The Last Thing the Internet Needs Now


Scoping Just The Teams I Care About, 2008-2009 Edition (UPDATED 12:14 p.m. 2008.11.01)
November 1, 2008, 4:27 am
Filed under: Sports | Tags: , , ,

This year it’s just going to be in one post instead of two.

Oklahoma Sooners (last year’s results: 23-12, 9-7 Big 12, eliminated by Louisville in NCAA 2nd round)

HI! — Willie Warren, T.J. Allen, Juan Pattillo, Orlando Allen, Kyle Cannon. Ryan Wright (UCLA transfer) becomes eligible to play this season.

BYE! — David Godbold, Longar Longar (departed seniors); Tony Neysmith (transferred to Auburn).

HEAD COACH — Jeff Capel (Duke, ’97; third season)

Roster

Schedule

Clearly expectations for OU reached a new level after Blake Griffin announced last April that he would return to school instead of entering the NBA Draft. As this year’s Big 12 It Boy, B-Griff will be the focal point of what is expected to be a more athletic — and scarily so — Sooners team, one to which Capel hopes to introduce a more aggressive style of play.

Joining him will be freshman combo guard Willie Warren, who averaged 24.9 points and 4.7 assists while leading his high school to the Texas 5A State Championship. Hopefully the 6’4″ Warren will transition nicely to college ball, and under Jeff Capel’s tutelage, should (here’s a general taste of him from the Texas state championship game, and a little of him from the last McDonald’s All-American game).

Juan Pattillo, a 6’6″, 218 lb. forward, averaged 17.7 ppg and 6.7 rpg for the College of Southern Idaho last season and also expects to contribute to the Sooners early and often, as should Ryan Wright, the UCLA transfer who’s been penned up for a year in Transfer Kid Limbo Land, or as Capel put it to the Blue Ribbon Yearbook (posted on espn.com):

When you’re unable to do something you really love, you appreciate it even more, and there’s greater value added to it. I think we’ll see that in Ryan this year.

Game to Watch: Surely an emotional one on December 20 when the Sooners host Virginia Commonwealth at the All-College Classic (Ford Center, and please don’t call it the Thunderdome). VCU is the program that Capel helped turn into a winner and his successor, Anthony Grant, has continued to build upon. VCU is the favorite to repeat as champions of the Colonial Athletic Association. Warning: VCU has a way of upsetting teams on big stages.

Cold Hard Slap In the Face — Oklahoma still needs to be more consistent in the backcourt — Warren is still an unknown, but upperclass backcourt players Austin Johnson and Tony Crocker have the moxie and the experience to know what its like to play in the Big 12. B-Griff excelled at virtually everything except free throw shooting — need to look for improvement there.

——————————————-

Maryland Terrapins (last season: 19-15, 8-8 ACC, eliminated by Syracuse in NIT 2nd round)

HI! — Sean Mosley, Steve Goins, Jin-Soo Kim (awaiting NCAA clearance) (updated)

BYE! — James Gist, Bambale “Boom” Osby (departed seniors); Shane Walker (transferred to Loyola-MD)

HEAD COACH — Gary Williams (Maryland, ’68; 20th season)

Roster

Schedule

Once upon a time, after the dreadful probation years but before the back to back Final Fours and NCAA crown, it used to be, “Gary Williams can’t get us past the Sweet 16, so he should maybe be canned next year … ”

Fast forward to 2008. The Terps haven’t made it to the NCAA Sweet 16 since 2003 (the final year for stalwarts like Steve Blake, Drew Nicholas and Tahj Holden). In fact, the Terps haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament three out of the past four years (their last appearance was in 2007, where they were eliminated by Butler in the 2nd round). Will this change this season? Hard to say. At least one preseason rag, Athlon’s, has given us the basketball-preview equivalent of being told you’ve been given a timed-release poison and will be dead in 24 hours:

It will be hard for fans not to bemoan the offseason losses of [Gus] Gilchrist and Tyree Evans, a 3-point specialist who signed with Maryland in the spring but saw his history of legal troubles prompt a media backlash. Their departures signaled the latest setback for a program that is no longer a legitimate contender in the ACC, much less on the national stage.

Maryland now enters the season undermanned and under scrutiny. If Williams can will the Terrapins into NCAA Tournament consideration, it will be one of the more impressive accomplishments of his career. If not, he will be forced to answer questions about the direction of his program.

Well, the truth sucks in this case, but at the end of the day this observer still believes there are only three circumstances under which the venerable Williams will quit coaching at Maryland:

a. His own death
b. Debilitating illness
c. He’ll hang it up on his own volition

Even though there was yet again no NCAA Tournament, it isn’t like they stunk up the joint. They were still (barely) above .500 overall and went dead even in the ACC — including an upset of North Carolina at the Dean Dome (although it isn’t like the Terps haven’t done that before). OTOH, back to back interconference losses to Ohio and American University were black marks on Maryland’s tournament resume early.

Simply put, to shut the naysayers up, the Terps are simply going to have to do a little better than whacking around on That Other ACC Coach Named Williams And His Merry Band Of Almighty All-America BMOCs. ACC writers have the Terps finishing in seventh place in the conference, above Georgia Tech, NCState, Florida State, Boston College and Virginia (FWIW, the usual suspects: UNC and Duke are at the top, followed by in no particular order Wake Forest, Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech).

What do the Terps need to do to help make the ACC a free-for-all after UNC and Duke? They’re stable in the backcourt with juniors Greivis Vasquez (17 ppg, 6.8 apg, 5.7 rpg, 37.0 mpg; underwent ankle surgery in the offseason) and Eric Hayes (9.9 ppg, 4.5 apg, 3.3 rpg last season). It’s under the basket where the team has lost experience and muscle with the departures of Gist and Osby, meaning that Braxton Dupree (2.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 10.3 mpg last season) and Jerome Burney (1.8 ppg, 1.6 rpg. 7.0 mpg) need to step up and learn quick. If not, Williams is reportedly ready to play a four-guard lineup, in which case I’d expect to see 6’4″ freshman guard Sean Mosley, the most talented recruit that kept his commitment to Maryland.

Games To Watch: Old Spice Classic, Orlando, Florida, November 27-30 … the Terps open against Michigan State, and could possibly face Oklahoma State or Gonzaga in the next round. The Terps edged Michigan State in a memorable Coaches vs. Cancer classic two years ago, but there’s been almost a complete personnel turnover since those days (Vasquez and Hayes were freshman guards that season). OTOH, Maryland is 0-2 versus Gonzaga in this century (December 2003, BB&T Classic; November 2005, Maui Invitational). If they wind up facing Oklahoma State, it would be the first meeting between the schools since December 16, 1966 (Maryland won 50-49. Get out your media guide and look it up. That’s what I did).

One of the guards on that 1966-1967 team was some kid named Gary Williams. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.

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