Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Gary's optimistic, adds 2006 recruit

Gary Williams sat down with the Diamondback and gave a few thoughts on the upcoming season and what went wrong last year. At the point guard position he feels that Parish Brown and Sterling Ledbetter are the two best ballhandlers. He seemed to give DJ Strawberry a vote of confidence for some time at the point guard position. If Strawberry is healthy don't be surprised to see him try out for the PG slot against some of the softer teams on the early schedule. A three guard set of Chris McCray, DJ Strawberry and Mike Jones would outsize any lineup in the ACC with all three coming in at 6-5. The shortest player on the team is 6-1 Parrish Brown and Sterling Ledbetter rings in at 6-4. Maryland's height in the backcourt will give opponents problems and will hopefully improve the perimeter defense. McCray and Strawberry are long armed and lanky defenders and if Jones can improve his footwork he will be a mediocre presence if for no other reasons than his height and leaping ability.

Williams did address the departure of John Gilchrist, if only briefly. He "completely" disagreed with Gilchrist's claim that the other players didn't match his intensity last year. Let's hope now that Gilchrist has taken his surly attitude to Israel that it will be a while before we must talk about him again.

The crowd at Comcast Center was another topic of conversation. Despite being ranked #1 in a recent poll on best student crowds in college sports the student section leaves a lot to be desired. They do turn out en masse for the Blue Devils but the stands were half empty for the NIT games last season. Too many corporate season tickets and spoiled students have slowly eroded the home court advantage that Maryland enjoyed. True, the Terps were an impressive 16-3 at home last season, beat Duke in overtime and took eventual national champion North Carolina down to the last seconds, but they also lost to Clemson and NC State two teams that usually roll out of College Park with a loss.

I want the crowd to just focus on the game. We need the students here on time and I know it's a longer walk than to Cole Field House, but let'’s all suck it up and do it. It really helps when the crowd is pumped up.

I couldn't have said it better. When I started at Maryland the team was banned from TV and was playing in the ACC tournament play-in game. The students have become spoiled with success.

Jerome Burney
The 6-8 210lbs junior from Westlake high school in Georgia gave a verbal commitment to Maryland. He plays on the same AAU team as current commit Landon Milbourne and is one of the top juniors in the state of Georgia. Right now Burney is lean and athletic but a little raw in his skills. He put up 13.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and an amazing 8 blocks a game for Westlake high school last season. He appears to be a committed to defense and rebounding which is certainly one of the reasons Gary Williams wanted him. He had originally committed to Miami but then withdrew his verbal after Miami indicated that wanted him to prep for a year. His grades do not appear to be an issue so it is odd that they would make that request. Gary is well known for being one of the premier developers of frontcourt recruits and he'll have to work some of that magic with Burney. My money is on Gary. As of now the frontcourt for 2006 appears to be:

C Will Bowers (Sr)
PF Ekene Ibekwe (Sr)
F James Gist (Jr)
F David Neal (So)
F Landon Milbourne (Fr)
F Jerome Burney (Fr)

Depending on how Neal develops that isn't a bad lineup. It also puts Maryland in a good position to offer playing time to some of the elite 2007 big men like Braxton Dupree, Donte Green and Julian Vaughn. Green currently seems infatuated with UNC and Vaughn is looking at a bunch of schools right now. Dupree is the most likely commit in the near term.

2006 recruit SG Greivis Vasquez is still on Maryland's radar and a personal favorite of Coach Williams. I think Maryland will have to fight for him but will close the deal after a strong showing on the court this fall. Current commit Eric Hayes is doing his own recruiting to bring Vasquez with him.

Clark Saga
Shane Clark's convoluted story continues to unfold. It now appears the NCAA clearinghouse has ruled him eligible to play this fall. He gave a rather self serving and self pitying interview to some Philly papers. "I want to go to school somewhere where people care about me, with coaches I can trust," Clark was quoted as saying. According to the story form 48H was not completed and when Maryland saw this they had no choice but to reject his admission. He called the former assistant coach at Cardinal Dougherty to give him a ride back to Philly. The implication was that either the assistant or former Maryland coach Dave Dickerson didn't do their job. My feelings are that the Terps program is under much better leadership with the current assistants, but I find Clark's claim unpersuasive. He was only at Hargrave Military because he could not qualify out of high school and was a 5th year senior. His academic were always shaky according to his former coach at Dougherty, Mark Heimerdinger, who in an interview with the Diamondback said,

"Shane was always teetering on being academically ineligible in the three years [at Cardinal Dougherty],"” Heimerdinger said. Clark would start the season doing the bare minimum his classes. By the end of the year, he would fail a class or two and would take summer school, Heimerdinger said. The coach told Clark after his junior year he was going to need to step up and be a leader because of the young incoming team. However, Clark made the decision not to return to Cardinal Dougherty so he could play at Hargrave. Heimerdinger said Clark lacked a killer instinct on the basketball court and his work ethic needed to be improved to play at a major Division I university.
Doesn't sound to good, does it? The better question is why the staff recruited a player so unmotivated and ill suited to being a student in the first place. Clark already backed out of an early commitment to Villanova after his stock rose in some summer tournaments. Not exactly an act of loyalty on his part. He now returns with no scholarship, since Nova has none to give and may not even be admitted to school there. Hopefully this is the last legacy of a really wretched collection the departed assistant staff dumped in College Park. This past year the team was filled with players who were lazy malcontents. My guess is that Gary Williams had enough of it and personally brought on a scrappy and hard working David Neal late in the recruiting season. In my view 2006 commits like Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne and target Greivis Vasquez are repudiations of the 2002-3 classes that were high on rankings and low on work ethic.


I'm Moe Greene said...

Hey, great blog. Added to my faves. Go turtles.

DCNats said...

My god, this is the holy grail of Terp Blogs!
Anyway, I agree with getting back to scrappy players who put work ethic at the top of their priority lists. That's what brought this program back from the dead, and that's what we need to stick with. I think the National Championship got us in the door with the top level recruits and that Gary/the assistants got enamored with that idea. But I hope your assesment is right and Gary is back to getting "our guys."

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