Friday, November 04, 2005

DJ on Point, Nik Determined

An article in today's Baltimore Sun suggests that DJ Strawberry is currently the frontrunner for the starting point guard position, ahead of Sterling Ledbetter and Parish Brown. DJ is clearly a favorite of Gary Williams and it may be an issue of the coach trusting DJ to do what is needed for the team to win. Ledbetter and Brown have not wowed anyone with their play, though they haven't been dreadful either. The first few exhibition games will be critical to determine if DJ is physically ready to play starter level minutes at point guard. If he plays well and doesn't show any ill effects from his knee injury last year he'll be the starter in Maui. With Strawberry in the game I expect some rotation between McCray and DJ as primary ballhandler, especially when Mike Jones is in the game at shooting guard or small forward. If last year's team had some of the toughness and hustle that Strawberry brings to the table they would have made the NCAAs with ease.

Nik Caner-Medley seems to have changed his attitude coming into this season. He was streaky last season and was benched on occasion for a lack of focus on defense and poor shot selection. Simple determination and willingness to play within the system could cure both those problems. When Medley tries to go outside his skills he gets himself into trouble and disrupts the entire team. In a Washington Post interview Caner-Medley described last year's NIT finish as "embarrassing" and a huge disappointment for this group of seniors. He claims they have rededicated themselves to playing with total effort both in practice and in games. In college sports attitude plays a much bigger role than anyone cares to admit. College teams with bad chemistry almost never meet expectations and last year was no different. Medley alluded to the poor chemistry with John Gilchrist, who was his roommate and "great friend",
"That's your teammates; those are the people who care about you," Caner-Medley said of Gilchrist's remarks. "If you're willing to say things about people who care about you, how do you think people are going to perceive that who don't even know you? He made some bad decisions, and it hurt him."
His teammates and coaches defended Gilchrist most of the year even after it was obvious he was a divisive figure on the team and set a bad example with his work habits in practice. Clearly his teammates were surprised when he suggested in an interview that they did not match his intensity and were the cause of the team's inconsistent play.

Medley seems to have taken this lesson to heart:

"There won't be one practice this year that I don't go 100 percent. There won't be one game where I don't leave everything on the floor," said Caner-Medley, whose team will open the regular season Nov. 18 against Fairleigh Dickinson. "In the past, when you are immature, there's been practices where I have come with the mentality like, 'I can't wait until practice is over. I am tired. I want practice to be over.'
If McCray, Strawberry and Medley can become the senior leaders that Maryland lacked last season then this team could achieve some great things.

Football Notes
The investigation into the brawl at a local bar involving the football team is ongoing. Friedgen hinted that players could press charges of their own if the injured bouncers pursue legal action. Suspensions are sure to follow, the only questions are who gets them and for how long.

Onto better news Josh Allen was interviewed by the Sun about his recovery from a devastating knee injury in last season's finale versus Wake Forest. It seems Josh is doing well and iching to get back to playing. He will give Lance Ball a serious challenge at running back next spring if he is fully recovered.

Sam Hollenbach may need off season surgery on his clavicle (collar bone) that he injured against Virginia Tech if it does not heal properly. Sounds like this will be a nagging injury for the rest of the year. The running game must improve to protect him and the staff should throw out any QB option plays. If Hollenbach goes down for the season then the Terps can kiss their bowl hopes goodbye.


Cavalor Epthith said...

Not that I nailed the Terps record in August (well I haven't yet, I said 5-6 and the season isn't over yet, more on that later) or anything but I feel I must prognosticate in the basketball direction.
Now I'm not college hoops expert but I do like to watch the game especially the ACC. Unlike rabid Duke, UNC and Maryland fans I have no allegiance to any team having attended the University of Hartford (go hawks!).
But I do know my share of Terps fans who drape themselves in that national championship as if it were a sable coat flecked with gold. Here's a tip: Savor it like the White Sox fans should savor this past world series.
Coach Williams has done all that he can for basketball in Maryland by winning one title. His job done no one should complain when the only satisfaction terps fans get out of this season will be a victory at home over Duke spoiling what could be a maximum two loss season for the Blue Devils.

The machine generated prediction:
Maryland 17-12

Enjoy the season!

Esquire said...

I wouldn't quit your day job, whatever it is, and get into sports prognostication. I'd gladly take an over/under of 17 wins for Maryland this season, any amount you want.

Given that Maryland hasn't won fewer than 19 games since 1995, I feel rather safe with that bet.

Maryland might not win another national title under Gary Williams. That's nothing profound, unfortunately. Including Williams there are only eight active coaches in college basketball who have won a national title. That is 8 out of over 300+ programs. How long did it take Roy Williams to win his first? Winning a championship puts you in very exclusive company. The naysayers can whine all they want. Maryland is an elite program.