thompson and Vann combined for one assist against Rhode Island. It's almost scary to think about facing a team that doesn't even need to dish to stay competitive! Their main backup is Decee Krah, a freshman with one inch on the guys he backs up. He had 5 points in 14 minutes. This team runs deep.


Senior Dwayne Buckley leads this group. The two-time Quebec Student Sports Federation All-Star proved his leadership last year, averaging just over 16 points and 6 rebounds per game and helping take Concordia to the consolation final in the CIS national tournament last year. Against Rhode Island, he got 22 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists. James Gist may be a Wooden Award candidate and may be 5 inches taller and may have been 4th in the ACC in blocked shots last year, but he's never faced a QSSF All-Star in his prime. The other forwards with significant time are Andre Johnny and Christon Henry, who, combined, had the same amount of turnovers as they did points last game (5), but that's bound to turn around.


Boom Osby and Braxton Dupree will have to watch out: Jamal Gallier is in town. The 6'7 290-lb center is coming off a junior season that saw averages of nearly 5 points and 5 rebounds a game. He was an integral part of the team last year and will only continue to bang down low in his senior season, as demonstrated by his 4 and 4 game against Rhode Island. Sophomore Desmond Murphy averaged only a point per game last year, but on paper, he should have a breakout season.


Incredibly, it seems Gary Williams is looking into a mirror. John Dore has coached Concordia since 1989 (like Gary Williams), has won the national Coach of the Year award (like Gary Williams), and has even won a national championship (like Gary Williams)... in Canada (only difference). So it's pretty much even, but Williams has the edge in hair and sweatiness.


Maryland is playing at home and it's expected to be a blowout. This should be ample motivation for the Stingers to pull out a win.


Stingers lose a gritty battle to the finish; 95-46

Monday, November 5, 2007

Back down to Earth... almost.

I must say that I am disappointed at Tom Brady's performance on Sunday. Look at the box score. Only 255 yards? Sacked twice? Two interceptions? And you only completed 66% of your passes? Shame, shame. What a shoddy performance. I expected at least five TDs, including one rushing.

This team bothers me so much, it makes me want to scream. Obviously this game had a lot of mistakes, especially by the Patriots who set a franchise record for penalty yardage, but they still won. Do they even want to win regular-season games? Read this excerpt from this article by John Clayton:

"'I think I could pick about 20 plays of our weaknesses coming out of this game,' Brady said in the aftermath of Sunday's victory. 'The thing is, we are 9-0 and it doesn't really matter. It just doesn't matter. None of this matters until January. I think it was a great step in our preparation. We've got seven games to get better.'"

The Patriots want to be seen as humble, right? Of course, they made shirts that say "Humble Pie: I Eat It." How can you be humble when your mind is already on the playoffs? "One game at a time" is a myth in Belichick land; I think they believe they should get a free pass to the playoffs and be able to watch the other teams play out to see who gets to face them in the Super Bowl.

"None of this matters until January." I know only titles matter to the coach I affectionately dub the Cameraman, but is the regular season really that much of a burden to you? Why do they make it so necessary to exterminate all the joy out of the game? Is anyone on that team ever happy after a win? Is it possible that Belichick is the anti-Farve?

I can't feel good about this team's success if they don't feel good about it. In fact, it makes me loathe them. THEY JUST BEAT THEIR ONLY REAL COMPETITION!!! Yeah they'll probably have to make a lot of adjustments next week for... The Bills?

Please, anyone: Beat this team.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Random Diamondback Comment Of The Week

Read this article from the November 1st Diamondback: Students square off with big business.

Then read this comment on the article from 'Samual' (clearly a fantastic speller):

Yo mindless fools are being brainwashed to believe that only white males are racists? What other PC dribble are you being exposed to. I can only think the next generation of twits. YOur PC correct institution is producing the future LOSERS of America. Transfer to a real school before it's too late!
What? At first I thought this might be a response to something in the opinion section, but there was nothing about racism in there either. So... yeah. That was random.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The NBA Shake-Up Principle

Gilbert tied it last night, and then his team decided to lose it for him.

Well, no one says the guy wasn't trying. In fact, he thinks he's trying very hard, and now is not afraid to say it.

I was talking to my colleague, jamoros, who runs Terp Soup (what is the deal with that history stuff, who writes that?), about the Wizards upcoming season. I know the first game doesn't really mean much, but you know you suck when you lose to the Pacers and Mike Dunleavy Jr. C'mon, man.

After thinking about it, and reading Bill Simmons' NBA preview, mostly for entertainment value, I believe that the Wizards will make the playoffs, but simply aren't set up to succeed once they get there.

I think they will be helped a lot by the "Roster Shake-Up Principle," a principle that I am officially committing to record.

A team that makes no drastic roster moves before a season is guaranteed to do no better than the season before, and often will end up worse.

Pertinent Examples:
- 06-07 Miami Heat
- 04-05 Minnesota Timberwolves
- The Pistons since their Championship in '04 (Darko doesn't count; Chris Webber is closest)
- 07-08 Cleveland Cavaliers... just watch...

It might seem that the Wizards would be hurt by this principle, given that only Nick Young qualifies as a major move, but the two corollaries to this principle are youth and injury (Michael Jordan used to be one as well). The "Big Three" (Arenas, Caron Butler and Antwan Jamison) hardly played together at all last season, and until Arenas and Butler went down in succession, the Wizards were cruising!

That said, I think that their lack of defense will hurt them, because playoff teams have great defense (see Pistons, Spurs). Brendan Haywood is pretty much busted, and Andray Blatche is going to have to make a BIG step to make this team a real contender.

Other observations, mostly based on the Shake-Up Principle:

- Spurs don't repeat; they succeeded last year mostly based on the return of a healthy Tim Duncan after plantar fasciitis, which he might still suffer from. They may still be strong, but their team is too old and walking on too many eggshells for me to say they're a title team.

- Suns seem like a trendy pick, but besides Grant Hill and D.J. Strawberry (who, despite my man crush, is not ready to be the solid role player yet), they haven't done much. Steve Nash's back isn't getting any better, and I predict he'll be out of the NBA in two seasons.

- Kevin will love this: Go Celtics. Their infusion of new blood was bold and they'll hate in two years, but this team will cruise on enthusiasm for at least a few months. You can't underestimate the power of momentum and raw desire. Those guys want that title. Even an injury won't kill them ... unless it's Garnett. But do you think this man will let an injury hold him back?

- Sleeper team of 07-08: The Bobcats. Yes, absolutely ridiculous. There's no reason to believe they'll stay healthy (and it's already hurting them), but I think that between Wallace, Okafor and Richardson, this has the makings of a team capable of a Warriors-type run. The D will be good and inside scoring shouldn't be a huge problem.

I know this will probably make me look like a fool next spring - you know, when the real season starts - but who knows? Just watch them 'Cats and you never know... MJ might have some magic left in him.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

No One Gets ESPNU

No one gets ESPNU.

This Saturday's clash between UNC and Maryland is being broadcast on ESPNU.

No one on campus even could get ESPNU if they really wanted to.

So why is this weekend's Maryland-UNC game on ESPNU????

This frustrates me to no end.

As for the game itself, it looks like Jordan Steffy could see some playing time. I think this is a good decision on Fridge's part - this season looks at least somewhat lost - there's no way Maryland is going to get anything better than a mid-level bowl unless we pull off the impossible and beat BC. (More on this later.)

So why not have a QB battle? Give Turner and Steffy an equal number of snaps in each game from here on out and see who performs better. Give the winner the starting job next year. Doing this will cool down a QB controversy that will inevitably happen next summer (although Josh Portis will be back) and probably the fairest way to determine who should actually be the starter.

As for UNC, I think Maryland is clearly better than the Tar Heels, but I thought that Maryland was clearly better than Virginia, too. UNC only has two wins - one against 1-AA James Madison, the other an upset over Miami. Most of their other games have been fairly close though - they lost by 3 at East Carolina, by 2 to Virgina, by 7 at Virginia Tech, and by 6 to South Carolina. Their other two losses were blowouts at the hands of South Florida (who was destroying everyone at the beginning of the year) and Wake Forest.

If Maryland was healthy, this would be a no brainer - but Maryland has so many injuries that they started two true freshman who were supposed to redshirt at fullback and on the offensive line last week. The injuries mean that the possibility of a UNC win needs to be considered, but I think the Terps will pull it out 17-13.

Maryland should beat UNC and NC State to get bowl eligible, but a seventh win might be needed to get into a bowl game. Where is that seventh win going to come from? The remaining two games are home versus #2 Boston College and at Florida State. The Terps beat Florida State last year, but that was in front of raucous crowd at Byrd Stadium. The more likely place for a victory, believe it or not, is against Boston College.

Yes, BC is really good. Yes, Matt Ryan should shred the Terps' shaky pass defense. But here's the thing - BC chokes. A lot. Despite hanging around the Top 25 for the past 10 years or so, the Eagles have one conference championship - and that was a four way tie with Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and West Virginia the year of an extremely weak Big East (Miami and Virginia Tech had left the conference, but BC had one year in purgatory). That year, they should have won the conference outright and gone to a BCS game, but choked horribly against Syracuse, allowing Diamond Ferri (fantastic name, I know) - who was actually a safety - to run for almost 150 yards and three touchdowns against them.

Then last year, they only had to beat a reeling Miami on Thanksgiving to clinch the ACC Atlantic. But, again, they lost, 17-14.

Sensing a pattern here? Whenever BC appears to be closing in on glory, they choke it away by losing to a team they shouldn't. This year, Maryland could be that team. I'm not saying it will happen, I'm just saying it could.