Tag Archive | "Cliff Tucker"

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Terps battle, fall short in 71-64 loss to No. 1 Duke

Posted on 10 January 2011 by Luke Jones

It’s a theme becoming all too familiar for Gary Williams and the inexperienced Terps this season.

They’ve competed admirably against the better teams on their schedule, still managing to fall short every time.

But when you consider Maryland had lost its previous two trips to Cameron Indoor Stadium by a combined 62 points — with Greivis Vasquez leading the way, mind you — it’s hard to feel too discouraged after a narrow 71-64 loss to top-ranked Duke Sunday night.

In a game even the most optimistic fans didn’t give the Terps much of a chance to win, they scratched and clawed for 40 minutes, giving the undefeated Blue Devils everything they could handle. Maryland dictated the tempo for much of the game, playing aggressive defense in the paint and challenging passing lanes to the tune of 16 Duke turnovers.

Despite having three freshmen play key minutes, the Terps never looked intimidated like so many opponents do when traveling to Durham and facing the Cameron Crazies.

Sophomore Jordan Williams was again terrific, scoring 23 points and grabbing 13 rebounds for his ninth consecutive double-double against a Duke defense that collapsed the lane on the forward most of the evening.

It was the most physically-demanding game Duke (15-0, 2-0 ACC) had played all season, according to head coach Mike Krzyzewski, as Maryland (10-5, 0-2 ACC) led 56-55 with under seven minutes to play. Duke’s senior leadership was the difference down the stretch, however, as Kyle Singler scored 25 points and Nolan Smith added 18 to extend Duke’s current winning streak to 25 games.

Maryland weathered the storm every time it appeared Duke was poised to go on its traditional surge to put the game out of reach, but the Terps lacked the ability to take advantage of the Blue Devil’s uncharacteristically poor shooting night (6 of 21 from 3-point range).

As good as Williams was, the Terps were again plagued by poor foul shooting (9 of 17) and inconsistent guard play, as freshman Terrell Stoglin went 1-for-10 from the field and senior Adrian Bowie scored only one point. Cliff Tucker chipped in 14 points off the bench, but it was not enough as Maryland dropped its fourth straight game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The Terps have to be growing tired of these “moral” defeats as they approach the meat of the conference schedule, traveling to Wake Forest Wednesday night before stepping out of conference at Villanova on Saturday in a final opportunity to secure an impressive non-conference win to add to the NCAA tournament résumé.

Fifteen games into the season, Gary Williams continues to search for the right backcourt combination to complement his sophomore big man. A double-double from Jordan Williams has been the only sure contribution for the Terps, with complimentary scoring feeling like a roll of the dice from the remaining players in the rotation.

Stoglin and fellow freshman Pe’Shon Howard have shown promise but make the mistakes you expect from inexperienced players. Bowie is capable of a strong performance on a given night, but lacks  consistency after being used as a role player for his first three seasons in College Park.

Tucker may be the team’s best perimeter threat, but his inconsistent effort on the defensive end and in practice has made him a recurring character in Williams’ doghouse. It now appears the senior is back in the good graces of his coach after playing 29 minutes against Duke, but for how long?

With the college game dictated by strong guard play, the Terps’ struggles do not come as a shock, and after a strong effort against Duke, Gary Williams stressed how much his team has improved since November.

And how the Terps must also continue to get better.

Sunday night’s battle suggested the Terps can still be a top team in what looks to be a relatively-weak ACC this season.

When it’s all said and done, a seven-point loss to the best team in the nation is admirable, but it won’t mean much if the Terps can’t figure out how to finish these close games against quality opponents.

At some point, these “moral” victories must turn into real victories.

Gary Williams knows that and considering how he got his Terps to play against a superior Duke team, I wouldn’t bet against him finally getting through to his team.

Maryland is getting better, but not quite good enough yet.

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Top 10 Local Sports Moments of 2010

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Top 10 Local Sports Moments of 2010

Posted on 28 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

These were selected by….Glenn Clark. Enjoy!

Honorable Mention: Orioles sign Miguel Tejada, Maryland names Kevin Anderson Athletic Director, Navy pounds Notre Dame at Meadowlands, Ravens beat Jets on Monday Night Football, Maryland field hockey wins National Championship, Shogun Fights II & III come to 1st Mariner Arena, John Tillman hired as Maryland lacrosse coach, Ravens sign T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Trice Capra reaches 3rd round of U.S. Open, Terrapins hold off Midshipmen in Labor Day thriller at M&T Bank Stadium, Cliff Tucker buries Georgia Tech with incredible buzzer beater

10. Danny O’Brien breaks out as Maryland tops NC State

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nz6qO2a5nRI[/youtube]

Maybe the “moment” should be O’Brien getting his first start against Florida International. Unfortunately, no one was at Byrd Stadium that day and even fewer were watching on ESPN3.com.

Maybe the “moment” should be Maryland’s battle against Florida State in College Park where O’Brien nearly beat the Seminoles and gave the Terrapins a chance to play in the ACC Championship Game. But the Terps lost that game.

So I’ll stick with the season closer. It was an epic breakout performance from a freshman quarterback that offered hope to Maryland fans that change had come.

Of course, change was really STILL to come.

9. Ravens trade for Anquan Boldin

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itI56uxrbeU[/youtube]

If you actually go to the page for that YouTube video, you’ll find multiple Super Bowl related comments.

That was the immediate feeling when the Ravens traded two NFL Draft picks to the Arizona Cardinals for Boldin. Since that time, the Boldin deal has looked…well…not quite as overwhelming. But it doesn’t change the moment.

In that moment, the Ravens became the “Offseason Champs”, an honor the Washington Redskins had owned for years.

The difference? The Ravens till have a chance to be the REAL champs as well.

8. Baltimore Grand Prix officially announced

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ntu-FrV9ufY[/youtube]

Look, I’M not a fan of the IndyCar Series myself. Well, other than Danica Patrick anyway.

And I have NO IDEA how many folks in Baltimore could EVER tell you who Will Power or Dario Franchitti were.

But if the Baltimore Grand Prix raises as much money for the city as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Governor Martin O’Malley say it will, this could be a MAJOR moment for this area.

7. The return of the Preakness infield

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHLL8YQmCoA[/youtube]

After the “miserable failure” (my own words, folks) that was the 2009 Preakness “Infieldfest” event, the Maryland Jockey Club hit a home run in 2010.

Pimlico’s infield was covered in people thanks to a $20 “All you can drink” ticket that replaced the previous BYOB experience and an awesome musical combination or O.A.R. and Zac Brown Band (which was LIGHT YEARS better than ZZ Top and Buckcherry the previous year).

It was an awesome event. Hopefully there will be another one.

By the way, does anyone remember who won the Preakness this year?

(Edit from GMC: It was Lookin at Lucky. I ALMOST had to go to Wikipedia to jog my memory.)

6. Duke beats Virginia in lacrosse Final Four

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3g2YHrYETk[/youtube]

Maybe Notre Dame’s improbable run to the National Championship Game or the Blue Devils’ thrilling Memorial Day win over the Fighting Irish were bigger stories; but the Saturday showdown between the Cavaliers and Devils was absolutely EPIC.

The impact of Yeardley Love’s murder added to the buildup surrounding the game, as Cavs coach Dom Starsia was reminded of George Huguely’s name throughout the NCAA Tournament. Also adding to the buildup was the presence of the final class of “Super Seniors” from Duke, as the NCAA granted all Duke players an extra year of eligibility following the scandal that rocked the Durham campus in 2006.

The game was even better than the incredible buildup. Max Quinzani’s game winner with 13 seconds left finished off what had been one of the more incredible quarters of lacrosse ever seen in Charm City.

This will be the only entry on the list that doesn’t involve a local team. It was good enough that it doesn’t matter.

5. Orioles hire Buck Showalter

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STRgnJzuHxc[/youtube]

When I gave my “Local Sports Person of the Year” vote to Buck Showalter, I said his hiring represented the first real “hope” Birds fans had experienced since the 2005 campaign, when the team reached the All-Star Game still leading the American League Wild Card race.

What happened with the O’s down the stretch (a 34-23 finish under Showalter) means little if the team does not build upon it. But the hope that came with the incredible finish was that the team COULD build upon it.

We’ll see.

But it certainly doesn’t change the level of excitement that came with Showalter’s hiring and incredible two month run. If things truly turn around for the Orioles, it will be marked as the actual moment of change.

4. Joe Flacco finds TJ Houshmandzadeh to beat Steelers in Pittsburgh

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJIHpJLRWog[/youtube]

I’m pretty sure my column that day said it all.

The Ravens were ABSOLUTELY on their way to another crushing loss at Heinz Field; and I wasn’t going to believe it wouldn’t end that way until the moment Houshmandzadeh hauled in the Flacco TD toss.

The Ravens QB had never lead his team from behind to win in the final two minutes of regulation.

That changed.

Had the Ravens held on to finish the sweep of the Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium; the win would have meant even more.

3. Maryland beats Duke to (essentially) clinch ACC regular season title

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiIW27uR56s[/youtube]

As I stated when he was voted “Local Sports Person of the Year”, this was the defining moment for Greivis Vasquez.

Beating good teams at Comcast Center has been somewhat commonplace for the Terps in the Gary Williams era. In fact, Maryland had knocked off North Carolina in College Park just a season earlier. (Both the 2009 Tar Heels and this year’s Blue Devils would go on to win the NCAA Championship.)

Yet somehow, this particular win over a good team was more satisfying. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that it was Senior Night for Vasquez, Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that the win would ultimately prove to be the difference as the Terps would split the ACC regular season title.

More than anything, it probably had everything to do with the fact that it was Duke.

Wins ALWAYS feel better when they come against Duke.

2. Ravens go to Foxborough, beat New England Patriots in AFC playoffs

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MwFU4xYzV4[/youtube]

If it had been a round (or definitely two rounds) later, this would have been a slam dunk #1 on the list. Unfortunately, the flat performance in a divisional round loss to the Indianapolis Colts a week later took some of the excitement out of the win at Gillette Stadium.

That being said, the emotions of a dominant win over a Bill Belichick/Tom Brady lead team on the road won’t be forgotten for some time.

It was even more emotional when the story of Matthew Costello (son of WMAR anchor Jamie Costello) giving Cam Cameron the play call for Ray Rice’s opening play TD came out.

It was a huge win and an awesome feeling. It’s just a shame it didn’t extend towards the Super Bowl.

1. Reggie Holmes breaks Morgan State’s all-time scoring record in win over Coppin State

I was there for #2, #3 and #4. This was better.

morgan

The emotions inside Hill Field House were incredible.

It was Senior Night, the final home game for star guard Reggie Holmes.

Holmes was announced as MEAC Player of the Year. Kevin Thompson was announced as MEAC Defensive Player of the Year. Dewayne Jackson was announced as MEAC Freshman of the Year. Todd Bozeman was announced as MEAC Coach of the Year.

Holmes’ entire neighborhood (Cherry Hill) was in the stands…and actually rushed the floor PREGAME. The game started more than an hour late.

Holmes needed 33 points to break Marvin “The Eraser” Webster’s Bears career scoring record. He scored 36 in a blowout win.

It was incredible.

It represented everything that makes college basketball in Baltimore great. It represented everything that makes Baltimore sports great.

It was the best moment of the year.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Terps flatten NJIT as Howard steps into starting role

Posted on 23 December 2010 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Rarely has the focus of Maryland athletics been solely on football so late in December during Gary Williams’ 22-year tenure in College Park, but the drastic changes of the last week would overshadow any top basketball program.

The lack of buzz is also due in part to the utter mystery surrounding Gary Williams’ young team as it plays out a string of three nondescript games before traveling to Durham to face Duke on January 9. The Terps have competed well with top-25 teams, but they haven’t beaten any either. Through the season’s first dozen games, Williams continues to search for the right combination in the backcourt to complement the dominating inside presence of sophomore Jordan Williams.

Returning to the hardwood Wednesday night after a nine-day layoff, the Terps cruised to a 89-50 victory over lowly NJIT that highlighted the shortcomings of the Highlanders more than any real potential of this Maryland team. In the final 3:54 of the first half, Maryland used a 20-1 run to turn a comfortable 16-point lead into a comical 53-18 halftime deficit.

However, the significant story to come from the blowout victory was a new lineup sent out by Gary Williams after weeks of speculation that change was coming to the backcourt. Freshman Pe’Shon Howard replaced Cliff Tucker in the starting lineup and ran the point as Adrian Bowie slid to the two-guard position against the Highlanders. Williams had used the same starting lineup in the team’s first 11 games, deferring to his senior backcourt with Howard and fellow freshman Terrell Stoglin coming off the bench.

In his starting debut, Howard finished with four points and four assists, at times looking hesitant running the halfcourt offense but earning praise from Williams and his teammates. Bowie scored 13 points, including three 3-pointers in an impressive shooting night by the senior.

“Everything depends on practice this year, and that is why Pe’Shon was out there tonight,” Williams said. “A lot of it is how we play different people on the court. He came in [in previous games] and Adrian was playing well at the off-guard, so it made sense to put [Howard] into the game.”

In contrast, Tucker responded well to the demotion, posting nine points, five assists, and four steals in only 12 first-half minutes. The senior looked comfortable in a similar role to the one he held for his three previous seasons as a collegian.

“You never know how subbing a player is going to affect them,” Williams said. “You may lose a player, or you may motivate them. I really thought bringing Cliff off the bench would help him.”

Whether the move results in a stabilization of the backcourt or is simply another blip on an already-inconsistent radar, a change hardly comes as a surprise. The Maryland coach has never hesitated to start freshmen guards, with Eric Hayes and Grevis Vasquez the most recent examples. It was only a matter of time before Howard or Stoglin broke into the starting lineup; the better question is whether both freshmen will be there at some point this season.

Despite last year’s ACC regular season co-championship feeling like a distant memory and the early-season struggles of this season, the Terps find themselves in nearly an identical position to where they were at this point a year ago. The 2009-10 team’s only notable non-conference win came against Indiana, a team not much better than the dreadful Penn State team the Terps defeated a few weeks ago.

The ACC looks like a one-horse race with Duke blowing all competition out of the water, but how the rest of the conference standings will look is anyone’s guess as we approach January. Maryland could easily find itself fighting for one of the top four or five spots or languishing in mediocrity.

We know how dominant Jordan Williams can be — the sophomore posted his sixth straight double-double — but the fate of the Terps’ NCAA tournament hopes rests with their backcourt.

“A large part of the point guard’s deal is to get us to play well offensively, whether that is making the shot or the pass,” Williams said. “It is a tough position, and that is why a lot of coaches were point guards because you have to be so intelligent.”

Perhaps the Terps took a step forward with Howard sliding into the spot, but if not, Williams will continue rearranging the puzzle pieces.

“It was good to see if [Howard] could take that role, and I think as a freshman it’s kind of tough,” said junior Sean Mosley, who started 16 games as a freshman forward two years ago. “I think he came out and did a great job. And no matter if Cliff is starting or Pe’Shon, we’re a team, and that’s the thing coach is trying to see. He’s trying to see what’s the best five out there for him. He’ll probably switch it up next game.”

It’s an answer Gary Williams needs to find sooner rather than later.

NOTES: Maryland’s 39-point win was its largest margin of victory this season. The Terps’ 58.1 percent shooting from the field was also a season-best clip. … Dino Gregory has scored 14 points in back-to-back games, matching his career high. The senior also grabbed nine rebounds, narrowly missing a double-double. … The Terps set a season high with nine 3-pointers. … Six Maryland players scored in double figures, the first time since the Illinois game earlier this season. … The Terps will now have a week off for the holidays before hosting North Florida on December 29.

***Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear from Gary Williams, Adrian Bowie, Jordan Williams, and Sean Mosley about the Terps’ easy victory over NJIT.***

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Maryland collapses late in 79-75 loss to Boston College

Posted on 12 December 2010 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The scowl on the face of Gary Williams said it all as the Maryland coach walked off the Comcast Center floor moments after the final buzzer.

In his mind, this was one that got away from the Terps.

The Terps and Boston College went toe-to-toe for 38 minutes in an ACC opener that had the intensity of a late-February battle. Leading 75-72 with 2:44 to play, Maryland would not score again, missing free throws and taking ill-advised shots in a 79-75 loss to the Eagles.

It was just the latest example of a close game in which the Terps couldn’t do enough to secure a victory against a quality opponent, dropping them to 7-4 and 0-1 in ACC play. The loss spoiled another sensational performance by sophomore Jordan Williams who scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, earning his ninth double-double of the season.

“We missed a couple free throws, took a couple bad shots, and were not patient on offense,” Jordan Williams said. “We went away from what we wanted to do on offense when they took a three-point lead, and we didn’t execute well.”

In the final 2:12 of the game, the Terps missed all three of their free-throw attempts, continuing a season-long issue at the charity stripe. The two missed by Cliff Tucker (an 80-percent shooter from the line) jump-started the Boston College comeback.

Freshman Terrell Stoglin, despite playing brilliantly at times and scoring 14 points, came unglued in his decision making. After missing the front end of a 1-and-1 with 1:03 left and the game tied 75-75, the point guard followed that up two possessions later by taking — and missing — a quick 3-pointer with 20 seconds left and the Terps trailing 78-75.

It was a move reminiscent of another point guard who never shied away from taking a big shot, even if it wasn’t the ideal look.

“Terrell tries to win just like when Greivis [Vasquez] was a freshman,” Gary Williams said. “Things happen, but he’s trying to win the game. You have to give him credit for that. As he plays, he’ll understand those situations a little better, but I like guys on my team that want to win, and Terrell’s one of those people.”

Stoglin’s performance was a microcosm of what has plagued Maryland all season in close games against tougher competition. As the freshman did Sunday night, the Terps have played brilliantly at times this season but have often shot themselves in the foot at critical moments.

For a team lacking a dynamic scorer like Vasquez, the margin for error is too small to give away points at the free-throw line and make mistakes in the execution of the half-court offense. On Sunday, Boston College’s execution down the stretch was precise while the Terps wilted.

The Eagles hit an impressive 13-of-29 3-point shots, often using four guards to give the Terps match-up problems on the perimeter. Biko Paris made six from beyond the arc and scored 22 points to lead Boston College to a win in its first ACC game under new coach Steve Donahue.

“This is the ACC and everyone can play,” said forward Dino Gregory, who matched a career high with 14 points and had three blocks. “We have to make adjustments on our defense. There is really no excuse for the mismatches.”

In contrast, the Terps went 3-for-17 from the 3-point line and made only 8 of 14 free throws, major flaws in a game that featured 11 ties and 16 lead changes.

Maryland will now have 10 days to stew over this one, as the players take final exams before hosting NJIT on Dec. 22. The Terps won’t resume their conference schedule, however, until Jan. 9 when they have the daunting task of traveling to Durham to take on No. 1 Duke.

After falling in non-conference games against Pitt, Illinois, and Temple, the Terps can add Boston College to a list of winnable games in which they’ve come up short. Maryland’s four losses have been by a combined 20 points, a small number but unforgiving nonetheless.

Of course, plenty of time remains between now and March, but failing to earn precious victories against quality opponents in November and December often catches up with a team looking to play in the NCAA tournament. Maryland only has one remaining non-conference game of any substance, a challenging trip to Philadephia to face Villanova on Jan. 15.

Luckily for the Terps, the ACC appears wide open once you look past the top-ranked Blue Devils. A strong conference record will be needed to boost an unimpressive slate of non-conference wins to this point.

If the Terps find themselves fighting for their tournament lives in early March, they’ll look back at their mid-December conference opener as another game that was there for the taking.

“You have to be able to handle this [loss], and we’ve got time now obviously before we play another conference game,” the Maryland coach said. “Every game we play between now and then will be very important to us to win.

“How we go after practice each day is going to be really big. That’s going to be very important for us to get better, because we don’t have to get a lot better. We have to get better, but we don’t have to get a lot better.”

The margin between victory and defeat has been minuscule for the Terps, but you’re only as good as your record says.

And with four losses already in the middle of December, it’s clear Maryland has plenty of work to do.

NOTES: After going undefeated in conference home games last season, the Terps dropped their ACC opener and are now 6-7 all-time against Boston College. Maryland had also won 27 straight games when leading at halftime. … The Terps entered the game second in the ACC in field-goal percentage defense (.372) and 3-point percentage defense (.288) but allowed the Eagles to shoot 48.3 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from beyond the arc. … Maryland had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half but just one after halftime. … The Terps’ nine turnovers matched a season low, which came against Pittsburgh on Nov. 18.

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 09 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Thursday!

It’s a Happy Thursday for me because I left “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” playing on a loop on my DVD player the other night, which means I’ve seen THIS scene play out about twenty times now since Thanksgiving. It hasn’t gotten old.

(Edit from GMC: You know damn well there’s an “F word” in this clip. Act accordingly.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk74WprmZxY[/youtube]

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. WNST.net’s Drew Forrester says John Harbaugh didn’t intend to direct Tuesday night comments to all Baltimore fans

But there’s no doubt how folks in Charm City TOOK the comments, and that’s what Harbaugh is going to have to keep in mind moving forward.

I’m a little spent on Harbaugh comments following my column yesterday comparing him and former Ohio State coach John Cooper (you should go here and read it). I’ve talked to a number of football fans in town over the last 24 hours and there’s no question the comments stuck with fans.

I understand where John Harbaugh’s emotion came from Tuesday night. I understand that he’s as frustrated (if not more) than anyone in town right now.

But he HAS to be more respectful to fans-even when they’re insane. (Edit from GMC: Says the guy who loses his mind on football fans on a regular basis.)

It’s part of the job, whether he wants it to be or not.

2. WNST.net’s Glenn Clark says Ravens LB Jameel McClain will appeal $40k fine

There’s no doubt McClain’s fine was a bit excessive for a first time offender who had no intent to hit Pittsburgh TE Heath Miller in the head. But something tells me the NFL has decided they need to make a statement in this case because the game was seen by a HUGE audience on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

Make no mistake. This will absolutely be a significant issue as the NFLPA enters labor discussions this offseason and we head towards a potential lockout in 2011. If the league wants any concessions from players regarding revenue, they are almost certainly going to have to concede this outrageous fines even if they are simply trying to protect their players.

It’s not going to be an easy fight.

3. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Mike Duffy says Ed Reed believes Steelers WR Hines Ward deserved fine as well

Speaking of fine, here’s a picture of Danielle Dwyer. (Thanks Brosome via Busted Coverage!)

danielled

4. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says Ravens lost CB Prince Miller to Detroit Lions, signed CB Danny Gorrer to practice squad

And before we move on from the Ravens, a couple of things…

-The Ravens return to the practice field at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills today. Harbaugh, QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice, LB Ray Lewis and others are scheduled to address the media. We’ll have full coverage, so make sure you stay tuned to AM1570 WNST, follow us on Twitter (@WNST) and keep checking back at WNST.net.

-Did you miss Ravens TE Ed Dickson with Drew Forrester Thursday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST? Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net today to check it out. Some other things you can hear in the Audio Vault include…

  • Sean Salisbury (“Sean Unfiltered”-Voice America Sports Radio)-who went around the NFL with Drew Thursday
  • Michael Bradley (Philadelphia Magazine)-who talked about his decision to not give his Heisman Trophy vote to Cam Newton with Drew Thursday
  • Our Morning Reaction “Cheap Shots From The Bleachers”, as Drew took a shot at Cam Newton winning the Heisman, and Glenn Clark took a shot at fans who don’t “get” the Army/Navy Game
  • Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News)-who went around the NFL with Rex Snider Wednesday on “The Afternoon Drive”
  • Barry Barnes (Fanhouse)-who went around the AFC North with Rex Wednesday
  • Jean Fugett Jr. (Former Washington Redskins & Dallas Cowboys TE)-who discussed the loss of Todd Heap with Rex Wednesday
  • Lee Hull (Terps WR Coach)-who joined Thyrl Nelson Wednesday for “The Terrapins Coaches’ Report”
  • Steve Beck (Military Bowl Executive Director)-who discussed the Maryland-East Carolina matchup with Thyrl Wednesday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat”
  • Mike Bauman (MLB.com)-who checked in with Thyrl Wednesday from the MLB winter meetings in Orlando
  • Plenty of audio from 1 Winning Drive Wednesday; including Dickson, Jameel McClain, Le’Ron McClain, Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin and Kelly Gregg
  • Post-game audio from Maryland’s win over UNC Greensboro last night; including Gary Williams, Jordan Williams, Cliff Tucker and Adrian Bowie

It’s all in the Audio Vault, so make sure you take a few minutes today to check it out. You know you want to.

5. MLB.com’s Kelly Thesier says Orioles, Minnesota Twins could finalize deal for JJ Hardy today

Between this and Mitch Atkins, I’m not sure how the Birds CAN’T win the World Series next year!

If they’re still looking to make a splash before the end of the meetings, I have a suggestion for Andy MacPhail. Consider Alina Vacariu. (Thanks Guyism!)

vacariu

(Edit from GMC: UPDATE-CBSSports.com now says the deal is done. Hooray!)

6. The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says O’s agreed to terms with Koji Uehara on one year deal

I don’t know if this has ever happened before, but if I were the Orioles I might go ahead and consider a ticker tape parade BEFORE Spring Training.

The Orioles made other news Wednesday, as they distanced themselves from comments made by Luke Scott in an interview with Yahoo! Sports.

I can’t imagine why…

7. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Adrian Bowie, Cliff Tucker respond to adversity as Maryland crushed UNC Greensboro

The Spartans stink. That being said, even they could beat Penn State.

Gary Williams said after the game he considered making lineup changes following the Terps’ poor offensive output against Temple in the BB&T Classic.

Cliff Tucker said he didn’t know he was starting until earlier in the day Wednesday.

Gary Williams WANTS to stick with Tucker and Bowie all season. Fans want to see Terrell Stoglin and Pe’Shon Howard in the lineup.

What ends up happening will have everything to do with whether or not Tucker and Bowie can play with consistency over the next few weeks.

Maryland opens ACC play Sunday afternoon (4pm on Comcast SportsNet/Fox Sports Net) when they host Boston College at Comcast Center.

8. TowsonTigers.com says Josh Brown and Rashawn Polk scored 18 points each, but Towson couldn’t hold off George Washington in DC

A loss to the Colonials probably won’t impress anyone, but a six point game against GWU at the Smith Center is likely a sign of progress for Pat Kennedy’s team. One major problem from last night? They got just one point from Troy Franklin. I don’t think they’ll win many games that way.

Towson now heads to Catonsville next for a contest with UMBC at RAC Arena Saturday night. The Retrievers had a rough night last night, as they were pounded by Rider 81-39. I’d tell you something about that game, but what the hell is there to say?

9. The AP says Shane Walker & Robert Olson each scored 14, but Loyola lost to George Mason in Fairfax

Tough night for Jimmy Patsos’ Greyhounds last night at the Patriot Center.

In honor of the holiday season, I’m going to try to make some spirits bright here. Here’s a picture of Tehmeena Afzal. (Thanks The Smoking Jacket!)

afzal

10. Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Terrapins Offensive Coordinator James Franklin finalist for head coaching gig at Vanderbilt

This COULD end up being helpful for Kevin Anderson and the folks in College Park.

James Franklin did a HELL of a job with Danny O’Brien this season. Should he leave for the Commodores, his leadership would be missed.

But the Terps have a MESS on their hands with this transition. Either they’re going to have to force Ralph Friedgen out and give the job to Franklin (which didn’t seem so unlikely a season ago), or they’re going to have to dish out a million bucks they don’t have.

If Franklin heads to Nashville, Maryland avoids that problem. Either they can extend Friedgen should he have another good season or they can hire whatever available coach they want to hire.

But bear in mind-the leadership at the University of Maryland WANTED James Franklin to be the next head coach. The move wasn’t just made to keep him from going back to Kansas State. They ABSOLUTELY thought Franklin represented what they wanted in a head coach.

It’s just become a much stickier situation than they originally expected.

And finally, I leave you with this.

Time for a few new versions of “The Greatest Song(s) of All Time This Week.”

It’s a Christmas edition this time around.

The retro version of TGSOATTW is “Christmas Song” by Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds. WIN.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x33XlnWWfaI[/youtube]

The new version is the version of “Last Christmas” they did on GLEE. Please don’t judge me because I like this.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoNvv7hq364[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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With ACC Opener Looming, Gary Williams Sticks With Starters in Maryland Win

Posted on 08 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Despite rumors a lineup change could be coming, Maryland Head Coach Gary Williams kept his starters together Wednesday night as the Terrapins (7-3) cruised to a 99-56 victory over UNC Greensboro (0-8) at Comcast Center.

The only player whose starting role has not been questioned by fans or analysts is center Jordan Williams, who lead the way for the Terps with 23 points and 13 rebounds in the easy win over the Spartans.

Guard Adrian Bowie and Forward Cliff Tucker have both been subject to the most criticism in recent weeks but responded in big ways against UNCG. Tucker tallied 13 points and a team high five assists in the victory while Bowie added 16 points. Guard Sean Mosley also filled up the stat sheet nicely, scoring six to go with four rebounds and four assists.

Maryland’s lineup (which also includes forward Dino Gregory) has been effective at times over the first ten games of the season, but fans have hoped to see emerging freshmen guards Terrell Stoglin and Pe’Shon Howard slide their way into the lineup, as well as sophomore big man James Padgett.

After a poor performance from a number of the starters in a 64-61 loss to Temple in the BB&T Classic over the weekend, there was a thought Gary Williams might shake the lineup to get going offensively. Williams had benched a number of starters during the game at Verizon Center.

“I considered everything” said the head coach after the win. “I watched a lot of video and things like that. A lot of times it’s a gut feeling. You hope you make the right decision because you don’t want to hurt anyone, you don’t want to make an unfair choice. I think it worked out well tonight.”

Gary Williams was particularly defensive of Tucker and Bowie.

“I really believe in them. They’ve been loyal four year players. That means a lot to me, I don’t know if it means a lot to everyone else. I’ll kinda go to the wall for the guys like that that have stuck with the program and played behind some good players and now it’s their turn. They struggled a little bit in a couple games, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be outstanding players for us this year.”

Tucker said Williams challenged the starters following Sunday night’s loss to the Owls, not letting them know they’d start against the Spartans until earlier Wednesday.

“I think we all practiced great” said Tucker. “(Gary Williams) put a lot of pressure on us, we all stepped up to the challenge.”

Maryland will open ACC play Sunday afternoon in College Park against Boston College, and it is unlikely any lineup changes will be made before the Terps battle the Eagles. Following their contest with BC, Maryland will take a 10 day break for final exams before returning to the floor December 22 against NJIT.

Should any changes to the lineup be coming, that might be the most logical time to make them.

Gary Williams may not have a lengthy history of midseason lineup changes during his tenure at his alma mater, but a move certainly wouldn’t be unprecedented. Memorable changes include Mosley’s insertion into the lineup as a freshman during the 2008-09 season, and the decision to replace Danny Miller with Byron Mouton in 2000-01, a move that would help the Terps reach their first Final Four in school history. Just two years earlier, Gary Williams benched All-ACC big man Obinna Ekezie in favor of freshman Lonny Baxter.

Sunday’s conference opener could be that much more significant for Tucker and Bowie as rumors of changes continue to swirl.

“(Gary Williams) knows how much ability I have to perform” said Bowie. “He’s been with me for four years now. It’s more of a challenge than anything.”

While most starters played well in Wednesday night’s win, their opponent did not provide the best level of competition possible. And while players like Bowie and Mosley are trying to reassure Gary Williams that they can perform at a consistent level, the younger players on the team are trying to take advantage of what might be an opportunity to crack the lineup. In the win over the Spartans, Stoglin tallied 18 points and Padgett added nine boards.

Maryland will get a much better level of competition Sunday. It will be a great opportunity for veterans and underclassmen alike to state their case.

As Gary Williams said Wednesday, “we’ll find out where we are against Boston College.”

-G

Hear from Gary Williams, Jordan Williams, Tucker and Bowie following Wednesday night’s win NOW in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net!

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Sluggish Terps awaken in 2nd half to top Elon, 76-57

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Sluggish Terps awaken in 2nd half to top Elon, 76-57

Posted on 27 November 2010 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Chalk it up to a turkey coma the day after Thanksgiving or Gary Williams failing to major in psychology as the coach quipped after the game, but Maryland sleepwalked through the first half Friday night at Comcast Center before turning up the intensity to run away from Elon, 76-57.

Trailing 20-9 midway through the first half, the Terps looked sluggish and out of sync on both ends of the floor against a motivated Phoenix team that made six 3-pointers in the first half and controlled the tempo before Maryland trimmed the lead to 34-31 by halftime.

“The problem is you have to play at a certain level for 40 minutes,” Williams said. “We didn’t do that. That bothers me. And you know there’s always excuses out there, but the bottom line was Elon came here ready to play, they gave us their best shot.”

Perhaps the clearest example of the Terps’ listless first-half performance was sophomore standout Jordan Williams, who scored only four points in the first half before exploding for 20 points and nine rebounds in the final 20 minutes to lead the second-half comeback.

Maryland used a 19-5 run to begin the second half to gain a 50-39 advantage and held the Phoenix to a meager 25 percent from the field and 3 of 16 shooting from beyond the arc after intermission. Point guard Adrian Bowie (seven assists) demonstrated perhaps his best command of the half-court offense all season, leading the Terps to 51.4 percent shooting in the second half and repeatedly working the ball into the paint.

“We had more energy and played with more passion,” Bowie said. “We got the ball inside to Jordan, and he played well today.”

The slow start by the Terps and Williams can easily be understood given the circumstances, though Gary Williams will hardly accept it as an excuse. A post-Thanksgiving meeting with a mid-major school is bound to have players looking ahead to the next opponent and wishing they were at home with their families for the holiday. There was little to gain in terms of recognition no matter how many the Terps won by over the Phoenix.

On the other hand, an upset over Maryland would be a program-defining moment for Elon, and the Phoenix were the epitome of a team playing with everything to gain and nothing to lose, particularly in the first half.

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The developing problem is how the slow starts are becoming habitual for the Terps and Williams. We saw it last week in Madison Square Garden when Williams battled foul trouble and struggled to get into the flow of the game as a result. On Friday, Williams used assistant Rob Ehsan’s halftime message as motivation for his dominating final 20 minutes of play.

“It really touched my heart,” Williams said. “You could really tell how passionate he is about coaching. He told us that we weren’t playing to our potential and we needed to step it up. What he was talking about really hit me and made me play a lot better.”

Motivating words from Ehsan or Gary Williams — who surprisingly spoke calmly at halftime — are beneficial at crucial times, but why is a member of the Naismith preseason watch list having so much trouble getting going?

In a season in which the Terps lack the perimeter shooting or dynamic leadership in the backcourt, they must lean on their dominating presence in the paint. They did it in the second half against an inferior opponent, turning a perilous situation into a convincing win with Williams scoring 20 of the team’s 45 second-half points.

But it’s a formula begging for trouble as Maryland inches closer to the ACC schedule and the harsh reality of January and beyond.

“We have to come out with the mindset that we are playing a top team every game,” said Sean Mosley who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds, “and not worry about the name on the jersey because anybody can beat anybody on any given day. We have to come out and play with the same intensity that we played with in the second half and we will be alright throughout the season.”

It’s a lesson a team in transition must learn quickly with opponents on the horizon that will be far less forgiving than the one the Terps encountered Friday.

NOTES: Friday’s win marked the 14th straight victory for the Terps at Comcast Center where they’ve lost just once in their last 21 games. … Maryland had lost its previous two games this season when trailing at the half. … Jordan Williams’ 24 points and 13 rebounds gave him his 13th career double-double. His point total was just two shy of his career high, which came against College of Charleston earlier this season. … Cliff Tucker finished with eight points, marking the first time all season the senior had not reached double-digit scoring. … The Terps will not return to Comcast Center until Dec. 8 when they host UNC Greensboro.

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 24 November 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Wednesday!

It’s a Happy Wednesday for me because I (like every Wednesday), can add two songs to the “Greatest Song of All Time This Week” category.

The new honor goes to Dave Matthews Band, who KILLED “Squirm” when I saw them in Charlottesville last Friday. As I’ve said before, there was a time when I didn’t think “Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King” was deserving of the Album of the Year nod it was given by the Grammy Awards. I was TOTALLY wrong…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_0cTJF5vw8[/youtube]

And TGSOATTW “Retro” version is a nod to the “family” event that is Thanksgiving. Here’s “Dance to the Music” by Sly & The Family Stone…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiIBwu2mjs0[/youtube]

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Mike Duffy says Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Michael Oher, Le’Ron McClain, Haloti Ngata leading Pro Bowl voting at respective positions

Of this group, only McClain and Ngata have REALLY been the best players at their position in the AFC this season. Lewis has played at a Pro Bowl level but is leading in votes by reputation. Ed Reed has barely played but also has a reputation. Oher has had an up and down season, but there was a movie made about him.

Duffy points out that other Ravens are deserving of consideration for a trip to Hawaii. Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin, Ray Rice and Billy Cundiff are certainly deserving of being in the conversation, Terrell Suggs might be as well.

The good news (for people who care about this type of thing) is that the reputation of the organization alone will get more players to the Pro Bowl.

I don’t necessarily care much about which players make the Pro Bowl, unless a deserving player comes up short (like was the case with Jarret Johnson a year ago). Only Ngata and McClain really look like “must” Pro Bowlers this season, so I don’t think I’ll be disappointed when the teams are announced.

2. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says Ravens signed former Kansas City Chiefs OL Colin Brown to practice squad

Unreal.

You mean to tell me there was an open spot on the Ravens’ practice squad (after they promoted Bryan Mattison and released Scott Kooistra) and yet they DIDN’T sign Emanuela de Paula? RIDICULOUS! (Thanks Guyism!)

depaula

3. ESPN.com has Ravens 3rd in power rankings

And at 3rd, the Ravens are ahead of every other 7-3 team and even the 8-2 New York Jets. Just keep that in mind.

Before we move on from the Ravens, a couple of things…

-We’ll be out at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills today as the Ravens return to practice. We’re expecting to hear from John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis and more around noon. Make sure you’re tuned in to AM1570 WNST, following us on Twitter @WNST and checking out WNST.net throughout the day!

-Did you miss Ravens Director of Player Personnel Eric Decosta with Drew Forrester Wednesday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST? Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault today to check it out. Some other things you can hear in the Audio Vault today include…

  • Johnny Holliday (Legendary Terps PBP Voice)-who talked Terrapins football and basketball with Drew Wednesday
  • Sean Salisbury (“Sean Unfiltered”-Voice America Sports Radio)-who went around the NFL with Drew Wednesday
  • Joe Beninati (Washington Capitals Play by Play-Comcast SportsNet)-who talked puck with Drew Wednesday
  • Our Morning Reaction “Cheap Shots from the Bleachers”, as Drew resorted to BEGGING for the Orioles to get better players, and I got soft as I reflected on the community at Thanksgiving
  • Postgame audio from Maryland’s win over Delaware State Tuesday night, including Gary Williams, Cliff Tucker, Adrian Bowie and Dino Gregory
  • Jamey Eisenberg (CBSSports.com)-who talked Fantasy Football with Rex Snider Tuesday on “The Afternoon Drive”
  • Jorge Ortiz (USA Today) and Craig Calcaterra (“HardballTalk”-NBCSports.com)-who joined Allen McCallum and Rex Tuesday on “The MLB Report”
  • Andrew Perloff (Sports Illustrated)-who went around the AFC with Rex Wednesday
  • John Rallo (Shogun Fights)-who joined Thyrl Nelson for “The MMA Report” Tuesday

It’s all in the Audio Vault, so I’d get over there…like…ASAP…to check it all out. You’ve got a long weekend ahead. ENJOY!

4. WNST.net’s Ryan Chell says Orioles add bench coach Willie Randolph to staff

There’s a natural “I’ve heard of this guy so I’m excited about him” mentality that comes with hiring a former MLB manager for a coaching position.

My gut says that Willie Randolph will be a nice addition to Buck Showalter’s staff. That being said, we don’t really have any tangible reason to expect that Willie Randolph will make any sort of significant difference in Charm City.

Unless of course he could play first base and hit 40 home runs.

Of course, the Orioles were looking at Victor Martinez to do those things, right? Ummm…..

5. WNST.net’s Drew Forrester says Victor Martinez passed on O’s offer, signed with Detroit Tigers

Argh.

As I said this morning, I’m not going to give Andy MacPhail a pass here. If everything we’ve been told is true (the O’s offered 48 million and Martinez accepted 50 million in Motown without giving the O’s the chance to counter), I hope MacPhail learned a lesson.

That lesson is that no player REALLY cares about the team’s late season growth under Showalter and their decent young nucleus.

REAL players want to win and want to make money.

Simply competitive offers won’t get it done. The team is going to have to OVERPAY.

The Tigers themselves had to do it to get Magglio Ordonez and Ivan Rodriguez a few years back. It didn’t seem like smart business at the time, but it eventually helped the Tigers reach the World Series.

They knew what they had to do to get players. Andy MacPhail and the Orioles will have to do the same thing this year.

6. MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli says Birds chose not to offer arbitration to Koji Uehara, Kevin Millwood

Obviously Millwood was never coming back, but I don’t know what to make of the Koji decision.

The good news here? With one (or both) of these guys gone, maybe the team can consider F.P. Santangelo…..’s future wife Michelle McLaughlin. (Thanks Busted Coverage!)

santangelo

7. WNST.net’s Glenn Clark says Cliff Tucker lead way with 15 points as Maryland topped Delaware State at Comcast Center

A lot of folks were upset that last night’s tilt with the Hornets wasn’t available on TV.

Don’t be upset. You didn’t miss a DAMN thing.

This one was never pretty, and seemed downright strange in the second half. DSU actually outscored the Terps 33-32 after halftime, but that was mostly because Gary Williams decided to play with some strange lineup combos, including one stretch where he had nothing but reserves on the floor.

Berend Weijs had a nice night last night. I don’t think Berend Weijs is REALLY an ACC player however. Then again, I didn’t think Dave Neal was an ACC player either.

Maryland returns to action Friday night against Elon, Luke Jones will host a “Turtle Power” live chat during the game.

8. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Terrapins OL Pete DeSouza hoping to return from accident in time for spring practice

This would be a very cool story if it were to play out that way. There was a thought that DeSouza’s football future wasn’t guaranteed in ANY way when he suffered the accident.

Should he return in the spring, it could provide a MAJOR lift to the entire program.

9. The AP says Aric Brooks scored 17 points to lead Morgan State past Western Illinois in Cancun

Kudos to Todd Bozeman and the Bears. If I was in Cancun, I’m not sure how focused I would be on the task at hand. Then again, the “Palace Arena” might help to humble me…

arena

A ballroom. An effing ballroom. Unbelievable. Eh…you’re still in Cancun.

10. The AP says Michael Harper lead way with 21 points as Coppin State topped UMBC as CSPEC

A couple of games today featuring local teams. Morgan plays a second game in as many days at the Cancun Challenge, as they face North Florida. Towson hosts Navy tonight at the Towson Center-that game tips at 7. Loyola visits Mike Lonergan and Vermont, that game tips at 7 as well.

And if all of that isn’t enough, here’s a picture of Monica Leigh, too! (Thanks The Smoking Jacket!)

monicaleigh

And finally, I leave you with this.

The Miz won the WWE Championship?!?!? AWE.SOME.!!!!!!!!!!!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmiF16nE9YI[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Maryland again competitive, not good enough in 80-76 loss to Illinois

Posted on 19 November 2010 by Luke Jones

Gary Williams wanted to find out where his Terps really were with two games at Madison Square Garden against stiff competition this week.

The verdict for the Maryland coach was a competitive — and incomplete – team with room to grow as the season moves forward.

The Terps struggled to defend the perimeter and couldn’t do enough in the second half, falling to Illinois, 80-76, in the consolation game of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.

Maryland continually allowed open looks to Demetri McCamey (2o points), Tyler Griffey (three 3-pointers), and D.J. Richardson (three 3-pointers), as the Illini shot 47.6 percent (10 of 21) from beyond the arc, and the Terps only 5-for-18 on the other end.

Five Maryland players reached double-figure scoring, freshman Terrell Stoglin leading the way with 17 points, but forward Jordan Williams’ 15 second-half points weren’t enough as Maryland fell to 3-2 on the season.

The final 11:28 of the first half was a victory in and of itself after Williams was stricken with two fouls and banished to the bench as the Terps trailed 20-16. Using a patchwork frontcourt that included Berend Weijs, James Padgett, Hauk Palsson, and a foul-troubled Dino Gregory, Maryland managed to maintain the same deficit, entering the intermission trailing 40-36.

The two-game trip to Madison Square Garden was a perfect example of how crucial it is for Williams to stay clear of foul trouble this season. Aside from Tucker’s improved offensive output, the Terps not only lack the perimeter scoring to compete against sharp-shooting teams but also an offensive presence in the paint when the 6-foot-10 sophomore is not on the floor.

Not a good formula for success.

And yet it was a formula the Terps survived in the first half, keeping themselves in position to make a second-half run. Maryland briefly took a 47-46 lead following a 9-0 run, but the Illini responded with a 13-2 run to regain the lead and seize control for the rest of the night.

Despite Williams’ return in the second half, the Terps simply couldn’t generate enough offense despite the brief run midway through the second half, failing to knock down perimeter shots to compete with the sharp-shooting Illini.

It’s the exact type of game the Terps will struggle with this year. Maryland simply doesn’t have the shooters to compete against teams knocking down outside shots.

Maryland will undoubtedly be disappointed with an 0-2 performance in New York City, but neither loss should deter anyone from thinking this Maryland team can’t be pretty good by January or February.

Of course, last season’s Terps went to Hawaii and played two clunkers against Cincinnati and Wisconsin, looking far worse than they did against two top-25 programs in two nights. It offers perspective to how little we can really take from early-season tournaments and how they project a team’s aptitude.

Is the 0-2 showing disappointing? Of course.

But the reality is the Terps played two teams that were simply better than them in the middle of November. They lost, but competed at a high level.

And that bodes well for January and February with Gary Williams leading the way.

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Terps crumble at FT line in 79-70 loss to No. 5 Pitt

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Terps crumble at FT line in 79-70 loss to No. 5 Pitt

Posted on 19 November 2010 by Luke Jones

In the big picture, the Terps can actually feel pretty good about their showing against one of the best teams in the nation.

But a 14-for-30 performance from the free throw line will only leave Maryland thinking what might have been in a 79-70 loss to Pittsburgh Thursday night in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.

Lacking the experience and size of No. 5 Pitt, Maryland hung tough in the second half despite a 21-4 Panthers run that saw the deficit grow to 42-29 less than three minutes into the second half. The Terps responded with a 17-4 run of their own to tie the game with 12:47 to play, but would get no closer, dropping their first game of the season.

Senior Cliff Tucker led all scorers with 17 points, once again looking like the Terps’ only viable option from the perimeter. Sophomore Jordan Williams added 14 points and nine rebounds, but wore down against an imposing frontcourt that outrebounded Maryland by a whopping 43 to 23 margin.

Newcomers Pe’Shon Howard and Terrell Stoglin, who had been bright spots in the opening week of the season against less-than-stellar competition, looked very much like two freshmen playing their first game at Madison Square Garden, but we knew there would be nights like this.

Sean Mosley (the Terps’ leading returning scorer) struggled offensively for the third straight game, managing just seven points while battling foul trouble much of the night.

And yet, Gary Williams can point to one of the simplest — and most critical — aspects of the game to explain why the Terps will play against Illinois in the consolation game Friday (5:00 p.m. on ESPN2) instead of competing in the championship game.

From the charity stripe, Williams was just 2-for-7, Mosley 1-for-3, Dino Gregory 1-for-3, and James Padgett 0-for-4, as the Terps shot 46.7 percent from the line in what has become a disturbing early-season trend.

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In a 75-74 victory over the College of Charleston last Wednesday, Maryland needed a last-second shot by Howard to overcome a 5-for-18 free-throw shooting performance (27.8 percent) and prevent an embarrassing loss.

Having lost their top three scorers from a season ago and lacking the 3-point shooting to quickly erase deficits, the Terps must rely on the transition game and taking the ball inside to score — or to get to the free-throw line. The Panthers obliged with the latter, giving the Terps 30 free-throw attempts. Even an average performance from the line — such as Pitt’s 70.3 percent clip — would have created a much different game in the final minutes when Maryland had no choice but to foul.

Fortunately, poor free-throw shooting is correctable — or at least improvable — and you can bet the Maryland coach will have his team working feverishly to refine its touch from the line.

It will be interesting to see how Maryland responds Friday — especially without the senior leadership of Greivis Vasquez, Eric Hayes, and Landon Milbourne — but the Terps showed they were capable of competing with one of the better teams in the country Thursday night, suggesting this might be a better season than many expect.

But their margin of error is too minute to survive a “Shaq”-like performance from the charity stripe.

On a night in which they valiantly scrapped against a better team, Maryland’s biggest enemy was itself.

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