Tag Archive | "williams"

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Share the Game 7 madness with us tonight in Dundalk!

Posted on 13 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Tonight in Washington D.C., a place where five years ago hockey was a rumor or perhaps a myth, the Capitals will host the Penguins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs’ second round. I don’t need to tell you that it will be one of the best sporting events of this (or any) year. I can all but guarantee it.

Honestly, tell me another sport — other than an NFL playoff game, but even those are influenced by injuries, weather, weird bounces, blowouts, etc. — where you know you’ll be getting what you’re paying for tonight.

It’s 3-3. The teams clearly don’t like each other. The penalties have been lopsided in the Penguins direction. The “one name” stars are all out — my man Jim Williams of The Examiner wrote about the incredible worldwide audience for this game — Ovechkin and Federov, Sidney and Malkin.

Who’ll win? The pesky Capitals who have been outplayed dramatically but have been incredibly resiliant and realiably cardiac over the past three weeks certainly have a shot. They are the NHL team with nine lives at this point.

A home crowd of 20,000 red maniacs, taunting Sidney Crosby and Segei Gonchar not to mention Marc-Andre Fleury all night.

For all of the initiated, don’t worry about all of the strange pronunciations and rules and icing and penalties. Don’t focus on “I can’t see the puck” anymore.

Just watch the action. And the passion. And the flow of the game. And the intensity of the crowd.

Unfortunately “scheduling” has cost me an opportunity to be at the Verizon Center tonight acting like a fool. But instead, you can watch me flip out in a red Skipjacks jersey tonight and participate in the idiocy and intensity of Game 7.

We’ll be at Donna’s Tavern in Dundalk for the Coors Light King (or Queen) of Baltimore Sportstalk competition at 7 p.m. We have 12 contestants (Jay Trucker has unfortunately had to withdraw) each doing a few minutes of live, mystery radio.

Our competition will end well before 9 p.m., which means a post-competition party with 3rd period, Game 7 nuttiness as a dessert for the evening. We might even have a few Coors Lights.

And, as important as the competition is, we DO have a game to watch tonight. Drop by Donna’s and support some of the amateurs and Rock The Red with us!

Orioles go for the sweep. Caps go for a Game 7 win. And WNST has some fun with some real Baltimore sports fans in Dundalk with celebrities, cheap beer, great food and all on a Wednesday night, no less!

Game 7 is the best, isn’t it?

Today is gonna be a great day!

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This ‘N That Tuesday

Posted on 17 March 2009 by Mark Suchy

Some Odds and Ends from the world of current sports that are rattling around my head:

*  NCAA Tournament Picks: I know, I know, we all fill out our brackets, and we’re all experts and we’re all genuises on Tuesday before the games begin.  For what it’s worth, here are my predictions.  All four Number 1 seeds will NOT make the Final Four again this year (as they did last year for the first time ever).  As impressive as Louisville is, winning both the Big East regular season and tournament titles, something tells me they’ll get tripped up before they see Detroit.  I am an ACC homer-for-life, and the Big East was the best conference in the land this year, but I’m going to pick Wake Forest to upset the ‘Ville in the Sweet 16 and advance to the Final Four over West Virginia.  There is always a team that looks awful in their conference tournament that comes back to life in the Big Dance, and I think it’s Wake this year.  Thanks to the Deacons’ lackluster effort on Friday night in Atlanta, Maryland squeezed into the field.  I say Wake has too much talent to play like that again.  That loss will re-focus them and make them play with more intensity and cohesion. 

I’m taking UConn in the West.  They are the most complete team in the region, and if Thabeet is not in foul trouble, they will roll past all comers out there.  Yes, I like the Terps to win Thursday (and it’s an unbelievably good draw getting any Pac 10 team, but especially Cal, with their lack of inside play).  The season ends Saturday against Memphis though.  Too many athletes for Maryland to keep up with there.  Memphis gets to the Elite Eight before UConn topples them.

Pitt wins the East, almost too easily.  Of all the 1 seeds, the Panthers drew the best possible bracket.  Their inside dominance is unmatched by any of the other schools in this bracket.  Two certainties here: Villanova, playing in Philly the first weekend, goes to the Sweet 16, as does Duke, playing their first two games in Greensboro, N.C.  (Gotta love this pod system the NCAA cooked up to ensure the power conferences advance).

The South Region is my upset special.  Western Kentucky, Temple, Michigan and Gonzaga all are appealing.  I’m taking Gonzaga to knock out North Carolina in the Sweet 16 and finally break through to their first Final Four.  Ty Lawson’s injured toe will cost the Tar Heels dearly as we saw last weekend.  They’re just not the same without their best player, and the effort required to play with turf toe will ultimately catch up to him against deeper teams like the Zags.  For what it’s worth, I have Gonzaga beating Temple in the Elite Eight.  I absolutely love Dionte Christmas (and I will refrain from any lame puns here).

So my Final Four has Wake Forest vs. UConn and Pitt vs. Gonzaga.  I’m taking Pitt over UConn for a third time this season in the National Championship.

Enjoy the games everyone.  This Thursday through Sunday is simply my favorite weekend on the sports calendar every year.

*  My colleague Rex Snider is a good guy with definite passion for sports and his opinions on them, but he’s dead wrong in his blog about Gary Williams’ “failure” as Head Coach of the Maryland Terrapins basketball program.  Gary’s strength has always been as a practice and in-game coach, not a recruiter.  He develops talent as well as any coach in NCAA Division I basketball.  For all the problems through his twenty years at his alma mater, one constant has always remained: his ability to out-coach the other guy and win with “lesser” talent.  For a reminder, just watch the second half of the Terps’ victory against UNC in College Park a month ago.  While I agree that recently he has not recruited top tier talent successfully, it is wise to remember that following their back-to-back Final Four appearances at the beginning of this decade Coach Williams brought in several high school All-Americans who didn’t live up to their promise.  Nik Caner-Medley, Travis Garrison, John Gilchrist, etc.  This was a departure from his previous blueprint of adding a player like Keith Booth or Joe Smith to lesser recruited players and developing a cohesive team concept.  Ultimately, it didn’t work out.  For whatever reasons.  But it’s more than obvious that a team like this year’s suits the Coach best.  Workmanlike players with one obvious star (Vasquez) who hustle and press and are highly competetive.  As frustrating as they are to watch at times, they are always entertaining.

And Rex, to your point about beating North Carolina and Duke in the standings and the tournament, take note: no other ACC school has won either the conference tournament or the National Championship other than Maryland in the past, oh, twenty years.  The ACC has always been dominated by the Tobacco Road schools, most notably UNC, Duke and N.C. State.  Yes, Rex, N.C. State used to be really good.  Just ask Lefty Driesell.  So can I live with Maryland as the third best team in a conference dominated by two schools that can legitimately claim to be basketball royalty?  Yes, Rex.  Yes I can.  Third place in the ACC hoops pecking order ain’t exactly chopped liver.

*  I really like the Ravens’ signing of Chris Carr.  This strikes me as one of those “under the radar” offseason moves that pays big dividends during the course of an NFL season.  Carr is only 25 years old, plays defensive back and is an elite kick returner.  With Jim Leonhard’s departure, the Ravens have answered with a younger and possibly better alternative to address the areas of need in both their secondary and their return teams.  Kudos to the braintrust in Owings Mills.  It’s this type of move that makes me realize (again) that we are blessed here in Baltimore with a truly elite management team that is always searching to upgrade the roster.  In Ozzie I trust.  Truly.

*  Is it ok to admit I really have not watched much of the World Baseball Classic?  After scanning the dial last night, I caught a bit of the Venezuela – Puerto Rico game from Miami.  Judging by the size of the crowd, I’m not alone in ignoring the majority of this tournament.  It just does nothing for me, and I’m a baseball fan for life.  The reality is there’s just no good time to hold an event like this, and Spring Training may be the absolute worst time of all to attempt it.  But whatever Bud wants, Bud gets.  Which, as in most every case of his tenure as Commissioner, is money.  Lots and lots of money.

*  Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all, but most especially to my mother Ginger!  Have a pint tonight and toast your good fortune!  Erin Go Bragh!

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Bozeman, not Gary, is 09′s best story in Maryland hoops

Posted on 16 March 2009 by Drew Forrester

Thursday night in Kansas City, a great story will play itself out in the first round of the NCAA tournament — it’s an amazing account of a man who was down and out but has bounced back better than ever.

It’s the best basketball story in the state of Maryland in 2009.

And, with all due respect to Gary Williams, this isn’t about the coach of the Terrapins.

When Todd Bozeman was suspended by the NCAA in 1996, it was a decent bet that his college coaching career was over.  The 8-year ban was intended to shove Bozeman so far out-of-sight-out-of-mind that no school would ever look him up again.

Booted from the college game for giving a recruit $30,000 so his parents could travel to see their son play, Bozeman spent the next ten years scouting for NBA teams and coaching amateur basketball.  The NCAA placed him in “show-cause” status, meaning no other school could hire him without providing the NCAA with reasonable cause for employing him — and then, still, the NCAA would have to approve the hiring before it could become official.

It was the NCAA’s way of giving Bozeman a lifetime ban…without actually doing it.

Bozeman’s story wasn’t just about the $30,000 cash payment he made to a University of California basketball player.  In the aftermath, he lied to the NCAA about it and became a symbol of the NCAA’s new crackdown on cheating coaches.  He was banished — for good, perhaps.

In 2006, Bozeman got his second chance.  Morgan State, fresh off of a 4-26 season and going nowhere fast in the world of college basketball, decided to ruffle a few NCAA feathers.  They explained it like this:  ”We want to improve our school and the athletic program by committing new energy and money to the basketball team.  To do that, we need a new coach.  We want to hire Todd Bozeman to get our program back on its feet.”

The NCAA complied, despite rumors that it wasn’t exactly a unanimous vote to reinstate Bozeman.

And then, Todd Bozeman did the right thing.

He came clean.

He showed up at Morgan State and faced the media.  He answered all the questions. 

“Yes, I cheated.”

“No, it wasn’t anyone else’s fault.”

“I’m here to turn my life around and show everyone that I can rebound from all of this.”

“I was punished accordingly and I’m moving on.”

There was no bitterness in Bozeman’s voice when he was announced as Morgan State’s new head coach on April 26, 2006.

A few years after his suspension, the NCAA asked Bozeman to testify at a hearing involving Jerry Tarkanian’s cheating scandal.   Bozeman, they assumed, could listen to the evidence and connect the dots.  After all, if you’re going to try and nab a cheater, why not bring one in and let him be the judge, right?

Bozeman refused.  “I’m not violating that code,” Bozeman said at the time.  “If they have evidence against Jerry, they need to bring that out themselves.  I don’t know anything about his situation.  I’m trying to get mine straightened out.”

Some basketball folks in the country pressured Bozeman to testify, reminding him this would be a great opportunity for the former Cal coach to do the NCAA a favor…and, perhaps, they’d do one for him in return.

Bozeman didn’t testify.

Morgan State then came along, took the gamble of all gambles – hiring a confessed cheater – and Todd Bozeman was back. 

He had done wrong, paid the price and was wanted again.

And, he did it all his way…which, turned out to be the right way.

It hasn’t been the smoothest of rides for Bozeman at Morgan State.  While the Bears and their fans have been enamored with his work on Hillen Rd., opposing schools have chided him over the last three seasons with chants of “Thirt-ee Thous-and” – clap, clap, clap-clap-clap – “Thirt-ee Thous-and”.  He’ll live with that forever, no matter what accomplishments he garners from here on in.

Still, he remains unfazed by it all and refuses to take shots at his detractors.  “I’ve moved on from that,” Bozeman stated.  “I’m trying to win basketball games and reward Morgan State for giving me a second chance.  I don’t have time to worry about what people are saying.”

In 1993, Bozeman’s Cal Bears beat 2nd seed Duke.  The 29-year old fresh-faced coach of Cal was the talk of the college hoops industry.  Six years later, he was the talk of the industry again — only this time, for the wrong reasons.

This Thursday in Kansas City, Bozeman will again be the talk of the industry when the Bears face Oklahoma in the opening round of the tournament.  He has done the unthinkable – Morgan State is going to the NCAA’s big dance.

Regardless of what happens in Kansas City, the Todd Bozeman comeback story is now complete.

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Terps in the big dance? My official prediction is…

Posted on 15 March 2009 by Drew Forrester

It’s tough for me to change now, so I won’t.  It was a helluva run for Maryland in Atlanta and they came within a few minutes of bumping Duke out of the tournament and taking on Florida State today for the ACC title.

Had they done that, I would have ushered in the Terps without question.

But, they didn’t beat Duke.  All along, after that disaster in Charlottesville eight days ago, I said the Terps would have to win three times in the ACC tournament to convince me they were worthy of dancing with the other 64 teams.  

Maybe I’m just tougher on Maryland because I’ve seen them play more than I’ve seen, say, Dayton…or Arizona…or Auburn…or any of the other “bubble teams” that will be watching the selection show on the edge of their seat today. 

I’ve seen Maryland look tournament “unworthy” more than tournament “worthy” if you look at their full body of work.  I saw them beat Vermont in overtime when coach Mike Lonergan could have wrapped up the game in the final seconds by fouling instead of allowing Greivis Vasquez to tie the game with a 3-pointer.  I saw them lose to Morgan State.  I saw them squander big leads at Miami and at home against Boston College.  They beat North Carolina in overtime when their best player had the best game of his life.  Then, they lost at home to Duke and Wake Forest and laid a dinosaur-sized egg in their season finale at UVA to finish the regular season 7-9.  

They weasled their way past North Carolina State on Thursday night in the ACC tourney opener and then embarrassed an obviously uninterested Wake Forest team on Friday.  By the way, on a different note, if that’s the type of performance Dino Gaudio’s team is going to give him in the NCAA tournament, he’ll be home in Winston-Salem next Saturday morning.  

But, when they had to win ONE more game, they couldn’t.  Sure, 3-games-in-3-days is tough on anyone and it’s asking a lot for a team to outplay their opponent when the other team (Duke) hasn’t faced the same arduous schedule.  

That’s why they needed to beat Virginia last weekend.  None of this would have mattered.

Like I wrote above, perhaps I’m just too hard on the Terps because I’ve seen them up close and personal for the last four months.  Maybe Auburn squandered some big leads too.  For all I know, Arizona was as up and down as Maryland.    

Thank God I’m not on the tournament committee, because I think I’d vote “nay” when the subject of Maryland comes up later this afternoon.  They couldn’t beat the 2nd worst team in the conference last Saturday when they knew a win would get them in.  

That said…

Maryland’s going to get in today.

They’ll be a 10 seed.  And, they’ll play 7-seed Illinois in the first round of the tournament on Friday.  After that, they’ll play the winner of Missouri (3) vs. Binghamton (14) in the round of 32 – if they beat Illinois.

That’s my guess.  I don’t have an open line to the tournament committee or anything.

In fact, it’s a good thing that I don’t have the means to communicate with the committee.

On a personal note, I really do hope Maryland gets in.  If nothing else, Gary Williams deserves it after the grief he’s absorbed this year – some of which, of course, he brought upon himself.  On the whole, though, I think it would serve as a just reward for Williams, who stood by his beleaguered team day-in and day-out and, along with Vasquez, never gave up.  

Here’s hoping they’re in.

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Terps: Either last one in, or last one out

Posted on 14 March 2009 by Drew Forrester

Maryland still has one game left to play.  

The waiting game.

The Terps put forth a scrappy effort in their ACC semi-final loss to Duke today, but in the end, they just didn’t have enough to upend a more talented Blue Devils team.

Maryland wasn’t run off the court today, a fact Gary Williams hopes the tournament committee will remember when they convene Sunday afternoon to determine the field of the NCAA’s big dance.

But the mistakes the Terps made, particularly on the defensive end, are not the things championship caliber teams do.

Vasquez looked lost in the final 10 minutes of the game.  Twice he tried to pinch around a screen and nab a back-door steal but the move backfired on both occasions — a Duke player was wide open for the 3 and Vasquez created an open look with his decision to go for the steal rather than move inside the screen to the open player.  

Dave Neal was outmuscled by Kyle Singler with about 4 minutes to play after Henderson missed a 3-pointer.  When Singler takes it to you physically…you’re in trouble.

And Adrian Bowie bit on a school-yard give-and-go inside the five minute mark that led to an easy deuce for the Blue Devils.

When you give up easy points like that and you lose by six…those kinds of mistakes are too large to overcome.

Now, Maryland waits.

Do they deserve to get in?

It’s awfully, awfully close.  And, of course, a Baylor win tonight or a Mississippi State win tomorrow could push the Terps off the bubble and into the NIT.

If Maryland gets in, they’ll probably be the last team in.

If Maryland doesn’t get in, they’ll probably be the last team out.

It’s that close.

They’ve done more with what they have than just about anyone else in the ACC.  There’s probably an argument they’re the best “not so good” team in the country, considering the only Terrapin that would definitely start for any other major program in the country is Vasquez.

One thing for sure: If they DO get in, they won’t be an easy out.  

24 hours from now, we’ll know their fate.

If I’m betting a dollar, I bet they get in.

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Maryland and Under Armour…Joined at the hip isn’t a violation

Posted on 02 March 2009 by Drew Forrester

Let me get this straight.

The Gary-haters all say, “Gary’s program stinks because Gary can’t recruit anymore.”

The Gary haters aren’t heard from when the Terps beat North Carolina. Recruiting, I guess, wasn’t much of an issue a couple of Saturdays ago when Maryland shocked the Tar Heels.

Now, Gary and the Terps are “in the hunt” for a rock-star recruit named Lance Stephenson and, suddenly, Williams is under the gun – again – because of recruiting.  Only, this time, Gary’s gettin’ torched for actually trying to land a quality player.

Here’s the full story from the Washington Post.  It’s a “lover’s triangle” of sorts, with Maryland Athletics, Under Armour and Stephenson at the points.

Want the Cliff Notes version?  OK.  Under Armour is a $17.4 million “best friend” of Maryland Athletics and the school’s exlusive apparel partner.  The guy who started Under Armour, and still their man out-front, is former UM football player, Kevin Plank.  Plank is also on UM’s “Board of Trustees”, a role given to those who donate $1 million or more to the school.  Lance Stephenson came to College Park for an official “visit” on January 31.  The morning of the first day of his visit at UM, Stephenson also received – and accepted, evidently – an invitation to make a trip to Baltimore to tour the Under Armour headquarters.

That was a mistake.  It connects, innocently perhaps, a recruiting trip for Maryland basketball with a recruiting trip for Under Armour.  The apparel company would have been far better off bringing Stephenson and his family to their headquarters a week or two later.  That would have gone a long way in eliminating any notion that the trip to the Washington DC/Baltimore area was a two-stop visit…College Park for hoops – and Baltimore for talks with Under Armour.

The long history of apparel companies chasing high school athletes is well documented.  Rest assured, it’s been reviewed time and time again by the NCAA, but the catch-22 is they need the marketing dollars the Nike’s, Reebok’s and, now, Under Armour’s, provide to both the schools and the conferences that make up the NCAA.  They don’t like the shady side that brings…”free money” being thrown around just to have a guy wear a certain shoe or sport a particular logo when he becomes a professional.  That relationship begins at the college level though, as apparel giants try to recruit the blue-chippers with the hope of building brand loyalty with them.  It’s highly-competitive and there’s also a “what people don’t know won’t hurt them” element attached to it that most of us aren’t familiar with, including the NCAA.  But, the good (money) probably outweighs the bad (dirty competition) and the NCAA simply says, “we just want you all to try and play by the rules and we’re OK with whatever you do.”

And that’s why the current MD/UA/LS situation needs to go under the microscope.

If Under Armour brought Lance Stephenson to their Baltimore headquarters in an attempt to privately (and, maybe, strongly) influence Stephenson’s decision to attend the University of Maryland, that’s wrong.  It’s that simple, really.  But, unless someone can present some hard, concrete evidence to support such a claim, it looks to me that the “Triangle” is violation free, despite what the Gary-bashers will claim.

There are some questions, of course.  They deserve answers.  Did Gary and/or anyone at Maryland approve of Stephenson’s little side trip to the UA headquarters when he was in College Park for a visit?  If so, that wasn’t very smart on the school’s part, since anyone with even a minor in common sense would put one and one together and say, “gee, that doesn’t look right.”  Did Under Armour contact the school prior to purusing Stephenson to make sure they were, in fact, not putting Maryland in a possible non-compliance position?  It appears they did.  That’s a plus for Under Armour.  It shows they were – or are – aware of the connection between Maryland, a potential recruit, and Under Armour’s perceived role both with the school and the young man in question.  If Under Armour was trying to be devious and assist Gary in some clandestine fashion, they would have done so on “off-hours” and shuttled the kid in with a blanket draped over his head so not even the clean-up crew would know he was in the building.

Given the relationship between Maryland Athletics and Under Armour, wouldn’t it make sense that everyone in position of authority with both organizations would go out of their way to make sure nothing improper could be documented and pursued by the NCAA?

Isn’t there a 300-page book somewhere that spells out what’s right and what’s wrong as far as compliance goes between Maryland and ANY sponsor or booster?

I say “yes” – on both counts.

Kevin Plank didn’t build a billion-dollar-baby by making bad decisions.

Debbie Yow has taken UM from a school with an athletic deficit of $51 million to one that’s now only $17 million in the red.

She knows what she’s doing.

And Gary, no matter what the haters say, is also smart enough to know that he’s dealing with 18 year old kids with big mouths.  What good would it do Gary to help facilitate some sort of improper relationship between Stephenson and Under Armour when he’s not 100% sure the kid is ever going to play in College Park?

As for Plank’s role on the “Board of Trustees”, it might make sense for him to remove himself from that position until, perhaps, his day-to-day-duties change or diminish at Under Armour.  Having the guy who signs the checks at Under Armour sitting on a Maryland board that could – or couldn’t – influence decisions at the the school his company spends $17.4 million with is reasonably assumed to be a “conflict of interest”.  I think that’s an easy way to clean up the situation and I can’t imagine either Plank or UM would be any worse off for it.

The sub-story to this entire issue is easy to dissect.  What knowledge did the University of Maryland have about the “same day trip to Baltimore” that Under Armour scheduled with Lance Stephenson?  If they didn’t know about it, it’s difficult to hold them accountable, isn’t it?  After all, Maryland doesn’t run Under Armour. Under Armour runs Under Armour.  Maryland doesn’t run Lance Stephenson.  Lance Stephenson and his family run Lance Stephenson.

I’m not naive.  I’m sure Under Armour’s position in the sports world and their efforts to become “a player” in the NBA can’t hurt Maryland’s chances of landing top recruits in the future.  Schools all across the country have been parlaying those kinds of “special relationships” with apparel companies for a long time.

It’s only when the school works IN CONCERT with the apparel company to help bring a student-athlete into their athletic program where the line is crossed.

Could the whole thing have been done a little differently to completely remove any doubt at all that Lance Stephenson wasn’t being connected to Maryland through Under Armour?  Sure.

On the whole, though, it looks as if everyone knew the rules (as liberal as they might be…), observed and complied with them, and did what every other school does with much-sought-after high school athletes.

The Gary-haters – facing a bunch of egg in their face when the Terps qualify for the NCAA tournament later this month – are hoping beyond hope Maryland’s going to get called on the carpet for this episode.

It’s not going to happen, though.

Maryland and Under Armour did what any other school and shoe company would have done – within the regulations, of course.

They made Stephenson feel like King for a Day.

It’s how you win the recruiting war.

“We’re going to treat you better, make you better, and prepare you better than anyone else.”

I’m sure that’s how Lance Stephenson remembers his trip to DC/Baltimore.

“They treated me great down there…I might really like that place.”

Of course, that could all change if Stephenson takes a trip to Florida to visit with Billy Donovan.  That recruiting visit wouldn’t include a side-journey to Under Armour, but it might include an accidental visit to the Delta Zeta sorority house.

But wait…sending a recruit out with another basketball player to see the best looking girls on campus wouldn’t be the biggest reason why a kid would choose the Gators over the Terps.

Right, Matt Walsh?

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Oh, the weather outside is frightful…

Posted on 02 March 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Just five weeks from today, the Yankees fans will descend on downtown and the bunting will be out and the Orioles will celebrate Opening Day. Today, however, I’m sitting here having my first cup of coffee of the week, watching an absolutely stunning beautiful snow event, listening to Drew and Glenn talk about the Terps and Ray Lewis and watching all of the local TV talking heads continue a sick, little Baltimore tradition: “It’s snowing! STOP EVERYTHING!” And if Don and Marty are going to freak out over schools being closed and no one is going to work, then the least I can do is blog and tell you that I’M GOING TO WORK! And I hope you tune me in at 2 p.m.!

And today is the first snowstorm day when our website is a destination or a way to reach the radio at home because I have a feeling rush hour traffic will be limited. Especially when for 40 years every time it’s ever snowed in Baltimore, all of the TV stations freeze and they tell everyone to basically “take the day off.” I don’t know how it works in your office, but most people are happy to oblige when a  “freebie” is offered, even in this lousy, horrific economy. So, at least you’re reading our website and know we’re full service today.

I’m watching WJZ now: “When winter weather bears down on Maryland, we’re there with you. When the economy sucks, we’re there for you. When it’s time to take money from Peter Angelos and lie to you about the Orioles, we’re there for you…”

Honestly, I’m looking forward to driving into the office today and doing the show at 2 p.m. It’s been a very interesting weekend on and off the fields and courts in local sports.

On the fields…

Maryland is back somewhere on the right side of the bubble in the hunt to be in the March Madness with a relatively strong win in Raleigh. I think Greivis is still shooting ball!

I went to RAC Arena yesterday to take in the Retrievers’ big win over Albany. It’s always fun to see the band, the girls, the kids and Randy Monroe’s tantrums at UMBC. Our own Drew Forrester was feted by the local frat boys as he handed out a school spirit trophy with beads at halftime. Jay Greene’s family gave me a T-shirt with his name on it. There were tears, cheers, the works for “Senior Day” as Greene and Darryl Proctor were honored. I shot some WNSTV. I’ll try to get it up.

Lacrosse fans descended upon downtown on Saturday on a chilly day to support their sport and Johns Hopkins is wobbling.

The Orioles are doing something. I’m just not sure whether anyone is paying attention. This was the week we were going to do live from down in Fort Lauderdale. But in five weeks we’ll be playing baseball.

Off the field, it’s been a mess.

Let’s start with The Washington Post’s bombshell hurled at Gary Williams, Kevin Plank, Under Armour and the University of Maryland yesterday regarding the recruitment of Lance Stephenson. It’s been the major topic on Drew’s show this morning. I have no idea who in College Park peed in The Post’s Wheaties, but there’s clearly a witch hunt going on there for Garyland.

And if you’re on our WNST Text Service, you know that Samari Rolle told The Baltimore Sun and the Ravens (and the world) last night that he wants to be released, which caps a weekend of major activity in Owings Mills even without a word or a whisper from No. 52.
There’s plenty to rap about on a day when the weather outside is frightful. The TV stations are frightening everyone else. But I’m going to work. As my Pop would say en route to Bethlehem Steel on a day like today, “I’m not gonna scratch.”

BTW: Shameless plug here…

This Thursday would be my Pop’s 90th birthday. We will have an on air party from 2 to 6 for my dad and all dads and continue our annual tradition of honoring Pops everywhere!

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Now The Washington Post is piling on Gary Williams

Posted on 12 February 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Another missile comes flying onto Route 1 and into the Comcast Center every day it seems, as Maryland Terps head coach Gary Williams contunues to get pelted for the poor recruiting and lack of success in the ACC and in getting the Terps back off of “the bubble” and into the NCAA Tournament and March Madness. Today, it’s The Washington Post’s turn to begin what could be a lengthy series about how the Terps have fallen from the nation’s elite on the hardwood.

Clearly, Williams’ personality has been an acquired taste for many in the regional media and now that the team has lost its way on the floor, many who have been stung by him in the past are taking their turns using him like a pinata.

Today’s piece is a long, magazine-style take on the plight of the Terps.

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More national media pile on Gary Williams

Posted on 11 February 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

The story about Kendall Marshall is now a few days old but it’s making the email rounds so I thought I’d pass it along for your Terps reading. Penned by Jason King of Yahoo! Sports, this is an interesting read from an interesting perspective. Most of Gary Williams’ critics would say it’s a recruiting issue, the team’s demise from the elite of the ACC and the absence from March Madness annually.

I’m just passing it along.

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Baltimore BracketBusters and an Idea for a Baltimore College Hoops Triple-header

Posted on 04 February 2009 by Chris Bonetti

Morgan State @ Towson, Towson Center, Towson, MD – February 21
UMBC @ Rider, Alumni Gymnasium, Lawrenceville, NJ – February 21
Loyola College @ Drexel, Daskalakis Athletic Center, Philadelphia, PA – February 21

In case you missed it, earlier this week ESPNU announced the pairings for their seventh annual BracketBuster event.  The two-day slate of games featuring 51 games including teams from 17 different conferences is truly a celebration of mid-major college hoops.  The weekend of February 20th and 21st will be ruled by college basketball’s little guys and Baltimore will be right in the middle of the action.

It’s phenomenal that the folks at ESPN decided to match-up Todd Bozeman’s Bears and Pat Kennedy’s Tigers.  These two North Baltimore foes will lock-up for the 23rd time with the series tied at 11 games apiece.  Bragging rights are directly on the line

The reason why I think it’s so great is because it gives a team like Towson something else besides their conference tournament to look forward to.  It’s an impromptu late-season big-time backyard rivalry game.

While I love spontaneity as much as the next guy, I suggest taking this game and really running with the idea of a late year Baltimore-Baltimore match-up, sans the surprise.

Wouldn’t it be great to break up late season monotony with a battle for Baltimore bragging rights?

Imagine a triple-header of games at the 1st Mariner Arena in early February.  Take the five Division 1 schools around town, Coppin, Loyola, Morgan, Towson, and UMBC and that leaves you with one spot.  While this event would need great organizing to succeed, what would make it great would the participation of the big boys… the University of Maryland Terrapins.

I know, I know, what’s in it for Gary?  Why should he leave Comcast during his ACC conference schedule to play a “nothing good can come from this”-type game?  Well, I’ll simply offer, it might be good for Coach Williams to show his face around the Harbor a little bit more often.  Throughout his whole tumultuous January the center of discussion was recruiting, and more specifically, not recruiting the city well enough.  This would be a great event for kids from all over the greater Baltimore area to enjoy.  I don’t see how playing an in-state opponent in front of 11,000 people in his state’s largest city could possibly be a bad thing for a program attempting to re-grow some of those grassroots.

The benefit for the locals is obvious in exposure alone.  Any local media outlet would be crazy not to ant to put their name on the event and its content in their programming. Not everyone can go to the University of Maryland and play so this would be a great chance for young players to see the unique styles of our area’s coaches and become familiar with their distinct personalities.

You could even involve the high school teams in an All-Baltimore Basketball weekend.  The collegiate triple-header could be played on a Saturday or Sunday with varsity squads from all over Baltimore County going out of conference to play on the preceding Friday night.

I don’t know, just a thought…

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