Random thoughts from the local sports scene that are bouncing around the cranium this week…
* I don’t know about you, but this current Maryland men’s basketball team is probably the most forgettable group ever assembled during Gary Williams’ tenure in College Park. No inside presence, very little depth, a repeated inability to play cohesive team defense and a lack of a true “go-to” player all add up to the debacles like last night’s in Chapel Hill and the embarrassment in Durham two weekends ago. For a guard-dominated team, there sure aren’t many good ones on this roster. In my opinion, Adrian Bowie has to play 30 minutes a game at point guard and settle that position once and for all. That would allow more freedom off the ball for Greivis Vasquez to come off of screens and play a little closer to the rim (because, Lord knows, he’s just not very good from way outside). More Sean Mosely can’t hurt either. But unless and until Braxton Dupree and Dino Gregory contribute much more significantly, this Terps team is doomed to finish with a maximum of 6 ACC wins. Just look at the remaining schedule and tell me how they can finish the second half of conference play at 6-2 (which is what it will taje to go 9-7 and be a legitmate “bubble” team come NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday). Wake, Duke, UNC, Clemson and Virginia Tech are all significantly better than Maryland and will assure the Terps another NIT trip.
As for the status of Gary Williams, it appears he will at least get another year to straighten out the current problems in the program. At least as it regards recruiting, this is a positive development. Any appearance of internal conflict could easily chase away potential Terps, no matter how highly or lowly regarded they may be. And right now, this program needs all the talent it can possibly unearth.
* So Ty Wigginton is a Baltimore Oriole? I guess I’ll upgrade from that 13 game plan to a 29 game plan now. I mean really. How much more of this type of mediocrity are all lifelong Oriole fans supposed to swallow? I understand that every major league team needs depth and versatility for the rigors of a six month season, but exactly how does having Wigginton fit in? Is this a preliminary move that clears the way later this year to trade Melvin Mora (assuming he waives his no-trade clause, which I would imagine he’d be happy to do by mid-July when they’re 22 games out) or even, perhaps, Brian Roberts? There simply appears to be an overabundance of utility players on this current roster. Wigginton, Chris Gomez, Ryan Freel. Awfully inspiring.
* Speaking of the Orioles, I brought this up on-air the other day while filling in for Nestor. Why wouldn’t the team have any interest in Manny Ramirez? I know the answer already ($$$$), but why wouldn’t you at least explore something along the lines of two years? He could be the everyday DH, hit a ton in Camden Yards, stick it to Boston and New York 38 times a year, and show some of the younger players how to be a complete major league hitter. And don’t give me the argument about Manny taking away at-bats from Felix Pie or Luke Scott. Really, who cares? If you’re telling me that people wouldn’t be much more inclined to go see the Orioles on a Tuesday night in June against Seattle because Manny’s in the lineup, I’d tell you you’re lying. The guy is the best right-handed hitter available, a certain Hall of Famer and a draw. Oh, right, I forgot, who cares about selling tickets when MASN is lining the hallways of the Warehouse with cash. Silly me.
* Money, money, money. We’ll be hearing plenty of talk about it over the next month as the Ravens map out their future with the pending free agents. My guess is that Ray Lewis has played his final game as a Raven; he will simply take the highest offer, and the Ravens will choose not to match. The two most critical pieces to retain are Terrell Suggs and Jason Brown. After that, it will be “right player, right price” as the team rebuilds for ’09. And every one of us that cares about the team should not go insane about any of the moves this front office makes until the season is played. As I recall, there was an awful lot of yammering and Ozzie bashing last April, May, etc. about his draft manueverings and picks, free agents, trades, etc. Be patient, everyone, and give this entire front office a little credit as the off-season plays out. More often than not, the moves work. Which is the most critical reason behind the franchise’s success over the past decade.
* Early Final Four hunch: Duke, Marquette, UConn, Michigan State