Wednesday, May 28, 2008

2008 Class gets bigger

According to Matt Bracken of the Baltimore Sun 2009 signee SF Jin Soo Kim will attempt to reclassify to the 2008 class and show up on campus this fall. Kim seems to have the high school coursework to qualify but needs to get his SAT scores in before he can come to Maryland. Kim is raw and needs to mature physically but he will be better able to do that in a college program than spending another year in high school. The departure of Kim's high school coach probably had something to do with his desire to come to Maryland sooner rather than later. Kim probably isn't ready to compete at the college level right away but he has a reputation as a deadly outside shooter which Maryland could use now that Tyree Evans is going elsewhere. Fellow class of 2008 member Sean Mosley is still waiting on the test scores he needs to gain admission to Maryland. He is close enough that you would expect him to get the needed score but given the recent tumult Terp fans have reason to be concerned. Having Mosley qualify through the NCAA clearinghouse only to be rejected by Maryland's admissions department would be a disaster of epic proportions. Assuming Mosley and Kim show up on campus to go along with Gus Gilchrist that would be one of the best classes in the ACC.


Another high school forward Latay Darden is being pursued by Maryland as the Evans fallout continues. The 6-8 Darden averaged a triple-double for Progressive Christian Academy last season with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 11 blocks. Indiana and Marquette are interested in Darden who recently received approval by the NCAA clearinghouse for some coursework he took in Houston. At least Darden's high school coach thinks that Darden and Gilchrist could combine to get Maryland back to the pinnacle of college basketball, which is a pretty outlandish statement. Meanwhile 2009 target Dante Taylor has rocketed up the recruit rankings. The 6-8 senior at National Christian Academy is now the fourth rated power forward in the nation according to Scout.com and in the early rankings he is rated the 19th best player in the 2009 class. It seems the staff was right to target Taylor when they did because he will be getting a lot of attention this summer.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Yow must go

After some deliberation I've decided that I had to go public with my stance in regards to athletic director Debbie Yow. The recent debacle with Tyree Evans is only the final straw in a string of poor behavior by Yow. In only the last few years Yow accepted an NIT bid without confirming the decision with the head basketball coach, allowed Shane Clark to be rejected by the University when he showed up for school in September, requested that the ACC access technical fouls on the Maryland student body if they misbehaved and has attempted to thwart Gary Williams at every turn. In addition the Athletic Department has also used proxies to try to silence those who have voiced concerns about how things are being done on public message boards. These kinds of Nixonian tactics are beneath contempt and should never be engaged in by a university official. All of these actions have reflected poorly on the University of Maryland. Yow's primary concern should be how the running of the athletic department reflects on the institution but instead she is more interested in self promotion and her petty feuds. Any positive publicity Maryland has received from recent success of its non-revenue sports was easily eclipsed by the negative publicity that resulted from how the Evans recruitment was handled.

When both the men's basketball and football head coaches are unhappy with the athletic department there is real trouble.

While the bad blood between Gary Williams and Debbie Yow has been going on for a long time this arrangement is no longer viable. It is obvious now that one of them has to go. To me the choice is clear. Athletic directors are merely stewards of the athletic department. Almost no one could name the AD at most of the highly successful athletic programs off the top of their head and with reason. They are replaceable. It is time for Debbie Yow to move on.

There is already a firedebbieyow.com website up and running. I encourage all fellow Terrapin Club members to voice their displeasure with President Mote and advocate that he request the resignation of the athletic director immediately.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Evans opts out

The latest news is that Tyree Evans is requesting a release from his letter of intent as a result of the negative publicity Maryland has received in his recruitment. If this turns out to be true it is a sad end to this saga. The way this was handled by Debbie Yow and the athletic department has made FEMA's response to hurricane Katrina look professional. President Mote needs to step in and straighten out this mess immediately. I wouldn't be surprised if Gary Williams decided he was sick of the infighting and sabotage. Athletic directors are a dime a dozen but the odds that any replacement coach you hire is going to end up winning a national title or 600+ games is probably a hundred to one.

Welcome to Tombstone. The OK Corral is that way...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Spring game a wash

I haven't been very motivated to discuss the spring football game because it didn't really have much significance. The major question is clearly who will be taking snaps in the fall. I think Chris Turner is the best choice out of muddled group but Jordan Steffy is still hanging around. Josh Portis, who missed all of last season do to his cheating on a quiz, seems to have faded a bit in the competition. I'm starting to wonder if he will ever show the determination or smarts required to take over the starting job. None of the contenders distinguished themselves in the game so the summer practices will decide who gets the call for the opening game.

One bright spot is the tailback position. Morgan Green and Da'Rel Scott may prove to be a formidable duo in the running game. Scott is showing the kind of game breaking ability that was expected and Green has the rugged between the tackles kind of style that can punish defenses. If they both stay healthy the ground game could be better this season even with the departures of Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore. A veteran offensive line lead by center Edwin Williams will have play up to their abilities for the backfield to flourish.

There were too many missing or injured players to predict where this team will be in September at this point.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Evans' slow burn

The recruitment of guard Tyree Evans has not exactly been smooth sailing and this past week there were more than a few white caps that Gary Williams had to handle. The first rouge wave came in the form of an article written on SI.com by Luke Winn. You can read the article here. There isn't much new in the article that most Maryland fans don't already know about Evans. He has a troubled past and seems to have a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Why the fact that Maryland had brought in Evans was worthy of a national news story is a question worth asking.

I am ambivalent about Evans myself. He seems to be a very talent basketball player who has failed to show maturity and good judgment repeatedly in his recent past. I would prefer that Maryland not take that kind of gamble but it is clear that the pressure is being felt by the coaching staff to turn the slide of the basketball program around. I doubt anyone would give Williams a pass if he was still going to the NIT with a team full of exemplary students and citizens. The reality is that if Maryland keeps missing the NCAA Tournament Williams will eventually lose his job no matter how many nice kids like Eric Hayes are on the team. It is a false premise to suggest that you need a few talent but thuggish players on your team. The "Memphis model" doesn't guarantee success as neither Bob Huggins nor John Calipari have won a national title. It is clear that in the balance between character and talent that talent is going to largely dominate the equation.

Gary Williams has been fairly good at accessing risks throughout his coaching career. When he took players that others were skeptical about he has usually been vindicated in the end. I'm willing to defer to his judgment on the issue because if Evans turns out to be a disaster Williams will be the one dealing with the fall out. It was disappointing but not surprising that Debbie Yow couldn't help herself and had to give statements to the media that amounted to little more than a declaration that this was Williams decision and she had little to do with it. Her petty and bureaucratic evasions just served to fan the flames of a story that wasn't all that juicy to begin with. An athletic director trying to dodge responsibility for a questionable recruit coming to campus is more intriguing. If she is as smart as her supporters contend then I would have to conclude that her poorly chosen comments were her latest attempt to score political points in her ongoing power struggle with Gary Williams. The interests of the University of Maryland, which should be her overriding concern, were not served by her clumsy and ill-advised equivocations in the media.

It is notable that Maryland has never had a player with these kinds of indiscretions since Gary Williams has been in College Park. I would hope this isn't some kind of trend and I don't expect that it will become one. A recruit with the background of Evans wouldn't even elicit a sniff of media attention if he was playing football for Miami, Florida State or Virginia Tech. Caron Butler had a longer rap sheet before he played at UConn and even Duke's Sheldon Williams was embroiled in a shady incident that involved allegations of sexual assault while he was still in high school. Maybe the Cameron Crazies should keep that in mind when they are putting together their cheer sheet next season. None of that is an excuse for any negative consequences that result from Evans coming to Maryland. My guess is that if he steps out of line the consequences will be immediate and harsh for Evans, as they should be.

It is also worth considering that it isn't always the questionable characters that end up embarrassing your program or institution. Players like Chris McCray and Travis Garrison were supposed to be solid citizens but both embarrassed Maryland in their senior season by running afoul of the law. All coaches hope that players build maturity and character in their time at college and if Evans is able to do that and turn his life around it will be a credit to him and to the coach who decided to give him the chance to prove himself. For Maryland's administration to turn its back on Evans due to some howling by the press would be nothing short of cowardice. They need to commit to giving Evans all the support and counsel that he will require. Oddly, dumping Evans would now be the desperate move while standing by him and committing to his success at College Park would show courage.