Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Down draft day

The 2008 NFL draft wasn't friendly to many former Maryland players. Only DT Dre Moore was selected, in the fourth round, and a couple of players with injury concerns dropped out of the draft completely. Guard Andrew Crummey and LB Erin Henderson were graded as high as third round picks at one point but teams ran away from them after they were hampered by leg injuries this past season. It was probably most disappointing for Henderson who entered the draft as a junior. The last report was that he would join his brother in Minnesota and sign a free agent contract with the Vikings.

Crummey will travel to San Diego and compete for a roster spot on the Chargers. Other Terrapin's who signed free agent deals:

Joey Haynos (Green Bay)
Isaiah Gardner (Jacksonville)
Keon Lattimore (Dallas)
Carlos Feliciano (New England)

Of that group Haynos may have the most interesting situation. The Packers cut TE Bubba Franks earlier in the off season and have only two tight ends on the roster right now. They drafted Texas tight end Jermichael Finley in the third round but Finley is immature and a hit or miss kind of prospect. The staff at Texas was surprised he left early for the NFL. Haynos has a good chance to make an impact there if he works hard.

Basketball News
It was a busy week for Gary Williams. On Monday Greivis Vasquez declined to enter the 2008 NBA draft and will certainly return to lead the Terrapins this fall. It is great news for Maryland fans because Vasquez can enter the draft next year and still come back and he won't be distracted by the predraft camps this spring. He can use that time to get to know some of his new teammates in Sean Mosley and Tyree Evans.

Freshman Shane Walker announced he will transfer to a program to be decided. He was probably the third or fourth big man off the bench as a freshman last season and only took 10 field goals in 128 minutes of play. Walker did have some potential as an athletic, shot blocking big man but was very raw and was unlikely to become an effective ACC front court player. If the staff can continue recruiting players like Donte Taylor to fill some of the interior needs then the team will be better off in the long run. The front court will be somewhat thin next fall until Gus Gilchrist is eligible in December. Gary Williams will have to make due with Braxton Dupree, Jerome Burney, Dino Gregory and Dave Neal in the mean time. That isn't exactly an impressive collection of interior players but Maryland will have enough wings to play three guards and perhaps shift Landon Milbourne to power forward.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Terps awaiting draft

Several Maryland players are waiting to see if they get drafted in the first day of the NFL draft. The NFL has moved the third round to Sunday and the first two rounds to Saturday at 3pm. The only two players who have a realistic chance of making it into the first two rounds are DT Dre Moore and LB Erin Henderson. Right now Moore seems to have a better shot of being taken in the late 2nd round than Henderson. Initially Henderson, who declared as a junior, was seen as the better prospect but according to the latest draft rumors he has been falling down the draft boards of teams that may need a linebacker. Some ratings even have him plummeting to as low as the 5th round behind less productive players at his position like Xavier Adibi and Philip Wheeler. The concerns mostly stem from the health of his knees and questions about his toughness. He is a little undersized and his various injuries should concern most teams but I don't think there is any question that his instincts and toughness are as good as any linebacker in the draft. If he falls to the fourth round some team will get a steal. My guess is that Henderson just didn't get along with defensive coordinator Chris Cosh and decided to leave the team early even though he may have benefited from staying at Maryland another season.

Dre Moore is projected as a 3/4 round pick in a weak DT class. Moore has a prototypical body for a NFL defensive tackle but his passion and dedication are questionable. His production against better opponents wasn't always consistent.

Guard Andrew Crummey has a significant injury issue that may scare off many teams. He was unable to conduct workouts this spring. It will probably result in him sliding to the 5th or 6th round but some team may get great value from his at that point in the draft. He is a gamble with his history of injuries.

Corner Isaiah Gardner and tight end Joey Haynos also have a chance to be drafted at the end of Sunday in perhaps the 6th or 7th rounds.

Any other eligible Terrapins are probably undrafted free agent material. It is a fairly weak crop at the top of the draft for this class of Terps but there could be decent depth if Haynos and Gardner get drafted.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Vasquez rumors

There has been a great deal of speculation regarding Greivis Vasquez declaring for the NBA draft. I think Vasquez is probably going to throw his name in there as DJ Strawberry and Ekene Ibekwe did a couple of years ago. I also think the odds that Vasquez is going to hire an agent and stay in the draft are fairly close to zero. It makes sense for him to figure out what he needs to improve to make himself more desirable in the eyes of professional scouts. His ball handling and outside shooting need to improve dramatically if he is to play on the professional level. With all of the underclassmen already declaring for this draft it would be a huge mistake for Vasquez to leave Maryland. Right now he is probably a borderline late 2nd round pick at best. More likely he would not get drafted and have to hope to play in the NBDL or Europe. Vasquez has been very clear that he wants to play in the NBA so neither of those routes would get him much closer to his goal than staying at Maryland and perhaps entering a weaker 2009 draft. I don't think Maryland fans have much to worry about. The General will be back next fall.

There has regularly been chatter about Gary Williams using Juco players to fill holes and whether that is a good thing or not. I don't have a problem with the use of junior college players per se as they can be very useful additions. You often get players who are more mature and physically ready to contribute than the majority of high school recruits. It is concerning if the use of Juco players indicates a lack of planning in the recruiting strategy of a program. In some cases for Maryland that has been true since the 2002 national title. On the other hand Maryland has done very well with players like Jamar Smith, Ryan Randle and Boom Osby. It is also true that players like Parrish Brown and Sterling Ledbetter have not panned out as expected but normal four year recruits often flop as well. The problems with team chemistry and off the court legal entanglements over the last 5 years have not originated from the junior college players on the team. To the contrary this past season Osby filled a valuable leadership role and is going to graduate, as Brown did last season. In a perfect world Maryland wouldn't need to tap the junior college ranks but there is little reason to suggest that the Juco players Maryland has brought in are part of the problem. The recent addition of Tyree Evans is somewhat different in that he brings significant personal baggage, which would be the case if he was a junior college player or not. From some of the articles in the press it appears Evans has learned some hard lessons over the last few years. Let's hope during his time at Maryland he only makes headlines for his basketball accomplishments.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Evans to sign with Terps

Another junior college basketball player popped up on Maryland's recruiting radar recently and reports are that Tyree Evans, a wing guard, is signing with the Terps over Kansas State and Arizona. Evans was originally a class of 2004 player and he would have been a senior this past season had he not gotten in to serious legal trouble in high school. Evans was charged with statutory rape while attending prep school in Massachusetts but the charge was later dropped and Evans plead to assault and given two years probation. He had ties to Bob Huggins during his time at Cincinnati and then was going to follow the slime trail to Kansas State but was denied admission to a school that hardly has any standards at all. Evans has since bounced around the junior college ranks and gotten kicked off at least one team for being a problem in the locker room. These are not good signs.

There seems to be little question that Evans is a legitimate talent. He finished high school as the all time leading scorer in Virginia's highest level of basketball competition(AAA) and has the third most points for a senior in state history, behind only Allen Iverson and Moses Malone. He was ranked as the 84th best prospect in the nation in 2004 by and was considered an elite talent. His statistics this past season at Motlow State Community College are pretty impressive: 21.2 points per game, 5.1 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 44% from 3-point range, 84.2% from the free throw line and over 31 minutes on average. It seems fairly clear that Evans can put the ball in the basket. Maryland is in need of a serious 3-point threat and Evans would likely fit the bill. There is an issue as to how well Evans would fit in the flex offense that Gary Williams runs. His Juco coach indicates that Evans wanted to go someplace where he could showcase his talents in an offense that wasn't "controlled" but that doesn't seem to fit what Maryland does in the half court.

It remains to be seen what kind of defender and teammate Evans will be and those are no small issues. His junior college coach seems to think he has turned his life around and will not be a problem at Maryland. Everyone likes redemption stories but only when the player can score touchdowns or fill up a stat sheet. There is more than a little hypocrisy in looking the other way when it comes to these sorts of things. For every JamesOn Curry who makes a mistake and then seemed to learn from it there are ten Marcus Vick's that will just make you look like a fool for giving them yet another chance. I'm not all that enthused about Evans even though he is the kind of player who will really help this team get better, unless he gets into trouble again.
At best I'm deeply ambiguous about this decision by the staff. Hopefully they have done their homework on Evans and are convinced he'll go to class and keep his nose clean while reminding him there is no room for him to slip up yet again. You can't have high hopes for a player that was so sketchy that schools like Cincinnati and K State wouldn't let in. Perhaps this is an indication of the heat the staff feels to get back to the NCAA Tournament this coming season. I wouldn't go so far as to say it smacks of desperation but it is a high stakes gamble. Evans could be the kind of player who can elevate Maryland into a serious contender for an ACC championship, he is that good, but he could also be another millstone around the neck of a sinking program.

This also calls into question the status of another Juco player, PG Bobby Maze. With all the scholarships now accounted for it would seem there is no more room at the inn for Maze unless there is a transfer. I think it is a fait accompli that someone will leave the team and this signing would indicate to me that at least one player has already told the staff he is going elsewhere. We'll just have to wait and see who is the departing player.

Assuming Maze signs that will make Maryland loaded at the backcourt position with Vasquez, Hayes, Bowie, Tucker, Mosley, Maze and Evans. Even if some see time at the SF/G position, along with Milbourne, that is pretty crowded and I would guess the departure would come out of that group. The frontcourt is still a serious area of concern going into next season.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Maryland to face Michigan

On Wednesday, December 3 Michigan will face Maryland at Comcast Center giving Maryland two consecutive home dates in this Challenge. It is the first meeting between these two teams in the challenge. John Beilein's first season in Ann Arbor was a disaster as the Wolverines staggered to a 10-22 record and only 5-13 in the Big Ten. With no impact players arriving in the fall it is probably going to be another long season for Michigan.

It is nice to have another opponent outside of Illinois and Wisconsin. Maryland will probably be able to use some easier opponents as Gus Gilchrist won't be available till the end of December.

Maryland will also host Charlotte in a return game this season and play in the Old Spice Classic along with Tennessee, Michigan State, Gonzaga, and Oklahoma State.

The game will probably be broadcast on either ESPN2 or ESPNU, though times and channels are subject to the whims of the fascists in Bristol.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Impressed with Mosley

I had a chance to watch Maryland recruit Sean Mosley play in the Capital Classic yesterday and was impressed with his performance. As a physical specimen Mosley is ready for the rigors of ACC play. He is a very solid 6-4, 215 pound shooting guard with good muscle tone. He will probably need to improve his stamina, as most high school players do when transitioning to college, but compared to most of the other players in the game he was far more physically mature.

Mosley finished the game with 16 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds on 7/11 shooting. He was 2/4 from 3-point range and showed some nice touch in the midrange. He often differed to other teammates instead of dominating the ball as four other players on the US team took more attempts than the senior from Baltimore. He has the ability to dribble effectively in the open court and in the lane. Mosley also doesn't shy away from getting in the lane on both ends of the court and will be a factor in rebounding. Defensively he did a decent job of keeping the ball handler in front of him and moved his feet well to stay in position. There have been some questions about his defense but Mosley is far better than someone like Mike Jones already. After falling late in the game Mosley missed his remaining few shots and you have to assume that his wrapped wrist had something to do with that, but he should be fine. Mosley may not be flashy to most observers but he fills up the stat sheet. He knows how to score even if other recruits have a more deadly 3-point shot or play more above the rim than he does. He will be a workhorse for Maryland over the next four years.

I thought Mosley was one of the top two players in the game. Duke commit Olek Czyz (rhymes with fizz) won the game MVP with 23 points and 9 rebounds but wasn't really close to being the best player on the floor as some media members claimed. He has a great motor and plays a hard nosed style that Duke really needs in the paint but most of his points were in garbage time and off fast breaks. In the half court he wasn't nearly as effective. He probably was the fourth or fifth most talent player on the national squad. The other impressive ACC commit was Deividas Dulkys who is going to Florida State. Dulkys scored 18 points and grabbed 7 rebounds and showed a nicely polished floor game though he may struggle with the quicker players in the ACC. Wake Forest commit Ty Walker had an early scare with a knee injury and did not return.

I also thought that Washington State commit Klay Thompson was very impressive even if his stats were not dazzling. He could run the floor well and was a real playmaker. The combination of his height and ball handling skills is unusual. You'll be hearing more about Thompson in the coming years under Tony Bennett.

There has been much talk about Mosley supposed lack of athleticism but I think he has more than enough to hold his own in the ACC. He has just as much if not more athleticism as Duke's DeMarcus Nelson who was very effective, if not a star, during his career. Considering his total skill set I think he is a better prospect than Nelson was coming out of high school. I think Mosely is a legitimate All-ACC level talent at Maryland and should be an immediate contributor this fall. I don't think it is the most likely outcome but don't be shocked if Mosley finds his way into the starting lineup by the start of the ACC season. He is ready to compete at the college level immediately, unlike some of the recent Maryland recruits. With the exception of Greivis Vasquez I think Mosely stacks up well compared with the rest of Maryland's backcourt players. Mosely is going to have a more productive career at Maryland than most of the more heralded players in this class.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Bobby Maze All-American

Junior college point guard Bobby Maze was selected as a NJCAA 1st team All-Americans for his season at Hutchinson Community College this past year. Maze scored over 20 points a game and amassed 218 assists this season which shooting over 50% from the floor and 72% from the free throw line. He originally signed with Oklahoma and played there for a season until having a falling out with head coach Jeff Capel. Maze will hopefully give Maryland more speed in the backcourt and provide better on the ball defense.

I think Maze will provide some gritty play that was sometimes lacking this past season. What does being awarded 1st team All-American by the NJCAA mean? A few years ago Tyrone Brazelton was also awarded 1st team honors by the NJCAA. You may recall the name because Brazelton lead Western Kentucky to the Sweet Sixteen this year and scored 79 points in three tournament games for a 26.3 average. I think Maze will make more of an impact than recent Juco players like Parrish Brown and Sterling Ledbetter.

A Note To Readers
Recruiting can be like playing the lottery. You may
have a hunch, but nothing is a sure thing. It's not
that dissimilar to online sports betting.You know your team, and you know the opponent. But above all, make
sure you know your limit.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Mosley shines in Charm City Challenge

Sean Mosley, a 2008 commit for Maryland, scored 15 points along with 5 rebounds and six assists playing for the Baltimore team in the Charm City Challenge. He was named to the all-tournament team as he helped lead the Baltimore team to another victory over the U.S. all stars 107-82. Mosley and Troy Franklin, who was awarded the game MVP, teamed up to help pace the Baltimore team to an easy victory.

I'll be at the Capital Classic this coming Sunday to get a look at Mosley and a host of other ACC commits. The game is also being broadcast on MASN if you have that on your cable provider.
The Capital Classic has seven future ACC players on the rosters of the national game.

SG Sean Mosley (Maryland)
PF Olek Czyz (Duke)
SG Deividas Dulkys (FSU)
SF Sylven Landesberg (UVA)
F Tanner Smith (Clemson)
C Ty Walker (Wake Forest)
PG Andre Young (Clemson)

In addition three Georgetown players, including former Maryland target Henry Sims, will play in this game. It wouldn't surprise me if Mosley is the most productive player out of that group. Gus Gilchrist, who will be eligible to play for Maryland this December, won MVP of last year's Capital Classic. Junior college transfer PG Bobby Maze will also be added to the team but won't be part of any high school all star games, obviously. Overall I think this will be a fairly good trio of players and may, in aggregate, be an upgrade over the two players that Maryland is losing, James Gist and Bambale Osby.

In the McDonalds All-American game there were few ACC commits that distinguished themselves. North Carolina's PF Ed Davis (11 points), G Larry Drew (7 points, 5 assists) and PF Tyler Zeller (6 points) all played well and Davis will be an immediate contributor in the low post. Duke's SG Elliot Williams had a nice night with 10 points on 4/8 shooting but he doesn't provide the inside game that Duke desperately needs. Other ACC players like Virginia's SF Sylven Landesberg (2 points, 4 turnovers), Wake Forest's C Al-Farouq Aminu (0 points, 4 rebounds), FSU's F Chris Singleton (0 points, 7 rebounds), Georgia Tech's Iman Shumpert (0 points, 5 rebounds) did virtually nothing that would make you think they will be immediate impact players for their teams.

Click here for the USA Today breakdown of the game.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

NABC All-Star game

James Gist went out in a fitting way in the NABC College All-Star game the other night. He scored 9 points on 3/8 shooting with 5 rebounds in 18 minutes of play before fouling out of the game. His team, the "American" squad, lost to the "National" squad 106-100 not that the final score means much. Gist clearly struggled at the end of the year and certainly hurt his draft prospects. Right now he probably needs a strong showing at the pre-draft camps to solidify his late 2nd round status. Where he goes, if he gets drafted, may be influenced by how many of the underclassmen decide to declare for the draft in the next month. The decisions of players like JJ Hickson, Donte Green, Ty Lawson and other underclassmen who may return to college would certainly take spots from seniors like Gist.

North Carolina bowed out of the Final Four last night after Kansas jumped out to an large early lead. The Tar Heels would have had a good chance in the game had they not spotted Kansas such a large lead. Kansas is more balanced and versatile on offense than any team North Carolina played all season and the Tar Heels inability to get defensive stops when they needed them doomed their championship chances. Tyler Hansbrough seemed frustrated by the aggressive and long defenders that Kansas threw at him all night. I would be surprised if he left for the NBA after this season and will likely return as the reigning ACC player of the year. If Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington return then Carolina should clearly be the best team in the conference next season. It looks like Deon Thompson and Alex Stephenson are unable to provide a credible alternative to Hansbrough but Carolina has some freshmen bigs coming in that may give Roy Williams more options in the low post. Add in the return of Bobby Frasor and Carolina should be head a shoulders above the rest of the ACC next season, again.