Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Shaky start

It has certainly been a uneven beginning for the basketball team this year. Though they have lost four games already all of them came against quality opponents, three of which are probably NCAA tournament teams in March, and even with sometimes dreadful shooting none of the games were blowouts. The schedule was probably a little too difficult for this team and Gary Williams might have scheduled a few games differently with hindsight. The Terps have already played more games against teams ranked in the top 50 in the Pomeroy rankings than any other team in the ACC (UCLA, Missouri, Illinois and Boston College) and more than Florida State, Miami and Virginia combined.

There was a close call with Northeastern that could have fatally damaged Maryland NCAA hopes and a nip and tuck game against Hampton as well. Even in games where the Terps won by a comfortable margin they have not been able to put together a complete effort. Maryland has lead by double digits only once at halftime all season.

There are some positive developments. Hayes and Vasquez are doing a better job of limiting turnovers recently. Gist and Osby are developing into a dangerous low post duo. Freshmen Cliff Tucker and Braxton Dupree have some some life the last week or two. Tucker is probably much farther along in his development than any of the other freshmen and Gary Williams expects him to be a major factor when league play begins again. I expect to see more three guard sets with Hayes, Vasquez and Tucker in the future.

As senior James Gist suggested in the Washington Times the reservoir of patience for the youngsters is not limitless. At some point you have to expect improvement from the young players. With a slate of homes games to close out the year Maryland has a chance to get some experience for the freshmen before any tough road tests. There are no more moral victories sitting on four losses already because the Terps don't have much of an NCAA resume at the moment.

Here is another great article about Bambale Osby. He has exceeded every expectation since coming to Maryland and is a great influence on his teammates. His value in the locker room shouldn't be undersold.

Please note I transposed the Maryland efficiency ratings for the last game. The offense should have been 109.8 and the defense 114 which highlights all the foul shots BC took and the defensive lapses that allowed the Eagles to shoot 52% in the 2nd half.

I forgot to mention that I was surprised Gary didn't sit Greivis for a few minutes when he picked up his third foul before the infamous technical sequence. I expected Adrian Bowie to get some minutes to check Rice but it never happened. I'm not sure why Bowie is in the dog house but his minutes have disappeared lately.

Around the ACC
NC State fans are already getting disgruntled. After bad losses to New Orleans and East Carolina the ridiculous hype surrounding this team has evaporated. They have many of the same problems that plagued them last year and saw them go 5-11 in the ACC. This is probably a 0.500 level team in ACC play and little better. It is a little embarrassing to watch Sidney Lowe huddle with his assistants during critical moments of games. It has the flavor watching Miss South Carolina answer a question on geography. Brutal. The only good win they have is a game against Villanova that the officials handed to them. If they lose to a scrappy and dangerous Davidson team before Christmas Lowe may want to star in his own "Want to get away?" Southwest Airlines ad.

Unbeaten Miami faces Mississippi State in a game that is more important than it may seem. The Hurricanes get the cupcake schedule award for this year as their non-conference slate is probably the most pathetic in the entire ACC. The game against Mississippi State is the only true road game they will play during the entire out of conference schedule. Miami's only notable win was against a decent but not great Providence team who already has three losses. Expect them to not fare very well once ACC play starts. Think Clemson from last season.

Boston College has one of the worst defensive backcourts in the ACC. Rice, Biko Paris and Tyler Roche can't guard anyone, really just dreadful. Good thing for them they have the best shot blocker in the conference playing behind them. The late run by Maryland really exposed some deficiencies in BC's defense, which has never been great.


Jeremy said...

It's no longer a "shaky start". It's the worst start since god knows when. When I was a freshman in 1992, Johnny Rhodes, D. Simpkins, Exree, had a better non-conference performance. That team finished 2-14 in the conference that year. I can't remember a Maryland team that was 6-5. This is a disaster.

Esquire said...

I'm not sure it is the "break the glass" moment yet but we're not far off. The 95-96 team started 6-6 and 0-3 in the ACC. This team isn't there yet, let's hope they don't get there. That team was filled with malcontent players and had its senior point guard suspended for a parking ticket scandal. I think this squad is a better group of characters.

I think there is no chance this team goes worse than 4-12 in the league. It looks to me like 6-10 or 7-9 is a likely finish. Nauseating as that is for most Maryland fans.