Tag Archive | "Jordan Williams"

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Maryland’s J. Williams, Stoglin grab ACC honors

Posted on 07 March 2011 by Luke Jones

Having completed one of the most successful seasons by a big man in the history of Maryland basketball, Jordan Williams was selected to the all-ACC first team on Monday afternoon.

The sophomore from Torrington, Conn. received 210 points from the 75 members of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association, second-most overall behind Duke’s senior guard Nolan Smith who was the only unanimous choice. Virginia Tech senior — and Baltimore native — Malcolm Delaney, Duke senior Kyle Singler, and Boston College junior Reggie Jackson round out the first team of all-ACC players.

Williams led the ACC and was third nationally in rebounding (11.6 per game) and posted a single-season school record of 23 double-doubles in his second season in College Park. His 16.9 points per game average was sixth in the conference and 54.1 percent field-goal percentage was second in the ACC.

The national recognition continues to pour in for Williams as he also earned third-team selections on the FOXsports.com and Yahoo! Sports All-America basketball teams.

Point guard Terrell Stoglin capped off a spectacular finish to the regular season by grabbing all-freshman honors, joining North Carolina’s Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes, Wake Forest’s Travis McKie, and N.C. State’s C.J. Leslie.

The freshman from Tuscon, Ariz. averaged 19.1 points per game over the season’s final eight contests, boosting his scoring average to 11.6 and overtaking Cliff Tucker for second on the team. Stoglin grabbed ACC Rookie of the Week honors on Feb. 21 after back-to-back 25-point efforts and again the following week by scoring 17 against Florida State and a career-high 28 in a loss at North Carolina.

Stoglin scored 20 or more points in four of the team’s final six games — starting the final five — and led the Terps in free-throw percentage (83.5).

2011 marks the second straight year in which a Maryland player received first-team all-ACC honors (Greivis Vasquez in 2010) and a freshman received an all-rookie selection (Williams in 2010).

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Terps’ late-season fade continues with 74-60 loss to Virginia

Posted on 05 March 2011 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Minutes after Maryland’s regular season concluded with a third straight loss, Gary Williams offered a remark that could summarize his team’s entire season.

“Close doesn’t count, especially this time of year. You have to figure out a way to win those games.”

It’s a mantra that rings true for a team that’s failed to close out victories against top opponents and to complete comeback efforts on several occasions.

It’s the reality the Terps now face, needing to win four straight in the conference tournament as their only means to make the NCAA tournament.

Continuing their late-season collapse, the Terps fell to Virginia, 74-60, in a game controlled by the Cavaliers all afternoon on Maryland’s Senior Day. The loss leaves Maryland (18-13, 7-9 ACC) with a three-game losing streak to finish the regular season for the first time since 2005 and Williams to search for answers before the ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C. next weekend.

The Cavaliers (16-14, 7-9 ACC) slowed the tempo to their liking, turning it over just six times as Maryland’s full-court pressure failed to produce any points off turnovers. Virginia received career-high performances by junior center Assane Sene (15 points) and junior guard Sammy Zeglinski, who torched the Terps for 25 points on six 3-pointers. The pair combined for eight points in the teams’ first meeting, a 66-42 Maryland victory in Charlottesville on Jan. 27.

Virginia’s 8-for-17 performance from beyond the arc continued a disturbing trend for the Maryland perimeter defense that allowed wide-open looks to Zeglinski all afternoon.

“They did a better job of running their offense as opposed to us,” Williams said. “There’s no excuses in a situation like that.”

Even so, the Terps found themselves in a familiar position to what they faced at Miami on Wednesday, using an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 63-58 with 5:12 remaining. However, Maryland could get no closer, scoring just two points the rest of the way as Virginia finished the afternoon with a 9-0 run to beat the Terps at Comcast Center for the first time since 2007.

Maryland shot just 37.5 percent in the second half, scoring 27 points in its attempt to erase a 37-33 halftime deficit. Williams pointed to missed shots in the paint when the gap was narrowed, allowing Tony Bennett’s squad to regain control down the stretch.

“It was close and then they pulled away, and then we had to fight back,” said Jordan Williams, who led the team with 17 points and six rebounds. “It was an uphill battle all night. We kind of just let them play with us early. We should have just taken them out of the game at the beginning, but we didn’t do that.”

The Maryland coach’s frustration level bubbled over in the second half when he drew his first technical foul in over two years. At one point, Williams sent the unconventional lineup of Dino Gregory, Pe’Shon Howard, Mychal Parker, Hawk Palsoon, and Berend Weijs to the floor in the second half, looking for the spark his regular rotation was not providing.

The Terps did get closer, but not close enough, as Gary Williams put it so bluntly.

After meek losses to Miami and Virginia, he’s looking for answers in every nook and cranny. And finding none.

“Monday’s practice will be interesting in terms of trying to find the right guys to go down there and represent us in the ACC tournament,” Williams said.

It’s the type of comment you expect to hear at the start of the season — not in March.

Maryland will now attempt to become the first team to win four straight in the ACC tournament since it was expanded to the current format in 2005. The Terps will play as the seventh seed in Greensboro should Miami fall at Georgia Tech on Sunday; Maryland falls to eighth if the Hurricanes defeat the Yellow Jackets.

In a down year for the ACC, it shows just how far the Terps have fallen from a year ago when they shared the regular season title with Duke and were led by ACC Player of the Year Greivis Vasquez. Unlike the Baltimore native Gregory, who’s been one of the few pleasant surprises in an otherwise disappointing year, the senior backcourt of Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker failed to elevate their respective games nearly enough to put the Terps in a position to make it back to the Big Dance.

Senior Day was a painful conclusion, as the two combined for just 10 points while Gregory had 15 to continue his strong play down the stretch.

Unfortunately, it’s a senior class that will go down as one of the most disappointing of the Gary Williams era, with only Gregory raising his play substantially during his time in College Park. When you consider forwards Braxton Dupree (transferred to Towson) and Shane Walker (Loyola) had already left the program, the recruiting class of 2007 appears even more critical to the team’s downfall in 2011.

Gary Williams and the Terps will try to make the best of their trip to the Greensboro Coliseum, stating they expect to make noise in Greensboro and knowing their only option is to win four in a row.

But their recent play resembles a group that will struggle to survive Thursday’s first-round match-up, much less make it to Championship Sunday.

“We’re struggling right now, but next week I think it’s going to be a whole different team,” freshman Pe’Shon Howard said. “I think we’re going to do well in the ACC tournament.”

Valiant words, but it’s been the same result all season.

Close, but no cigar.

Why would it change now?

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Maryland-Virginia: Turtle Power live chat at 2:00

Posted on 05 March 2011 by Luke Jones

***Join us in the Turtle Power live chat as Maryland takes on the Virginia Cavaliers in the regular season finale***

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — It’s Senior Day at Comcast Center as the Maryland Terrapins (18-12, 7-8 ACC) close out the regular season by hosting the Virginia Cavaliers (15-14, 6-9 ACC) at 2:00.

Seniors Dino Gregory, Cliff Tucker, and Adrian Bowie will be honored as they play their final regular season game in College Park. The senior class has clearly been a disappointment this season with Maryland counting on the three to play bigger roles after losing over half of its point production from a season ago.

Despite an NCAA tournament bid looking to be out of reach unless the Terps win the ACC tournament, Maryland will look to close out the regular season on a high note by reaching the .500 mark in conference play and build some momentum heading into Greensboro, N.C. next Thursday.

This afternoon’s game can be seen on the ACC Network (WNUV-TV 54 in Baltimore) with Tim Brant and Dave Odom calling the action from Comcast Center. As always, join us in the Turtle Power chat beginning at 2:00 and follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates and analysis from College Park.

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Terps make flimsy March statement in 80-66 loss at Miami

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Terps make flimsy March statement in 80-66 loss at Miami

Posted on 02 March 2011 by Luke Jones

Depending on how you viewed Maryland’s remote NCAA tournament hopes entering Wednesday night’s game at Miami, it might not have mattered how the Terps fared against the Hurricanes.

If they needed to win the ACC tournament to secure an invitation to the field of 68, the outcome in the penultimate game of the regular season wouldn’t have changed anything on paper, right?

Following a 80-66 drubbing in Coral Gables, the Terps played as though they had similar thoughts in mind. Maryland looked every bit the part of a team with little to play for and after Malcolm Grant’s 3-pointer put the Hurricanes ahead 14-12 with 13:17 remaining in the first half, the Terps trailed the rest of the way.

Instead of beating a mediocre Miami squad to declare they would be a difficult out in Greensboro next week, the Terps (18-12, 7-8 ACC) made a different statement entirely by turning in their weakest performance of the season. Their blowout loss at home to Virginia Tech in January was brutal, but at least the Hokies appear on their way to the NCAA tournament — though a home loss to Boston College Tuesday made that less of a certainty for Seth Greenberg’s squad.

Sunday’s road loss to North Carolina was disappointing, but expected. Laying an egg at Miami — where the Terps are now 0-5 since the Hurricanes joined the ACC in 2005 — is simply inexcusable.

And it’s just the latest piece of evidence revealing why this team isn’t even in the neighborhood of the tournament bubble with Selection Sunday less than two weeks away.

Middle-of-the-road teams in a lackluster ACC just aren’t worthy of an invite to the Big Dance.

Perhaps the most humbling part of the Terps’ defeat to Miami is that the Hurricanes (18-12, 6-9 ACC) actually held a higher RPI (69th, according to RealTimeRPI.com) than Maryland (85th) entering the night. The number is far from a perfect metric, but it screams just how unimpressive the Terps’ postseason profile really is.

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Maryland’s defeat to the Hurricanes was far less about the final stats than it was about the lack of effort and urgency for a team playing its first game in March.

If you watched the Terps sleepwalk through the first half, you saw the lethargic body language. Gary Williams even substituted in freshman Mychal Parker — who had played a mere 10 minutes in conference play — before halftime to see if the gifted athlete could provide a spark.

After the Maryland coach undoubtedly roared at his sleepy team at halftime, the Terps responded on their first defensive trip down the floor by surrendering an offensive rebound and layup to Miami big man Reggie Johnson with four Maryland players in the paint.

A microcosm of a forgettable night.

Ironically, the Terps shot an impressive 9-for-18 from beyond the arc — an impressive clip for a team that’s struggled from the perimeter all season — but they negated the long-range success by shooting an abysmal 27 percent from 2-point range. Freshman Terrell Stoglin again led the Terps with 20 points, but had little working behind him, including a nightmarish 3-for-17 performance by Jordan Williams (11 points, 12 rebounds).

Miami thumped the Maryland defense, be it man-to-man or zone, by shooting nearly 55 percent from the field and making 12 of 23 attempts from 3-point range. Five Hurricanes reached double-digit scoring, led by Rion Brown’s 19 points off the pine.

In contrast, the Terps received a measly seven points from the bench, an area where the Terps have often received new life with Gary Williams’ revolving-door starting lineups this season.

After trailing by 13 at intermission, Maryland made its predictable second-half run, cutting the deficit to 50-45 after a Sean Mosley layup with 14:06 to play, but the Terps never got any closer after that 15-3 run, wilting again as Miami seized control down the stretch.

With only a chance to finish at .500 in the conference with a win over Virginia on Saturday, we can now lay to rest the unrealistic scenarios that were still being discussed by some — many of them not based in reality — about Maryland earning an at-large bid. Anything short of an ACC tournament championship will land the Terps in the NIT.

Maryland will need to win four straight against in four days. The Terps haven’t won four in a row all season and won three straight conference games only once.

Stranger things have happened, but if their statement against Miami was any predictor, the Terps’ stay in Greensboro won’t be a long one.

They looked like a team resigned to its fate.

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Maryland-Miami: Turtle Power live chat at 7:00

Posted on 02 March 2011 by Luke Jones

***Join us in the Turtle Power live chat as Maryland takes on the Canes at 7:00***

The Terps begin the final week of the regular season tonight as they travel to Coral Gables, Fla. to meet the Miami Hurricanes (17-12, 5-9 ACC) in their only meeting of the season.

Following a disappointing loss at North Carolina on Sunday that put its at-large hopes essentially out of reach, Maryland (18-11, 7-7 ACC) must focus its attention on finishing the regular season with two wins (the finale takes place at home against Virginia on Saturday) to gain a higher seed in the ACC tournament, where the Terps will look to cut down the nets to earn a spot in the field of 68.

Tonight’s game will be televised on ESPNU with Carter Blackburn and LaPhonso Ellis calling the action from BankUnited Center. As always, join us in the Turtle Power live chat beginning at 7:00 and follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates and analysis regarding tonight’s game.

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Terps on Track for NIT

Posted on 28 February 2011 by Tom Federline

Mens Terp basketball just doesn’t have “it”. Gave it the ole College Try last night and attempted to watch a whole game. Didn’t happen. Not that I do not enjoy the Terrell Stoglin/Jordan Williams show, because I do. I just want to know where the rest of the team is. Tim Brando didn’t help with his bleeding  Baby Carolina blueTV commentary. It was so bad, I was hoping just  to hear Mike Gminski’s voice. The radio was10-15 seconds behind the tube so that wasn’t working either. Terps are a tough watch. It’s been that way the whole year. For the past 3-4 games, it has been two freshman guards and a young monster sophomore running the show for the Terps. Nice upper class leadership. They don’t have “it”. 

They do not have consistency. They do not have fire. They do not have help for their only legit star, Jordan Williams (JW), who should be gone after this year. No reason to stay. Get the money and run young lad. Stoglin is a player and PeShon can run the point. Those 3 are fun to watch. The rest of the team just seem to be putting in time. Last night the Terps never had a lead. They had it tied at the 12 minute mark at 13-13. Then it got embarrassing. UNC never looked back. JW was reported to have symptoms of the flu and he looked like it. He didn’t play like it, but he looked flushed, tired, sunken eyes, the whole sick bit. While “under the weather”, he goes out and snags a career high 19 rebounds against two talented big boys with no help. Oh yeah, one of those big boys had a first name of ”Tyler”. Another Tyler at UNC – AUGH! The TV remote was getting closer. At one time, Carolina had 6 or 7 offensive rebounds on one trip down the floor, finally getting the bucket. JW was not in there. It looked like Varsity playing JV – It was ugly.

That’s when I started surfing back and forth from the James Bond flick – “Never Say Never Again” with Sean Connery and Kim Basinger. It was hard enough watching ACC basketball on a Sunday night. I have “Never” – (Heart), gotten used to ACC basketball on at any other time, other than Wednesday night or Saturday afternoon. Here comes some “Old School” back at ya. “Back in the day”…………….my schedule revolved around watching or attending ACC basketball at those Wed/Sat specified times. It became a ritual and I’ll bet some of you had the same schedule. When did Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday nights come into play? I know, I know, league expansion, money, team exposure, money, 20 sports cable channels, money. ACC Basketball was on Channel 2 and Big East Basketball was on Channel 5. Done deal.

The Terps do have a chance to make it to the Big Dance, all slim that it may be. They could win the ACC Tourney and get an automatic bid. I’d throw my money on the Orioles finishing over .500 before I’d bet on that one. Or maybe if they win the last 2 regular season games and win at least 2 in the tourney and maybe on Gary’s rep…… they would be invited. Invited for what? To lose? Oh, I forgot, mo’ money in the Big Dance. Wait a minute, I’m sure some Terp alums have some cash they could shuffle the “Selection Committees” way. Terps are sitting at 7 – 7  in the ACC tied for 6th, 18 – 11 overall, withno real quality wins. Saw a stat last night, the are 0 – 5 against teams in the top 25. It’s not looking good. One big kid headed to the NBA next year and another young explosive small guard who has game. That’s it. It appears, it’s Not In Tournament time.

It has been a tough year to watch the Terpies. They have run the whole gambit of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Catch them while you can, ’cause it may be real ugly next year, if young monster lad pulls a ”2 and done” deal.

Orioles news – O’s 6 – Pirates 4, first Spring Training game of the year today. “Buck”le your seat belts.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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Maryland overwhelmed by UNC, 87-76, as at-large hopes go up in smoke

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Maryland overwhelmed by UNC, 87-76, as at-large hopes go up in smoke

Posted on 28 February 2011 by Luke Jones

In a game the Terps needed to win to keep their at-large hopes alive for a bid to the NCAA tournament, North Carolina was the bigger, stronger, and faster team.

Gary Williams called timeout after timeout — burning his last one with 10:32 remaining in the game — to search for the right words or combination of players to ignite a spark.

But short of finding Juan Dixon or Greivis Vasquez sitting at the end of the bench — or at least a Lonny Baxter to counterbalance the Tar Heels’ dominant frontcourt — it wasn’t going to matter.

The Terps ran into a buzz saw that was simply better than them in an 87-76 loss in Chapel Hill Sunday night. Short of a miracle run in Greensboro, N.C. in two weeks, Maryland saw its tournament hopes fade away in a similar fashion to many of their losses this season.

A respectable effort, but just not good enough.

North Carolina’s frontcourt combination of Tyler Zeller and John Henson combined for 35 points and 21 rebounds as the Tar Heels racked up 19 offensive rebounds, 14 coming in the first half to build a 43-31 lead at intermission. The Heels’ 46-42 edge in rebounding failed to tell how lopsided it was in that department, particularly in the first half when North Carolina thrived on second-chance opportunities.

The Tar Heels’ freshman combination of Harrison Barnes (21 points) and Kendall Marshall (10 assists) was terrific while sophomore Leslie McDonald came off the bench to add 15 points and three 3-pointers.

To be fair, North Carolina (22-6, 12-2 ACC) played like a group staking its claim as the ACC’s best team with a home rematch against Duke only six days away to likely determine the conference’s regular season champion.

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Maryland received another sterling effort from freshman Terrell Stoglin who scored a career-high 28 points, his sixth straight double-digit performance. Sophomore Jordan Williams, battling a stomach bug, added 16 points and a career-high 19 rebounds but was clearly not 100 percent against North Carolina’s massive front line.

After that for the Terps?

Not a whole lot.

The senior trio of Dino Gregory, Cliff Tucker, and Adrian Bowie combined for just 16 points on 7-for-19 shooting in a game the Terps needed to win to avoid ending up where the three played to conclude their first season at Maryland: the NIT.

The Terps went 2-for-12 from 3-point range, making a double-digit deficit too steep to overcome in the second half.

Despite the optimism created by consecutive wins over NC State and Florida State, Maryland reverted back into the team it’s looked like all season against tougher competition.

One that doesn’t have enough to make the NCAA tournament.

While optimists will point out that Maryland doesn’t have a bad loss to its name and will envision possible scenarios that might get the Terps invited to the Big Dance — short of the automatic bid that accompanies winning the ACC tournament, of course — they’ll only be grasping at straws.

An 0-6 record against top-25 teams and a lone win against top-50 RPI teams (1-9 overall) doesn’t warrant mention in the conversation, let alone recognition as a bubble team.

Two wins in Greensboro over an ACC bottom feeder and Virginia Tech or Florida State won’t do it for the selection committee. A trip to the final along with other bubble scenarios falling perfectly in Maryland’s favor might make the selection show worth watching, but still won’t leave the Terps in great shape.

Cutting down the nets at the Greensboro Coliseum — the same place where John Gilchrist and company did it in 2004 — looks to be Maryland’s only key to opening the door for a spot in the field of 68.

So what’s next for Maryland?

The silver lining in Sunday’s loss to the Tar Heels was another tremendous performance by Stoglin, playing his first game at the Dean Dome with everything on the line for the Terps.

Not only has Stoglin improved from his early season struggles to adjust to the college game, but it now looks like Gary Williams has the makings of a special player on his hands the next three years.

But now, Maryland (18-11, 7-7 ACC) must turn its attention to the final week of the regular season (a game at Miami Wednesday followed by Virginia at home on Saturday) and the near-impossible task of winning the ACC tournament to make it to the Big Dance.

The Terps’ three seniors must take a long look at themselves to determine how they want to be remembered in College Park. Aside from Gregory’s steady improvement, it’s been a terribly disappointing year for the group.

Entering the season, the biggest question facing the Terps would be how much the three seniors and junior Sean Mosley would step up to fill roles more critical to the team’s success. They — or some combination of the four — would need to provide the leadership and much of the production left behind by Vasquez, Eric Hayes, and Landon Milbourne.

With the Terps now finding themselves locked into the crosshairs of the NIT and needing to rely on a freshman as the only consistent scoring complement to Jordan Williams, the verdict to that question has become pretty clear.

It hasn’t been enough. And it’s why the Terps find themselves on the outside looking in with March on the way.

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Maryland-North Carolina pre-game notes

Posted on 27 February 2011 by Luke Jones

***Join us in the Turtle Power live chat beginning at 7:30 as Maryland takes on the Tar Heels at the Dean Dome***

With a final chance to make a loud statement for an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament, the Maryland Terrapins (18-10, 7-6 ACC) are in Chapel Hill to take on No. 19 North Carolina (21-6, 11-2 ACC) tonight at 7:45.

The Tar Heels are bigger (with 7-footer Tyler Zeller and 6-foot-10 John Henson leading the frontcourt), love to play in transition much like the Terps, and will attempt to stifle Maryland with one of the best defenses in the nation. North Carolina has taken its play to a different level since freshman point guard Kendall Marshall (5.1 assists per game) took the reins of the Heels offense in place of Larry Drew II, who has since left the program.

Not to be outdone by Marshall, freshman Terrell Stoglin has exploded for the Terps in recent weeks and will need a big night at the Dean Dome for Maryland to pull off the upset. Stoglin (10.9 points per game) has emerged as the second-leading scorer on the team behind big man Jordan Wiliams (17.2).

This one could easily turn into a track meet given the teams’ respective profiles, but neither is strong from the perimeter, an area where the Terps have struggled defensively.

If you’re looking (hoping?) for a sleeper performance that could aid Maryland’s effort against the Heels, might this be the night Cliff Tucker snaps out of his late-season slump? The senior averaged 20 points per game in two games against North Carolina in 2009, including a 22-point performance to complement Greivis Vasquez’s triple-double in an overtime victory in College Park on Feb. 21, 2009.

Though the term “must-win game” gets tossed around far too much, this one absolutely fits the description after Virginia Tech knocked off No. 1 Duke on Saturday night, essentially locking up an at-large bid for the Hokies barring a major collapse. That leaves Clemson, Boston College, and Maryland currently battling for one potential — not guaranteed by any stretch — at-large bid as we enter the final week of the regular season.

A win in Chapel Hill puts the Terps in decent position to grab a tournament spot with wins over Miami and Virginia this week and at least a good showing (1-2 wins) in the ACC tournament. A loss to the Tar Heels likely means Maryland must win the conference tournament in Greensboro to punch a ticket to the Big Dance.

Tonight’s game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet with coverage beginning at 7:30 (tip-off scheduled for 7:45). As always, watch the action with us in the Turtle Power live chat and interact with WNST.net personalities about the happenings in Chapel Hill. Remember to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates and analysis.

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Thursday 3-Pointer: 2011 Yanks- Underdogs and Overlords, Niets No Longer & Talking Terps and Tourney

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Thursday 3-Pointer: 2011 Yanks- Underdogs and Overlords, Niets No Longer & Talking Terps and Tourney

Posted on 24 February 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

Thursday 3-Pointer

 #1 – 2011 Yankees: Underdogs and Overlords

 

A lot of things can come to pass over the course of a 162-game baseball season, but I’m having a hard time adapting to this perception of the Yankees cast as underdogs in the AL East. Perhaps the off-season realization that pinstripes don’t always sell themselves and that some people (even modern ballplayers) still value some things more than money isn’t sitting well with a team who has handed out more than their fair share of blank checks in recent seasons. Although the Yanks clearly aren’t as improved as the Red Sox since the end of last season, they’re still a 1/5 billion dollar juggernaut and a force to be reckoned with, regardless of their own futile attempts to make us believe otherwise.

 

If the Yanks do have one thing potentially working against them going forward, it may be the seemingly cumbersome oversight of the team by Hank Steinbrenner, whose mid-eighties King George act has only seemed to pick up steam in the months since his father’s passing. Never shy about taking shots across the bow at the opposition, after a round of contentious off-season negotiations with Derek Jeter, and another with CC Sabathia probably looming on the horizon, Prince Hank has turned his ire toward his own team and their front office of late too…a la 80′s George.

 

One thing’s for sure, Hank’s not George. For now though it appears that he’s working like mad at trying to be, which could mean opportunities ahead for their AL East contemporaries. It arguably wasn’t until George himself was forcibly removed from Yankees operations at the behest of Major League Baseball that the organization finally found the breathing room needed to be champions again. We’ll see if it takes as drastic a circumstance to make Hank realize the same.

 

#2 – Niets No More

 

Once the highly anticipated Carmelo Anthony trade took place on Monday, it seemed a safe bet that any other movement set to take place would pale by comparison and largely be an afterthought. That of course changed with the surprising announcement on Wednesday that the Nets had acquired the services of All-Star point guard Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz.

 

Call them the Niets no more…the New Jersey Nets, seemingly having learned their lesson after the speculation and disappointment surrounding their bid for Carmelo Anthony did a great job at keeping this one under wraps until it was done, and in Williams they have gotten a difference maker, and facilitator that will immediately help get Brook Lopez game back on track, and should provide compelling reasons for future free agents to consider New Jersey or Brooklyn.

 

After Jerry Sloan’s departure in the midst of his 23rd season just a couple of weeks ago, apparently at least partially due to a rift with his star point guard, it seemed that the team had chosen the young guard over the old coach, and put the aftermath to bed. If nothing else the trade indicates that the team likely wasn’t feeling the same amount of love in return from their playmaker.

 

It also appears that Utah wasn’t willing to go through the day-in day-out drama next season that they saw the Nuggets having to deal with this year. Conspiracy theorists may also conclude that the uncertain nature of impending collective bargaining and the likelihood that the 2011-12 season may not go off as planned may have compelled the Jazz also to act now, while the getting was good.

 

No sooner did the news of the trade break than speculation began to abound about the potential return of Sloan to the Jazz now that Williams is no longer an issue. I’d have to guess no. Regardless of Sloan’s reasoning in leaving as he did, he denied reports that Williams was the issue and remained protective of both the player and team on his way out the door. I doubt he’d do a 180 on that stance. What’s more, Sloan’s replacement Tyrone Corbin was an internal promotion from Sloan’s staff, and a player that worked under Sloan for a few seasons as well. The Jazz made no bones from the day of his promotion that interim was not a part of his title. I doubt the former coach or the team would sweep the rug out from under Corbin this quickly. And lastly, without Williams it remains to be seen how the Jazz move forward. Derrick Favors has lots of legitimate upside but joins and already crowded Jazz frontcourt. Devin Harris has big shoes to fill, we’ll see if he’ up to the task. And who knows what the team will make of their draft picks? At least for now, it’s a step back for Utah that Sloan wouldn’t likely be excited about jumping back in with.

 

#3 – Talking Terps & Tourney

 

The Terps took the next logical step in attempting to solidify a respectable tournament resume with a win over Florida State on Wednesday. With 3 games remaining on their conference schedule, the most important and most dangerous looks to be the next, coming on Sunday at Chapel Hill. A win against the Tarheels would provide the Terps with their only signature caliber win before they put their case before the NCAA Tournament selection committee. It would also keep them on track to finish conference play with a 10-6 record, and a legitimate shot at a top 4 seed in the conference tourney, giving them a shot at one of the conference’s lower echelon teams and a pseudo-bye in the first round, seemingly providing more fodder to impress the committee.

 

The Terps sure had their fair share of respectable showings against legitimate competition in the early part of the season, but those likely won’t gain them much favor with the committee. What will though is a spirited run through the remainder of conference play and into the conference tourney. As susceptible as the rest of the conference has been all season, a run through the ACC tourney wouldn’t be out of the question, and would put any bubble issues to bed as well.

 

What’s certain about this team of late though, is that they aren’t the same team that played good teams close early on, nor are they the same club that dropped a few disappointing games in conference to teams that they arguably should have beaten. No, as young and frenetic as these Terps are, they remain a work in progress. In the last month or so, Pe’Shon Howard has shown a willingness to take and make the big shot, with a propensity to drive into traffic and find open shooters or finishers in the lane. Terrell Stoglin has unleashed the quickest first step seemingly since Steve Francis and is evolving quickly into an adept scorer with other components of his game playing catch up. And how can you ignore the recent growth of Dino Gregory? I’ve said a number of times that Gregory’s athleticism is both encouraging and frustrating. While it has been impressive at times, those times were too few and far between to be overly encouraged about. Recently though, Gregory has unveiled a mid-range game that will have to make opposing frontcourts think twice about stacking the lane to deny Jordan Williams.

 

In open space Gregory looks much more comfortable than he has at the rim this season. And in February these Terps look much more comfortable in their own skin than they did just a month ago. It’s encouraging to think what both might look like once March comes around…and beyond perhaps.

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Maryland’s tournament hopes still alive after 78-62 win over FSU

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Maryland’s tournament hopes still alive after 78-62 win over FSU

Posted on 24 February 2011 by Luke Jones

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — If their NCAA tournament chances were flatlining following back-to-back road losses to Boston College and Virginia Tech, the Terps discovered a pulse, if only a faint one, on Wednesday night.

Five Maryland players reached double-digit scoring, and the Terps held Florida State to just 39 percent shooting in the second half to seize a convincing 78-62 win over the Seminoles, their first win over a top-50 RPI school this season.

It was the type of performance Gary Williams was waiting for all season despite an ominous start to the evening at Comcast Center.

With the “Wall” nearly empty at tip-off (see below) and not filling much more during the game, the veteran coach was clearly displeased with the lack of student support — evident in his post-game comments thanking those in attendance for “not giving up” and pointing out negativity in the student newspaper.

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Williams couldn’t have felt much better when the Seminoles sprung out to a 9-2 lead two minutes into the game with all points coming from the sharp-shooting Deividas Dulkys. The opening looked and felt like the disastrous 12-0 start against Virginia Tech last month, a game in which the Terps never found the energy or effort to make it competitive in a 17-point home loss.

Instead of sleepwalking as it did against the Hokies, Maryland awoke from the early lapse to answer Florida State’s high-energy level in what amounted to a frenetic first half before the Terps overwhelmed the Seminoles after intermission, outscoring them, 40-25. Defensively, the Terps (18-10, 7-6 ACC) held Florida State to 39 percent shooting in the second half to complete one of its best all-around performances of the season.

“Guys are getting comfortable with each other,” said Williams, who labeled his team’s man-to-man defense in the second half the finest it had played in awhile. “It takes time. Landon [Milbourne], Eric Hayes and Greivis [Vasquez] were four-year seniors [last year]. Now we’ve got three freshmen out there some of the time. It’s a little different.”

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Whether the gelling of this team has come too late remains to be seen, but the Terps took a step toward the postseason bubble — they’re not there yet — with a win over the third-place team in the ACC.

Chris Singleton or not — Florida State was without its leading scorer for the second straight game after the junior broke his right foot against Virginia on Feb. 12 — this was a big one for a Maryland team needing a quality win for both its hollow tournament resume and confidence with March quickly approaching.

Florida State entered the game leading the country in field-goal percentage defense, but Maryland shot 51 percent from the field, becoming only the second team to reach the 50-percent mark against the Seminoles this season. The Terps did it without a dominating performance from Jordan Williams, who still earned his 21st double-double of the year with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

After searching all season for a consistent scoring option behind the sophomore star, freshman Terrell Stoglin turned in a strong 17-point performance — 14 coming in the second half — but was only one of four other Terps (Dino Gregory, Adrian Bowie, and Sean Mosley the others) to contribute double digits to the point total. Maryland also went 7-for-14 from 3-point range after attempting only one shot from beyond the arc in Sunday’s win over North Carolina State.

The balanced effort certainly builds confidence as the Terps are now faced with a trip to Chapel Hill to challenge No. 19 North Carolina on Sunday night. A win over the Tar Heels would propel Maryland back into the NCAA tournament discussion, which is about as much as the Terps can ask for at this stage.

“This [win] definitely builds our confidence,” said Jordan Williams, who passed the 600-rebound mark for his career and joined Joe Smith as only the second Terp to reach the plateau as a sophomore. “North Carolina is a great team with a great coach. We are excited for the challenge.”

A tall challenge it will be as Maryland has a final attempt to beat a top-25 opponent in the regular season. Of course, the Terps have found themselves knocking loudly for a big victory several times this the season.

Only to smash their fingers in the door at the worst possible time.

Though a win seems unlikely, Sunday’s meeting with the Tar Heels is the kind of game Gary Williams has managed to win many times throughout his distinguished career.

Left for dead a little over a week ago, Maryland is suddenly playing like a team that doesn’t want to settle for the NIT.

“We’re a better team now,” Gary Williams said. “I knew it would be a process this year. It takes time to develop a team. I think we’re laying the groundwork here with this year’s team for very good things to happen in the future, but we want to win as many games as we can this year.”

The Terps still have a long way to go to even think about the bubble, their body of work, or their RPI (a modest 85th entering Wednesday night’s game), but they inched a step closer to the discussion with a win over one of the better teams in the conference.

And for now, that’s all Gary Williams and the Terps can do.

An even larger step will be available Sunday night.

NOTES: Maryland is 7-0 against the Seminoles in Comcast Center. … Williams’ double-double left him one shy of the single-season school record set by Len Elmore (22) in 1974. … Stoglin is averaging 19.2 points per game over his last five contests and has made 23 of 24 free throws in his last three games. … Gregory’s 14 points gave him double-digit scoring for the fifth consecutive game. … Five Terps reached double-digit scoring for the fourth time in the last five games. The exception was Sunday’s win over NC State when Maryland had four players in double figures.

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