Friday, June 27, 2008

Gist to Spurs

Former Maryland forward James Gist was picked by the San Antonio Spurs at number 57 overall. Given how Gist and Maryland finished up the season it isn't surprising that Gist flirted with the free agency twilight zone. During the season there were too many games in which Gist came up short when Maryland needed him to score or make a big defensive play. Scouts would obviously question Gist's focus due to his inconsistent performances. While he does possess some range on his jumper he isn't much of a ball handler or rebounder and doesn't excel at doing the dirty work in the lane. It isn't clear if he has the skill set to be a small forward in the NBA. Gist will now have to really work to prove himself to get a NBA contract like D.J. Strawberry did last season.

It was another embarrassing night for ACC basketball. Fifteen players from the Pac-10, Big 12, Big East, SEC, Conference USA and Big Ten were picked before the first player from the ACC, J.J. Hickson went at 19 to Cleveland. Overall the ACC had four players picked, three in the second round, two of those in the last four selections of the draft. The Big 12 had ten players picked while the Pac-10 had twelve. Things may have been a little different had some of North Carolina's players stayed in the draft but it is obvious that the ACC is suffering a talent deficiency. It was the first draft since 2000 that did not have an ACC player in the lottery. You have to go back to 1988 to find a draft where the first player taken from an ACC school went lower than Hickson did at the 19th pick, that year no ACC player was picked in the first round.

Two 1st team All-ACC players graduated this season, Sean Singletary and DeMarcus Nelson. Singletary languished till the 42nd pick while Nelson wasn't even drafted at all. There isn't much hope on the horizon either. There are some talented freshmen coming into the ACC this fall but there doesn't appear to be any at the level of Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo or Eric Gordon. Last year the top freshmen in the draft were not from the ACC either as Greg Oden, Kevin Durant and Mike Conley went as the top three freshmen taken. It could be an anomaly or it could be a worrying trend. Given the poor performance of the ACC in recent tournaments and the overall decline in quality of ACC basketball it would be mere hubris to dismiss these trends.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gift for Grads

Our friends over at Asgard Press have another great item that may interest your recent Maryland grad or Terp fan. These are vintage Maryland football game programs printed on high quality note cards. These blank cards can be used as thank you notes for all those graduation gifts or any other greeting or correspondence. Take a moment to send a letter instead of an email. The cards are printed in high quality paper and could be framed too. The kind folks over at Asgard also have a 10% discount for Turtlewaxing readers. Just follow this link to get your discount.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Vasquez has surgery

Greivis Vasquez had successful surgery on his ankle to remove bone spurs and "excess" cartilage. He will have a two month recovery period and be ready to play once classes start in September. Vasquez had mentioned that he was a little worn down towards the end of last season which is understandable given he averaged a grueling 37 minutes per game. Hopefully sophomores Cliff Tucker and Adrian Bowie will be able to spell Vasquez a little more often this coming season. Vasquez also acknowledged that he needs to get physically stronger and improve his quickness in a recent interview on you can read here.

It will be tough to keep Vasquez off the court because he is by far the best player on the team and Gary Williams will need the junior to provide much of the scoring this coming season. The only thing with more question marks than Maryland basketball in the Washington area is Matthew Lesko's suit.

Much depends on how or if players like Tucker, Bowie and Landon Milbourne progress over the summer, not to mention the mid-major level collection of front court players. It looks like Sean Mosley will make it into Maryland by hook or by crook and Jin Soo Kim will likely reclassify as a 2008 player. Those are both good news because Maryland will need them both from day one. Maryland will probably try to bring in another 2008 player, most likely from the junior college ranks, but fans shouldn't count on that player making much of a difference from the start.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Not so fast my friend

It appears that Gus Gilchrist, the Jack Kerouac of college basketball, has decided to try out South Florida as his next destination. Former Arkansas coach Stan Heath is the coach at USF and guided the Bulls to a 3-15 record in the Big East last season. It seems unlikely that the Bulls will be much better this coming season either. They lost forward Kentrell Gransberry who averaged a double-double in Big East play and was the second leading scorer and leading rebounder. The odds that Gilchrist could come in a match those numbers is pretty slim. So why would Gilchrist make that choice? To borrow from another saying, if it wasn't for bad judgment Gilchrist wouldn't have any judgment at all. From selecting Virginia Tech in the first place, to the way he handled his decommitment, to his Georgetown plans falling through, to deciding to leave Maryland Gilchrist or his handlers have made the worst possible decision in each case.

The story is not over, however. I have a sneaking suspicion that Gilchrist will only enroll at South Florida if his appeal for a waiver of the NCAA required one year transfer waiting period is granted. All historical signs would indicate that Gilchrist will not be granted such a waiver by the NCAA. Then he will be forced to weigh his options of playing for Maryland in December or waiting until 2009 at somewhere like South Florida. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of Gilchrist making another shockingly stupid decision such as embarking on some professional basketball endeavor like the NBDL in lieu of college basketball. I would not be shocked if we see Gilchrist back at Maryland in September either. One thing is very clear, Gilchrist is being advised by some really unsophisticated individuals.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Gilchrist leaves sinking ship

Maryland basketball took another body blow yesterday when it was announced that forward Gus Gilchrist was granted a release to seek a transfer to another school outside the ACC. According to his "handler" Gilchrist wants to transfer to a school where he will have four years of eligibility remaining instead of the two and a half years he would have if he stayed at Maryland. The ACC has denied two appeals by Gilchrist of their decision to take away his fall semester this coming season. It sounded like Gary Williams knew this was coming and the recent parade of junior college big men coming to College Park would suggest they were trying to set up emergency alternatives if, or when, Gilchrist left.

I don't have much to say about Gilchrist. He seems to be very talented but has also displayed very questionable judgment. His first mistake was committing to Virginia Tech prematurely and then he botched his decision to opt out of his letter of intent there. Unless he is granted a waiver by the NCAA he will have to sit out another year due to standard transfer rules. It seems unlikely that he will have the justifications usually needed to secure a waiver. There seems to be no bad blood between Maryland and Gilchrist. He came to Maryland out of the blue and seems to have left just as quickly. Easy come, easy go.

Maryland will now scramble to find some frontcourt help. With Shane Walker's departure the Terps will have just ten scholarship players on the roster, unless something changes. A frontcourt of Braxton Dupree, Jerome Burney, Dave Neal and Dino Gregory is easily the worst collection of post players in the ACC. Look for Landon Milbourne to play more as an undersized power forward as a stop gap measure. None of the returning frontcourt players has demonstrated the ability to be a starter quality forward in the ACC.

As always Gary Williams is still optimistic that Maryland can be competitive this fall. With Vasquez the Terrapins will have one of the top two guards in the entire ACC coming back but it is a real question if Adrian Bowie, Cliff Tucker, or Milbourne can provide the needed talent to support him. My guess at the moment is that Maryland is probably a 5-6 win team in the ACC, and that is only based on Williams' ability as a coach. In all likelihood it is shaping up to be the worst season Maryland has had in almost 15 years.

The two wildcards are Sean Mosley and Jin Soo Kim. There are now rumors that Mosley may fail to qualify academically and will use his prep year as an opportunity to explore other options. It is too early to tell if those rumors have any validity or are just some justified paranoia by Terps fans. Kim will attempt to reclassify for 2008 and if successful he will contribute right away out of necessity. If both those players arrive on campus then Maryland has the chance to be competitive and maybe contend for an NIT bid, if neither show up it will be a long year in College Park. I hesitate to say things couldn't possibly get worse, because they could, but they can't go much lower. I had felt that the program was gaining back some momentum after the debacles of 2004 and 2005 but I now think that there are dark days still coming for Terrapins basketball. The mishandling of the program after the national title and some questionable recruiting decisions are still haunting this program as the repercussions of this tumultuous spring have shown.