The Baltimore Sun reported this afternoon that the Ravens' head coach Brian Billick has been fired. Can you say, "Long time coming?"
I wrote earlier this month about owner Steve Bisciotti (A.K.A. The Man with the Tan) supporting Billick and what a stupid, stupid idea that was. Billick came in with the reputation of an offensive genius. The next year, his team won a Super Bowl for him. He rode that pony for seven years of disappointing offense and little playoff success. Besides great defense, the Ravens never really carried any kind of specific marking of Billick's "coaching." This season, the flaws were readily apparent as Billick called the plays himself ... and they still stunk. In doing so, he lost a lot of faith from the players.
I have some sympathy for the man - after all, he did win a Super Bowl and he had extraordinarily bad luck with QBs in his time. However, it felt like the man had more lives than a cat, and survived by taking credit for a string of great defenses and coordinators (two of whom are head coaches and one who should be).
This actually brings me to my next point.
In the article I wrote earlier, I suggested Rex Ryan should be the head coach and we should bring in a dynamite O-coordinator to support him in that area. Then we could have a situation similar to USC where Rex Ryan is the head coach and D-coordinator and someone runs the offense for him.
Now is a good time to say I wasn't kidding.
Steve Bisciotti - if you're reading this somewhere, please hire Rex Ryan as the new head coach of the Ravens. He is THE top coordinator looking for a head coaching job right now. Teams that will be soon replacing their coaches are going to look at Ryan first.
The players respect him and he has a system going in Baltimore. Just promote him right now. Grab him and squeeze before he goes off to, I don't know, San Francisco, Carolina or St. Louis. He knows he has a better shot at succeeding here with a lot of young talent.
Now, the best O-coordinators out there that might interview are Mike Martz from the Lions (retread), Jason Garrett from the Cowboys (what a smile!) and Rob Chudzinski from the Browns. To me, Chudzinski sounds the most fascinating: He single-handedly made the Browns into an offensive juggernaut (What, you think Romeo Crennel did that?). Plus, stealing him from under the nose of a division rival is tempting. Well, whoever it is, pick up somebody.
Also, guess who else is on the market? ROB RYAN, Rex's broski. I'm not sure how they would work together, but you can't deny that it could be interesting to bring the other Ryan in as a D-coordinator if the management wanted one. The Ryans under one franchise roof? Get outta here. Maybe that means Buddy only has to see one game a week.
The Ravens have a chance to be successful next season or the one after if they start making the right moves now. There's a big first step that needs to be taken.
Make Rex Ryan head coach. NOW.
Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
For you Maryland fans out there, I think we've had enough rough games to reinforce that we're dealing with a young Terrapins team this year. The minutes are being juggled, and depending on which game you might have gone to, you may have seen different things from them, or you may not have seen some of them play at all.
So INRCP is gracing all of you who can't make every game with a freshman review, a breakdown of how each guy is doing. So far, the only guy without any stats is frosh walk-on David Pearman. Jerome Burney is included in this edition.
CLIFF TUCKER, SG/SF, NO. 24
Tucker is arguably the most successful freshman so far on the Terps team. He is athletic and speedy. He can create his own shots, but can also slash. He has been so impressive at times that I said that he would replace Landon Milbourne in the starting lineup. Sure enough, against Delaware, he made his first career start at the 3-spot. However, Milbourne has stepped up his game lately so I'm not sure how long that will last.
Tucker has averaged almost 15 minutes per contest and a little over 4 points per game. He has shown he knows when to shoot, earning a 55.3 FG% and a blistering 63.6 FG% from beyond the arc. Niiiiiiice. However, this brilliance does indeed come in flashes. In the Illinois game, he scored 9 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in only 12 minutes. However, he played 20 minutes against Delaware and only managed 2 points and a single rebound. If he wants to see more time and at least equal Milbourne in minutes, he has to be more consistent. But the ability is there.
BRAXTON DUPREE, C, NO. 4
Dupree is yet another player that is scooping up significant minutes with mixed results. He's averaging about 13 minutes per game and 4 points and 3 rebounds. Not exactly eye-popping. Yet against Lehigh, he went for 14 and 5, pretty OK numbers for starter's minutes in place of Bambale Osby. It's games like against Ohio (2 pts and a big fat goose egg in rebounds; only 7 minutes) that make me worry about his development.
Dupree is a big boy - he weighs 260 lbs. He is more agile than you would think and spins quickly in the post. His hands are pretty soft and he can make shots. However, his weight and average height (6'8) make it nearly impossible for him to play above the rim very much. This means he loses some rebounds and often gets blocked by other players with superior athletic ability or height advantage. Definitely needs to lose some pounds if he wants to compete with the big boys and secure a spot in the roster after Augustus Gilchrist can finally play.
ADRIAN BOWIE, PG/SG, NO. 22
Bowie is an interesting player, and I often wonder what Gary Williams has planned for him. He gets some good minutes and averages about 3 ppg and not much else. He's short (6'2) and I don't see much upside in his game, other than if he developed some speed and a more reliable shot.
The interesting part is that Gary has put him at the point guard position for limited minutes when taking out Eric Hayes. Yes, Greivis Vasquez still runs most of the plays in that scenario, but Bowie definitely has seen some looks. My best guess is that Gary doesn't want a situation after Hayes and Vasquez graduate or leave early like two years ago when we had no true point guards. Bowie averaged 6 apg in his senior season, but so far it hasn't worked out for him (1o assists compared to 16 turnovers). But we'll see. Maybe Gary knows something about Bowie that we don't.
JEROME BURNEY, PF, NO. 32
Burney is a player that strikes me as having vast potential. I've seen him make more than a few athletic plays and he's big, which is something we need. He's only played in 8 games, which is surprising to me. I think he should be getting more minutes.
In my mind, Burney is the heir-apparent to the James Gist role: The long, athletic forward that can block and grab the boards. Dupree isn't going to get that kind of air, Dino Gregory isn't that long, and Shane Walker is all bones. Burney has a good blend of size and ability that will translate well into the ACC. His offensive game needs work (see 5-for-11 in FGs). But ya gotta play him first!
EXTRA FUN FACT: Burney averaged 10 BLOCKS PER GAME as a senior in high school. Also, check out this slam. If you were there, you know how awesome that was.
DINO GREGORY, SF/PF, NO. 33
This guy is definitely an up-and-coming fan favorite. When I watch him, the only word I can think of is "hustle." I mean, the guy looks like a gigantic schoolboy, his arms are relatively short, he's not as athletic or tall as most of the guys he guards, and his offensive game is raw. BUUUUUT, he isn't lazy on D or rebounding and his name is "Dino." That definitely counts for something.
I'm not sure what he'll be doing in the future - perhaps switching in and out of the 4 spot and maybe the 3 spot if we play big. Lots to improve, but he sure is lovable. This guy will be a great spark off the bench in the future, maybe similar to the role Boom has excelled in this year. You can really tell he relishes every opportunity he gets on the court.
SHANE WALKER, PF, NO. 2
Walker has played in a mere 5 games so far this season, but he got some significant time in the Delaware contest, and not really garbage time; he was James Gist's main backup. I know Gary is trying to see more of these guys, but every time I see a player on the court that doesn't go out that often, I assume that they must be doing something in practice.
What I saw in the game was not very good at first. He didn't make his only shot attempt, he gave up a sloppy turnover, and he was roughed up in the post a bit. He did grab 3 boards, and later in the game, he was playing with more energy. Physically, he has the length that you want, but his frame needs muscle to even get to an Ekene Ibekwe type of build. Yikes. But he didn't give up, even when he got pulled after a particularly bad giveaway. There's something to be said about that.
By the way, did you know he's from England? Weird.
Anyway, thanks for staying awake and reading. Stop by again sometime.
Photo Credits: The Baltimore Sun, AP, Washington Post
Hey all, I've got something I'm really excited to share with you.
As a lot of you frequent readers know, I rave all the time about Recruiting Report, one of my essential reading stops for news on Terrapin recruiting and Maryland recruiting in general. Well a week or two ago, I e-mailed Matt Bracken, the guy who does all this footwork for your benefit, some questions about Maryland recruiting. Between all the holiday madness, he had time to dig up some answers for me and for you.
Ladies and gentlemen, Matt Bracken of The Baltimore Sun. Most of this information can be found on the site itself, by the way. I added the links myself - as in none of these are provided or necessarily advocated by Mr. Bracken.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Mosley get a slight bump when the rankings are updated, but I don’t think he’ll make an enormous jump. All the recruiting sites/scouts are pretty much in agreement that Mosley is a top 50ish type talent that excels at the little things, has an unreal work ethic, is a leader on the floor, (insert additional basketball-speak cliché’), etc… The thing that might separate Mosley, from say, a top-25 player, is elite athleticism. He’s a great athlete, of course -- just a notch below the one-and-done-type guys. Nobody works harder than Mosley, though. He should make a significant impact for the Terps right off the bat next season.
It looks like the rule forcing Gilchrist to sit out and lose a year of eligibility (thanks to the intra-conference transfer from Virginia Tech to UM) was already in place –
3) I also heard from your site that
The easy answer to that question is Mike Locksley, the current Illini offensive coordinator. Locksley spent six years as a Terps assistant starting in 1997. Locksley coached the running backs and was
4) Any updates on how
All is still quiet on the Kenny Tate front. He has officially visited
5) Assuming Gilchrist is out another year or so, might that leave open another spot on the roster? Is
Gilchrist has a scholarship, so his eligibility status wouldn’t affect that. But with JuCo guard Bobby Maze’s commitment a couple weeks ago, the Terps are all filled up for 2008 – at least on paper. As
Photo Credits: The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post
Saturday, December 29, 2007
As you can see, I've really been slacking off lately and enjoying the holidays/winter break. Also, there wasn't much going on last week and between having already completed a bowl preview/being very upset about Maryland men's basketball, I found that the material was a little depleted.
However, Maryland had a BIG day today, playing in both a basketball game and a bowl game. One win, one loss. It's life.
MARYLAND V. DELAWARE: MEN'S BASKETBALL
So Part I of my day was spent in College Park, watching the Terps take on my mother's alma mater, Delaware and the Fightin' Blue Hens. My pregame ritual consisted mostly of praying that we would not drop another home non-conference game (Note the level of anger after the Ohio and American losses on this site).
Well, thank goodness they came through, winning 76-46. I stayed for every minute; I'll watch a game when the Terps can actually execute.
- Witness four starters in double digits. The only one who didn't have double digits (Eric Hayes)
actually had a better game than the stats suggest, generally taking care of the ball, grabbing 7 rebounds and not being such a liability on defense. Meanwhile, Greivis Vasquez and James Gist actually took their mantles of leadership today: Gist had a double-double and 5 blocks (and the nasty, nasty dunk to the left) while Gravy had 18 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds, going 7-for-11 from the field, plus 3 steals. Who said we should bench him? He's heating up, big-time.
- Rebounding went very well. The Terrapins held a 32-board advantage. When the bigs mishandled the balls, our guards were usually in position to grab the ball (Hayes, Vasquez and Adrian Bowie all got over five). Turnovers and inconsistent 3-point shooting are still glaring problems: They gave up 16 turnovers and only Vasquez made threes.
- Let's not forget, Delaware is a really terrible team. None of their players seemed particularly good at anything and they didn't really seem to have any kind of defensive plan of any kind. We honestly just bullied them and took their lunch money. FUN FACT: Delaware also lost to Ohio University. Maybe we should start a club.
But, as they say, a win is a win. The best thing we can take out of this is confidence and experience of being in rhythm and executing plays properly. I still think the tight zone will be problematic for Maryland, as their shooting is still suspect and you can't always expect Gist and Bambale to show up and dominate.
MARYLAND V. OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY: FOOTBALL
Well, you can't win 'em all.
I think Maryland was a heavy underdog to win this matchup with good reason - Oregon State is a good team. In the game, their passing game and the pretty poor composure of injury-replacement quarterback Sean Canfield left much to be desired, but their defense came to play. Our strength, the run, was completely taken away in the 21-14 loss. The score was close, but the level of play was not.
- Maryland rushed for what I'm sure is a season-low 19 combined yards. Yuck. Meanwhile, OSU simply ran us over, gaining 275 yards on the ground. And it wasn't as if we weren't getting to them - let's just say that Coach Friedgen should stress tackling in the offseason. Some of what I saw was pretty poor. I mean, shouldn't you know how to wrap up if you're going to start? Diminutive rushers Yvenson Bernard and James Rodgers broke defenders through like Earl Campbell clones. I'm not doubting the talent, but they definitely should've been taken down much earlier on several of their long runs.
- Napolean Dynamite lookalike Chris Turner (feel free to click and compare) had an OK day, going for 205 yards and two TDs and two INTs. As average as he was, he wasn't helped by his wideouts (excluding Darrius Heyward-Bey, who almost broke the century mark and hauled in a 63-yard pass that'was actually a really nice burn). Lots of fingers will be pointing to the wet weather, but I saw an awful lot of drops when the ball hit both of the receiver's hands. The rule tends to be if it hits two hands, you catch it.
Otherwise, well, at least it was close. We came out strong, but finished poorly, like many games this season. I think our level of play just about corresponded to where we ended up. 6-7 is not pretty, but neither was watching the Terps for most of this season. Too many injuries, poor fundamentals and an anemic passing offense couldn't equal a successful season. Try again next year!
By the way, in case you haven't heard, we may have some decent help next year. Former Terp wideout coach James Franklin makes a triumphant return to Maryland as O-ccordinator. As Recruiting Report notes, he's a two-time top-25 Rivals.com recruiter. Cool, right? Maybe we'll stop losing football recruits to Illinois. Also, this means Friedgen will no longer have to call plays. I think that makes us all breathe slightly easier.
Overall, a decent day: Both teams essentially did what they were expected to. For football, good luck next year and for basketball - let's keep playing at that level.
Photo Credits: Washington Post, Baltimore Sun
Sunday, December 23, 2007
I've had just about as much as I can take. The bad part is we know it's not even near over.
Maryland continued their losing streak against American University, 67-59.
I drove 45 minutes to go to the game today, a game most would consider not even worth their attention. Let me tell you: not worth it. The gameplay itself was not as bad as the Ohio game, and I saw some hustle, but overall just very bad.
Now, what's wrong with this picture? Take a glance at the American roster. Now the Maryland roster. Notice anything? Like we own the biggest height advantage ever? Their starting point guard, Derrick Mercer, played 40 minutes and led his team with 18 points. AND HE'S 5'9!!! Eric Hayes was guarding him for most of the game, and he's a long-armed 6'4. The Eagles' leading rebounder, Jordan Nichols, is 6'5!!! And he was guarded mostly by Boom and Braxton Dupree.
Once again we were outrebounded and generally outplayed by an inferior team. To American's credit, every time we looked like we could come back, they hit a big circus shot, usually a 3-pointer with a hand in the guy's face.
But let's go to the stats. Here's how these "bad" teams are beating us:
- American played a tight zone that took away the inside. Every time a big man got an inside feed, they were immediately triple-teamed. Usually, this led to a turnover. For evidence, see the 8 combined points by Gist, Boom and Dupree compared to their 5 combined turnovers. Ohio did this successfully as well.
- The interior defense kept our guards on the perimeter, forcing them to take outside shots. Besides Greivis Vasquez, who single-handedly made this a game with a whopping 28 points (I'm very right about him), we klunked a lot of shots. Vasquez made 6 shots, and Hayes made 4 from behind the line; everyone else missed.
- We have no midrange game. Jumpers went in and out. We shot 5-for-24 in the first half. Yuck.
- American killed us with their small, quick starting guards, who combined for 26 points. Also, Bryce Simon, one of their wings, sat on the edge and killed us all day because whoever is playing the 3-spot (Tucker, Milbourne) never seems to be where they need to be. Perimeter defense is a big concern - Ohio did the exact same thing.
- Ball control: Both American and Ohio used almost entire shot-clock counts before they tried to score. This kept them fresh and slowed the game down a lot. It also was easier to dictate tempo later in the game with a huge lead.
- In the second half, Gary tried to go big with Dave Neal at the 3-spot. When that didn't work, with about 10 minutes left, Gary tried a 4-guard set, which was somewhat successful and made us faster. But too late - why didn't we do that when we were losing by 5 in the first half? These adjustments have to be made. We can't just "keep playing our game" because we really weren't playing our game anyway, and whatever our game is, it sucks.
We are dead last in the ACC standings and we honestly deserve to be there. This team won a national championship only 5 years ago - name one program that misses as many NCAA tournments as we do that's won a national championship in the last 10 years.
I'm not starting the "fire the coach" chant, but this is very questionable. Our recruiting class from the national championship team never panned out and we are still suffering from it. I think Terp fans should definitely expect more than they are getting from this team, and the finger of blame is slowly drifting upward.
Also, I'm still really upset. So that may have something to do with how angry I am. But you would be too if you made a trip and had to park in College Park (a daunting task) just to watch your team lose a game they should've dominated.
No more excuses.
Photo credits: AP, Washington Post
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Hey everyone. Today is another laid-back day of rest, so I'm just gonna pitch out a couple links forwarded by friends and stuff that's just plain great.
- First off, to show I'm not a total homer (although that's mostly a lost cause), I decided to post this video sent to me by a fellow Ravens fan. It's an oldie but goodie.
And for the record, Ray Lewis didn't kill anyone and eventually cooperated with law enforcement.
- Next is not one, but two posts by the guys over at East Coast Bias, my lovable compatriots/mentors. First is an explanation about why Roger Clemens would not win a suit against George Mitchell and/or anyone who covered the Mitchell report on TV - it has a good basic outline of defamation law. The other is a story on UNC football players that were seduced and robbed. Yikes.
- Some fans at a Memphis Grizzlies game got more than they bargained for on the jumbotron. Awful Announcing has the story on this amateur exhibitionist (Family Safe).
- For those of you who haven't heard, our favorite cross-eyed commentator, Stuart Scott, is battling cancer. He had some surgery and is undergoing chemotherapy. We wish you well, Stu, and tell that cancer, "BOOYAH!"
- This next one is based on the Tony Romo theory that says he doesn't play well in front of his girlfriends (formerly Carrie Underwood, now Jessica Simpson). Visit RuinRomo.com to see what the fuss is about.
- The worst one is for last. If you have a conscience, don't watch it. It's about the New England Patriots and the "ultimate solution."
See what I mean? Whatever. I've got to get to the American game, so good luck Terps!
Friday, December 21, 2007
Lose one, gain one: That seems to be Maryland recruiting nowadays.
Some of you may have heard if you check Recruiting Report: Heralded recruit Gus Gilchrist may have to wait another year to play for Maryland due to ACC rules. That hurts the Terp rotation next year: The big man rotation will be some combination of Braxton Dupree, Jerome Burney and Dino Gregory with an extra helping of Shane Walker and the People's Champ Dave Neal. It doesn't really shake the world, does it?
Luckily, we have some late-breaking news that the Terps have a new prospect in the pipe. I was trying to publish this late last night when I got an e-mail from Scout.com, but my computer wouldn't stop freezing and, sure enough, Matt Bracken got to the story when I woke up this morning.
Bobby Maze, a 6-2 guard from D.C., has said he will join the Terps next year as a transfer. He isn't a spring chicken: He left the Oklahoma Sooners after his freshman season.
Now, there are some issues with Maze. No, he's not a big guy and we are in dire need of a solid frontcourt player. Yes, he's had some character issues in the past. Bracken explains at Oklahoma that Maze left due to some "differences" with people in the program. Ok, that doesn't sound good.
But what does sound good is this: Next season, Grievis Vasquez and Eric Hayes won't have to play 35 minutes each. There should be a solid rotation of those two, Sweet Sugar Sean Mosley, Cliff Tucker, Landon Milbourne, Maze and Adrian Bowie. That is one of the deepest guard rotations in the ACC, in my opinion, averaging over 3.5 stars.
I mean, it sounds weird because I'm positive no one heard any buzz about this, almost like an O.J. Mayo type of recruiting (Call the coach out of the blue and tell him you're coming). But hey, get them any way you can. He represents depth that we actually need.
Here's hoping this turns out well. Go Terps!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Hey Terp fans, it's time to end the sabbatical. I'm back and ready for a countdown to this San Francisco showdown downtown.
Yeah, you liked that.
For those of you still comatose from finals, wake up! It's the last hurrah for football season! I know about 95% of you dear readers didn't think we would even get to play a game in December but we are. I also know that 99% of you aren't going to San Francisco, but it's OK, sometimes you get a better view on TV. At least that's what I'm hoping.
On to the matchup: It's the Maryland Terrapins (6-6) vs. the Oregon State Beavers (8-4) in The House that Barry Built on Dec. 28 at 8:30.
The bottom line is these teams do not know each other at all. It's demonstrated particularly in this quote from an Oregon newspaper, which may or may not be true depending on Oregon State academics:
"I'm really looking forward to playing Maryland," senior center Kyle DeVan told a media gathering. "I don't even know where that is. Do you want to point that out on the map for me?"
Yes, Kyle, I can. Maryland is the machine-gun looking state on the Eastern Seaboard squashed between Virginia and Pennsylvania. Crabcakes and football: That's what Maryland does. Tell me about Oregon - I always thought it was a mythical land at the end of a trail in some computer game.
But no matter where Oregon is or if anyone actually lives there, we are playing the Oregon State football team next week and Fridge will have to have his boys prepared. I was doing some reading on OSU (you can look up some of this info here and here) and this is the No. 3 team in the Pac-10 conference, which is really saying something. On the other hand, Maryland is the No. 6 team in the ACC, which is really saying nothing.
A few things that stick out about OSU:
- They have the No. 2 run defense. Yes, that is in the country. The good news: We already played the No. 1 run defense (Boston College) and ran on them. But Oregon State is also the No. 12 defense overall. The Oregonian's Paul Buker says, "The overriding attribute of this group is speed," and goes on to compare them to the mighty Pete Carroll defense. High praise indeed.
- The Beavers have won 6 of their last 7 games. The one loss? To No. 13 USC. They're pretty hot right now.
- The Beavers are No. 3 in sacks. Aren't you praying All-American Andrew Crummey and Jaimie Thomas can play? Me too.
- They have a completely underrated back in Yvenson Bernard, who has over 1,000 rush yards and 12 touchdowns in 10 games. I'm hoping the Terps respond to this more like they did against Ray Rice (97 yds, 1 TD) than Steve Slaton (137 yds, 3 TDs). Some running backs you can only hope to contain.
- Their coach, Mike Riley, has posted a 3-0 record in bowl games.
This is a really good team that somehow got matched up with the battered and embattled Terrapins. Our best hope is that they somehow underestimate us, and I get the feeling they won't. This is not a big-name program and they play every game hard because they have to.
That doesn't mean there aren't a couple positives:
- Bernard is injured and might not be 100% for the game. Plus, Lance Ball has as many rushing touchdowns as Bernard. Keon Lattimore has one more.
- Our coach, Ralph Friedgen, is 3-1 in bowl games and, as we saw last December, the team is usually very prepared.
- We will be facing another sophomore quarterback in Lyle Moevao. He's actually more similar to Chris Turner than you might think - he replaced an injured starter, gained the trust of the team, didn't put up huge numbers (556 yds and 2 TDs), and reeled of three wins. Now he's the legit starter. But I'm not sure if Riley will make him do anything more. I think you need to be able to throw on us to beat us. Will he?
- We aren't terrible at defense as we rank 28th in scoring D nationally. Oregon State is No. 35 in that particular category.
- The Terps are ranked No. 26 in strength of schedule and Oregon State is No. 30. Maybe that's relevant?
- We'll have time to recover from the ridiculous amount of injuries we sustained this season.
- We have giant-killer potential, as we beat then-No. 10 Rutgers and then-No. 8 Boston College during the regular season. If we come out swinging with an open playbook, there's no telling what we could do. The Beaver's biggest win is against then-No. 18 Oregon in OT, sans Dennis Dixon.
I think that the best thing that can happen for Maryland is to be counted out as the underdog in this matchup. We've seen again and again that this team feels that they are better than their record and they win games when they absolutely have to. They can knock off big teams, and they will have to bring that ability to the game to be able to win.
I see they stack up a little unevenly, but given the X-factor type nature of the Terps and reserving my right to be optimistic, I'll give the Terps a narrow win.
PREDICTION: Maryland wins it, 30-28.
I've been waiting for a golden opportunity to post this video. Since this is the biggest game of the year and since it appears that basketball might not get a postseason this year, now seems to be the time.
I hope that pumps you guys up! Go Terps!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Well, in absentia of college sports (thank you, finals), today we gaze in on professional sports and, unfortunately, my favorite franchise.
The Ravens were the first team in the entire season to fall to the Miami Dolphins, 22 -16.
Here's the thing: I turned the game off when the score was 13-10 to work on an essay for finals. I already knew they were going to lose. I knew it: My Raven's sense was going off.
One thing about a team without a clutch offense is you can always tell that they'll lose the game after the momentum shift. They can't reclaim it.
Sure, you can blame injuries if you want. Sure, you can throw stones at Kyle Boller - he's been very bad behind center and he can't seem to stop his dancing or get rid of the ball properly. Blame a season of divas on defense who can't play as a team and who have ripped this locker room apart.
But one man, the man calling the plays and presiding over the locker room, has already somehow evaded responsibility.
This past week, Steve Bisciotti told Brian Billick, head coach of the Ravens, that his job was safe.
And, uh ... why?
I'm sure that many of you have heard that Billick came over from the Vikings as a heralded offensive coordinator and the Raven's offense has not good pretty much at all during his tenure. Their best ranking was 14th in 2001 ... you know, when Jamal Lewis almost broke the single-season rushing record. Even last year when the Ravens won a franchise-high 13 games, they only finished 17th in offense, and Billick was calling the plays after throwing best friend Jim Fassel under the bus. This season again, Billick was calling plays and we're currently ranked 24th in offense. Uh, aren't you supposed to be the genius?
BUT THAT'S NOT ALL!!! Two seasons ago, after a 6-10 season, Brian Billick evaded the noose before - after a 6-10 season and a second consecutive missed playoff. Two years later, here we are again. Since then we've had one spectacular regular season - again resting heavily on defense - and a horribly botched playoff game, due much in part to bad coaching. And now? A franchise-worst 8 game losing streak. And he's not fired?
Plus, who can forget this great one-liner we heard time and time again: "Kyle Boller is our quarterback." Oh yeah? Well now Billick is using Boller as a shield, saying that the team hasn't been successful because of bad quarterback play.
What's more, Bisciotti does not blame Billick for the team's poor play, according to the report.
This man has evaded responsibility for too long and rested on the work of a slew of great defensive coordinators, two of whom are now head coaches and one who will be soon. Actually, why not make Rex Ryan coach of this Ravens team? He's got the respect of the players, is familiar with the system and personnel and we know he can coach at least one side of the ball, right?
Let's face it: The Ravens will always be a defensive team. You might as well get a defensive head coach and a really good offensive coordinator. It worked at USC with Pete Carroll and Norm Chow, right? With Rex Ryan and, say, Cam Cameron (maybe the single win saves his job, however) you could even have a USC-type situation with Ryan actually calling the defensive assignments and the O-coordinator pretty much covering the whole offense. Why not?
And as for the quarterback situation, ladies and gentlemen: Troy "The Answer" Smith.
The sad thing is I'm so serious right now.
Friday, December 14, 2007
I was just kind of doing whatever in my late-night surfing and thinking of one of my favorite songs in the whole world, "Africa" by Toto. Since downloading is illegal again in College Park (thanks RIAA; this is really going to make me buy CDs), I hopped on YouTube and did a quick search. Unfortunately, this is what I found:
Yes, that is the actual music video. I'm pretty sure that this is the biggest music-to-video quality discrepancy I've ever seen, and the band is lucky that music videos didn't make or break you in 1982. Honestly, is that the best they could do?
I mean, even this "Hold the Line" music video is decent enough:
Couldn't they at least get to that level?
This is an appeal to the world. I want a better music video for that song. If one of you readers has the means or resources or time to make one, please do. I have several ideas for a new video, including but by no means limited to:
- An air-instrument band rendition
- Anything involving Derrick Comedy
- Some kind of tribute to Jack Bauer
- The OutKast version
- Splicing the music with a krump video
I hope some kind-hearted soul out there has the technology and the willpower. C'mon, I have finals.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I think I'm a reasonable person. I don' t think I praise or condemn rashly. So trust me: I have sufficient reason to be ashamed of the men's basketball team today.
In case you haven't heard, the Terps lost 61-55 last night to the Ohio University Bobcats.
See, some of you may think that I meant to say Ohio State, but no, I didn't. I'm talking about THE Ohio University, one of the more competitive teams in the MAC conference. They went 19-13 last year. They've already lost to Holy Cross, one of our future opponents.
That should give you a little perspective on how bad this loss really is.
A lot of Maryland students were studying for finals, but I attended the game and watched it in its entirety. It was awful. I can't remember seeing so many dropped passes, mishandled rebounds and bounce-out shots. It was a horrible game ... and it wasn't even close. Ohio, at its greatest margin, led by 17 points.
First of all, what a poorly scheduled game! The athletics department actually thought it was a good idea to schedule a late game on the day before finals began? Way to go: The players had finals on their minds and the students scanned and left. And guess what? I can't blame them.
However, that was no excuse for the crummy game I watched last night. Maryland was outrebounded by 10 and allowed opposing player, Leon Williams, to grab 15 boards. Yikes.
But Maryland's biggest problem is we can't shoot. That's a problem that's hard to fix. Ohio crowded the middle and left some room for outside shots, and Maryland only hit 7 out of 23 attempts from 3-point range. Yes, you read that correctly. We took 23 shots from beyond the arc.
I'm not going to call out individual players because:
a) You guys can check out the stats for yourself
b) Everyone made some bad mistakes
c) All of them are at this point sufficiently humiliated
I did hear crowd members booing the Maryland players and heckling them at the end of the game and I didn't really think that was necessary. The way I see it, if you want to act like you're a loyal fan, you have to sit through the bad times. It's hard to watch, especially when the Terps lose like that, but you can't talk trash about the players one game and act like their the greatest thing that ever happened the next. Plus, as I mentioned before, the players are their own harshest critics. Why pile on?
It's a bad spot to be in. The rest of the conference is already moving ahead and the Terps are getting left behind. Realistically, they must win most of their conference games to get out of this hole. I don't want to look too far ahead, but it's sad to see that the NCAA tournament hopes are already fading away.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Finally, we come to our thrilling conclusion. Thanks for hanging in there with me, guys.
NORTH CAROLINA (8-0)
KEY STATS: Roy Williams has the Heels running the top scoring offense in the ACC and No. 3 in the country. They play fast ball. They also grab 10 more boards per game than their opponents.
GO-TO GUY: Tyler Hansbrough is always a candidate for College Player of the Year because he's great at two things: finishing close to the basket and rebounding. A lot of people think he's overrated and I agree that his game might not translate to the pros, but he's No. 1 in scoring and No. 2 in rebounding in the conference; that's not too bad.
BIGGEST GAME SO FAR: A 86-77 win over Kentucky at Lexington. The team swarmed Hansbrough, but he made a bunch of foul shots. Junior Danny Green also had 20 points.
AGAINST MARYLAND: They'll beat us. Our defense is just not good enough this year. I don't think we can contain Hansbrough and simultaneously stop Lawson's quick cutting ability and Ellington's threes.
KEY STATS: Virginia last year was known for their spectacular guard play. So it may be surprising to some people to see that Virginia is No. 1 in rebounding margin ... in the country. Impressive considering that only one guy averages over 6.5 rpg.
GO-TO GUY: It has to be Sean Singletary: He's good for over 19 ppg, 7.2 apg (tops in the ACC) and grabs at least 4 boards per night. The senior is the heart of this team.
BIGGEST GAME SO FAR: A close win over the Wildcats in Arizona, 75-72. Singletary stepped up his game, scoring 24 points and hitting free throws and clutch shots down the stretch.
AGAINST MARYLAND: The rebounding margin and outstanding play of Singletary probably will overwhelm the young team. The Terps have been unable to stop good guards so far this season, and their perimeter defense is as poor as I've seen it.
VIRGINIA TECH (5-3)
KEY STATS: This is a hard team to read statistically. They pass well and have the No. 2 ATR in the conference. They also play decent defense, but have the second-lowest scoring offense in the ACC.
GO-TO GUY: A.D. Vassallo is leading the team with 15.3 ppg and shooting a pretty hot 43.8% from beyond the arc. But a freshman is looming: Jeff Allen is averaging 13 and 8 per game, and he's 5th in FG% in the ACC.
BIGGEST GAME SO FAR: An 82-64 massacre at the hands of Gonzaga. The Hokies had four double-digit scorers, but the Bulldogs sealed it with a 14-6 run at the start of the second half.
AGAINST MARYLAND: It's difficult to say for sure. I think that Maryland definitely could win and that they have the talent. However, VTech is the first ACC game after the winter break and the Terps are going to Blacksburg. Think the fans are still upset about Augustus Gilchrist? But the home game is definitely winnable.
WAKE FOREST (5-3)
KEY STATS: Wake Forest can't make shots: They're the pits in FG% and 3FG%. They're also last in assists, but surprisingly No. 1 in turnover ratio. Maybe they just aren't passing at all.
GO-TO GUY: James Johnson is 5 rebounds off of averaging a double-double for the season. Talk about the year of the impact freshman.
BIGGEST GAME SO FAR: A 83-80 loss to Vanderbilt. Shan Foster and A.J. Ogilvy took on the Deacon defense and lit them up for a combined 49 points.
AGAINST MARYLAND: As of right now, I'm pretty sure Maryland would win this matchup. Last year, the game was close on the road, but the Demon Deacons really are missing Kyle Visser this year. They can't score, straight-up. That means they can't win.
*Extra Note: Don't forget that Wake Forest suffered the loss of a much-beloved coach before the season. I think that hurt badly before anyone even got on court. I'd give them a "gimme" year in terms of judging their program. They're also bringing in some great recruits, so they definitely have a bright future..
1) North Carolina
6) Boston College
8) Florida State
9) Virginia Tech
10) N.C. State
11) Wake Forest
12) Georgia Tech
It's sad to say, but I can't honestly expect much more than a middle-of-the-pack finish this year. This team, playing at its best (like the end of last year) can compete with some of the better teams in the conference. If the Terps play their age, they'll lean toward the bottom of the heap.
The goals this year: gain some character, beat the teams we're supposed to, play the top teams tight and try and make the NCAA tournament. I don't know if we can still salvage a 20-win season, but we'll definitely need one to make the cut.
Monday, December 10, 2007
I'm letting you guys know that my finals are definitely holding back some of my blogging activity, but it's not like finals are important or anything, so I'm sticking to my word and bringing you Part II today, just like I promised.
First of all, I just want to say that the review of the BC game was written in a very angry state of mind. In the second half, the Terps definitely played their best basketball of which they are capable. Eric Hayes, James Gist, Landon Milbourne and Cliff Tucker are all guys that made me look like a fool and outperformed my expectations. Even though Maryland racks up a loss (which is still very hard on my heart), those guys definitely deserve a little bit of respect. That's why it's such a shame that the refs had to give that game away ( 35 foul shots in the 2nd half? Really?)
Anyway, the show must go on:
GEORGIA TECH (4-4)
KEY STATS: The absolute dead last in scoring defense, with 10 ppg more than anyone else. They score, but they're pretty much the pits in rebounding and any kind of defense.
GO-TO GUY: This team was emaciated by the loss of Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittendon. The only guy left is Anthony Morrow, who averages 16.4 ppg, 6 rpg and not much else.
BIGGEST GAME SO FAR: A close loss to Indiana, 83-79. They were close, but got rained on by Eric Gordon. While we're digging back, let's not forget their loss in GT home opener to the mighty UNC-Greensboro.
AGAINST MARYLAND: I assume by now that all of you readers know we should win this game. While Maryland's sitting at 6-4, the Yellow Jackets are sitting at a lowly 4-4. Isn't it fun to pick on the kids that are smaller than you. The Terps should rack up a win, even on the road.
KEY STATS: I know these guys can shoot 3-pointers, so I wasn't surprised to see them at the top of 3FG%. But I am absolutely shocked to see that Miami is now the top scoring and field-goal defense in the ACC. Yes, it is true.
GO-TO GUY: I'm gonna have to go with Jack McClinton (straight out of B-More, by the way) who is leading the team in points and is one of the elite 3-point shooters in all of college basketball. He was out for a bit, but Miami didn't sweat it. I would also definitely watch Dwayne Collins, as he scored a combined 26 points and 24 rebounds in the two Maryland losses last year.
BIGGEST GAME SO FAR: Two games tie - a win over VCU (a team we lost to) and a win over Providence (a team that beat BC) to give them the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Title.
AGAINST MARYLAND: Miami beat Maryland twice last year, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but look for the Terps to struggle in a tough road game at "the U" again this season. The Hurricanes are really starting to become a force of nature in the ACC (har har).
N.C. STATE (4-3)
KEY STATS: If there's a team that I don't understand, it's this one. They are dead last in rebounding and scoring. Their scoring margin is 0, they're the only ACC team with a negative rebounding margin, and they have the worst turnover margin in the league.
GO-TO GUY: Here's where I start to scratch my head: Last year, the team had three guys (Ben McCauley, Brandon Costner and Gavin Grant) who all averaged over 14 ppg and 5 rpg. Now the scoring and rebounding leader is uber-frosh J.J. Hickson, but all of last years starters have regressed a lot. McCauley is only good for 4.3 ppg and 2.9 rpg now in 20 minutes per game. No real go-to guys on this team, save maybe Hickson - but he hasn't created success for the team.
BIGGEST GAME SO FAR: An 81-58 drubbing at the hands of Michigan State. The Spartans were hot-handed with the ball and the Wolfpack put up brick after brick.
AGAINST MARYLAND: This team, a trendy ACC pick at the beginning of the season, has really shown itself to be a poor rebounding and scoring team. If the Terps even show up for this one at home, it should be a blowout.
Alright, that's all I have time for today. Look out tomorrow (or maybe Wednesday) for the final installment of the Terps' ACC schedule preview!
Sunday, December 9, 2007
First off, the women brought it out against Temple this afternoon and killed them. Thanks, ladies, for giving us some good news to start with.
Now, let me tell you something about the men's game, an 81-78 loss to Boston College: Greivis Vasquez got 3 fouls and fouled out of the game with 10:30 left in about the time it took you to read these first few sentences. Bambale Osby earned 2 fouls in the time it took you to read this sentence alone. He had to leave the game with 6:13 left.
I have never been so angry at officiating, which some writers in the blogosphere might refer to as male cattle excrement.
Maybe this will tell you something about the game: Boston College took 41 free throw shots and got 31 points out of them (27-35 in the second half). That means they only scored 50 points outright.
Don't get me wrong; lots of things were wrong with that game. In the first half, I had never seen such poor perimeter defense and players were fumbling passes left in right. Landon Milbourne got a ball to the face in the first couple minutes. I'm really not sure why he didn't get the dish. Plus, I am told the Vasquez's final foul, a technical, was a direct violation of an NCAA rule (punching the pad on the basket support).
But if I had been called on two wimpy fouls in 14 seconds, I would want to punch something, too. Better the pad than the zebra.
What I saw was an assasination. The referees took away our most valuable, emotional player when the Terps were making a run. And you know what? BC tied the game up after the 4 free throws, took the lead soon after and never gave it back. You know how many outright baskets they scored after that? 19 points. They tied the game at 43, and ended up with 81 - and they only scored 19 outright points!!!
There is no way anyone can tell me that Boston College would have won that game with one less foul. Even playing the refs and BC, Maryland, led by Hayes (whom I definitely underestimated), made five 3-pointers at the end of the game to make it 78-77 with 5 seconds left. Without the headhunting of Vasquez and Osby, Maryland would've won this game convincingly.
Unfortunately, a loss is a loss, and that game will be a costly loss come March. Maryland already has 4 losses in 10 games, and that's not tournament material.
We saw toward the end of the game the flashes of brilliance and potential that Maryland has on this team. Put that team in for 40 minutes.
The Maryland men's basketball team kicks off their ACC season tonight against Boston College. Now that the ACC teams have played a few games, it's easier to see how things are going to shake out this year. So, through intense scrutiny and poring through stats, here's what I see:
PART I of III
BOSTON COLLEGE (6-1)
KEY STATS: Boston College is in the middle of the pack in most stat categories, but is No. 2 in assist-to-turnover ratio and No. 1 in blocked shots (right before Maryland).
GO-TO GUY: Tyrese Rice has torn up the non-conference schedule so far in his junior year, No. 2 in scoring and assists in the ACC ( 21.2 and 6.17 per game). This will probably translate well into the ACC schedule, as he was the No. 6 scorer last year and three of the guys ahead of him are in the NBA now.
BIGGEST GAME SO FAR: A loss to Providence in OT, 98-89. Rice had 25, but their entire starting lineup had at least 4 fouls each.
AGAINST MARYLAND: The Eagles haven't really been tested so far, and Maryland definetely has. They will win, however, if James Gist takes another game off and if Hayes and Vasquez can't defend Rice. The savvy guard and the defensive-minded frontcourt are the main strengths of this team. They'll probably lose the road game.
KEY STATS: Clemson thrives on defense and passing - Top half of rebounding and blocked shots and No. 1 in assists and steals.
GO-TO GUY: The 6-5 K.C. Rivers leads the team in points and is tied for No. 9 in the ACC in rebounding with ... James Gist (for the record, Gist is 4 inches taller).
BIGGEST GAME SO FAR: A 61-58 win over Purdue. Rivers pulled down a double-double in the absence of much-ballyhooed forward James Mays.
AGAINST MARYLAND: Right now, James Mays is out with a fracture, but he'll probably be back by March when the Tigers play the Terps. A lot will happen between then and now, but for right now, Clemson rebounds much better than Maryland and capitalizes on Maryland's greatest weakness: turnovers.
KEY STATS: As much as it pains me, Duke is playing very efficiently and is No. 1 in FG% and scoring margin. And they've played a few good teams already.
GO-TO GUY: I'm looking for reasons not to say Kyle Singler. Besides being hideous, he leads the team in points and rebounds.
BIGGEST GAME SO FAR: A 77-73 win over Marquette. Singler dropped 25.
AGAINST MARYLAND: Duke is very strong in the wings with Singler, Henderson and Nelson, but they have no one in the post. A lot of the teams they've beaten match up well because they're guard-heavy. The Devils have chosen their shots well, but soon, Greg Paulus will rear his ugly head and start giving the ball away. Maryland should be able to take the ball to the hole against a lineup where Brian Zoubek is the only player over 6-8. At Cameron Indoor, the Cameron Tame Students will be upset, but Greivis Vasquez feeds off of the hostile atmosphere, as we saw last year. At least one win for the Terps.
FLORIDA STATE (9-2)
KEY STATS: The Seminoles are No. 1 in FT%. Good job. They're also in the top half of the FG% defense categories.
GO-TO GUY: Star guard Isaiah Swann. Leads the team in points and has a 2-to-1 ATR. Toney Douglas isn't far behind, leading the team in minutes and already collecting 30 steals this season. Also, Maryland lost when Douglas was in the game last year and won when he was out.
BIGGEST GAME SO FAR: A win over weakened-yet-still-reigning-champ Florida, 65-51. FSU took a 25-9 lead and never let it go.
AGAINST MARYLAND: The Terps have one very winnable game at home against FSU. The Seminoles have lost to Cleveland State and University of South Florida already and they've played only cruddy teams so far. As bad as Maryland is at rebounding, Florida State is worse: No one on their team is averaging more than 6 per game. However, this is an experienced squad that the Terps can't take lightly. At least Al Thornton is gone - that man killed us.
Part II is on its way tomorrow...
Extra Note: I just wanted to leave you with these wonderful words from Gary about the game the other night against Morgan State in The Sun:
Consider Thursday's night game, when Williams flung his pinstriped suit jacket to the Comcast Center floor and jawed at an official as the first half was ending in the 89-65 win over Morgan State. Williams said after the game that he hated giving the Bears the two free throws that resulted from Maryland being assessed a technical foul.
But yesterday he said he had no regrets about launching the coat - an act he said was intended as a not-so-subtle message to his team.
"I made my point and it wasn't about the officials," Williams said. "It was just about the way we played, and we played a lot better in the second half. So I look at it as it worked. It got everybody fired up."
Williams also kicked at a sideline table during the game, saying afterward: "I thought I'd work on a little martial arts."
Go Terps! See you at the game tonight!
Hey guys, I thought I'd just kick today off with a couple of links I've been meaning to put up for some time.
- I'm not sure whether this is funny or just plain sad. Here's a comparison of Evel Knievel's injuries to Steve McNair's injuries.
- I finally decided I believe this. Kansas State forward Bill Walker had to face the call of nature in the closing seconds of a game ... so he peed in some towels.
- Brian Billick has a crush on Rodney Harrison.
- A very nice analysis of the Wizards roster - why they shouldn't sign anyone new.
- A little Heisman lore - includes the mystery of O.J. Simpson's trophy and the airport security mishaps with the famous bronze statue.
- The Detroit Pistons use Jason Maxiell for target practice.
And finally, Kevin Garnett on Knicks, Stephon Marbury and ... Craig Sager's suit?
Friday, December 7, 2007
Last night, the Terps demolished Morgan State, 89-65. Eric Hayes tied a season high with 19 points and Gist dropped 18. But neither of them were the best player.
Although it's true that Hayes lit a fire under the team after a scrappy first half by hitting 4 big shots, the highly controversial Greivis Vasquez showed up big in the stat column: 17 points, 11 assists and 6 rebounds. Yes, he had 7 turnovers, but he had three 3-pointers and hit all of his free throws as well. It's hard to argue that Vasquez did anything but his job last night.
In a happy coincidence, an article came out this morning about the polarizing Maryland point guard who had this to say:
"People are either gonna love me or they're gonna hate me," he said. "That's who I am."
Well, it's true. I encourage everyone to read the article.
I've heard a lot of muttering in the arena when I'm at games and when I talk about the team. I'm talking about Maryland fans themselves. The mutterings usually consist of phrases like these:
- "He makes such stupid decisions!"
- "Why is he taking so many shots?"
- "Eric Hayes should run the point."
I don't disagree. Vasquez, so far this season, has been pretty poor for a starting point guard. I think I sufficiently pointed this out earlier. However, today is a perfect day for the release of the article - the day after Greivis played well in a game.
As much as he hold the team back with turnovers, bad shooting or sloppy defense (how about Jamal Shuler calling him out?), when he plays well, he carries the team, the crowd and the world on his shoulders. Remember his near-triple-double at Cameron Indoor Stadium and how he was basically dominating and pissing off the Cameron not-so-Crazies (A.K.A. The Pointers)? Yeah, I do.
He is epically more athletic than Hayes, faster and more confident. I love Hayes, and he's definitely been living up to his shooting hype, but he has a hard time creating his own shot and when he started at the point last year, he wasn't as inspiring as Vasquez can be. And for those who argue that Hayes makes better decisions, last year Vasquez had a 1.7 assist-to-turnover ratio and Hayes had a 1.8; that's really not that much of a difference. Plus, since both Hayes and Vasquez are playing the most minutes on the team, almost complete games, what's the big deal? It's not like Vasquez is going anywhere and Hayes can run some plays if Gary wants.
I really don't think Vasquez should be as hated as he is. All players are different. Some are the same night-in and night-out, and some are gamblers - the kind of guy that goes on and off. Vasquez (so far) has been inconsistent, but as he showed last year in the Illinois game and the Duke game, he will play lights-out basketball in big games when people count him out.
Amusing Greivis notes:
- I think he's in love with Kobe.
- He was in one of the greatest high school games ever. Montrose Christian vs. Oak Hill Academy in 2006. "The Game" featured not only Maryland commits Vasquez, Landon Milbourne and Adrian Bowie, but also future UNC star Ty Lawson and the one and only Kevin Durant. Here's some highlights of the star-studded event. Bowie hit a shot for the win at the buzzer.
- The USA/Venezuela game mentioned in the article was an absolute joke. I'll leave you guys with the highlights.