Monday, January 31, 2011

Road warriors

Maryland gathered two important wins on the road against Virginia and Georgia Tech. That gives the Terps three wins on the road this season in their first four road games. Playing at Virginia, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech this season isn't the most intimidating slate but Virginia Tech and North Carolina lost convincingly to the Yellow Jackets recently. There are signs that this team is getting better game by game since the debacle against Virginia Tech. Clemson is a better squad that they had been given credit for as their demolition of Florida State demonstrated over the weekend. Maryland dismantled an over matched Wahoo squad last Thursday amidst the weather catastrophe in the Washington area. Virginia looked lifeless and did a poor job executing on offense. They did a decent job of containing Jordan Williams with the help of 7 foot Assane Sene though Williams had a very poor game in his own right. Perhaps the pressure of his double-double streak was getting to Jordan, as Gary Williams suggested in his post game remarks, because he looked lost at times and his effort on offense to work for position was poor.

Adrian Bowie made the best of a good matchup with Virginia and torched them for 22 points on 8/13 shooting. At the start of the 2nd half Bowie took over the game and almost put Virginia away single handed. Against a bigger and more athletic Yellow Jacket backcourt Bowie struggled badly and only scored 3 points on 1/10 shooting.

It was a good time for Sean Mosley, who didn't score a point against Virginia, to come up with his best game of the season. The sophomore scored 16 points on 6/13 shooting, his 13 field goal attempts paced the team, and added four rebounds and three assists. It was a tantalizing glimpse of what Mosley could have been all year but it is unlikely that he will be able to sustain those kinds of efforts.

Freshmen Terrell Stoglin and Pe'Shon Howard played well even though they combined for 8 turnovers. The duo has combined for 35 points the last two games and is showing progress in adjusting to the pace of conference games. Each was able to get into the lane against Georgia Tech and either score or dish to an open shooter. If the freshmen can keep up this level of play Maryland may not need major contributions from Bowie or Cliff Tucker every night to win.

Jordan Williams shook off a dreadful performance against Virginia and dominated a depleted Yellow Jacket frontcourt. Freshman Daniel Miller didn't do a horrible job defending Williams but was over matched as Maryland's star scored 21 points and added 15 rebounds. Whatever malaise Jordan was in against Virginia was quickly dispelled with quick baskets against Georgia Tech.

The road slate gets more difficult in the second half of the schedule with trips to Boston College, Virginia Tech and North Carolina but this group is getting to be a seasoned bunch as the freshmen ripen the the seniors become more consistent. Three straight home games coming up will serve as a spring board to a stretch of four road tests in six games that follow. This group seems to be maturing and finding a way to win, even if it isn't pretty at times.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Terps hold the line

Maryland's win over Clemson on Saturday was just the kind of game that Gary Williams must have dreaded seeing in ACC play, a close game that would require the Terps to make free throws down the stretch. The poor free throw shooting by Maryland has been well chronicled this season but this team had not been in a position where they had to make free throws clinging to a slim lead since the Boston College loss in December. In that game Cliff Tucker and Terrell Stoglin missed three free throws in a row that probably doomed the Terrapins but Boston College had not fouled intentionally in that game. The Tigers placed Maryland on the line in the closing minutes and the players responded (mostly). Leading by three points with under two minutes left Jordan Williams hit both his free throws and Maryland connected on 9 of the next 10 free throws to stay ahead of a hot shooting Clemson clause. Jordan Williams, Adrian Bowie, Sean Mosley and Terrell Stoglin all made critical free throws in the final two minutes to preserve the win for a desperate Maryland team. A loss to Clemson would have probably put Maryland's postseason hopes on life support. While the win doesn't get Maryland far along in its campaign to make the NCAA Tournament it does help.

Clemson is a good team and Brad Brownell will keep the Tigers competitive in the years to come. Incidentally the last time Brownell coached against Maryland was when he was at UNC Wilmington. You may remember the 2003 NCAA Tournament game in which Drew Nicholas buried a 3-point shot as time expired and Maryland escaped with a 75-73 win in one of the most memorable NCAA Tournament finishes in history.

Clemson doesn't have much of a bench and with Tanner Smith missing this game after injuring his knee against North Carolina Brownell didn't have many rabbits to pull out of hat. Lucky for him he has two pretty damn good players in PG Demontez Stitt and PF Jerai Grant. Stitt was the best guard on the floor as he controlled the game for Clemson with 20 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds. It is too bad Maryland doesn't have a senior guard the quality of Stitt to go along with Jordan Williams. Jerai Grant isn't a bad compliment to Stitt and is probably the best big man in the ACC that no one is talking about. He exposed some more of the problems Maryland has with its interior defense as he struggled with foul trouble but still managed to score 15 points on 6/8 shooting and grab 8 rebounds. Unfortunately for Clemson the rest of the front court would rather shoot jump shots than play in the lane. Along with 3-point specialist Andre Young those two kept Clemson in the game until the end.

At several points in the 2nd half Maryland looked like it might pull away. Maryland lead by 8 points with 17 minutes left in the game, again by 8 with 12 minutes left and then 7 points with 7 minutes left but in each case let Clemson get within one possession of the lead. Even though Maryland lead almost the entire game it never felt like they were in control and that Clemson was only a spurt away from taking the lead. This group of players still don't seem to know how to close out games but let's hope this win will get them going in the right direction.

Super sophomore Jordan Williams set the Maryland record for consecutive double-doubles with 13 scoring 16 points and snatching 11 rebounds. He rebounded from a poor showing against Virginia Tech well but still struggled from the foul line (4/9) and his defense was porous. Adrian Bowie had his fourth consecutive double digit scoring game with 13 points on a very efficient six field goal attempts. He hit 7/9 free throws and four rebounds to go with 5 assists and probably had the best floor game for the Terps.

Hawk Palsson started his first game in place of Sean Mosley but it was largely symbolic as Mosley played 20 minutes. Palsson showed his range with a 3-point shot and Mosley had a nice game with 9 points in 20 minutes. Perhaps Mosley can be more productive if he plays fewer minutes since he had 9 points in 20 minutes against Clemson. Sometimes a player can focus more on the time they are in the game when they spend a little more time on the bench.

Pe'Shon Howard, James Padgett and Berend Weijs had a few minutes as reserves but didn't do much to influence the outcome. Padgett struggled a little on the defensive end, though no post player really distinguished themselves, and that probably accounted for his limited play coming off an 8 point effort against Virginia Tech. Dino Gregory had a good game for him and made several key baskets down the stretch but his poor defensive rebounding continues to be a problem for Maryland. In 30 minutes he only grabbed 2 defensive rebounds and Jordan Williams needs more help than that.

It seems clear that Cliff Tucker is better suited coming off the bench where his streaky play won't put Maryland in the hole early as happened against Virginia Tech. Terrell Stoglin struggled with a few too many turnovers but if he has found his shooting touch again (3/5 from 3-point range) then Maryland can live with that.

This week Maryland travels to Virginia to take on a scrappy Wahoo squad that has talent at the guard position and can do damage from beyond the arc. Mustapha Farrakhan has been an impressive performer in his senior season hitting near 40% of his 3-point attempts and over 80% of his free throws. Joe Harris and K.T. Harrell have both made good contributions as freshmen and with Sammy Zeglinski back from injury Virginia can score. The pack line defense that Tony Bennett likes to run will make things more difficult for Maryland's guards to get the ball to Jordan Williams. It will require players like Cliff Tucker and Terrell Stoglin to knock down some outside shots because the pack line defense will give up some outside shooting in the attempt to clog the lane and prevent dribble penetrations. With a bunch of new players Virginia has struggled in ACC play with their defense at times but has defended the 3-point line fairly well the last four contests. The Cavaliers put forth good efforts against UNC and Boston College, both games they could have won, and were competitive against Duke until the Blue Devils pulled away in the 2nd half at Cameron. This is not a team Maryland should take lightly. If Virginia gets hot from outside and can dictate tempo then the Terrapins could be in trouble.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Kuiper's analysis

Some great observations by former college coach Denny Kuiper on the loss to Virginia Tech. His points about Maryland's attacking the 2-3 zone were spot on. Lots of blame to go around.

Terps shellacked at home

Gary Williams didn't seem to have an answer for the pitiful performance of his team in a 74-57 drubbing by Virginia Tech last night. It was the worst home loss for Maryland since 1999 when the Terps lost to Duke by 18 at Cole Field House. That Duke team was #2 in the country (Maryland #4 at the time) and should have won the national title that season. This Virginia Tech team doesn't have an impressive win all season and is a likely bubble team again this year. The glory days of Maryland basketball are getting further and further in the rear view mirror. Once again Gary Williams' team is in dire straights in the middle of January and, at 1-3 in the conference with two home losses, looking like a team that will be out of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in seven seasons. Once again it will require some coaching magic to get this threadbare roster to win enough games to impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee. With the ACC being as terrible as everyone says it is double digit wins is probably a minimum starting point for getting to play in the only tournament that matters. I just don't see enough on a squad devoid of upperclassman leadership and talent in the backcourt to get to that point.

The game was over almost from the opening tip as Virginia Tech raced to a 12-0 lead in the first few minutes. The decision to start Cliff Tucker and Pe'Shon Howard turned out to be a disaster as neither seemed ready or able to get the offense into a flow early on. Howard started in place of Terrell Stoglin who was benched for a violation of team rules. Turned out that was all the lead that the turkeys needed as they never trailed and were never really threatened.

The defense of this group is overrated but the offense is as bad as it seems. Bucking the trend of shooting well at home, admittedly accrued against mid-major squads, they shot 35.7% from the floor last night and bricked their way to 6/20 shooting from the 3-point line. Why a team with poor outside shooting is taking 20 three point shots is a mystery. The Hokies were playing zone, as they have done prior to this game, but mid-range jumpers should still be there against a 2-3 look. Who can play that mid-range game like Vasquez could last year? As bad as the Terps played in the 1st half they were even worse after the break going just 8/28 from the floor. Many of those misses also lead to fast breaks or run outs for Virginia Tech. The 16 turnovers added up to a turnover rate of 23.5%, which is horrendous. Only the Seattle, College of Charleston, and Penn State games were worse in that regard.

It is easier to just say that the only player who had a decent game was James Padgett. The sophomore finished with 8 points on 3/5 shooting in 15 minutes. It was probably his best game of the season. No one else played well. The entire Maryland backcourt was dominated by Malcolm Delaney and Erick Green. Green got to the rim whenever he wanted and went 12/16 from the floor because most of his shots were layups. For the game Virginia Tech had 19 field goals that were dunks or layups, in contrast Maryland had 8. The help defense when VT dribbled into the lane was non-existent. Jordan Williams had a truly awful performance on the defensive end of the court. His lapses lead to many of Davila's 13 points including an egregious episode where he and Dino Gregory were lazy in getting back on defense and gave up a dunk in transition by Davila. Even though he kept the double-double streak alive it was a very poor performance by the sophomore.

The frontcourt for both teams was largely irrelevant to the outcome of the game. It was an area that Maryland should have been able to exploit. Padgett outscored Jeff Allen in just 15 minutes of play but Gregory could only muster 2 points. Virginia Tech did a good job of preventing Maryland from getting offensive rebounds a weakness of theirs which North Carolina and FSU had been able to exploit. Part of that was also due to the poor shot selection by Maryland and the guards inability to grab offensive rebounds. When a team is struggling with its shooting offensive rebounds can be an equalizer but this team isn't getting many.

College basketball is a guard dominated sport. Maryland was in any game they played last year because of Greivis Vasquez and his ability to take over a game. Eric Hayes was a solid complement to him at the other guard position. The current seniors are nowhere near that level of quality. The freshmen are going to struggle, especially Howard who was awful last night, but the seniors are providing no stability, leadership or reliable scoring. It is a tough situation for Gary Williams having recruited some players with limited abilities he hasn't a plethora of options. As I wrote last time perhaps going back to a more traditional two guard lineup would be helpful. Three guard lineups should give you better shooting and ball handling at the cost of rebounds and possibly defense. Right now Maryland's guards are not giving the team the advantages of a three guard lineup but with many of the drawbacks. Perhaps there just are not any answers to what ails to the Terps this season. The upperclassmen on the squad may have just topped out being role players but the younger players have some room to mature and get better. The appearance of Mychal Parker last night and the growth of Hawk Palsson are glimmers of hope.

Maryland has a quick turnaround for the Clemson game on Saturday. Another vital home game followed by a two game road trip to Virginia and Georgia Tech which are no pushovers. Virginia has stretched Boston College and North Carolina, teams way above Maryland in the standings, to the brink at home. Georgia Tech pounded a UNC squad that dispatched Virginia Tech in the Dean Dome. To get back in the conversation Maryland will likely need to win four of the next five games but if they can't put away Clemson, and avoid going 0-3 at home for the season, then it could be a long season in College Park.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Deja Vu all over again

We've seen this before. Maryland plays well for periods against a ranked opponent only to fall at the end of the game through a series of missed opportunities, bricked free throws and poor rebounding. Such was the case again against Villanova on Saturday as the Terps choked a 12 point 2nd half lead away in the closing minutes to fall 71-64 against the Wild Cats. Leading 59-47 with about 9 minutes left Maryland went 1/8 from the floor for the next seven minutes. Upon reading that Villanova went on a 19-0 run you might conclude that Maryland's defense was the culprit but that wasn't true. The defense all game, including in the 2nd half, was pretty good. The Wild Cats shot worse in the 2nd half (41%) than in the 1st half (44%) but pounded Maryland on the glass in that half (23-14, including 10 offensive rebounds). When you are not scoring at all it makes your defense look worse than it really is and not scoring for almost 7 minutes against a team like Villanova is going to spell your doom. Turnovers didn't help Maryland much either. Though the number doesn't look terrible, 14 for the game, that accounted for 20% of Maryland's possessions which is pretty bad. The 8 turnovers in the 2nd half contributed to the inability of the offense to score as Maryland committed four turnovers during a 3 and a half minute stretch after Maryland got a double digit lead. After Cliff Tucker's turnover with 6:51 left in the game Maryland saw its lead disappear for the last time. Note that turnover by a senior came after Gary Williams had called a 30 second timeout. Few if any of the turnovers during that stretch had to do with 'Nova's switch to a 3/4 court press, they were all in the half court despite what the dummies on TV said.

During the painful seven minute stretch Jordan Williams took just two shots while Pe'Shon Howard, Cliff Tucker and Adrian Bowie were clanging 3-point attempts off the rim. Terrell Stoglin's gunslinging has been much dissected this season but it was Howard's poor decision making that did more damage in this loss. Collectively the guard play this season for the Terrapins has been the major weakness of this team. Seniors Cliff Tucker and Adrian Bowie have shown that they are little more than role players and backups forced into starting roles. In conference games Tucker is only shooting 39% from the field and 31% from beyond the arc. His inconsistency make him a highly unreliable player with a plethora of dud performances this season including against Penn State (0 points), Temple (2 points), Boston College (6 points), and Villanova (3 points). Adrian Bowie has hardly been much better though he is shooting a much better percentage on fewer field goal attempts. Though Bowie has kept his starting job he hardly offers much scoring ability only scoring in double figures twice against ACC or power conference foes all season. With freshman Terrell Stoglin in the midst of a wicked shooting slump there isn't much scoring to be had from the guard positions. When you play largely of three guard lineup with Sean Mosley that is a bad thing. While Mosley has done a decent job of producing his 8 point average against the better competition he hasn't been producing many points either. If Maryland is to make it into the NCAA tournament the guards will have to dramatically improve their play. As good as Jordan Williams has been and he is just destroying opponents the last few weeks, he cannot do it alone.

Perhaps Maryland would do better to switch to a more traditional two guard look and insert a forward, Dino Gregory or Hawk Palsson into the "three" position. It might improve the rebounding, an overlooked flaw in this squad, and end this three guard paralysis on offense.

Maryland now faces a two game home stand against Virginia Tech and Clemson that become must win games. With road tilts at Virginia and Georgia Tech on the horizon holding home serve and building a needed winning streak is imperative. Dropping a second home game so early in the season could be devastating to Maryland's postseason fortunes. Having let another choice win slip through their fingers this group has made their margin of error for the remainder of the season thin indeed. I have a feeling that this squad will look back on this Villanova game and rue those seven minutes that may have sunk their NCAA hopes.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Get on the bus

Maryland's 74-55 win over hapless Wake Forest was the kind you run to get on the team bus and head home. Gary Williams was even a little testy when Maryland analyst Chris Knoche referred to the Terp's performance, charitably, as "uneven." Williams called him "unbelievable", commented how he was always looking for a negative and called it a great win on the road. With all due respect to Gary, who knew this was a trap game between Duke and a trip to Villanova, this was probably the worst offensive performance all season by Maryland. The 38.2% shooting was the worst all season and given how terrible Wake is this year, and they are truly awful, it made this shooting performance even worse. When Wake Forest went to a zone Maryland was flummoxed and couldn't do much damage even though they got good looks from the 3-point line (5/18, 28%) much of the night. In the end Wake Forest's carelessness with the ball, poor shooting and shot selection were enough for Maryland to escape with a loss.

Cliff Tucker had a great night on his birthday breaking out with his best game of the season filling up the stat sheet with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Tucker has always been a streaky player but the last three games had been very encouraging scoring 12 against Colgate, 14 against Duke and 21 points last night. He has shot 46% from the floor or better in six of the last seven games and is hitting a torrid 50% of his 3-point shots since the BC game. You'd have to think Tucker may have played his way back into the starting lineup. With freshman Terrell Stoglin struggling the last few games some would assume he would replace Stoglin but I think the more likely candidate is Sean Mosley. Maryland needs Tucker (or another guard) to provide the balance to Jordan Williams in the low post.

Jordan Williams had another double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds but didn't play a very good game. His free throw shooting was better, 9/14 or 64%, but he was slow footed on defense and didn't work enough to get open on offense. His lack of focus was reflected in his 2/13 shooting from the floor and his early foul trouble. Fortunately Williams is such a special player he still dominated at times.

Adrian Bowie had a nice game with 12 points, hit a couple of threes, got two assists and didn't turn the ball over. Sean Mosley and Dino Gregory had decent contributions with 8 points a piece but they committed too many fouls (7 combined) and the resulting free throws by Wake (8 of their 19 free throws) helped keep them in the game.

Terrell Stoglin is clearly in a funk going 2/19 (0/10 from 3-point range) in the last two games with 8 assists and 6 turnovers. I'm not sure two games is enough of a run to justify putting him back on the bench given that Pe'Shon Howard has struggled to be consistent in recent game as well. Howard had several bad passes last night that he was lucky did not result in turnovers and he was coming off a 4 turnover in 10 minutes of play game against Duke.

Hawk Palsson had a very nice game off the bench for foul plagued Dino Gregory. He played a very solid 20 minutes scoring just four points but also grabbed 5 rebounds and dished 2 assists. Hawk did a good job in the middle of Wake's zone defense. He did have some freshman moments with turnovers and blocked shots but his feel for the game is an asset. James Padgett also gave some solid bench play in 11 minutes with 4 points and 5 rebounds. He had several cringe worthy free throw attempts going 0/4 from the line including an air ball but I think he is getting better.

Berend Weijs and Mychal Parker both had brief appearances in the game.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Terps lose another close contest

It was a familiar story for Maryland fans this season. The team played a scrappy and competitive game against a superior opponent but ended up making too many mistakes and too few plays to pull out a win at the end. So it was against Duke at Cameron Indoor last night as the Terps fell 71-64. The crucial stretch of the game probably occurred a few minutes into the 2nd half as Maryland surged to a six point lead at 38-32. Over the next seven minutes Maryland failed to score a field goal until Cliff Tucker scored at 13:10 while Duke went on an 11-0 run to take the lead. Playing the number one team on the road is a long shot for most teams and Duke is 58-2 at Cameron the last four seasons so it isn't a disaster that Maryland lost this game. There are not too many more chances for a marquee win this year for this squad with a down ACC and lots of mediocrity on the remaining schedule. The games at Villanova and against Duke in a few weeks provide the last two opportunities for impressive wins during the regular season.

Jordan Williams continued to show that he is a dominating force with 23 points and 13 rebounds even while double teamed by Duke. Mason Plumlee fouled out in only 18 minutes trying to guard Williams and no other Duke player had much success stopping him either. Even with some early foul trouble, he got his second foul on a silly blocking foul with 12 minutes to go in the 1st half, Williams still played 31 minutes. His foul shooting continues to be a bugaboo going 3/6 from the line.

Cliff Tucker played well off the bench with 14 points and 7 rebounds and helped keep Maryland close. Trailing by three Tucker went 5/7 with 12 points and two rebounds over the next six minutes. He took good shots and did a great job getting out in transition. Mosley played a solid game (8 points and 6 rebounds), given his recent struggles, but Stoglin and Adrian Bowie were terrible going 1/14 with 4 points in 56 minutes. As a freshman in his first game at Cameron I don't put too much blame on Stoglin but Bowie's game was a disappointing setback after his best game of the year against Colgate. Bowie needs to start making some plays on offense and, along with Mosley, disappears in games too often. In Maryland's losses this season his point totals were: 9, 4, 2, 4 and 1. If he doesn't improve he may have to give way to Tucker, who has his own consistency problems but has shown more of a consistent scoring threat. Pe'Shon Howard had some good (5 points) and some very bad (4 TOs in 10 minutes) and is struggling with elements of his game.

Beyond Jordan Williams Maryland didn't get much from their frontcourt. Dino Gregory had 8 points on 3/7 shooting with only 4 rebounds in 30 minutes. The bigs off the bench only got 5 minutes of play so no surprise they didn't contribute much.

Foul shooting continues to be a problem converting just 9/17 at a 53% clip. Six missed free throws were critical in the 2nd half. Beyond getting better shooters to the line like Mosley, Bowie and Stoglin there probably isn't much improvement to be had the rest of the season.

Three point shooting is also a continuing problem going 3/14 (21%) for the game largely based on Stoglin's 0/6 horror show. In Maryland's wins this season the team is shooting 41% from 3-point range while in the five losses they have bricked their way to 22% shooting (16/73). Unless they can start hitting shots from outside more opponents will pack in the lane and try to dare Maryland's guards to beat them from 3-point range.

The game against a terrible Wake Forest squad on Wednesday should be a win while a loss would be a devastating blow to the Terrapins NCAA chances. Maryland's next five ACC games present a chance for Maryland to make a run as they should be favored in each contest. Road games at Wake Forest, Virginia and Georgia Tech are bookended around home dates with Clemson and Virginia Tech.

Stoglin getting noticed

Not great timing coming off a 1/10 stinker at Duke but freshman guard Terrell Stoglin is getting some notice. John Gasaway from Basketball Prospectus lists him as the 13th best freshman so far this year.

I'll have more on the tough loss at Duke shortly but here is a great article by Ken Pomeroy on why plus minus stats are fairly worthless.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Where have you gone, Sean Mosley?

Very worthwhile article in the Carroll County Times by Josh Land regarding the struggles of junior guard Sean Mosley. The Baltimore native has struggled this season, along with Cliff Tucker and Adrian Bowie, to be reliable scoring options to replace Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes. Kudos to Land for this article.

The Edsall kurfuffle

Most Maryland fans didn't see former Connecticut coach Randy Edsall as the likely replacement for Ralph Friedgen as the head coach of the football program. I certainly dismissed some of the early reports about Edsall along with the ridiculous rumors that Michigan coach Rich Rodriquez was a candidate as well. Turns out Mike Leach wasn't the favorite that everyone thought he was when this saga started. As many in the media have summed up this was a fairly uninspiring hire. Some have compared it to N.C. State's hiring of Tom O'Brien, except O'Brien has a much more impressive resume that Edsall, and Chuck Amato's tenure in Raliegh was filled with more low points than Friegden's time in College Park.

Edsall does little to energize the flagging ticket holders at Byrd Stadium. His teams at UConn were fairly boring to watch and were not exactly brimming with talent. Part of that is the meager talent produced by high schools in Connecticut which makes Maryland look like Texas and Florida combined. Edsall certainly had a harder road to hoe than Fridge when it came to recruiting. Edsall would probably never be able to attract talents like Vernon Davis, Shawne Merriman and Darrius Heyward-Bey that Maryland plucked out of their backyard. Connecticut had a good 2009 draft with four players picked in the first two rounds (RB Donald Brown being the most notable) but the plethora of 2-star talents that Edsall recruited at UConn would make any recruiting guru question Maryland's ability to land the top talent in the state.

Much was made of Edsall's resume during his introductory news conference. Maryland AD Kevin Anderson rightly lauded Edsall's impressive graduation rate and his stewardship of UConn from I-AA to I-A football. That is no small feat, but Edsall's win loss record is a little less impressive. The last three seasons Edsall is 33-19 with the Fiesta Bowl shellacking by Oklahoma the highlight. Edsall's record since UConn became a I-A program is a pedestrian 70-63. While that may not be a fair comparison, since Friedgen took over a Maryland program that was well established and had far greater resources than UConn did, his record competing in an inferior conference when compared to Friedgen's isn't that impressive.

In the end the comparison between Edsall and Friedgen is a moot point. Ralph Friedgen was out as Maryland's coach and it didn't much depend on who replaced him. Anderson didn't want Friedgen back after his staff was gutted and Fridge became a lame duck coach. There would be no extension for Fridge. In that sense the comparisons of Fridgen and Edsall are facile. Friedgen was not fired so that Maryland could hire Randy Edsall even if that was the end result.

The confusion among some Maryland fans regarding how Edsall fits with the "strategic business decision" of firing Friedgen, as Anderson described it when he announced Friedgen would be bought out, is justified. Edsall is unlikely to help the dire season ticket problems facing the program or sell the empty luxury suites that Debbie Yow built. The only thing that will sell tickets is for this team to win now and win big. It is safe to say that if Edsall has any losing seasons over the next few years it will probably spell the end for both Edsall and Anderson who are both on five year contracts.

In Edsall's favor he retained defensive coordinator Don Brown, a vital step in the right direction, kept the 2011 recruiting class in fair order, and has a very talented quarterback in Danny O'Brien. It is true that the ACC is more competitive than the Big East and it is certainly more challenging to get to a BCS bowl at Maryland than it would be at UConn. All that is beside the point however. UConn will struggle to ever recruit the kinds of players to make it competitive with the likes of Oklahoma and Edsall had probably done as well as could be expected with what he had to work with in Storrs. It may be possible to have a basketball power there with the sleazy Jim Calhoun running the program but it is far more difficult to do that without the benefit of AAU bagmen in football. I had to laugh when I heard the suggestion that Edsall had left because the admission standards were too difficult at UConn to get some of the players he wanted. As if Jim Calhoun had to worry about that.

I doubt that Edsall will fail at Maryland but I also doubt that he will have the kind of success that Maryland fans expect in the era after Ralph Friedgen. If Edsall is willing to devote himself to hiring a staff that can recruit the best players in the Washington and Baltimore area then he has a chance to be successful. If he continues to recruit overlooked athletes that are not highly regarded then merely winning seasons and marginal bowl games won't be enough to save him or reverse the fortunes of the football program.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Ken Pomeroy on the perils of relying on field goal percentage and how Maryland isn't as good a shooting team as you would think. Read here.

It appears defensive coordinator Don Brown will stay on the Maryland staff under new coach Randy Edsall. Great news for Maryland on the field and in recruiting. It takes a little of the sting out of the underwhelming hiring of Edsall as a replacement of Friedgen.