Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Where do they go from here? The post championship world of UK (Part I)

We've read the seemingly logical rationales.  

We've heard all the partly rational, partly irrational chest-humping comments from the supposedly greatest  NBA-ready player factory university ever known to mankind as to why "they" are crazy not to take a seat at their beloved big, fat, Cal arranged basketball wedding, and join the Kentucky "family."  Still, the Harrisons may not choose the almighty Cats.

Sure, as a basketball player at the University of Kentucky, they'll recognize you out on the street, because there essentially won't be anyone like you on the street.  And if you snub them, they'll turn their post 2009-onward entitled chins up at you and move on to their next quarry.  If you don't think so, ask Rick Pitino.  They excoriated ol' Ricky right after he left for the Celtics, even before he moved back in state to the hated Louisville Cardinals (in Lexington, at least).  Never mind that Rick felt he had something to prove, some extra glory to possibly attain in the NBA with a lot of "his" guys.  He was bad, "foul," and was sworn to eternal basketball coaching damnation by the loyal fanatical Kentucky basketball "family."

Kentucky's administration was leery of Cal the first go round after Tubby left, so they took a seemingly safe choice that didn't have the lingering stench of players who crossed the wrong side of the NCAA (or "2A" as Tark liked to mockingly call them) rules.  Cal was recognized by many as having performed a nice "reach around" on the rules with the beautifully orchestrated Laurinburg Prep recruit funneling scam.  Little did they know, the charismatic, lock-down recruiter in Billy Gillespie, who like Cal, had a penchant for bringing in top talent, was a functional (soon to be dysfunctional) alcoholic who would derail his fast rising coaching career quick enough.

So in the aftermath of the crash of the BG Express, and with pressure growing from the fan base by the day, they took the plunge.  The next coach had to be able to right the ship, get their guys winning again - fast.  They threw caution to the wind, knowing full well he would immediately inject a group of top recruits he had already secured into his 1st year's squad.  It was now worth the risk.

It played out oh so brilliantly.  This charismatic leader worked the alumni, the fans, the students, like no other coach had - including Rick.  The instant rush of success energized the fan base.  NOW this was their team, a team that was winning.  The disappointments of the past 10 seasons would soon wash away.  He was cleansing the stain of losing.  He now could do things the "right' way, using the drawing power of a school's basketball history to be his leading line when wooing potential "clients."  He could sell anything, regardless of whether or not he previously sold his coaching soul by looking the other way for the many years up until this magical moment of recruiting nirvana.

Forget the statistics, the UNC and Duke dominated top-10 recruiting landscape of the past 30 years.  It was different now, and like a mighty comet, he shined brightly, deftly maneuvering his way through the runners, through the "representatives," through the power brokers who, in the eyes and words of one top recruit, made the recruit feel like they "owned" him.  The recruiting world was Cal's oyster, Cal slurping up every last bit of the gold recruiting juice along the way.  He felt unstoppable, as if nobody could prevent his undeniable recruiting inertia.  The basketball world, including the hardwood, would soon be his to dominate.

All cylinders hummed along, recruiting operating at a peak these last four years like no other school had done since UCLA in the 1960s.  In 2012, it finally arrived.  His long awaited national championship trophy.  It was all worth it.  The grinding at UMass, toiling away to build up the little red fire engine that could; the out of control, paranoid days of trying to manage his dysfunctional organizational set up with the New Jersey Nets; the gamely Laurinburg Prep recruiting approach, building up Memphis to its former Final Four glory during the Keith Lee era.  Yes, it was now all worth it - Cal finally was "king of the (basketball) world."  No one could dispute this fact any more.  The detractors could all now officially stuff it.

The next phase has begun.  How will the recruits respond this year, in ensuing years?  Will they still have the perception and belief that Cal's "system" will get them to their NBA destination, or that playing with other top talent gets them to the pros by a law of increasing returns?  Currently, many say yes, this is the sure way, the guaranteed way to the top of the draft board.  Little do some realize, the fanatical beast is still hungry, wanting to engorge itself on Cal's next recruiting meal.  The family has become greedy, needing to sit at the table for feast after feast, year after year - it is expected.  All is good in their world right now. The late 1990s through 2008 are a distant memory.  But at some point in time, the recruits are going to see it, feel it.  While the coach loves many, the fanatics have conditional love, one based upon winning, and winning alone.  They, like us, are human.  We all want to win badly - it's ingrained in us from a very young age.  At what point will the fan base cross the Rubicon to yearly unrealistic expectations, with the only thought that their "family members" better play beyond good.  What happens when Cal, after seemingly accomplished as much as he possibly feels he can, bolts five years from now to follow Rick's footsteps to wipe the big blemish from his coaching transcript?

Next:  The Up and Comers Try to Spoil the Recruit Entitlement Party


Monday, October 1, 2012

9 years ago today, a super Terps alum passed away

He was a father of two terrific boys ... a great husband, then boyfriend ... an engineer ... the friend everyone wanted to hang around because we just knew we were going to have a great time when he was there ... a Terps alum, and above all, a die hard, all-sports, all-the-time Terps enthusiast.

Mark was originally a scholarship soccer player at William and Mary, got hurt, then saw the Terps Light and entered the Engineering program at Maryland.  He was in school during the heady days of Buck Williams and Boomer - it was a great time to be a Terps fanatic.

Mark carried his love of all things UMD until the day he passed nine years ago today.  I attended the many games and all those fun tailgates and parties thanks to our mutual good friends Noel & Carla, who also coordinated our season tickets.  We avidly watched all through Gary's tenure as the Terps made the Rise Back Up (cue in The Roots' Rising Up - I still wish for The Roots performing at midnight madness, with Wale making a guest appearance ;). I will cherish the 14 years I knew Mark for the rest of my life.  Mark embraced life, and the only thing that could slightly deter Mark was the fact that doctors could not diagnose his rare blood disease, amyloidosis, quickly enough.  It was discovered too late, and this world lost a terrific person, even if in body only.

Some of you that attended Terps games may remember Mark at Cole Field House or Byrd Stadium - he was the crazy guy cheering the Terps on good or bad ...  the guy dressing as Jerry Garcia around Halloween at Cole if the mood hit him that particular year.

Here's to you Mark, may your Terps spirit live on forever...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Great News - Kansas Ups and Extends Bill Self's Contract

It will probably register a small blip on the national basketball scene, but for many "worry wart" Terps basketball fans who have an almost fully bloomed deep affection for Coach Turgeon, this is really big news.

The worries appear to be over - Bill Self just had his contract extended through 2021-2022 (and 3.8 Mil per season + incentives) with Kansas University.  A heavy sigh of relief is being heard from every Terps fan that has speculated that the only way our beloved Turge would leave the Terps perch is if Self were to jump to the NBA.

Judging from Self's comments in today's CBS article, he is not going anywhere anytime soon.  Which suits us Terps fans just fine. Congratulations Coach Self - you may have just preserved what we consider our #TerpNation DMV National treasure!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Sad News - Former Terp Baller Earl Badu passes away at age 33

The Washington Post's Alex Prewitt reports that former Terps Basketball Walk-On Earl Badu has passed away at age 33.

Reflecting back on Earl's years on the Terps squad, I fondly recollect calling for Earl to get in the game along with about 14,500 other Terps fans filling Cole Field House during the magical 2002 National Championship season. "We want Earl, We Want Earl," would be Terps fans' siren song to Gary Williams, in the hops Gary would get Earl at least a couple of minutes during some secure Terps contests.

Rest In Peace Earl.  I am reminded to enjoy every day, every game I can play in or spectate.

Last Game at Cole Field House - Earl Badu Enters the Game - YouTube

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Randy Edsall Interview with ABC College Football All-Access

So, Randy Edsall did an interview with ABC College Football All-Access tonight, and overall....Eh.  I was eager to see a) what he had to say and b) if his dismal PR skills improved.  Lets just say, I was under impressed.  I didn't expect too much out of the interview to be honest, but I could of figured all that came out the interview without watching.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

More Bad News: Andre Monroe out for the year

According to Inside Maryland Sports, Andre Monroe has injured his knee and will miss the entire 2013 season with surgery scheduled for Thursday.  To further the problem, his backup Issiah Ross is out for at least 2-3 weeks as well with his own injury.

And it doesn't stop there, another star defensive player was injured as well.  More on that after the break.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Terps Notebook

[4:13 p.m.] UPDATE:

On Wednesday, The Diamondback reported that starting safety Matt Robinson injured his shoulder in the morning drills. The Washington Post announced today that he will have to sit out three weeks and miss the opening game of the season against William & Mary.

Robinson's replacement is a local-known product in freshmen Sean Davis of Maret (D.C.). Davis jumped onto a few teams radar after a strong showing at camps at Maryland and North Carolina.

He committed to the Terps over offers from North Carolina, Connecticut, Boston College, Towson, James Madison, Ohio and Marshall.

As it stands, Maryland is set to have three freshmen play key roles in the home-opener against W&M.


It has been an eventful week for the Terps football and men's basketball team.

There have been many exciting highs, and a few devastating lows.

Since the good outweighs the bad, I’ll start with the bad news:

On Wednesday afternoon, the BaltimoreSun interviewed Terps’ coach Randy Edsall after he announced earlier that starting QB C.J. Brown would miss this season after suffering a torn ACL during the afternoon two-minute drills of practice.

“I'm very devastated for C.J. as I watched him put in all this hard work to be the starting quarterback at the University of Maryland, to see it go away with one cut is just heartbreaking," Edsall said to the Sun.

From the ruins, three things have been made clear by Edsall, however: true-freshman Perry Hills is the new starting QB, this team is built on strong character and lastly that the offense will not change as a result of the QB change.

Edsall said in the same press conference that Hills of Central Catholic in Pittsburgh will take over as the No. 1 QB moving ahead.

“As much as I'm devastated for C.J. and upset about it for him, I'm also excited about it for Perry and Caleb; that was one of the reasons why we recruited them to come here," Edsall said to the Sun.

Secondly, Devin Burns, who was recruited to play QB for the Terps by former coach Ralph Friedgen and then converted to the WR position last season, will now take snaps with the third-team offense.

“Devin Burns came in to see me and he said, 'Coach, I really think I can help the team at quarterback' and that was before I got the result of the MRI that C.J. had," Edsall said to the Sun. “After we got the results, I brought Devin back in and said, 'You'll come in and work with the 3s. It showed that guys were concerned about how they could help the team.”

And last but not least, even though neither Hills nor fellow freshman Caleb Rowe has taken a collegiate snap, Edsall explained that both players have taken the same kind and amount of reps that Brown was taking, and that he has the utmost faith in Hills’ ability to lead the offense.

"We felt that they were outstanding football players that would have the opportunity at some point in their career to help the University of Maryland win football games,' Edsall said to the Sun. "It just so happens that that opportunity is going to come this year in their freshman year.”

Now since I hate to be the bearer of bad news, let’s get to the good news shall we?

Meet Your New Quarterback: Perry Hills

Via the Baltimore Sun:

*Hills checks in at 6 feet 2, 205 pounds, and in his senior season threw for over 2,000 yards, 13 touchdowns and two interceptions.

*He was an all-star for not only the football team, but also a standout wrestler in the state. Hills’ high school is also fairly notably as it has produced talents such as Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino and former Rams-great Marc Bulger.

* Hills was ranked 29th in the country for quarterbacks by A three-star recruit, he picked Maryland over West Virginia, Temple and Kent State.

In a Sun article published today, Hills’ high school coach Trent Totten had this to say about the Terps’ starting QB:

“He can make all the throws," Totten said to the Sun. “He's not prone to [interceptions]. And I tell you another thing, the kid can run. The kid is a weapon as a runner.

“He's a leader, he's tough, he will be in command of the huddle," Totten said to the Sun. "I think everyone will be pleasantly surprised by how he leads the football team. He's got a ton of potential and nobody will outwork him.”

Now of course one has to take this with a grain of salt because Hills has yet to play in an actual game, but if a coach who has played with one of the all-time best quarterbacks in history says he’s prepared, one has to feel good about the kid. 

Meet Your Starting Running Back: Brandon Ross

The Diamondback reported this morning that coach Edsall has named the team’s starting running back for the season:

“If we had to start today, Brandon would be the starter,” Edsall said Tuesday to the Diamondback. “There are just some things that he’s done. He’s been very consistent.”

Of course, that hardly means the Terps aren’t still planning to regularly use several running backs this season. Ross and Pickett are both working with the first string in practice, and Brown and Reid are each seeing plenty of opportunities with the second unit.”

After stellar performances during the spring the redshirt freshman is now in line to start for the Terps in their first game of the season against William & Mary.

Surprise, Not Surprise: 

In the same Diamondback article, Edsall announced that freshman Stefon Diggs looks to be the top-return man for the team.

“He’s shown he can do things,” Edsall said to the Diamondback. “He’s a quick learner, and I’ve been very pleased with his poise in terms of catching the ball and understanding everything I’m looking for in a return guy.”

In Football Recruiting News: 

The Washington Post reports McDonough’s Na’Ty Rodgers, a four-star recruit on, has narrowed his list to five schools that he intends take official visits to this fall — Arkansas, Maryland, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington.

The highest-ranked uncommitted player left in the state, receiving a commitment from Rodgers would be a huge statement for Terps’ the recent in-state movement.

His father, Tyrone, was a defensive lineman for both OU and Washington, and has urged his son to pick the school he feels is the best fit and most comfortable for him.

Rodgers' commitment timetable:

“[Rodgers] plans to make his oral commitment after making all five visits, which he said will give him plenty of time to make the right decision.

Over time, “schools really show their true colors,” Rodgers, who hopes to major in architectural engineering or business management, said to the Post. “It’s easy to recruit a kid for a week and a half or send him a letter every two weeks, but if they stay on your for your entire high school career that shows you something right there.”

Architectural engineering or business management? Well Terps if for no other reason than academics, Maryland’s academic prowess in those two majors should make them hard to beat in comparison to the other schools.

I mean, Maryland is a Public Ivy, which is something those other schools can’t brag about on an official tour.

In Basketball Recruiting News: 

The Sun caught up with Terps’ target Roddy Peters after his unofficial visit to the school. After receiving an offer from Mark Turgeon on his 18th birthday, Peters said Turgeon and crew have been making a serious push on him.

The Suitland-standout has ascended up recruiting boards after a terrific summer with local AAU powerhouse, D.C. Assault, and now ranks No. 42 in his class and No. 2 in the state behind DeMatha C BeeJay Anya.

Peters currently holds offers from Georgetown, Maryland, Memphis, Rugters, Seton Hall, UCLA and Xavier.

Here’s what Peter had to say on the visit:

“It went really good. I liked it,” Peters, whose rapid summer ascent landed him at No. 16 overall in the most recent update of the 247Sports rankings, said to the Sun. "They took me around to see everything, I got to see the dorms, talked to a couple of the players [Nick Faust and Pe’Shon Howard], met the trainers … They just said that they really want me at Maryland. That’s what [my mom] liked. Coach Turgeon told me he really wanted me. She likes them."

“[Turgeon] told me how I can come in and be a point guard, how he thinks I fit the style,” he continued to the Sun. “Of course, they were all saying that I should commit, but I still want to weigh my options.”

On his impending commitment:

“At first everyone thought I would commit [when Maryland offered], but I have all types of schools now. It’s really all about where I’m most comfortable,” he said to the Sun. “I’ve got some thinking to do. I think I’ll commit during basketball season.”

For the last two weeks, Peters has maintained that he would not only mind playing with the Harrison twins, but that he actually welcomes the possibility because he wants to win. Though neither side has talked, having a 2013 class composed of three top-50 players would do nothing but good for the Terps moving forward.