Already knowing its streak of three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances would officially be snapped, Maryland was also left out of the National Invitational Tournament on Sunday night.
For the first time since the 2013-14 season and the third time in seven seasons under head coach Mark Turgeon, the Terps will not play in the postseason, ending a disappointing and injury-plagued campaign. Maryland dropped to 19-13 with their second-round loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament on March 1 and finished a disappointing 8-10 in the conference.
Even with the season-ending injuries suffered by forwards Justin Jackson and Ivan Bender, the Terps not even qualifying for the NIT with the talented trio of Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter, and Bruno Fernando is not a good look for Turgeon and a program facing increasing scrutiny from their fan base. Turgeon remains under contract through the 2022-23 season after signing an extension in the fall of 2016.
The Big Ten will send two teams to the NIT with Penn State as a No. 4 seed and Nebraska a No. 5 seed in the 32-team tournament. Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Michigan all qualified for the NCAA tournament earlier Sunday evening.
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With the 2018 NFL scouting combine winding down, I’ve offered a dozen Ravens thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. Ozzie Newsome didn’t drop any bombshells speaking at his final combine as general manager, but he was accountable and expressed much urgency to get back to the playoffs and finally get it right at wide receiver. The latter would be a fine demon to exorcise to complete his brilliant run.
2. Newsome’s job title and responsibilities after 2018 remain unclear, but Steve Bisciotti telling him he wants his golf game to improve should ease concerns about his “significant” position potentially clashing with the transfer of power to Eric DeCosta. It needs to be the latter’s show to run.
3. Jeremy Maclin remains on the roster for now, but Newsome only saying that no decision has been made on his future should be pretty telling. The general manager’s desire to “change that room” wouldn’t seem to bode well for free agent Mike Wallace’s chances of returning either.
4. On the other hand, Newsome’s praise for the play and leadership of Brandon Carr leads you to believe he’ll remain on the roster. Jimmy Smith is apparently progressing well with his Achilles tendon rehabilitation, but there’s no way to know yet if he’ll be ready for Week 1.
5. Some balked at Newsome saying Breshad Perriman would be part of spring workouts, but this shouldn’t be a surprise with the lack of bodies at receiver and the organization’s desire to salvage any bit of value from a first-round pick. This hardly guarantees he’ll be part of the 2018 team.
6. Only preliminary talks have been held with the agent of C.J. Mosley about a contract extension beyond 2018, but that’s not a major surprise as it wasn’t until late April of 2015 that Jimmy Smith signed his deal, the last time Baltimore extended a first-round pick.
7. Newsome predictably praised the emergence of Alex Collins, but adding a running back to be a dangerous factor as a receiver out of the backfield should still be a goal this offseason. I don’t believe Danny Woodhead, Buck Allen, or Kenneth Dixon is that guy.
8. Maryland wide receiver DJ Moore made a statement to be in the conversation as a first-round pick with his strong showing in Indianapolis. His workout numbers mesh very well with his production for the Terps despite never benefiting from consistent quarterback play.
9. Penn State’s Mike Gesicki is another prospect the Ravens should covet. He isn’t a blocker, but he checks the boxes you want in a pass-catching tight end and was very impressive at the combine. Gesicki also caught 14 touchdowns and had almost 1,500 receiving yards over the last two seasons.
10. Re-signing Brent Urban to a cheap contract with incentives is fine, but injuries have plagued him throughout his football career. It would be unwise to give him any real money or envision him as a “Plan A” guy.
11. Oklahoma offensive tackle Orlando Brown, the son of the late former Ravens lineman, was impressive during his press conference, but his disastrous workout numbers will be difficult to overcome. Talk of him being a first-round pick became a distant memory in a matter of hours.
12. Newsome has never basked in the spotlight — Friday was the first time he’d answered questions at a press conference since last April — but he deserves the farewell recognition he’ll receive from peers, fans, and media over the next calendar year. Where would the Ravens have been without him?
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I appreciate you dropping by my part of the world to read my thoughts on where my life and career are headed as I turn 50 this year. I have no idea how or why I’ve managed to collect so many people over the last 34 years as a sports journalist and the past 26 as a sports radio “personality” in Baltimore and around the country but I’m trying to make myself more useful and relevant as I continue my journey in life. Moving forward, I will attempt to find more meaning and some purpose as I navigate this world that has been constructed around my radio station, life and many connections with incredible people.
Maybe you went to Colgate Elementary or Dundalk High with me in the 1970s or early 1980s, or read my rock and roll or hockey work at The Baltimore Sun many years ago into the early 1990s. Perhaps we met through sports – the Orioles, Ravens, Skipjacks, Caps, Terps or locally via our many WNST roadtrips, events, live shows and rallies and parties. Or maybe we connected or “linked” somewhere among the many charity events, parties, civic and business concerns that I’ve attended, hosted or broadcasted from over the years.
Geez, 10,000 of you were with me five years ago today on a riverbank in New Orleans so I know you’re still out there!
Trust me, it’s never lost on me – the unique business and charmed life I’ve built as a Baltimore sports radio personality, entrepreneur, author and sometimes civic activist. I’d like to think that I’ve always stood up for people and causes that I believe in over the years (see: Free The Birds) and the passion and drive that comes quite naturally for me are sometimes too much for some folks’ energy or taste. But no one of substance should question the accuracy, conviction and integrity with which I’ve served my message and journalism over my adulthood.
My track record and history are what I stand the proudest of as I transition into different and deeper conversations moving forward.
The change I’m making on the radio side might seem subtle but it’s a major psychological change from the way I plan to conduct my “content” life moving forward beyond sports.
One thing I’ve done to protect my own sanity and happiness that won’t change: I’ve stopped arguing with people – especially people who have no idea what they’re talking about or any expertise or substantive information on a topic. I refuse to do it on the radio, on the internet or in real life.
You should try it. Walk away. Instead of arguing with people who are full of shit and have fallen prey to the many lies and are yelling “fake news” to things like facts and science and obvious truths, I simply move on.
Mute! Block! Pause! All are quite effective in my experience.
I’m not anti-conflict; I’m simply anti-stupidity. And life is too short to be spent suffering fools. It’s been said before: “There’s a sucker born every minute” and “You can’t coach stupid.”
Like most people who have been paying attention, I have absolutely no time in my busy life nor any desire to debate
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“Steve (Bisciotti) is straightforward and that makes it easy. He’s not a prima donna. He’s direct. He’s upfront. If there’s something he doesn’t like, he tells you. If he feels strongly about something, he tells you. There’s no secret agenda. There’s nothing you have to discover. Steve is a great believer in direct communication and he runs the business that way.”
— Baltimore Ravens President Dick Cass (March 2013)
IN MANY CITIES IN AMERICA the owners of sports franchises can still somehow stay or hide in the shadow of their local investment and create nary a stir when they enter a room. Being anonymous has its privileges and benefits, a thought Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti would certainly echo. But in Baltimore, where the owners of the local professional teams have been true newsmakers and iconoclasts for the better part of a half a century, owning the NFL franchise that a community treats like family or a personal treasure can be like carrying the collective weight of the civic mood on your shoulders.
Bisciotti did his best to remain a private citizen after taking over the Ravens from Arthur B. Modell in early 2004, but you can’t be invested in the most significant sports soap opera in the community and stand at the top of the pyramid making the most important decisions for the fan base without becoming a public figure of the highest order.
If you are a sports fan from Baltimore, Maryland, you have endured your fair share of abuse. In the 1970’s, the Baltimore Bullets were dragged down I-95 to the Washington suburbs by owner Abe Pollin, professional hockey went into hibernation with the Clippers and there were strong whispers of the Orioles going to D.C. to replace the departed Washington Senators. It got no better in the 1980’s. There was always the ominous and omnipresent shadow of Robert Irsay, the man who acquired the Baltimore Colts from Carroll Rosenbloom in a swap for the Los Angeles Rams in 1972 and later moved them to Indianapolis in a convoy of Mayflower moving trucks in the middle of a snowy, teary night for the Charm City on March 28, 1984 after a decade of tyranny and threats to the community of the inevitable move.
Since the turn of the century, both the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Orioles fan bases’ have been tormented and tortured by disastrous moves on the field and big moves downward in the standings since the involvement of Daniel Snyder and Peter G. Angelos have fallen upon the I-95 corridor. These two have shined a bright light on what can go wrong when poor decisions are consistently being made from the top of the organization and how quickly decades of support for enduring brands can erode and deteriorate when fans and customers smell the stench of poor ownership.
The reality in the 21st century is that with the scarcity of teams available and the cost of buying a sports franchise for hundreds of millions of dollars, no one wants to pony up the kind of money to be an owner without having a strong desire to be heavily involved in strategy and a strong desire to win – whether it’s on the field or at the cash register. Many of these thrill seekers have lacked proper training, background and the feel for sports ownership especially with such a public light illuminating every decision that is made in real time on the internet. What sounds like fun in the beginning becomes an albatross and a public nuisance once it becomes apparent how specialized each league, sport and business is from an ownership standpoint.
It was no secret that Art Modell was struggling financially in Cleveland and those ghosts of burgeoning debt followed him east to Baltimore in 1996. By 1999, the NFL and his debtors with the banks demanded that he find a partner to buy the team and help him find the exit door with the class and dignity that his departure from Cleveland clearly lacked.
The same man who found Modell in Cleveland and brokered the deal for the State of Maryland and the City of Baltimore in the Fall of 1995 was the same man who found a buyer four years later: local attorney and sports franchise expert John Moag. After Modell made the move to Baltimore, Moag became a trusted confidant and had all of the institutional knowledge that would be necessary to assist in finding a new owner for the Baltimore Ravens.
Moag knew Bisciotti and was privy to most of Modell’s financial struggles. The rest is history.
By any account, Steve Bisciotti is a sports nut. He’s long been a fiercely loyal University of Maryland supporter, close confidant of legendary Terps basketball head coach Gary Williams and a Ravens and Orioles season ticket holder at the time. At worst, he would’ve been a very educated sports radio talk show caller before he got involved in the purchase the Baltimore Ravens in 1999.
Bisciotti, born April 10, 1960 in Philadelphia, came to the Severna Park area of Anne Arundel County in 1961 when Bernard and Patricia Bisciotti moved from Philadelphia for Bernard’s new sales executive job. He was 8 years old when the Colts lost Super Bowl III to Joe Namath and the New York Jets. He was a huge Paul Blair fan during the heyday of the Earl Weaver-led Orioles in his adolescence. He journeyed with his friends up Richie Highway to Memorial Stadium in the 1970’s and loved the Bert Jones-era of the “Shake and Bake” Colts.
Bisciotti’s father died of leukemia when he was in elementary school leaving his sports-crazed widowed mother, who raised him by preaching faith, hard work, determination and manners. Nicknamed “Shots” by his college pals at Salisbury State, where he earned a Liberal Arts degree, Bisciotti became obsessed with making enough money by the age of 35 so that his wife and kids wouldn’t have to work if his father’s fate befell him. He had the early jobs of a kid who worked hard and learned the world: pumping gas, mowing lawns, and building piers in Anne Arundel County, where he graduated from Severna Park High School. He founded a staffing firm called Aerotek in his basement with $3,500 of seed money at age 23 during the Colts final season in Baltimore. He now owns a massive stake in Allegis
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Maryland basketball has added another big name to its 2018 recruiting class with the commitment of four-star Mount St. Joseph standout Jalen Smith.
The 6-foot-10, 200-pound senior forward announced his decision via his Twitter account Monday evening. Smith will join former Gaels teammate and incoming Terps freshman Darryl Morsell as well as fellow 2018 recruit Aaron Wiggins as head coach Mark Turgeon and his staff continue to bring impressive talent to College Park.
Maryland has drawn the No. 6 seed in the West region of the 2017 NCAA tournament and will take on Xavier in Orlando on Thursday.
The game will tip off at 6:50 p.m. and be televised on TNT.
The Terrapins (24-8) have made the tournament for the third consecutive year under head coach Mark Turgeon, the first time the program has done that since going 11 straight times under Gary Williams from 1994-2004. Maryland will aim to make it back to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year despite losing four starters from last season’s team.
A No. 6 seed was as much as the Terps could have hoped for after losing six of their last 10 games, which included their deflating 72-64 defeat to Northwestern in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament on Friday night. Many projections entering Sunday had the Terps as a No. 7 or No. 8 seed, but 11 wins on road and neutral courts likely helped their cause as much as anything in the end.
“The hardest thing to do in college basketball is win on the road and we were rewarded for it,” Turegon said. “I said all along I think we’re going to be a six and I said to my staff today privately ‘we won eight road games; we’ve got to be a six.'”
The No. 11 seed Musketeers (21-13) have struggled down the stretch in the Big East, losing seven of their last 10 contests and six in a row prior to their final game of the regular season. Xavier is led by junior guard Trevon Bluiett, who is averaging 18.1 points per game this season.
The winner of Thursday’s game would take on the winner of the first-round contest between No. 3 seed Florida State and No. 14 seed Florida Gulf Coast in Orlando on Saturday. Gonzaga is the No. 1 seed in the West region.
Maryland is among seven teams from the Big Ten to make the NCAA tournament this year, joining Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, and Wisconsin. The Terps are making their 26th appearance in the NCAA tournament and its third in a row and own a 40-24 tournament record.
“Our guys are excited. They’re really proud of themselves and what they have done this year,” Turgeon said. “Our veterans will talk to the young guys. We talked a little bit about it on Saturday morning before we left the hotel — what we have to do to prepare for the NCAA tournament and how we have to practice. We’ve done all that already. It’s going to come quick.”
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In a season filled with lofty expectations, a late-season slide resulted in Maryland receiving the No. 5 seed in the South region of the 2016 NCAA tournament.
As high as No. 2 in the AP top 25 poll earlier this season before losing five of their last seven and falling to No. 18 in the rankings, the Terps will face the No. 12 seed South Dakota State in the first round in Spokane, Wash. on Friday. The Jackrabbits (26-7) won the Summit League for the third time in the last five years.
Friday’s game will tip at approximately 4:30 p.m. locally and will be televised on TBS.
The winner would advance to play either No.4 seed California or 13th-seed Hawaii on Sunday. The top overall seed Kansas is also in the South region and would potentially loom in the Sweet Sixteen.
Maryland had missed the NCAA tournament in four consecutive seasons before earning the No. 4 seed in the Midwest and advancing to the second round last year. However, expectations soared this year with the arrivals of freshman standout Diamond Stone and transfers Robert Carter Jr. and Rasheed Sulaimon.
The Terps began the season 15-1, but their 10-7 finish entering the NCAA tournament hasn’t inspired confidence that they’ll realize the Final Four predictions that so many made a few months ago. Maryland fell 64-61 to Michigan State in Saturday’s Big Ten tournament semifinal after topping Nebraska in the quarterfinals on Friday night.
This was the fifth time in school history in which the Terps have won at least 24-regular season games, but they will be trying to advance to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2003. Maryland has won at least one game in its last 11 NCAA tournament appearances dating back to 1998.
The program is making its 26th trip to the “Big Dance” and second under fifth-year head coach Mark Turgeon.
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After suffering its worst loss of the season, Maryland appeared to be in danger of falling out of the top 10 for the first time all year.
Instead, the Terps hung on at 10th overall in the latest AP top 25 rankings released on Monday afternoon. Mark Turgeon’s team was No. 6 last week before Thursday’s shocking loss at Minnesota, who hadn’t won a conference game all season.
Maryland fell from fifth to No. 9 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.
Michigan State climbed to No. 6 in this week’s AP rankings while Iowa fell to eighth after a road loss to Penn State.
The Terps (23-5) return to action Saturday afternoon when they play at Purdue.
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Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon announced Monday that freshman center Diamond Stone has been suspended one game for his conduct late in the first half of Saturday’s loss to Wisconsin.
The 6-foot-11 big man was issued a technical foul but was not ejected for appearing to shove Badgers forward Vitto Brown’s head against the floor in the midst of an altercation. Wisconsin freshman Charlie Thomas was also issued a technical foul after he and Stone argued with one another.
“Diamond’s conduct during Saturday’s game was a poor representation of the standards that we have established as a program at the University of Maryland,” Turgeon said in a statement released by the school. “I have talked with Diamond and he realizes he made a mistake. He felt very badly about what happened and will learn from this experience. I want to sincerely apologize to Vitto Brown and [Wisconsin head coach] Greg Gard for what transpired Saturday.”
Asked about the incident following Saturday’s 70-57 loss, Turgeon said he could not see what happened from his vantage point, but he would review the video and discuss the matter with Stone. The talented big man will serve his suspension on Thursday as the Terps travel to face Minnesota.
The freshman scored 10 points and registered four blocks against Wisconsin despite Maryland having its school record 27-game home winning streak snapped.
“I want to apologize to Vitto Brown and the Wisconsin basketball team for my unacceptable behavior during Saturday’s game,” Stone said in a statement. “I regret that I let the emotions of the game get the best of me. I let my team down, and I accept full responsibility for my actions.”
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COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Mark Turgeon had downplayed the notion that Thursday’s showdown with third-ranked Iowa was a must-win game for Maryland.
The coach reiterated that sentiment even after the No. 8 Terrapins earned their first win of the season against a ranked opponent and served the Hawkeyes their first loss in Big Ten play in a 74-68 final
“Everybody that cares about Maryland basketball was in a panic, but we never were,” said Turgeon, who reminded that all three of the Terps’ losses had come in challenging road environments. “We’re in a grind session right now. We’ve got a tough schedule ahead of us. We’re trying to be the best team we can be in March and peak at the right time.”
Panic? That description might be too strong, but concern was growing about whether the Terps were as great as many thought they could be after last Saturday’s loss at Michigan State. And though a victory over a top-ranked opponent doesn’t guarantee a Final Four berth any more than the previous losses meant a trip to Houston wasn’t happening, Maryland offered some peace of mind on Thursday night.
Only three other games against currently-ranked opponents remain on the Terps’ regular-season schedule, meaning opportunities to enhance the NCAA tournament résumé in hopes of a No. 1 or No.2 seed were running low.
The signature win was more important than it was impressive as both teams trudged through an ugly second half that hardly resembled the fast-paced, high-quality first 20 minutes of action. Maryland was just 9-for-27 from the field and 0-for-10 from beyond the arc in the second half, but stingy defense was the difference for the Terps in the first game played between top-10 teams in the 14-year history of Xfinity Center.
Maryland outrebounded the Hawkeyes after struggling mightily in that department against Michigan State and Northwestern, and Robert Carter Jr. and Jake Layman combined to stifle one of the best players in the country as Jarrod Uthoff was an abysmal 2-for-13 and finished with just nine points.
Rasheed Sulaimon and Carter each scored 17 to lead the way for the Terps and ease the burden on star point guard Melo Trimble, who didn’t receive enough help in the loss to the Spartans last weekend. Maryland has plenty of players who can score — that was evident in the 100-65 demolition of Ohio State two weeks ago — but that balance and toughness needed to surface against a high-quality opponent.
To go along with the balanced offense, the Terps handled adversity in responding to Carter fouling out on a questionable call with less than two minutes remaining. Out of a timeout, Maryland executed a pretty set that resulted in a Diamond Stone dunk, forced a turnover on the other end, and then extended the lead to 66-60 on a layup by Jared Nickens with 1:11 left.
Iowa wouldn’t seriously challenge again as its nine-game winning streak was snapped.
“I think we grew as a team,” said Sulaimon about moving past the loss at Michigan State. “There’s a fine line in being a good and a great team, and I think that team chemistry and stuff like that makes a big difference.”
Time will tell whether the Terps crossed over from good to great on Thursday, but the victory was one fans were waiting for to help confirm why they’ve been so excited all season.
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