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Scoping Just the Teams I Remotely Care About: Maryland Terrapins
October 28, 2007, 11:54 am
Filed under: Sports | Tags: , ,

(Part Two of a series. Part One is HERE. Parts 3 and 4 are coming).

Last season’s Maryland Terrapins were, for the most part, an uplifting and joyful affair by comparison to the two previous seasons where the Terps failed to punch an NCAA dance card. Missing the NCAAs certainly had to be a motivating factor for seniors Mike Jones, Ekene Ibekwe, DJ Strawberry and Will Bowers, who had not sniffed the dance since their freshman seasons (if memory serves, in the 2004 NCAAs they defeated Texas-El Paso in the first round, then lost to Syracuse in the second round).

Freshman guards Greivis Vasquez (6-5, 9.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.6 apg) and Eric Hayes (6-3, 4.8 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.9 apg) plus juco transfer Bambale Osby (6-8, 5.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg) contributed early and often to a team that had its downs early in the conference season (3-6 at one point) but served notice late that they weren’t going to go away. Their late-season power surge was punctuated by sweeping Duke (for the second time in as many seasons) and stunning then-#3 North Carolina at College Park in a come-from-behind thriller that was one of the best upsets of last season. Upending the Tar Heels virtually ensured the Terps their first NCAA berth since the 2003-2004 season (when they earned the automatic bid by winning the ACC Tournament). Sadly, their time in the Tournament ended with a second round loss to Butler in a game in which the Terps stayed close in the second half but never really caught up with the Bulldogs, and we won’t discuss what happened in the final seconds of that game because Blog Mom does not want to rehash it, thankyouverymuch.

Senior F James Gist (12.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg) is on record as one who will not be content with an early NCAA exit in his last go-round and it’s expected that he’ll be the demonstrative senior leader. He was also one of the reasons that Maryland led the ACC in blocked shots last season. One thing he needs to work on is offensive consistency in the post. I expect that Osby will contribute much more in this, his final year of collegiate eligibility.

I think the fiery Vasquez — who seems to thrive in hostile settings given his near triple-double that helped deflate the raucous Cameron Crazies — was unfairly snubbed for ACC Freshman of the Year. I expect he’ll be a vocal leader as well. Vasquez and his somewhat more sedate foil, Eric Hayes, are both inclined towards passing which is something that keeps the Terps’ famously hotheaded coach in something resembling his happy place. Hayes, who was sometimes compared to Steve Blake both in physical resemblance and tendency to calm things down while running the offense, was also the Terps’ best FT shooter last season (91.2%), a high mark on a team that has tended to struggle at the foul line.

“IN-A-PERFECT-WORLD” TWADDLE — Gist and Vasquez make first-team All ACC and Gist also makes first-team All-America; the Terps have another late-season power surge that culminates in winning the ACC Tournament and the automatic NCAA bid. And no second-round exit …

REAL WORLD SLAP IN THE FACE — … IF the Terps can find a way to compensate for the defensive play of Strawberry and, in general, the 39 or so points they lost with Strawberry, Jones and Ibekwe, AND if the sophomore backcourt continues to develop (I don’t see why they wouldn’t). So far they are being tabbed to finish in the middle of the ACC pack, which is probably to be expected for a team that lost that much offense.

LAST YEAR — 25-9 (10-6 conference); Eliminated Davidson, 82-70, NCAA First Round; Eliminated by Butler, 62-59, NCAA Second Round.

NEWBIES — Adrian Bowie (6-2 G, Greenbelt, Maryland/Montrose Christian); Jerome Burney (6-9 F, Atlanta, Georgia; redshirted last season); Braxton Dupree (6-8 C, Baltimore, Maryland/Calvert Hall); Dino Gregory (6-7 F, Baltimore, Maryland/Mount St. Joseph); David Pearman (6-6 F, Columbia, Maryland/Oakland Hills); Cliff Tucker (6-6 G/F, El Paso, Texas/Chapin); Shane Walker (6-10 F, Alexandria, Virginia/Montrose Christian).

If Bowie is as good as his promise, I really, really, really want to nickname him “Starman” for some reason.

GOODBYES — Ekene Ibekwe (F, 10.4 ppg, 7.8 rpg); Mike Jones (G, 13.8 ppg. 3.2 rpg); DJ Strawberry (G/F, 14.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.0 spg). The team also lost reserve C Will Bowers.

HEAD COACH — Gary Williams (Maryland, 1968; heading into his 19th season at College Park)

EARLY SEASON MATCHUP TO WATCH — ACC/Big 10 Challenge, November 28, 2007, versus Illinois. I mean, come on, is it the ACC/Big 10 Challenge or the ACC/Big 10 Beatdown, because the ACC pretty much owns this thing. The two teams met — at Illinois — in last year’s, uh, “challenge” and the visitors prevailed 72-66.

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[…] Scoping Just the Teams I Remotely Care About: Maryland Terrapins (Part Two of a series. Part One is HERE. Parts 3 and 4 are coming). Last season’s Maryland Terrapins were, for […] […]

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