Thursday, July 26, 2012

FieldTurf of Dreams

"Install it, and they will come."

I cannot fully describe it.  She beckons me as I stroll across campus, her siren song luring me back for another look, another photo.

She seduces me, entices me to sneak in and get a closer look, a closer photo, a better angle to show off her beautiful colors.   I am drawn to her, like a supermassive black, red, white and gold hole whose gravitational force I surely cannot overcome.

Her white borders now shimmer clean and crisp, the tastefully done dark and light green turf giving me the urge to ramble across it.  I wonder how it will feel for our first Terp to cross into the Pride Zone, waving up to the students and alums as they roar their approval.

I take photos of her, again and again and again.  I do not tire as I attempt to cover every one of her angles, her sharp lines, the "pop" of the pride colors in her fine hair.

Soon, I will need to be out at the place we simply call Byrd. I will need to share her majesty with my fellow Terp loyalists I've sat with since the tough days of the early 90s.  I cannot shake her image in my mind.

Since I was able to hold a ball in my hand, I've been immersed in sports.  Playing, watching, talking about stats, players, coaches, fans - I've enjoyed every moment.

On Saturday, Sept 1st, at 3 PM, our Terps will provide me what I need.

And she will be my FieldTurf of Dreams.

Gossett Field House side Pride Zone

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Update - Yard Markers Set - 1 Pride Zone Complete

The first "Pride Zone" is complete.

The yard markers have been set.

The Maryland block letters are assembled at midfield.

The focus shifts to completing the Gossett Field House Pride Zone.  Things are moving faster than it appeared to me just yesterday.

Today seems like a far cry from sitting in Byrd Stadium last season for the difficult to watch Terps/UVa different quarterback per series debacle.

For a few reasons, some apparent, some not so apparent, I'm feeling the urge to get out in the stands and root our Terps football team on.  It is a fresh start - new top notch recruits, new field, "new" unis...

Here's my latest two from this morning (the lines were set yesterday afternoon):

The Pride Zone

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Peach Jam - Quick Summary - Terps Targets + more

With the just concluded Peach Jam tourney in our rear view mirrors, I am delivering on my promise to provide some commentary from a guest analyst who's been attending the entire Peach Jam for the past decade.

He's known as "MJDinkins" on the St. John's basketball boards, but I know him better as a Peach Jam regular down in north Augusta, SC, and a trusted eye for evaluating the skill sets and high Div. 1 potential of many Big East and ACC prospects through the years.

I will share MJ's comments/observations about current Terps targets.  One Caveat - there were not too many Terps recruits at the Peach Jam this year, and MJ's focus was mainly on SJ's targets.  

Additionally, for us Terps fanatics, I tried to get MJ to take a look at Jordan Strawberry (yep, DJ's brother - no, not Inside the Shell's "DJ" :); however, MJ wound up missing more games this year than previous years (it is pretty grueling for coaches, never mind avid fans, to sit through all the games).  Thus, he did not catch any of Jordan's games.

The Terps targets that Dinkins reviewed (unless noted) were:

BMore Elite
- Kam Williams
- Daxter Miles

Team Takeover (DC)
- Jairus Lyles

CIA Bounce
- RJ Currington (DNP)
- Tyler Ennis

California Supreme
- Jordan Strawberry (did not see Jordan play - see above)

1.  Kam Williams

H/T to Testudo Times & Ben Goldstein for his writeup on Kam after the Baltimore Elite/Houston Defenders tilt last week:

MJ's take on Kam - "Kam was finding ways to get buckets .... Whether, it was shooting it from deep; midrange, or getting layups, I came away believing this kid is a solid shooter."  [Ed. Note: Kam shot 52% from 3 point range]

2.  Daxter Miles

I didn't get to see enough of Miles to judge his game.  My comments: I'm not sure MJ wanted to see much of Daxter in the half of a game he watched.  Baltimore Elite finished 0-5 at the Peach Jam, and Daxter shot 32 FG% (16-50) and 17% (4-23) from behind the arc - ouch.

Baltimore Elite notable - DaQuien McNeil shot 61% from 2 point range while averaging 13 ppg.

3.  Jairus Lyles

"Stan Robinson and Will Ferguson stood out much more than Jairus Lyles during the game. Robinson has a sneaky game, where he slices his way to the basket for layups (hit a couple of tough, contested shots, as well). It seemed he and Ferguson were feeding off one another."   

4.   Tyler Ennis

Tyler hasn't been too prominent in Terps recruiting news lately for good reason, so he's already off the grid for the Terps.  But I'd still like to share MJ's thoughts: "Tyler Ennis, as we all know is a heckuva player. He is surrounded by solid talent, and the best player in the country, in Andrew Wiggins (this kid has incredible body control). Ennis seemed to be in two-guard mold, as he was looking for his short more so than facilitating when I watched. Nevertheless, he was AND can facilitate when need be. He showed the propensity to set up his teammates."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Update Tuesday, July 24th, 9:45 AM [1:40 PM] [11:15 AM]: Countdown Begins until Unveiling of "Pride Zone"

UPDATE #2: Tuesday, July 24, 9:45 AM => I took another shot this morning (see top photo).  The Gossett FH End Zone has begun to take shape.  The process of laying out the turf panels is much more difficult than I anticipated.  I now would estimate the end zones being completed early next week.

1:40 PM => I gained access inside of Byrd Stadium and just added two more photos - enjoy!

Well, the time has finally arrived.  With every white interlocking panel that is placed on the field, the "Pride Zone" end zones are slowly becoming a reality.

As you can see from the photos, the West End Zone, or my obviously dubbed "Pride Zone," is taking shape.

It appears that by close of business Wednesday or Thursday, both end zones will be complete in all their Maryland glory.  I'm sure hoping the news outlets receive some footage from the Terps' Athletic Department.  I've done my part and submitted my Pride Zone moniker just in case no one over in athletics has bandied it about just yet (highly unlikely, but stranger whiffs have happened than missing the Pride Zone).

For geeks like myself, I've attached the patent that FieldTurf obtained for their method of laying down the surface, including the interlocking panels: Pat 7,722,288 - Method of Installing a Synthetic Grass System (US Pat 7,722,288):

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Remaining July Evaluation/Tourney Period Schedule

For any that have not seen it yet, or want some additional news from me, here's the remaining July evaluation/tourney schedule:

July 18-21   Peach Jam   17U    Augusta, S.C. 
July 18-22   Big Foot Hoops Las Vegas Live    9U-17U    Las Vegas, Nev. 
July 18-22   Double Pump's Best of Summer   12U-17U    Anaheim, Calif. 
July 18-22   Under Armour Summer Jam        Milwaukee, Wisc.
 July 19-22   Best Buy Summer Classic   15U-17U   Bloomington, Minn. 
July 19-22   Fullcourt Press Cream of the Crop Challenge   15U-17U   Long Beach, Calif.
July 25-29   Big Foot Hoops Las Vegas Classic   9U-17U    Las Vegas, Nev. 
July 25-29   Double Pump Pump n' Run   12U-17U   Anaheim, Calif.
July 25-29   adidas Super 64   14U-17U    Las Vegas, Nev. 
July 26-29   Las Vegas Fab 48   15U-17U   Las Vegas, Nev.
July 28-31   Las Vegas Fab 48   11U-14U   Las Vegas, Nev.

Two local teams in the Final 24 pool are Baltimore Elite and Team Takeover.

As I previously mentioned in some of my earlier comments on this site, I have in fact landed a guest evaluator who will be at the entirety of the Peach Jam to provide his evaluation of the performances (especially from a skill set point of view) of Terp targets playing at the Peach Jam.  I am ironing out some details with him, but I will be sure to have him send his opinions of who is making waves during the 4 day Peach Jam extravaganza...more to come.

Here's what has transpired since the start of the month:
July 11-12   Fullcourt Press All-West Showcase   High School   Long Beach, Calif.
July 11-15   Eddie Ford's Summer Classic   11U-17U    Louisville, Ky. 
July 11-15   adidas Invitational    14U-17U   Indianapolis, Ind.
July 11-15   NY2LA Sports Next Level Invitational   14U-17U    Milwaukee, Wisc. 
July 11-15   Nike Skills School   High School   Washington, D.C.
July 12-15   Nike Global Challenge   International   Washington, D.C.
 July 13-15   Hall of Fame National Invitational   15U-17U   Springfield, Mass. 
July 13-15   Reebok Showdown Series Finals   16U-17U   Philadelphia, Pa.
July 13-15   Pangos Summer Sweet 16   17U   Long Beach, Calif.

Update: Terps Ground Crew Continues Laying Out Turf - 9:45 AM

Well, the new turf at Byrd Stadium continues to be laid down and is currently at about the 50 yard line or so.  The new End Zone is not ready for unveiling just yet.

Some other nuggets you may not see any where else but here deep Inside the Shell (@InsidetheShell1):

1)  Due to line of sight issues with some of the boxes in Tyser Tower, the field was actually moved 6 inches towards Gossett Team House.  This may create a slight problem resulting in the Testudo statue now located too close to the rear of the end zone.

2)  The Cannon shall now fire at the Visitor's side of the field after any Terps score. Seems like a great idea to let the visitors get concussed from the canon blasts.

3)  The turf itself accounts for the cooling effect of 15 degrees less at the surface than competitors' turf.

4)  The field is running slightly above cost due to the need to address some further potential drainage accommodations.  I'd rather it be done now than have a player suffer later with a bad injury.  The orange "tubes" Coach Edsall posted on Twitter while ago were actually a good sized diameter French drain network.

Here are some extra current shots:

Here's Fieldturf Tarkett Corp's link to show the different layered turf technology they employ:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Harrison Twins Don't Disappoint in Baltimore Debut

BALTIMORE --- In front of their extended family’s hometown, Aaron and Andrew Harrison amazed all those who came to see the two five-star recruits play against Nike’s Baltimore Elite yesterday night.

The duo lived up to every ounce of hype surrounding them in front of the jam-packed crowd at Baltimore City Community College, and the 100 or so Terps fans adorning Maryland pride jerseys, basketball jerseys or Under Armour gear associated with the school.

Yesterday night was about making a point and the Harrison twins did so with an exclamation mark. From the tip-off to the final whistle, the game was played at a dizzying fast pace. Spectators who didn’t turn their heads fast enough were sure to miss a highlight-reel play from either the twins or one of their teammates.

In the end, the Houston Defenders, an Under Armour sponsored team, walked out of the gym with their heads held high as they beat Baltimore Elite, 79-66.

One of the twins’ main connections to the city is their father, Aaron Harrison Sr., a Baltimore-native who played for Patterson High School in his playing days. Aaron Sr. coaches the Houston Defenders and oversees his sons’ recruitment, which as of recently has added a fifth school to their short list.

The twins are listing Baylor, Kentucky, Maryland, SMU and Villanova as being contenders for their services for the 2013 season:

Though they have kept which school is leading in their recruitment close to the vest, Baltimore Sun writer Connor Letourneau believes it’s really a two-horse race at this point:

"The Harrisons maintain they’re currently considering four or five colleges. Aaron consistently lists Kentucky, Maryland, Baylor and Villanova, while Andrew tacks on Southern Methodist.
 However, I couldn’t help but notice that both Aaron and Andrew listed Kentucky and Maryland first when asked to name their potential destinations Monday. They’ve followed this pattern in every other interview I’ve seen from them on the Internet.
 Am I overthinking this? Maybe. But I have a strong feeling this is a two-dog race.
 Kentucky makes sense for the twins for all the obvious reasons. It is a virtual factory for one-and-done prospects — which Andrew and Aaron both are — and would easily be a top contender for a national title with the Harrisons in Lexington.
 Maryland, on the other hand, has several strong connections with the Harrisons that could tip the scales in their favor. Their father and AAU coach, Aaron Harrison, Sr., is from Baltimore and is close friends with assistant coach Bino Ranson. The twins still have a considerable amount of extended family in the Baltimore area, and their friend and former Defenders teammate Shaquille Cleare figures to be an impact player on the Terps as a freshman this year.
 “It’s great,” said Aaron Harrison, who will make a joint college announcement with his brother on Oct. 28 (their 18th birthday). “My family’s down here, Shaquille Cleare, he played on my team last year, he’s down there.”" - Connor Letourneau

Though coaches were unable to attend the event per NCAA rules, Maryland fans received a small sample of what coach Mark Turgeon has been seeing since he was the coach of Texas A&M and the twins were ninth-graders in high school.

Aaron, the shooter, led all scorers with 35 points. When he wanted to get into the paint, he muscled his way into the paint. If he was looking to get a foul, he forced a number of players on the other team to foul him. And when he decided he didn’t want to do either of the former options, he stepped back and showed off his NBA shooting range, hitting shots from way behind the arc.

Andrew, on the other hand, had a modest game scoring wise, accumulating 14 points. Considered the better facilitator of the two, he displayed his ability to find the open man with a variety of tough and entertaining passes. He set up teammates with touch, no-look, behind-the-back, alley oop and even one between-the-legs passes resulting in a game-high seven assists.

Needless to say, the Harrison twin definitely lived up to the mounting hype surrounding them these days. What they also lived up to was the negative persona many have criticized them for as they have steadily ascended up the rankings.

The tension in the the gym was so palpable that any of the spectators at the game could have taken a knife and cut through it. From start to finish, the trash talking, fouls and verbal confrontations escalated.

If a player from Baltimore Elite said anything remotely insulting to the twins, they would rarely forego the opportunity to say something in retaliation. In fact one time, Daxter Miles shoved Aaron, and Aaron looked as though he was going to peg Miles with the ball until he reined it back in.

Another time, Andrew and Baltimore Elite coach Carlton Carrington exchanged some words as Aaron was shooting free throws. Andrew also yelled expletives after a number of missed free throws, and the twins spent more time criticizing than encouraging their teammates throughout the game.

While their talent and ability to give one of the five teams they’re considering a top five recruiting class is unquestionable, there are some negatives the pair brings to the table. Whether they’ll be worked out once they reach the collegiate level is yet to be seen.

That being said, the Harrison twins would still bring more pros than cons to Turgeon if he can convince them to come to College Park and play for the Terps. And if their father says he believes that coach Turgeon will help his boys become NBA-ready players, why shouldn’t Terpnation?

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Twins Return to Charm City

After participating in the Reebok Challenge in Philadelphia just four days ago, five-star guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison return to Baltimore, their father, Aaron Harrison Sr.’s hometown, for the city’s top AAU basketball event of the summer.

The Houston Defenders (Texas) will face off against Nike Baltimore Elite at Baltimore City Community College tonight at 7 p.m. Fans will be able to see ESPN’s 2013 top-ranked point guard in Andrew Harrison, and second-ranked shooting guard in Aaron Harrison.

Andrew, the unanimous No. 1 point guard nationally, and Aaron, Scout’s top-ranked shooting guard, are the priority for Maryland’s 2013 class and will be the main focus of tonight’s game. The Terps just reined in six recruits for the 2012 class, so coach Mark Turgeon and crew will have more energy to devote to a class many predict to be much smaller in 2013.

The Terps are not the only team courting the Harrison twins, however. The pair is also considering offers from Baylor, Kentucky, SMU and Villanova.

At the Rebook Challenge, Rival’s Eric Bossi explained that each of the five schools competing for the twins’ services had a coach in attendance at the camp: 

"Mark Turgeon of Maryland was there. So were SMU's Larry Brown, Villanova's Jay Wright, Baylor's Scott Drew and Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne to represent each of the twins' five finalists.
 Everybody in the gym saw the same thing, the Harrison brothers were just playing at a different level from anybody else on the floor. Their pace, their understanding of spacing, movement and high-skill levels make them both complete guards who are much more interchangeable than many believe." -Eric Bossi

Nike Baltimore Elite, on the other hand, does not lack for star power either. Led by four guards each holding high-major DI offers, tonight’s match should be a highly competitive affair for both teams. Mount St. Joseph’s (Md.) Kameron Williams, IMG Academy’s (Fla.) Daxter Mile, Vermont Academy’s (Vt.) Jamel Artis and Daquein McNeil all sport scholarships from high-major to mid-major schools, coach Carlton Carrington told the The Baltimore Sun.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m and tickets can be purchased at the door: $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Meet Terps Target Therence Mayimba

The American Dream is alive and well these days. Maybe harder to achieve, but that isn’t deterring those people who believe hard work, dedication and faith are all they need to get their slice.

In fact, Gabon-native Therence Mayimba said that was one of reasons he was motivated to come to the United States. The land of opportunity, offered him just that: A chance to achieve greatness and make his family proud.

“I came to the United States to take advantage of being in a good school, and basketball comes second,” Mayimba said. “That’s what I love, that’s what I want to do, that’s why I play basketball, but school comes first.”

The second of his parents’ three children, Mayimba said that while it was hard for his family to send him away, the prospect of going to a great school and possibly playing basketball in college and the NBA was enough for them to send him to America.

When he found out that he would be able to study and play in the U.S., he said he thanked God every day for his blessings and for being given an opportunity to show he is ready to do great things.

“I think God responded to me, so I feel like I have to be with him and thank him. God is everything to me,” Mayimba said.

A product of Joe Touomou, Mayimba said that he went to an African tournament with his country when he was approached by popular singer, Serge Maboma.

“He saw me play one day, and he told me what I am, what I play for and what I came from,” Mayimba said. “He told me that if I want to be a great player he can help me, ‘cause he knows some people who can help me to come to America.

“I tell [Touomou and Maboma] what I wanted to do, what was my dream, what was my purpose and [coach Touomou] trusted me. [Touomou] came and saw me play and said ‘Okay I’m going to help you out.’”

The rising junior at Montrose Christian (Rockville, Md.) said he wanted to make his family proud of him: He wanted to have his degree, to finish school and to then be an athlete.

Mayimba said he would like to major in engineering in college and that his favorite subject is math. He said his dad told him if he can do math, he can do anything and that has fueled his interest in not only math, but subjects that deal with infrastructure.

When he arrived in the United States nine months ago, Mayimba admitted there was a big culture shock. Coming from a country with a little over three million people and where sports are not nearly as celebrated as in the U.S., he said he had some major adjusting to do.

Overcoming the English language and the regions colloquial terms and phrases were some of the biggest challenges he while he transitioned to the American game.

“I was really confused, really confused cause it was weird,” Mayimba said. “I remember a teammate from Montrose Christian, every morning he used to tell me ‘What’s up?’, and I was like ‘What does that mean?’ I didn’t know what ‘what’s up’ meant.

“I have teammate named Kevin Zabo and he speaks French, so he helped me out with English and everything. I use to tell him not to speak too much French with me because I wanted to learn English really quick.”

Once Mayimba learned how to explain himself, everything became a lot easier he said. Practice, which was challenging due to the language barrier, was suddenly much less difficult, and once he picked up the American format of basketball, everything started running smoothly from there.

Well-known for his superb defense and ability to score, experts have frequently compared Mayimba to former Mustang Kevin Durant. Mayimba, a 200 lbs, 6’7 small forward, said his defense is his strength; whether it is help side, talking on defense or blocking an opponent’s shot. He simply loves playing defense.

On a team with six seniors ahead of him, Mayimba was unable to show this and received limited playing time as a sophomore. This year, however, he is an upperclassman, and his command English is leaps and bounds from where it used to be.

“I think I’m going to play a lot this year and explain to myself and prove to everyone that I can be a good player,” Mayimba said. “I know I’m going to start.”

But Mayimba said he doesn’t just want to start, he wants to flourish against Montrose’s nationally-ranked opponents. He said he loves playing against tough teams because it gives him an opportunity to measure his development.

As of now, Mayimba said the main thing he needs to work on is his shot. He said he knows that if he wants to reach the NBA, he will have to develop a more consistent shot and offensive arsenal.

Playing for Nike EYBL powerhouse Team Takeover (D.C.) 16U has helped Mayimba continue to refine his skills against some of the best competition in the country. A league that has produced NBA stars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dirk Nowitzki and Tony Parker, is helping Mayimba hone his defensive skills, while steadily improving his offensive repertoire.

Mayimba’s improved play has garnered the Scout 2014 top 60 player attention from a lot of different schools recently. Considered one of the best small forwards in his class, coaches are jumping on him early and trying to keep tabs on the rising junior.

“There are a lot of schools who are interested in me,” Mayimba said. “But I just send them to my coach, because I don’t really want to focus on college right now. I’m only going to 11th grade, I have to focus on school and working right now.

“I know a couple schools who are interested in me though: Indiana, Miami (Fla.), Villanova, Georgetown, Texas, Harvard, Virginia Tech and Maryland.”

Though he doesn’t have a favorite, Mayimba said he likes Maryland’s campus and has been to the school a few times with friends.

“I like the school,” Mayimba said. “They have a great program, they produce great players over there and I like the academic part the most."

Since he is focusing on school over the next year, Mayimba admitted that he doesn’t know that much about Maryland.

Regardless, he said a school’s basketball reputation will only be one factor in his decision to go there. Mayimba reiterated that a school’s academic prestige will weigh the most in where he decides to go.

“I’m not going to play basketball for my whole life,” Mayimba said. “I will have to stop basketball one day, so I will use my degree to have a good job and to take care of my family.”