Tag Archive | "Jordan Williams"

Garyland no more: Terps coach Williams retires after 22 seasons

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Garyland no more: Terps coach Williams retires after 22 seasons

Posted on 05 May 2011 by Luke Jones

What felt like turbulent waves running through the Maryland basketball program with the official departure of Jordan Williams on Wednesday registered as little more than a drop of a pebble in a pond 24 hours later.

After 22 years at the University of Maryland that included the 2002 national championship and 14 NCAA tournament appearances, legendary head coach Gary Williams announced his retirement Thursday afternoon, sending seismic waves through College Park and the landscape of the college basketball world.

“It’s the right time,” Williams said in a statement on Thursday. “My entire career has been an unbelievable blessing. I am fiercely proud of the program we have built here. I couldn’t have asked any more from my players, my assistant coaches, the great Maryland fans, and this great university. Together, we did something very special here.”

Special, indeed, as Williams returned to his alma mater as head coach in 1989 with the ashes still smoldering from the tragic death of Len Bias in 1986 and Maryland on the verge of being leveled with NCAA sanctions from violations committed under former coach Bob Wade’s tenure. Facing a mountainous climb back to respectability, Williams did that and much more.

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Largely thanks to the arrivals of Joe Smith and Keith Booth, the Terps became a consistent Sweet 16 program beginning in 1994 and climbed to greater heights several years later. With local products Juan Dixon and Lonny Baxter leading the way on the court, Maryland advanced to its first ever Final Four in 2001 despite losing five of six from late January into mid-February of that season.

However, the following season would be the stuff of fairy tales as Williams, the coach who suffered through two-year postseason and one-year television bans in his first three seasons at Maryland, led the Terps to a second consecutive trip to the Final Four in 2002. This time playing at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, the impossible became reality as Maryland won its first ever national championship, defeating Indiana 64-52 in a moment supporters couldn’t even dream just 10 years earlier.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EgsMpPyFhg[/youtube]

As Dixon and Baxter collapsed to the floor in a warm embrace, Williams stood in the background, pumping his fist while taking satisfaction in knowing what he had rebuilt and taken to incredible new heights.

Williams retires as the fifth-winningest active coach in the nation and third all-time in ACC wins behind Mike Krzyzewski and Dean Smith. In his 33 years as a head coach — including stops at American, Boston College, and Ohio State — the 66-year-old compiled an overall record of 668-380. Williams finished with a 461-252 record in his 22 years at Maryland.

Always dealing with basketball giants Duke and North Carolina, Williams guided the Terps to three ACC regular season titles (1995, 2002, 2010), an ACC tournament championship (2004), and seven Sweet Sixteens. He was named National Coach of the Year in 2002 and ACC Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2010.

“Gary Williams is a legend,” said athletic director Kevin Anderson, who will utilize the retiring coach as an assistant athletic director and special assistant. “His accomplishments on the court have earned him a place among the elite in college basketball history. But Gary’s legacy here at Maryland goes far beyond basketball. From his philanthropic efforts to his tireless work with fans and alumni to his impact with our students, Gary has left an indelible mark of excellence on this university.”

Despite a 22-year run that dwarfed the accomplishments of longtime, high-profile coach Lefty Driesell, Williams was often a polarizing figure among Maryland supporters. After rebuilding the Terps into a consistent top-25 program in the 1990s, detractors argued he couldn’t lead Maryland past the Sweet 16. He responded with two consecutive national semifinal berths and a national championship.

But in the years following the closing of Cole Field House with a national championship season in 2002, Williams was unable to maintain the same level of success with the opening of the glitzy Comcast Center. After a Sweet 16 appearance led by Steve Blake and a few other championship holdovers in 2003, the Terps have failed to make it past the second round ever since.

Frustrations continued to grow as Maryland failed to make the NCAA tournament in 2005 — snapping an 11-year streak — and missed the tournament in three of the next six years, including this past season when the Terps missed the postseason entirely for the first time since 1993. In recent seasons, his critics — ironically feeling entitled thanks to the accomplishments of the very man — began calling for Williams to step down due to the struggles on the court and in local recruiting efforts.

Those attacks came to a climax two years ago when then-athletic director Debbie Yow was front and center in a not-so-subtle attempt to conclude the coach’s reign before an underdog squad scratched together a strong conference tournament run to make the NCAA tournament in 2009. Williams ultimately remained as head coach, but the final damage had been done to his frigid relationship with Yow.

In what amounted to Williams’ final season in the spotlight in College Park, senior Greivis Vasquez led the Terps to a share of the ACC regular season title with Duke after an exhilarating victory over the Blue Devils on Maryland’s senior night in 2010. The win clinched conference player of the year honors for Vasquez — a player with whom Williams still shares a deep bond — and helped earn the coach his second and final ACC Coach of the Year award.

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

Following the Terps’ heartbreaking loss to Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA tournament later that month and losing Vasquez and two key seniors, Maryland stumbled to a 19-14 record in Williams’ final season. Unbeknownst to anyone, the Terps’ 87-71 loss to Duke in the ACC quarterfinals on March 11, 2011 not only turned out to be Maryland’s abrupt season finale and the swan song of all-ACC forward Jordan Williams, but ultimately marked the end of an era.

When the news broke on Thursday, comments immediately began flooding in from various players via social media. Having a reputation as a sometimes-surly coach who disliked the over-the-top recruiting tactics prevalent in today’s college basketball environment, countless players voiced their affection for the Maryland coach.

“I love Gary Williams, and I support him [no] matter what!” said Vasquez, who labeled him his coach for life.

The timing of Williams’ retirement leaves the program in flux, a day after learning leading scorer Jordan Williams would not return for his junior season this fall. Speculation has already started regarding incoming freshmen Nick Faust and Sterling Gibbs and their likely intentions to re-open their recruitment. Both will need a release from their signed national letters of intent to do so.

However, players come and go in the collegiate game. Even coaches are hired and dismissed with more and more frequency as the societal movement toward instant gratification provides shorter leashes for college coaches with every new season. Williams’ retirement signals a dramatic end to a mostly-wonderful period in College Park, especially to those who suffered through the heart-rending loss of Bias and the wretched cloud that rested over the university in the years that followed.

Numerous top names have already been tossed around as potential successors for one of the more attractive coaching jobs in the country, with Notre Dame’s Mike Brey and Villanova’s Jay Wright just two of many that will be discussed, but the dust will settle all too quickly and only time will reveal the future of Maryland basketball. The memories of the perspiring, jacket-throwing Williams screaming on the sideline or offering the fist pump as he’s introduced, however, will last as long as they play basketball at the University of Maryland.

As I casually pointed out in March when Williams celebrated his 66th birthday, he had reached the same age at which Smith stepped down from his brilliant career in Chapel Hill. The end was coming sooner rather than later.

But as is often the case in life, loyal supporters and critics alike may have envisioned the likely Hall of Famer’s farewell, but you’re never quite prepared when the moment finally comes.

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Jordan Williams Signs With Agent, Will Not Return to Maryland

Posted on 04 May 2011 by WNST Staff

Here is the official release, courtesy of the Terrapins’ Sports Information Department…

WILLIAMS SIGNS WITH AGENT, WILL NOT RETURN TO TERPS

Center will remain in NBA Draft

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Jordan Williams has signed with an agent, ending his eligibility to play at the University of Maryland, it was announced Wednesday.

Williams, a 6-foot-10 sophomore center from Torrington, Conn., had earlier entered his name for the 2011 NBA Draft. He could have retained his eligibility by not signing with an agent and withdrawing by May 8.

“We wish Jordan well as he pursues his dream of playing in the NBA,” said head coach Gary Williams.

Jordan Williams led the Terrapins in scoring (16.9 points per game) and rebounding (11.8 per game) this season and led the Atlantic Coast Conference on the boards. A third team All-America selection, Williams also was an All-ACC first-team pick.

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Terps Williams: Should He Stay or Should He Go?

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Terps Williams: Should He Stay or Should He Go?

Posted on 03 May 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

As the lingering excitement caused by the Terps spring football game last weekend and the beginning of the Randy Edsall era now dissipates temporarily, Terps fans can look ahead to this weekend, specifically May 8th for an indication of what’s to come for the basketball program. That’s because this Sunday, is the last day that college basketball players who have declared for the NBA draft but not hired agents can withdraw their names and return to college basketball for another season. The NBA actually grants players until June 13th to make the decision, but the NCAA will only recognize the eligibility of the players who withdraw before this Sunday’s deadline.

If I had to bet, guess or gauge from the rumors that have surrounded the situation since Jordan Williams elected to throw his own name into the proverbial ring of the NBA draft, I’d say that Williams has played his last game as a Terp. By Sunday we’ll all know for sure.

 

I’ve been tough on Williams draft prospects while remaining high on his potential contributions at the college level going forward. At the college level he’s a gifted and strong post presence with soft hands and an uncanny ability to get position for rebounds and to finish at the rim. As a pro, he’s undersized with questionable strength. His range is limited, with few if any consistent back to the basket weapons, his potential in a heavy pick and roll offense is limited by his inability to shoot from outside or to make opportunities for himself off the dribble. Although his hands are soft, I don’t think they’re big, as Williams rarely controls the ball one handed and rarely finishes strong. The lay-up opportunities available to Williams at the college level will be few and far between in the pros, he’ll have to dunk more to be a finisher at the next level. Significant minutes in an 82-game schedule would likely thin Williams’ frame out in a hurry adding to concerns about his strength and his ability to maintain it. At the end of the day, he’ll have his work cut out for him in trying to convince NBA execs that he’s worth a spot on their roster much less in their rotation.

 

All of that said however, most of those things are unlikely to change anytime soon under any circumstances and especially while Williams is cast as an unnatural 5 in an under stocked Terps frontcourt. And while the timing given the impending lockout may seem less than ideal for most, that may be what makes it ideal for Williams to jump now. If all or most of the bantered about prospects elect to remain in college, as many have already decided to do, then as a result you’d have to believe that Williams best chance at getting drafted highly (or at all) would be now, while the getting is good. That would be even truer if labor peace projects to change the minds of most of those who stay next year. In simple terms this year’s draft is as weak as the draft projects to be for the next few years, while next year’s draft could already be shaping up as one of the strongest.

 

If Williams ultimately projects to be a Lonnie Baxter type, he’ll make some money and likely have a more storied European career than he will in the NBA anyway…and there’s nothing wrong with that. If he too is already resigned to that reality then a chance to sneak into the draft and relevance, along with the chance to begin developing as a pro and as a natural 4, in that role, as a 4 in the pros…somewhere, makes sense now for seemingly every reason. If so, then the decision will be an easy one, although none too easy on fans of the Terps.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 03 May 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Mixed Martial Arts-Bellator Fighting Championships 43 (Saturday 9pm from Newkirk, OK live on MTV2); Arena Football: AFL Tampa Bay Storm @ Orlando Predators (Friday 8pm from Orlando live on NFL Network); Soccer: MLS-Seattle Sounders FC @ DC United (Wednesday 7:30pm from RFK Stadium live on MLS Direct Kick), FC Dallas @ DC United (Saturday 7:30pm from RFK Stadium live on MLS Direct Kick)

10. Carbon Leaf (Saturday 7pm Rams Head Live), Manchester Orchestra/Cage The Elephant (Sunday 6:30pm Rams Head Live), Donald Glover (Monday 7pm Rams Head Live); Mint Condition (Saturday 7pm Bourbon Street); Ballyhoo (Saturday 7pm Recher Theatre); Asia (Tuesday & Wednesday 8pm Rams Head On Stage); FOALS/Freelance Whales/The Naked & Famous (Saturday 8pm 9:30 Club), Airborne Toxic Event (Sunday 8pm 9:30 Club); Talib Kweli (Wednesday 8pm Sonar), Bowling For Soup (Friday 8pm Sonar); All Time Low/Yellowcard (Saturday 7pm RAC Arena-UMBC); Towson University Tigerfest feat. Brand New, Reel Big Fish, Far East Movement (Friday 3pm Unitas Stadium); Plain White T’s/Parachute (Saturday 12:45pm Pimlico); Harland Williams (Thursday-Sunday DC Improv); Beastie Boys “Hot Sauce Committee Part 2″ available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

If you’re not familiar with Carbon Leaf…I suggest you get familiar with them as soon as possible…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcyS90pdcuw[/youtube]

I REALLY dig Cage The Elephant. I mean, I REALLY dig Cage The Elephant. This song is quite good…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v27TRan1SBI[/youtube]

Airborne Toxic Event=totally underrated…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKEu3EmBCzQ[/youtube]

Really surprised Towson couldn’t do better than Brand New and Reel Big Fish for Tigerfest. But at least I really dig “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad”…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlAqE1zgY-I[/youtube]

9. Maryland Film Festival (Thursday-Sunday Charles Theater), Ocean City Springfest (Thursday-Saturday 10am Ocean City inlet)

George Jones and Richard Marx are the headliners for this year’s Springfest. Now word on why Rick Astley wasn’t available.

As far as the Maryland Film Festival is concerned-I’ve amazingly never attended the event. I feel a bit ashamed as a Baltimore native to say that, as the event is one of the city’s more significant economically.

Of course, I feel like I would have been more inclined to make sure I got out there had they ever screened something more along the lines of…say…Superbad…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNib30GghKw[/youtube]

8. Deadline for underclassmen to remove name from NBA Draft (Sunday)

This is a little bit different than the last time this day was significant for area sports fans.

In 2009, Terps fans were concerned about the future of guard Greivis Vasquez after an impressive run to the NCAA Tournament. The “Vivacious Venezuelan” rewarded Terrapins fans by returning and leading the team to an ACC regular season title.

This year-we’re not expecting the news to be quite as good.

Gary Williams’ team is coming off a disappointing year that ended with the team even being left out of the NIT. Now it appears that All-ACC, All-American big man Jordan Williams will not give Maryland fans the same good news that Vasquez did two years ago.

If the news goes the wrong way Maryland fans, take heart. We still get to keep this thing he did to Jon Scheyer…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAF6i1DvZ5s[/youtube]

7. Golf: PGA Tour Wells Fargo Championship (Thursday & Friday 3pm live on Golf Channel, Saturday & Sunday 3pm live on CBS. All golf from Charlotte, NC); Champions Tour Regions Tradition (Thursday & Friday 1pm, Saturday & Sunday 3pm from Shoal Creek, AL live on Golf Channel)

I have no idea what’s going on in the world of golf. Forrester kept saying something about Bubba Watson this morning, but I figured that was because he was involved in some sort of weird dream sequence Drew had.

But in golf-related news, former “Big Break” star Nicole Sikora recently changed her Facebook profile picture. I’m assuming she did so because she loves America…

sikora

6. Auto Racing: NASCAR Showtime Southern 500 (Saturday 7:30pm from Darlington, SC live on FOX)

So we’ve reached the part of this where I literally have nothing to say about NASCAR. As I’m writing this, I looked at my girlfriend and said “can you help me with some shtick?”

She said…”How much does it cost for a pirate to get his ears pierced?”

I responded, “I don’t know.”

She said “A buck an ear.”

This has been the first episode of “a contribution from my girlfriend.” I’m sure it was a hit.

5. NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference Semifinals: Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat (Game 2 Tuesday 7pm from Miami live on TNT, Game 3 Saturday 8pm from Boston live on ABC, Game 4 Monday 7pm from Boston live on TNT), Atlanta Hawks vs. Chicago Bulls (Game 2 Wednesday 8pm from Chicago live on TNT, Game 3 Friday 7pm from Atlanta live on ESPN, Game 4 Sunday 8pm from Atlanta live on TNT); Western Conference Semifinals: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (Game 2 Tuesday 9:30pm from Oklahoma City live on TNT, Game 3 Saturday 5pm from Memphis live on ESPN, Game 4 Monday 9:30pm from Memphis live on TNT), Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Lakers (Game 2 Wednesday 10:30pm from LA live on TNT, Game 3 Friday 9:30pm from Dallas live on ESPN, Game 4 Sunday 3:30pm from Dallas live on ABC)

Holy crap could Greivis Vasquez’s run in the NBA Playoffs be any more exciting? I’m not sure I can even find Memphis on a map, but I’m the biggest fan of the Grizz of all time!

So much so that I recently purchased this t-shirt…

grizz

4. Boxing: Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley (Saturday 9pm from Las Vegas live on Showtime Pay-Per-View); Friday Night Fights: Gilberto Sanchez Leon vs. Diego Magdaleno (Friday 10pm from Las Vegas live on ESPN2)

Is there any way for me to make a joke about the fact that the biggest boxing matches of the year always come right after Cinco De Mayo and yet not have it sound racist?

Nope. Okay, moving on…

Cinco De Mayo is Thursday. I’ll be celebrating by drinking a lot of Pacifico and doing the Macarena.

That’s what people do on Cinco De Mayo, right?

3. NHL Playoffs: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (Game 3 Tuesday 6:30pm from Tampa live on Comcast SportsNet & VERSUS, Game 4 Wednesday 7pm from Tampa live on Comcast SportsNet, Game 5 if necessary Saturday 12:30pm from Verizon Center live on NBC, Game 6 if necessary Monday TBD from Tampa live on Comcast SportsNet & VERSUS)

So, while we all know I’m rooting for the Bolts during this series, but I encourage you to come join me at The Dark Horse in Bel Air Tuesday night to root on the Caps.

Yep, I’m as confused as you. But it’ll be fun because we’re drinking beer.

In the meantime, I share with you this picture. I’m not sure what it is, but here it is.

hockey

Hockey is so great.

2. College Lacrosse: Johns Hopkins @ Army (Friday 7pm from West Point, NY live on CBS Sports); Colgate @ Maryland (Saturday 3pm Byrd Stadium); ECAC Tournament: Loyola vs. Fairfield (Thursday 6pm from Denver live on AM1570 WNST), ECAC Championship Game (Saturday 1pm from Denver live on ESPNU-and AM1570 WNST if Greyhounds win Thursday); America East Tournament: UMBC @ Hartford (Wednesday 7pm from Hartford); NCAA Tournament Selection Show (Sunday 9pm live on ESPNU)

Best news about Selection Sunday? Monday will be BRACKET DAY! $15 to get in on my pool, but don’t be a pansy and pick all one seeds to get through. No way Syracuse, JHU, Maryland and Notre Dame all find their way to Baltimore!

Good luck to the Retrievers and Hounds, who will be fighting to get their way into the Dance. If they don’t make it, they can get a nice parting gift from me…this picture of Lisa Marie de Oliviera. (Thanks, Gorilla Mask!)

lisamarie

1. Horse Racing: Kentucky Derby (Saturday 4pm from Louisville live on NBC), Kentucky Oaks (Friday 5pm from Louisville live on VERSUS)

I’m really bitter I won’t be going.

But I’ll share a few things with you anyway. One-if you’re headed to Chuchill Downs, bring sunglasses…

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

Two, don’t bet on anyone Rick from Reisterstown tells you to bet on…

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

Three, if you don’t like this…move to Russia. This is the best moment in sports…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWbNPQ7XWG4[/youtube]

And as a bonus, here are my friends from Nappy Roots. This song is incredible. I can’t believe I won’t be there…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_f8EiNTuh8[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Terps coach Gary Williams on Jordan Williams draft decision: “Jordan is looking at things…he has every right to do that.”

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Terps coach Gary Williams on Jordan Williams draft decision: “Jordan is looking at things…he has every right to do that.”

Posted on 31 March 2011 by Ryan Chell

Jordan Williams and Gary Williams

Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams has had a little time on his hands to sit back and take in what occurred to his Terps squad in 2010-2011, and while he is already in gear for next season-hopefully with star Jordan Williams in the fold-he joined “The Morning Reaction” this week to give his thoughts on the Final Four from an outside perspective.

Williams-who has taken two Maryland teams to similar Final Four appearances in 2001 and 2002-joined Drew Forrester on Tuesday and said that each of these teams left in the tournament-from your major powerhouses like Kentucky and UConn and your newcomers in Butler and VCU-are here for a reason.

“I know that’s all the big part of it,” Williams said of how crazy this tournament has been given some of the upsets. “It’s all about how well you’re playing going in. Every once in awhile, you get one of those teams who just has one of the nights where they’re not shooting the ball well. But once the tournament is seeded, that doesn’t matter anymore. You need to win the game you’re playing.”

Williams had a ton of respect to throw toward two of his fellow coaching counterparts in Kentucky’s John Calipari and Jim Calhoun of Connecticut for leading yet another team to the Final Four, and the Maryland coach said that those two coaches in particular are the best of the best when it comes to getting that high level of play out of their players.

“Calhoun and Calipari first of all get their players to play,” Williams said. “The players they have in the program play really hard, and are very well coached.”

A lot of basketball fans and the media on the outside of the business may criticize a coach like Gary Williams for heralding coaches proven to be cheaters in the past, especially with Calipari who has vacated two previous Final Four appearances, but Williams said that it’s up to  them to make their own opinions of what Jim Calhoun and John Calipari are and how forgiving they are of their past transgressions.

“People will get their own chance to make their own judgment,” Williams said. “I think that’s what important with the media. They just put it out there there-every part of it. The fact is, they are good coaches and people can judge that. They can decide whatever they want to about that situation.”

In the end, Williams said-it’s all about something special for the players, and that’s where the focus should remain.

“I think that the one thing for these young guys-and obviously I’m not a young guy anymore in this game-this game is a great game.”

And for one of those young guys in Terps center-forward Jordan Williams, who was the Terps best player in 2011 leading Maryland in scoring with 16.9 ppg and 11.8 rgg.

He set a single-season record with 25 double-doubles and broke longtime Maryland great Len Elmore’s record of straight double-doubles.

It was also announced Tuesday-immediately after Gary Williams joined “The Morning Reaction” that Jordan Williams had submitted his paperwork and applied for the 2011 NBA Draft, but as of this moment has not hired an agent, keeping his NCAA eligibility alive.

His coach addressed his potential interest in going pro after his sophomore year.

“Jordan, like a lot of guys, is looking at things,” Gary Williams said. “Other than that, that’s all he’s doing and he has every right to do that. It’s just an ongoing discussion, but he needs to do what’s best for him and his family.”

Williams compared Jordan’s situation to that of Greivis Vasquez a few years ago when he too probed his NBA draft status before deciding to come back for his senior year.

Williams said he wishes Jordan all the best in the NBA should he decide to go pro, but he also said that his star player should really think about his time in college as being several of the best years of a person’s life and an era that one shouldn’t pass up or take for granted.

“You only get four years in college, no matter how good you are,” Gary said. “If you’ve ever hung around the pros, once they go the play-no matter how successful they are in the NBA-they always talk about their college experience.”

“We had Kevin Durant in here playing pick-up games over the summer after his season was over. All he talked about was how much he enjoyed his one year at Texas…how he wished there was a way he could still play there. That’s a guy making a lot of money, but the college experience is unbelievable.”

Jordan Williams is a star at Maryland. In the pros, it will definitely take some time for him to get to that level again.

“When you go to the NBA, you’re not a star anymore. I’ve talked to Greivis a lot this year, and it’s really tough year for him because it’s lonely. You’re making good money, and that’s fine. But at the same time all your friends are here, and it’s dog-eat-dog out there. It’s like any other profession, you have to go hard everyday.”

WNST thanks Coach Gary Williams for joining Drew on “The Morning Reaction!” Check out his chat at the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Maryland misery: What happened and what’s next for the Terps?

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Maryland misery: What happened and what’s next for the Terps?

Posted on 15 March 2011 by Luke Jones

As you settled in Tuesday night to embark in this new era of the “First Four” and tried to figure out what channel truTV was on, or if you settled for the ho-hum action of the NIT, the noticeable absence of Maryland basketball leaves many in the area pondering the same question.

What’s next for the Terps?

After failing to qualify for the NCAA tournament or NIT for the first time since 1993, Maryland finds itself in territory not seen in College Park since the inky shadow of NCAA probation was still lingering. But after a couple days to digest the duel rejection that ended a season of disappointment, are you really that distraught over missing out on the NIT, a tournament nobody wanted to go to anyway?

In retrospect, what did you really expect entering the 2010-11 season?

Losing three key seniors, including ACC player of the year Greivis Vasquez, not only left a 54.5 percent hole in scoring, but also valuable leadership difficult to replace. Beyond the anticipated improvement of Jordan Williams — who blossomed into the best big man in the ACC as a sophomore — coach Gary Williams would bestow his hopes on three seniors who combined to score 14.7 points per game as juniors to lead the Terps back to the NCAA tournament for the third straight year.

Repeating as ACC regular season co-champions seemed out of the question, but reaching the tournament was a possibility if the ball bounced Maryland’s way.

It proved to be too much to ask of a disappointing senior class — which originally included forwards Braxton Dupree and Shane Walker who left the program for Towson and Loyola respectively — that never lived up to lofty expectations. Ironically, it was Baltimore’s Dino Gregory, the least distinguished of the trio through three seasons, who showed the most improvement and outshone his veteran counterparts. His leadership and 9.1 scoring average was the bright spot of the senior class.

The first half of Adrian Bowie’s career was stronger than the finish, starting 28 games as a sophomore, but the Greenbelt product struggled to shoot consistently enough to make a significant impact in his final two seasons.

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And, of course, there was the curious case of Cliff Tucker. Entering his senior season, many envisioned a Drew Nicholas-like senior season for Tucker after playing behind the likes of Vasquez and Eric Hayes. Instead, despite a strong start in which he reached double figures in narrow losses to Pitt and Illinois, he turned out to be, well, Cliff Tucker, the athletic and frustratingly inconsistent figure who could take over a game one moment and dribble the ball off his foot the next.

It’s a group that will be remembered for not being good enough, a description befitting the entire season.

Unlike most teams during Williams’ tenure at Maryland, this one never improved collectively, the curse of poor long-range shooting, inconsistency from the line, painful scoring droughts, and shoddy perimeter defense dooming the Terps countless times against the better teams on the schedule.

It was the improvement of freshmen Terrell Stoglin, Pe’Shon Howard, and Haukur Palsson that was often needed to counter the decline of Tucker and the inconsistency of Bowie and junior Sean Mosley down the stretch as Maryland held on to slim hopes of reaching the field of 68. The trio showed promise for the future, but growing pains escorted that development as the Terps dropped four of their last five games to end the 19-14 campaign.

For the fourth time in seven years, Maryland has fallen short of the NCAA tournament, and the detractors are once again pushing for change at the top. The effects of an underwhelming senior class are the responsibility of the man who recruited them.

What now for the iconic coach?

Regardless of where you stand with Williams, who has two years remaining on his current contract, the end is approaching some time in the not-so-distant future. For perspective, the legendary North Carolina coach Dean Smith stepped down at age 66, the same age Williams reached earlier this month. Crediting his good health, Williams has appeared re-energized since a not-so-secret attempt to push him away from the Maryland sideline two years ago. Still, Father Time waits for no one, and Williams’ departure is a reality for which athletic director Kevin Anderson must plan.

Despite the decline of the program since a national championship in 2002, the collective success of Williams’ 22 years at Maryland cannot be diminished, regardless of how entitled or disenchanted some might feel. He has earned the right to decide, within reason, when he’ll walk away from a Hall of Fame career, but you have to wonder if the hourglass has expired for him to guide the Terps back to the consistent top-25 — and even better — status they enjoyed a decade ago.

Even being in the November of his coaching career, I’ll still take Williams, the in-game coach, against anyone with comparable talent. But therein lies the problem. The Maryland coach cannot continue to bring a knife to a gun fight and expect favorable results over the long haul. A program cannot afford to have recruiting classes such as the one graduating in May without experiencing major bumps in the road.

Consistently falling to Duke and North Carolina in their best years is understandable. Finishing 0-5 against Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Miami — three NIT teams — and compiling a 10-20 mark against the three former Big East defectors since 2005 is unacceptable. Nobody knows that more than Williams.

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Shell-shocked Terps left out of N.I.T. field as season comes to end

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Shell-shocked Terps left out of N.I.T. field as season comes to end

Posted on 13 March 2011 by Luke Jones

Following their 87-71 loss to Duke in the ACC tournament quarterfinals on Friday, the Terps knew they wouldn’t be playing in the NCAA tournament.

Little did they know the NIT would also pass on them, ending their season without even knowing it as they walked off the Greensboro Coliseum floor.

For the first time since 1992-93, Maryland (19-14) will not appear in a postseason tournament, snapping the longest active streak in the ACC and ending a disappointing season sooner than expected.

“After 19 wins and beating Penn State, Florida State and Clemson, it’s disappointing that we’re not at least in the NIT,” said Gary Williams in a released statement Sunday night. “We played right with Duke for 35 minutes and got a win in the ACC tournament. It’s kind of surprising we weren’t selected.”

This year’s National Invitation Tournament includes 14 regular season champions who — by not winning their conference tournaments to qualify for the NCAA field of 68 — received automatic bids under NIT rules. This left only 18 at-large bids for the 32-team tournament, and given Maryland’s unimpressive resume that included only one win against top-50 RPI schools, the Terps (98th in the RPI, according to RealTimeRPI.com) painfully found themselves on the outside looking in.

The NIT invited three ACC teams: Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Miami. Duke, North Carolina, Florida State, and Clemson were selected earlier Sunday to represent the conference in the NCAA tournament.

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Despite the relative embarrassment of not even being invited to the bridesmaid’s postseason tournament, Sunday’s news doesn’t change what we already knew about this team. Despite close calls and competitive stretches against some of the best teams in the country, Maryland just wasn’t a very impressive basketball team. An NIT selection and subsequent run wouldn’t have changed that, but it would have brought added experience for the freshman backcourt of Terrell Stoglin and Pe’Shon Howard.

If you’re looking for a nugget of optimism after a humbling Sunday night, the last season in which Maryland failed to appear in the postseason was followed by a Sweet 16 appearance the following year (1993-94). With a promising recruiting class including City College star Nick Faust coming to College Park next season, fortunes could turn quickly for the Terps.

Of course, that will overwhelmingly hinge on the plans of all-conference sophomore Jordan Williams, who will explore his NBA draft prospects this spring. However, considering early draft projections and the NBA’s labor unrest looming for next season, logic would point to Williams returning for his junior season, improving Maryland’s chances to rebound from its first postseason absence in almost 20 years.

“We worked very hard to get to where we were with 19 wins this year,” the Maryland coach said. “We’re looking forward to the start of next season.”

Even so, the sting of the season coming to an end sooner than anticipated will last well into March and linger until the Terps receive clarity on their star’s future plans.

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Late collapse to Duke paints (im)perfect picture of Maryland’s season

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Late collapse to Duke paints (im)perfect picture of Maryland’s season

Posted on 12 March 2011 by Luke Jones

If you’ve been seeking the abridged version of a frustrating season for Maryland, the final 10 minutes of an 87-71 loss to Duke on Friday night revealed everything you needed to know about the Terps.

After an impressive performance over the first 30 minutes against the second-seeded Blue Devils in the ACC tournament quarterfinals, the Terps were in position to challenge the No. 5 team in the country, trailing 63-60 after a Dino Gregory layup at the 10:13 mark.

All-ACC senior Nolan Smith was ineffective throughout the night and left the game with a toe injury with just under seven minutes left. The normally sharpshooting Blue Devils were a paltry 3-for-15 from beyond the arc. And despite a huge night from  all-conference senior Kyle Singler (29 points for the game), the Maryland defense swarmed the ball on nearly every possession, leaving a perimeter-dependent team with few open looks.

Opportunity was sitting right there as Maryland had essentially made it a 10-minute game against one of the best teams in the country. It wasn’t the near-perfect performance they needed to secure the upset, but Duke’s struggles had allowed an energized Maryland team to hang around.

And then, like we’ve seen all too many times this season, the Terps completely crumbled and Duke clutched them by the throat, squeezing the final breath out of their far-fetched NCAA tournament hopes and leaving them to wait for the NIT selection show on Sunday night.

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The Blue Devils outscored them by a 24-11 margin over the the final 10 minutes as the Terps would go scoreless for nearly six minutes after Gregory’s layup, failing to bank another field goal until Pe’Shon Howard’s bucket with 4:03 to play. Maryland turned the ball over at crucial times, looking confused and out of its league as Duke seized control.

Poor free-throw shooting (15-for-28) throughout the night was magnified as a manageable deficit became too much to overcome with the Terps turning ice-cold and Duke making its free throws (14-for-15 in the second half) in the final minutes.

Despite 16 points and 16 rebounds from Jordan Williams, the sophomore’s 2-for-10 showing from the line made it a fruitless effort to get him the ball inside to draw contact. Cliff Tucker chipped in 12 points while Gregory and Howard added 10 apiece, but no one could spark the struggling Maryland offense late as the scoring drought grew longer and the deficit wider.

Terrell Stoglin continued his struggles against Duke, scoring six points and turning it over five times. His late-season maturity reverted back to the look of a frustrated freshman for much of the evening, but one would hope better days are ahead for the talented point guard against the Blue Devils.

And just like that, it was over. What had been an entertaining first 30 minutes transformed into a 16-point defeat, Maryland’s third of the season to Duke.

Truthfully, no one expected the Terps to pose much of a threat to Mike Krzyzewski’s group, who is aiming for another No.1 seed in the NCAA tournament and a possible rematch with North Carolina in the ACC tournament championship. Duke will play Virginia Tech in the semifinal Saturday while North Carolina takes on Clemson.

In contrast, Gary Williams will now lead an underwhelming group to the NIT for the fourth time in seven years. A rivalry that was once more competitive than Duke’s storied war with North Carolina — for several years, mind you — has dissipated to the sound of nine losses in the last 10 games to the Blue Devils.

After losing the ACC Player of the Year and two other key seniors who accounted for more than half of the team’s scoring a year ago, the Terps just weren’t good enough to play a full 40 minutes against the better teams in the country this season. The results speak for themselves.

The effort was there Friday night — a refreshing change after lifeless showings against Miami and Virginia to close the regular season — but the talent wasn’t there to finish the job.

As Gary Williams said following last Saturday’s loss to Virginia, “close doesn’t count, especially this time of year.”

It’s a lesson the Terps are painfully familiar with this season.

One they’ll take with them to the glamourless NIT.

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Terps pass easy test over N.C. State in ACC tourney opener

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Terps pass easy test over N.C. State in ACC tourney opener

Posted on 10 March 2011 by Luke Jones

Give Maryland credit for not mailing it in after losing three straight to finish the regular season.

The seventh-seeded Terps did what they were supposed to in a 75-67 victory over N.C. State in the opening round of the ACC tournament. It wasn’t the prettiest performance, but it didn’t need to be against the Wolfpack, who couldn’t have put forth a more lifeless effort in the likely final game of the Sidney Lowe era.

Jordan Williams’ 16 points and 13 rebounds punched Maryland’s ticket for a second-round matchup against Duke on Friday night, giving the Terps a third opportunity to gain a win over the Blue Devils in 2011.

The Terps held N.C. State to 33.8 percent shooting and an anemic 2-for-17 performance from beyond the arc, interrupting an alarming trend of sloppy perimeter defense over the last month. The Wolfpack’s leading scorer Tracy Smith — dealing with a sore knee that forced him to come off the bench — lacked his normal energy, and sophomore Scott Wood (0-for-6 from 3-point range) failed to find the rhythm he enjoyed against the Terps last month.

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Maryland (19-13) exploded to an early 12-2 lead and never trailed in the game, dictating the tempo despite several sloppy stretches that invited the Wolfpack to climb back in the game.

None were more uncomfortable than the final four minutes of the game after the Terps had built a comfortable 68-53 lead. A 10-2 Wolfpack run cut the deficit to 70-63 with 1:37 to play as Maryland struggled to simply bring the ball into the frontcourt on a few occasions. Following a timeout with 1:29 to play, the Terps regained their bearings as freshman guards Pe’Shon Howard and Terrell Stoglin made a combined five of six free throws to secure the victory.

It wasn’t as easy as it should have been given the Wolfpack’s junior-varsity showing, but the Terps earned a second day of life in Greensboro.

But now Maryland faces the big boys after taking advantage of the disinterested Wolfpack.

Following a disappointing loss to North Carolina last Saturday that cost them the ACC regular-season title, Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils have had all week to stew over their loss to the Tar Heels, an idea that doesn’t bode well for the Terps.

Maryland has already suffered the aftershock of a Duke loss this season, getting blown out in an 80-62 shellacking at Comcast Center on Feb. 2 that came three days after the Blue Devils’ embarrassing 15-point loss to St. John’s.

The Terps have lost eight of their last nine against Duke, who is undoubtedly eyeing an opportunity for revenge against the Tar Heels on Sunday. First-team all-conference seniors Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler will have no intentions of an early exit in their final ACC tournament.

Needless to say, it won’t be easy for Maryland to pull off the upset.

But Duke isn’t the dominant force inside the paint it was a year ago, leaving the door open for a potential big night by Williams, who scored 23 points in the seven-point loss in Durham and 20 in the teams’ second meeting.

The Blue Devils always depend on the 3-pointer, but that dependence is even more dramatic this season, leaving them vulnerable on off-shooting nights.

Following his quiet two-point performance at home against Duke, Stoglin’s play came to life as the freshman reached double digits in eight of his next nine games to emerge as the second-best scorer on the team. We’ll see what he’s learned from his first two games against the Blue Devils.

The defending national champions have looked far from invincible down the stretch, losing two of three to finish the regular season.

A near-perfect game will give Maryland a legitimate chance.

It’s the type of performance we haven’t seen from the Terps all season.

But they’ll have one more chance to do it.

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Maryland Assistant Bino Ranson: “Main Focus Is Going Down [To] Greensboro and Beating NC State”

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Maryland Assistant Bino Ranson: “Main Focus Is Going Down [To] Greensboro and Beating NC State”

Posted on 09 March 2011 by John Collingsworth

The Maryland Terrapins are not making their road to the NCAA Tournament this season a very smooth ride. With the team losing their last three games, the most recent defeat coming this past Saturday on ‘Senior Day’ to the University of Virginia 74-60, they will have to travel down to Greensboro, North Carolina and knock off some heavy weights in the ACC Tournament to even be considered for the ‘Big Dance.’

With the players and coaches frustrated over their dismal performances, University of Maryland’s Men’s Assistant Basketball Coach, Bino Ranson, joined Thyrl Nelson and Glenn Clark on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” Tuesday to discuss how the team has responded following these disheartening losses.

“They responded in a positive way, a way in which you want them to respond,” Ranson told Nelson. “They want to win…their main focus is going down Greensboro and beating North Carolina State.”

Having emotions play a major role towards the end of the season, especially for the seniors, Adrian Bowie, Dino Gregory, and Cliff Tucker, this is their last opportunity to make a run at something special. Coach Ranson expressed his feelings about seeing his players upset and distraught at practice this week.

“You want to see that… as a coach when you see that, it gives you things to work with… if no one is showing any type of emotion then it’s hard for you to get up,” Ranson said, “so when they show emotion and show they’re upset… it shows us that they are here and want to do this.”

Head Coach Gary Williams, in his 21stseason at Maryland, realizes that at some point you have to look towards the future of the program and see what players you have that will make you a championship caliber contender consistently. Ranson acknowledged this fact, but was also quick to point out that there are still games to be won this year.

“You have to be careful, but also have to play to win. And Coach [Williams] is going to play the guys that is going to give us the best opportunity to win and I think that is what coach has been doing all year long,” Ranson went on to say. “Who are the five going to be out there to give us the best chance to win.”

One of those five has been freshman forward Mychal Parker, from Washington, North Carolina. A 4-star prospect according to Rivals.com last year, Parker looks to play a larger role in the upcoming ACC Tournament, and Coach Ranson agrees too.

“What Mychal has done is that he has worked hard, he has never gotten frustrated in terms of upset with us [the coaching staff]. He has come to practice every day and did what we asked him and now he is getting the opportunity,” Ranson explained.

With Parker showing signs of greatness for the future in College Park, two other players have been recognized for their outstanding play this season for the Terps.

Freshman Terrell Stoglin was named to the ‘Freshman All-ACC Team’ and sophomore Jordan Williams was named to the ‘All-ACC First Team’ and also ‘Third Team All-America’ by FOXSports.com & Yahoo! Sports this week.

Terrell Stoglin (11.6 PPG, 3.3 APG) has stepped up this season for Gary Williams and the folks down at Maryland in a big way. “From day one, I have seen Terrell grow,” Coach Bino Ranson told the guys. “In practice… we played one-on-one, he kind of got the best of me and I was like ‘That’s a fluke!’ But he kept doing it over and over and over again in terms of coming to practice and competing. I’ll tell you what, Terrell is a competitor and I love coaching him and I think the best is yet to come for him.”

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The sensational Jordan Williams (16.9 PPG, 11.6 RPG) has lived up to the expectations this season, and then some. He was the only underclassman to be selected to ‘All-ACC First Team’, and was the second leading point’s receiver behind Duke’s Nolan Smith this year. With his nearly 12 rebounds a game (Side Note: He led the ACC in rebounds and was ranked 3rd nationally during the regular season), Williams has flourished for the Terps, and into a top NBA prospect in the near future.

SPOKANE, WA - MARCH 21: Jordan Williams #20 of the Maryland Terrapins listens to head coach Gary Williams against the Michigan State Spartans during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Spokane Arena on March 21, 2010 in Spokane, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

“First of all, Jordan is a great kid,” Ranson explained to Clark and Nelson. “When you have those kind of expectations and you have to go live up to them and you actually live up to them, that’s a testament in itself of how Jordan has handled it.”

With all the personal accolades passed out, it is now time to focus on the job at hand, playing for an ACC Title, starting with NC State.

Upcoming Game Notes:

Maryland (18-13, 7-9 ACC), the 7th seed will face North Carolina State (15-15, 5-11 ACC), the 10th seed Thursday night at 7:00pm in Greensboro on ESPN 2 in the First Round of the ACC Tournament. The winner will play the Duke Blue Devils (27-4, 13-3 ACC), the 2nd seed Friday night at 7:00pm in the Quarterfinals.

These two teams are limping into the ACC tournament as the Terps have lost their last 3 games and the Wolfpack have lost 4 out of their last 5 games.

In the last matchup between these two squads, Maryland was victorious with a 87-80 win on February 20th in the Comcast Center.

The last time Maryland faced off against NC State in the ACC Tournament was in 2009, when the Terps edged the Wolfpack 74-69.

 

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