Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Terps collapse again, sniping ensues

I'll write briefly about the loss to Boston College but it isn't even the most important thing that happened with the basketball program last night. The war of words between Gary Williams and the athletic department might have gone nuclear last night and freshman Jin Soo Kim was declared ineligible by the NCAA. In short things are going to hell in a hand basket both on and off the court.

This game was similar to the Miami loss in the the Terps went out to a big lead in the first half and with three minutes left were ahead by 16 points only to squander that lead in the first ten minutes of the 2nd half. Maryland had a chance to extend the lead with Tyrese Rice on the bench with three fouls but still had an eleven point lead at the half. From three minutes to go in the half to the point where the Eagles went ahead 55-54 Maryland was outscored 33-16. Instead of the 3-point barrage Miami used to get back into the game the Eagles pounded the ball inside and used their flex offense to get the ball to their guards near the basket. Boston College pounded Maryland on the glass in the 2nd half and stopped many of the second chance points the Terps got in the 1st half. They also did a nice job of shutting down Maryland's transition offense. When the Terps can't run they have a very hard time scoring and the offense shriveled in the 2nd half. Even though Adrian Bowie dismissed conditioning as a factor in the 2nd half it was obvious that the Terps were a step late on defense and rebounding in the 2nd half while their jump shots were not falling either. It is unusual that a team's defense and jump shooting both disappear if fatigue isn't a factor. Note that Bowie (19 minutes), Milbourne (18 minutes) and Vasquez (17 minutes) all played the lion share of the first half and their combined shooting went from 57% (12/21) in the first half to 30% (7/23) in the second half. If fatigue didn't play a roll in the collapse then they should all see a sports psychiatrist if they give up when their jump shots are not falling as Bowie suggested.

Interesting to note that Rice was hardly a factor all night and did virtually noting until getting a bunch of garbage points late in the game on free throws. It was Josh Southern (who will almost certainly make my all-punk team this year with his chippy, borderline dirty play), Rakim Sanders, Corey Raji and Reggie Jackson who all lead the BC surge in the 2nd half. It was a truly balanced attack. In contrast Maryland got decent games from Vasquez and Milbourne and not much else from the rest of the team. Bowie only scored 4 points in the 2nd half and continues to make some bad decisions with the ball on offense. He has shown that he can't take the scoring load on his shoulders yet. Eric Hayes and Dave Neal were awful again. The pair went 3/16 from the floor including 0/7 from 3-point range and scored a grand total of 7 points in 52 minutes of play. That lack of production killed Maryland and if either had a halfway decent game the Terps would have probably pulled this one out. I think it might be time for Sean Mosley to slide into the starting spot and have Hayes go to the bench. Mosley has his flaws but he is a much better scorer and rebounder than Hayes will ever be, even if you sacrifice some ball handling with the move. The front line behind Dave Neal is so bad that it is hard to say who would replace him. With Kim off the table due to the NCAA determination and with Goins' and Burney's uncertain status there are few options. Braxton Dupree has regressed so badly he offers next to nothing on either end of the court.

Regardless of what is done there needs to be some shakeups if Maryland is going to rebound and win more than a couple of games the rest of the season.


The bigger news is the handgrenades that Gary Williams and the athletic department are now tossing at each other. It seems obvious to me that if you look at the actual transcript of what Williams said regarding Gus Gilchrist and Tyree Evans that the media and athletic department went with their own interpretation of what they thought he said instead of evaluating his actual words. I wouldn't put it past Williams to make ambiguous comments that could be interpreted as a shot at his nemesis and it could be possible that Williams hoped the athletic department would rise to the bait as they did and respond in public. Either way he never actually assigned any blame to the University for the absence of Evans or Gilchrist. The comments of assistant athletic director Kathy Worthington were embarrassing and wholly unnecessary. All those comments accomplished was to make the athletic department look amateurish and clueless. The whole thing is a black eye for the University and the basketball program. Regardless of who you side with in this fracas, and I would chose Gary over Yow every time, this kind of negative publicity is not going to make your search for the next head coach any easier. What established coach would want to enter into such a dysfunctional situation?

At this point the ideal situation would be that the incompetent leadership in the athletic department are swept out and Williams is given a prominent role in picking his successor after he steps down at the end of this season. Williams would never agree to stepping down if Yow would be in charge of naming his replacement. Knowing his personality it would be an anathema for him. Williams prominent role in the University and his ability in fund raising is something Maryland cannot risk given the difficult economic times. The last thing Maryland would want is another prominent head coach estranged from the University for over 20 years like Lefty Driesell was until Gary Williams reached out to him. The lack of leadership at the University these days is such that I doubt anyone will have the fortitude to force some resolution of this crisis one way or another.

7 comments:

Rik said...

Gary must accept his share of blame for what has gone wrong in the last few years. The talent pool just isn't there, and that's gotta be somebody's fault. If Gary's not applying the "personal touch" to his recruits, then he must change. The world is changing around him, and he needs to accept that. If he wants to be around, then he can't leave the recruiting duties to the assistants and "just coach".

My guess is he already has, but three years in cruise control and a turnover in assistants has left him with a lot of explaining to do (DD, please come back). It also forces him to assure others that change is coming, but supporters have to be patient for it. For the Orioles fans out there, this isn't especially reassuring, but it's easier to change a basketball team than a baseball team.

As for the sniping, the boosters should come quickly and loudly to Gary's defense. Yow and her assistant AD stooge were not here when Bob Wade left this program a smoldering heap. Gary lifted this program when no one else would come near it. Eleven straight years of tourney appearances, two final fours and a national championship helped pave the way for other successes in the athletics program, and kicking a man when he's down is not cool, especially when he has displayed the loyalty to a program that he has.

ak said...

Hey Esquire,

I have to say that for the most part I'm a firm supporter of Gary Williams. That said, can you think of any other recent D-I program that has forced out a long-tenured coach, with the record and achievements of GW's when NCAA violations weren't an issue? I just wonder if there's a precedent for Yow et al giving Gary the boot.

Esquire said...

Gary's contribution to the University as a whole cannot be understated. People forget how downtrodden Maryland was in the early 90's. Academically and athletically Maryland was not worth noting on the national level. Now Maryland is known nationally for its sports programs and is making great strides as a respected public University. Gary may not be responsible for all of that but his success, undying love for the University, ability to raise funds and the public profile of the school has been a great boost to all the efforts to improve the University. If Yow's faction "wins" this fight you will alienate the single biggest icon at the University in the last 30 years. How wise is that?

AK-

Only a few come to mind. Bob Knight and Nolan Richardson were both forced out but that had somewhat unique situations. Bobby Cremins at Georgia Tech never achieved what Williams has and furthermore he was not an alum of GT. I guess the best comparison might be Tubby Smith, although he chose to leave before he got run out and he hadn't been at Kentucky anywhere near twenty years.

itchy said...

Denny Crum.

My opinion:

Gary deserves all the credit for where he took the program, but he also deserves the blame for the lack of success since the national championship.

Gary's place in history is set, but his current level of success is not acceptable. You don't keep a coach based on the past; you keep him based on the future.

If Gary is the best coach for Maryland over the next several years, then Maryland should keep him. If he is not, then Maryland should not accept a mediocre team in exchange for past services.

Despite their differences, Gary's most successful years occurred under Debbie Yow.

Also, don't forget that Debbie also inherited a horrible situation at Maryland, with a weak athletics program in major debt. The program today is far above where it was when she took over.

She may have her weaknesses in her relationships, but she also has her strengths.

Esquire said...

Louisville was sanctioned a number of times by the NCAA under Crum so he doesn't fit AK's criteria.

I don't think Gary deserves a lifetime pass, nor do I think he believes he deserves one. I think he should get one more year and if he can't turn it around then he should retire. It would probably be best if he left after this season but he'll never do that as long as Yow would get to pick his successor. So there you are, it is an impasse.

To ignore all the things Williams has done off the basketball court is ungrateful and myopic. Institutions with dignity don't treat people like Williams in that fashion.

Yow being at Maryland for Gary's best seasons is an accident of history and nothing more. She has little roll in his failures to recruit and played little (if any) roll in his success. If it was up to Yow Gary probably would have been gone before he ever got the chance to win a national title. In that sense your observation is way off the mark.

The athletic department was in bad shape when Yow took over. In no small measure it was the ascent of the basketball program that allowed the department to get back in the black. Combine that with the rising football revenues from the Florida State expansion in the early 90's and you'd have to be a buffoon to not at least balance the budget. Some of the questionable capital projects she has embarked upon haven't helped matters. I'm not sure why Maryland fans give Yow a great deal of credit being able to balance a budget, even with the debt she inherited. That is the norm for the vast majority of athletic programs. Any major program has significant capital expenses and debt structures they must pay off, there was little unusual about Maryland at the time except the football program was in the toilet and the basketball program was just getting back on its feet after the NCAA death penalty.

If you look at the revenues and expenses of the athletic department it is still the basketball team that is the only one that turns a significant profit. That funds all of those other programs like women's basketball that Yow loves to highlight.

Without Gary Williams there is no Comcast Center and no golden goose for the athletic department. The football team barely pays for itself. The revenue stream from the basketball program is Gary Williams legacy and that has little or nothing to do with Debbie Yow.

Rik said...

Does UM have its books available for all to see? I'm sure they do since it's a state school. I'd like to see what those numbers say re: income from basketball and football. I had thought the football program was doing a little better than paying for itself. Even going to a weak bowl brings in some cash, and I know there must have had a small windfall during the Orange Bowl year way back when.

I think that Yow has done a reasonably good job as an AD. Maryland has winning programs in many sports, and I think the AD sets the tone for that. Yes, I believe that Gary's Terps funded a lot of those successes, but someone still had to manage it. Getting Freise for the woman's program was a coup, and it finally brought the program back to prominence.

I think Worthington should be fired. Gary started this dustup with his thinly veiled comments, but he didn't take internal Maryland documents and send them to the press (and in the process expose the athletics department as a dysfunctional mess). I doubt Yow ordered that, but if she did she should be disciplined. If Worthington did it on her own, then there should be a pink slip waiting for her.

Esquire said...

Rik,

You can find all the data here:

http://ope.ed.gov/athletics/

People will dispute those numbers but that is what the school reports itself. Other schools have different accounting methods so sometimes it is problematic to compare across athletic departments.

Football Reveune: $9,290,976
Football Expenses: $9,301,052

Basketball Revenue: $10,357,058
Basketball Expenses: $3,465,662

Total combined revenue all other sports: $122,400

Total combined expenses all other sports: $3,860,961

There is $26M in revenue that is unallocated by sport and $21M in expenses unallocated.