Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Brotherly love?

It's become the punchline to so many jokes over the years that few people will mention anymore that Philadelphia calls itself "The City of Brotherly Love". If Baltimore calls itself "Charm City" or Fort Lauderdale can refer to itself as "Venice of America" without intending to be ironic I guess this is not worthy of much note. There wasn't much brotherhood among Nik Caner-Medley and Temple's football player, turned goon-enforcer, Nehemiah Ingram during or after Saturday's game. Ingram fouled Caner-Medley 3 times in just 10 minutes of the first half and several sent Medley sprawling on the floor. The 6'8" 250lbs Ingram and the 6'11" 285lbs Wayne Marshall combined for 9 fouls in only 36 minutes of play. Clearly it was the strategy of Temple to be extremely physical with the smaller and quicker Maryland frontcourt. It worked to an extent.

Ekene Ibekwe had a decent but unspectacular game with 14 points and 5 rebounds. He was hampered by foul trouble in the second half and only played 21 minutes. James Gist was shutout and had 16 minutes of totally ineffective play. He had more fouls than points or rebounds. Travis Garrison finished with 8 points and 6 rebounds before fouling out. He took some horrible shots that gave Temple great transition opportunities and during the crucial stretch of the game could not guard Marshall who has the mobility of a pachyderm. Marshall abused Garrison for 4 straight points that ignited a 14-0 run by the Owls. That turned out to be the decisive stretch of what had been a nip and tuck contest.

With the exception of Mike Jones and his school record seven 3-pointers the backcourt played about as bad as you could imagine. DJ Strawberry got into some early foul trouble and Sterling Ledbetter proved to be no match for Mardy Collins. Maryland doesn't have any guard that can match up to Collins on its roster. Collins scored 25 points but perhaps the most telling stat about this mismatch was that he had 12 assists and only one turnover! Collins pretty much did whatever he wanted to against the smaller Maryland guards. Strawberry, Ledbetter and Parrish Brown were totally ineffective. Both Strawberry and Ledbetter made some really terrible decisions with the ball and neither was able to play under control when Maryland needed some stability from the point position. Jones had a great first half but then cooled off slightly in the 2nd half. He still finished with 23 points and his long range shooting kept Maryland in the game. Jones' six turnovers lead the team, however, and he needs to improve his ballhandling and decision making. He and Ledbetter have a tendency to dribble themselves into trouble.

Nik Caner-Medley had another excellent offensive game with 30 points and 10 rebounds. I have no doubt that Caner-Medley and Jones can more than carry the scoring load to make up for the absence of Chris McCray. In fact the Jones/Caner-Medley combo has produced more points in the last two games than the McCray/Caner-Medley combo had in any previous game. Nik had a few too many turnovers but didn't force more than a couple shots. Caner-Medley's defense has even been improving slightly the last few games. McCray's suspension seems to have refocused him which is good since he'll need to carry the team for the rest of the season.

There were positives to be had. Maryland didn't struggle with Temple's zone defense nearly at all as they shot 53% from the floor and 50% from 3-point range, which makes it odd that some of the local beat reporters wrote that it gave Maryland problems. They must have written some of their columns before the game even started. Many of the 20 turnovers by Maryland were of the unforced variety. It was the halfcourt trap, not the zone defense that gave the Terps some trouble. Maryland also had 21 assists on 26 baskets which is excellent. The pieces are all there and if Maryland could just cut down on the turnovers they would be an extremely potent offense.

It would have been very tough to win two road games after the turmoil of Chris McCray's suspension earlier in the week. The good thing is that Maryland won it's league road game, which is far more important to its post season hopes. The Terps will likely be favored against the young Tarheels and a win would put them at 5-2 in the ACC and with an inside track to the NCAAs.

Alaeze "not sure" about Maryland

In an interview with the Diamondback DE Melvin Alaeze seemed to waffle on his commitment to Maryland saying he was not sure if he would sign a letter of intent tomorrow on the national signing day for recruits. Alaeze signed a LOI last season as Maryland held off Virginia Tech for the commitment of the Parade All-American. Alaeze is no longer at the prep school he was forced to enroll at when he failed to qualify out of high school. It was also reported that Alaeze had the forms for a LOI to either Maryland or Penn State. There are also rumors that Virginia Tech might still be in the running. Alaeze is a fantastic talent but his work ethic and ability to stay eligible at whatever college he attends will be an issue. Alaeze is waiting for a decision from the NCAA Clearinghouse about a grade that wasn't factored into his original eligibility determination. The longer this drags on the less likely Alaeze will ever suit up for Maryland.

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