Monday, March 14, 2005

This it the end, beautiful friends.

All streaks must come to an end and this Sunday saw the sun set on an illustrious period in College Park. For 11 straight years Gary Williams' teams heard their name called on selection Sunday. As long as Gary stays as coach of the Terps this is not the end of an era but certainly is a transitional period for the Program that Gary built. The offseason will begin after a few meaningless NIT games and there will be great uncertainty in the halls of the Comcast Center. Will DJ Strawberry return healthy and with the same quickness before his knee injury? Can Mike Jones, Ekene Ibekwe and Will Bowers all improve their game in the offseason to become major contributors? Will James Gist explode and become a star?

The biggest question surrounds the mercurial point guard of the Terrapins. To say that John Gilchrist had a tumultuous season would be an understatement. It is unclear whether he wants to come back and if the feeling is mutual among his teammates and coaching staff. The smart money says that Gilchrist has possibly played his last game for Maryland. He sprained his ankle in the ACC tournament debacle versus Clemson and is questionable for Maryland's first round game against Oral Roberts. My feeling is that he won't be ready for that game and will try to rest himself for the pre-draft camps that will go a long way in deciding his NBA draft fate. Assuming that is true, his tenure at Maryland resulted in a disappointing 14-18 regular season record and 17-19 including the ACC tournament run last year. He showed glimpses of a strong, scoring point guard who could bully his way past any guard in the league and out rebound most small forwards. He also showed weak on the ball defense, an inability to score when unable to drive past the defender, unwillingness to run the flex offense and an immaturity that alienated teammates and coaches. He crumbled under the weight of expectations after a stellar three games that landed him tournament MVP in the ACC last year.

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