Thursday, April 27, 2006

More staff turmoil

Maryland has reportedly lost another assistant coach as media outlets are claiming that Ron Moxley is going back to Charlotte to take over as an associate head coach and eventually succeed Bobby Lutz as the head coach. This move may make sense for Moxley as Charlotte offers a better path to a head coaching job and Moxley is comfortable and familiar with the program. I guess that is about as optimistic as you can be about this development.

This is the fifth assistant to leave Maryland since 2003. Jimmy Patsos, Dave Dickerson, Mike Lonergan, Ron Moxley and Matt Kovarik all left College Park for other opportunities. Some may be thinking that working for Gary Williams can't be the most enjoyable job in college basketball and that is the problem. Some coaches, like Lonergan, are not able to handle the demands that Williams makes of his assistants and are unlikely to have the toughness to handle coaching at a high level position. My feeling is that Moxley left Maryland because of the poor relations between the basketball program and the athletic department. Moxley said that Maryland was a "dream job" when he was hired just a year ago and it would be foolish to believe that he didn't know what kind of coach Gary Williams was before he came to College Park. What he probably had little sense of was how the actions of the athletic department continually undermine and hamper the ability of the basketball program to cultivate the stability that is essential to winning.

I'm not trying to sugar coat this since it is clearly an alarming development. Maryland has an impressive 2007 recruiting class already and the 2006 class should have some players who can contribute right away. It isn't time to panic, but Williams needs to assert himself and guide the program out of the turmoil it has endured since 2004.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Rumors mongers

Wow, it was a busy week for the rumor mill in College Park. First seniors Ekene Ibekwe and DJ Strawberry indicated that they will apply for the upcoming NBA draft but not hire agents, then there were rumors reported by the local cable sports station that junior James Gist had inquired about transferring to George Washington.

The Ibekwe and Strawberry rumor turned out to true as was confirmed by basketball coach Gary Williams in the Washington Post. At first glance this report seemed like some kind of late April Fools hoax but the only fools in this story are the two players and whoever is giving them the asinine advice that they are even close to NBA material. It is further evidence that there are too many sycophants and parasites hanging around college basketball players these days. Even mediocre players like Ibekwe and Strawberry have people telling them they could go in the first round of the draft. If they are invited to some of the pre-draft camps, which isn't a sure thing, they will find out what is already obvious to everyone who watched the pair this year. Neither is even an elite player in the ACC let alone a strong NBA prospect. Both need to quit wasting their time at draft camps and get in the weight room to bulk up and the gym to work on their jump shots. Regardless of the outcome you have to be concerned about their commitment to improving Maryland's fortunes next season.

The James Gist transfer rumor was reported by Comcast Sportsnet this week but was quickly denied by all sides by the time the late night sports cycle had finished. In my opinion it is another example of irresponsible reporting by a member of the media. There seems to be little credence to the story besides Gist telling the reporter "No Comment" when asked about the story. College athletes are routinely told to decline to respond to reporters who approach them outside of official interviews. Apparently that was enough for them to run with the story. The result is an already laughable and clownish operation at Comcast looks even more amateurish. Don't expect much access for Comcast reporters next season.

Around the ACC

Kansas was cited by the NCAA for the dreaded "lack of institutional control" for incidents under former coach Roy Williams. The violations included cash payments to players after they had graduated (approved by Williams himself). Kansas got nothing more than a slap on the wrist but this certainly tarnishes the reputation of Williams.

NC State is still without a coach as former recruits Chris Wright and Larry David have indicated they will reopen their recruitment. Current candidates include ESPN's Steve Lavin and West Virginia's John Beilein. Neither of those candidates is likely, especially Beilein. The spring recruiting period is well underway and NC State is killing their prospects for a talented 2007 class by the day.

Miami's Guillermo Diaz announced he will enter the NBA draft and hire an agent. Diaz's overdribbling and ballhogging style never helped Miami make the postseason but is more suited for the NBA.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Wolfpack still searching

Let the debacle that has become the coaching search to replace the departed Herb Sendek at NC State be an abject lesson to Maryland fans who think their program is being held back by the current coaching staff. The Wolfpack fans never warmed to Sendek even though he resurrected a program that had flatlined. Still living in the glory days of David Thompson most State fans felt they deserved a coach like Rick Barnes, Tubby Smith or John Calipari. The cold truth is that not one of those coaches would be going to a better program if he left for NC State. The fans in Raleigh are even more delusional than the Kentucky fans so Smith wouldn't find an easier time there. Rick Barnes has built a great foundation in Austin and with super freshman Kevin Durant on the way has a bright future. John Calipari has never proven he can win in a big time conference and with Shawne Williams likely to return he could have a Final Four caliber team next season.

Oklahoma with more recent success than NC State had to settle for Jeff Capel, who has never won anything of note at VCU, as their successor to Kelvin Sampson. Why would Wolfpack fans think they should get someone better?

Truth is that Maryland is probably only slightly more attractive than State. The only two coaches who have been very successful at Maryland are Hall of Fame caliber coaches who won at every school they ever worked at and have about 1,000 career victories between them. With rumors that Cedric Simmons will be testing the NBA draft waters, former Sendek recruits looking elsewhere, and no high profile coach looking interested in their program NC State fans may wish they had not gotten what they wished for.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Terp women win first title

The Maryland women's team won the national title the other night against Duke. As per usual the students in College Park decided it was a good excuse for another night of rioting. I guess the current crop of students don't mind turning themselves into a punch line. Hardly a cheap shot on my part. The current crop of students deserve all the ridicule they get. I've got news for you kids: you're not the cool, funny and irreverent guy at the party. You're the drunken jackass who breaks things, insults the party hosts and ends up crapping in someone's closet. The fool with the lamp shade on his head that everyone mocks.

I'm not going to go into the game. I don't mean to offend anyone but I don't have any interest in women's basketball, even if it involves Maryland. If you want analysis you can tune into ESPN and watch Stacey Dales-Schuman try to convince you that you'll want to watch women's basketball because they now have the dunk. I'm not shilling for ratings so I'm not going to follow her lead. I did find it interesting that NCAA investigators had interviewed a number of current Maryland players on their recruitment and that the Washington Post published a story in which current women's coaches questioned the tactics of Brenda Frese. Not exactly what you'd hope the read with the team getting its first national title.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Final Two

The college basketball season has culminated in the match-up of two unlikely opponents tomorrow night. Neither UCLA or Florida were expected to seriously challenge for a national title with powerhouse teams like Duke, Connecticut, Texas and Michigan State returning most of their starters and with an rich array of All-American candidates. Turns out that none of those squads was as good as people thought with not even one making the Final Four. It has been that kind of year in college basketball. There is nary a "great" team in country this year, there were just a few that were less flawed than all the rest.

Having said that the game between UCLA and Florida should be entertaining. UCLA showed the ability to put points on the board in its demolishing of LSU to go along with a iron clad defense. They can survive an up tempo shootout or a grinding half court contest. Florida is the more statistically balanced group with 5 players scoring in double figures, but UCLA has the deeper bench with 11 players averaging more than 9 minutes a game. Each team is young with key players in only their second year. I think the deeper bench of UCLA will eventually wear out Florida's starters. UCLA will add a twelfth title to their amazing history.

I want to apologize to all my loyal readers for the lack of posts in the last week. My paying job has made it difficult to carve out the time for the amount of articles I would like to write. A series of season roundups and some scouting of recruits coming to campus this fall will follow soon.

Thanks to all of you!