The Last Thing the Internet Needs Now


Random Missed Information
November 16, 2008, 12:01 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Jin-Soo Kim was declared eligible after all by the NCAA Clearinghouse to play ball at Maryland (scroll down). And so far, he’s okay (box score vs. Bucknell and exhibition box score vs. Northwood). I want to hope that exhibition performance will be a little more standard for him. Hopes seem high for the 6’8″ forward from Korea, who is coming off shoulder surgery.

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Rachel Maddow wubs me, but only because I often write this blog (which isn’t always political content) wearing pyjamas (or something otherwise useless for street wear that’s been “repurposed.”)

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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.

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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.



12.24/12.25, 2007

Seasons Greetings, dear readers (all five of you).

This is old, but great, and it works surprisingly well (NSFW language)

Awesome! These young ladies express their righteous scorn for MySpace better than I did earlier in this blog.

I still can’t begin to express my disgust that I was ever a part of that POS, and how much I enjoy sites that hold MySpace up to the ridicule it deserves. Mind you, I still have offline friends who use MySpace, and more power to them if that’s what they want to do, it just isn’t for me. And that’s completely aside from their buggy, rife-with-errors, and just-fuckin’ ugly site. Even uglier after users “pimp” their pages and/or put up some background so obtrusive that you can’t read the text on the page. That was another thing that just got on my nerves the more I explored other users’ pages.

The individual who persuaded me to start a MySpace account, well, we’re not communicating anymore. As much as I would like to go back and undo the things that made us become hostile towards one another — things that were largely my fault, but not all — I won’t be holding my breath for it. Fundamentally he is a warmhearted and good individual, and I wish him well in his life (and future profession) ongoing.

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But did they really have to can him on Christmas Eve? Now-former Bulls Coach Scott Skiles says the timing is neither here nor there, but still, geez, Christmas Eve.

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Who would have thought the Portland Trail Blazers would become the hottest team in the NBA? They are riding a 10 game winning streak and, led by reigning Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy, are getting solid contributions all around, but especially from Travis Outlaw, James Jones, and LaMarcus Aldridge. Underappreciated veterans Joel Przybilla and Steve Blake are also chipping in. This is a good, cohesive, talented team — despite its youth — that has vaulted to the upper tier of the NW Division standings.

On Christmas Day Night they will meet the Seattle Supersonics in a big game, but for different reasons than might have been the case a few months ago. Were circumstances different, this game would pit No. 1 overall draft pick Greg Oden against No. 2 overall draft pick Kevin Durant. Oden, of course, underwent microfracture surgery and won’t see an NBA court until next season; Durant is putting up great numbers for an otherwise woeful Sonics team. Now its an opportunity for a national audience to see a team that should be one of the NBA’s feel-good stories in action. What this means, of course, is … Portland cannot relax, because you’d better believe the Sonics would probably love to spoil that win streak and one of the precious few nationally televised games the Blazers will have this season.

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Maryland Terrapins fans — please try not to press the shiny, red, candylike panic button. Yes, it’s horrible and unacceptable that the Terps lost inter-conference home games to Ohio and American (!) in succession. It also leads to the inevitable questions about 19-year head coach Gary Williams and his future.

Bear in mind that these are questions that were asked when Maryland couldn’t get past the Round of 16 in the late 1990s. They were also asked a few short years ago when the Terps missed the NCAA Tournament altogether in 2005 and 2006 just a few short years removed from winning the whole thing.

For what its worth, the 62-year old Williams has now spent a significant portion of his lifetime connected with that institution: In the 1960s he played there under Bud Millikan, and graduated in 1968. When he took the job in 1989, he stated in so many words that this would be the last coaching job he would take (after successful runs at American, Boston College and Ohio State) and would not be looking to leave for another job. Given that he’s still there 19 years later, Williams clearly meant it. And early in his tenure he was clearly tested by the NCAA sanctions that Maryland incurred because of violations committed under predecessor Bob Wade. Williams rode out that storm, needless to say. I don’t question the man’s passion for coaching (although his passion for recruiting is often questioned by some observers) — or the institution he belongs to — at all.

A losing streak, or not making the NCAA Tournament is not the end of the world to me; program-killing or program-shaming NCAA sanctions can certainly be, for enough time that it can take a while to rebuild a program’s reputation.

College basketball is a funny thing, and a cyclical thing. Right now the cycle is not running in the Terps’ favor. The funny thing is, that cycle could rotate back once the team rights its ship and starts winning games. Remember last season when they got off to a horrid start in conference play and then closed the season with a run that included knocking off Duke (twice) and then UNC at home? While those losses to Ohio and American don’t look good on a tournament resume, it is NOT too late the right the ship this season. For that reason, I’m not willing to throw Gary Williams under the bus.

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I mentioned “cyclical.” This brings me to OU, who started their Christmas break by knocking off the then 20th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs last Thursday, on national television, in the All-College Classic.

Mark Few’s team was playing with a slightly-injured Matt Bouldin (ankle), a rusty Josh Heytvelt (who hadn’t played any kind of game since being suspended last February, and is recovering from foot surgery). However, despite being bothered by a knee, Jeremy Pargo went nuts against the Sooners (career-high 28 points). Pargo is the engine that makes the Zags go, and one of those kind of dangerous objects that you don’t want to leave unattended. So imagine my surprise when Pargo’s late-game shot was blocked by skinny little Austin Johnson, who of late has been playing some of the best basketball of his whole time at OU.

Pargo’s older brother Jannero, a reserve guard for the New Orleans Hornets, also has played on that same Ford Center court. The elder Pargo joined the Hornets before the 2006-2007 season, the last one of the Hornets’ temporary relocation to Oklahoma City in the wake of Katrina.

Despite Gonzaga’s semi-depleted state, this was still a statement game for the Sooners and second-year head coach Jeff Capel. The Sooners have been down for a while, and a win over a ranked (and well-regarded) foe is a milestone in Capel’s quest to bring Sooner basketball back to respectability.

I also think this helps in further distancing OU from the not-that-great last years of the Kelvin Sampson era (speaking of program-shaming NCAA violations).



Behold …
December 3, 2007, 5:30 pm
Filed under: Internet, Not exactly sports | Tags: , ,

Krzithead and TerpBE’s Hawaiian adventure …

Genesis

I will let the links speak for themselves.



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.