Tuesday, May 31, 2011
At first glance, Anderson would seem to be a massive coup, and likely Virginia's "best" recruit since Sean Singletary. But there's a number of reasons why fans need to temper their expectations.
For one, he's not a great fit in the Cavaliers' system. Head coach Tony Bennett's slow-paced, Big Ten-esque basketball led to the 337th-ranked tempo (out of 345), according to KenPom.com.
Anderson's game is predicated on fast breaks and transition. Despite his impressive 6-foot-7, 200-pound frame, he's much better-suited in the open court, throwing down big dunks.
Where he struggles considerably is in the halfcourt, where his average jump shot and below-average ballhandling hold him back. Yet at Montrose Christian, his prep school in Rockville, Maryland, Anderson settles for jump shots and three-pointers rather than using his strength and size to drive to the basket.
He can't consistently create his own offense, he's got to work on his shot and his handle and he's prone to disappearing for long stretches in games.
Don't get me wrong, though. He's a great prospect with a high ceiling. He's a good defender, he's physical and he's got a good intensity to him. And he's got an NBA body at 17 years old. Yet he doesn't appear to know how to use his body to his advantage, sort of like a kid who just had a massive growth spurt and is still getting used to his newfound size.
Anderson is a nice kid with a good head on his shoulders. He clearly values his family's input and his education, which is why Virginia -- a two-and-a-half hour drive from his home in Montross, Virginia -- was a good fit in those regards.
He's just not going to send the Cavs to the ACC Championship every year. So while Virginia fans are foaming at the mouth for the prospects of a kid coming in and averaging 15 points per game as a freshman, that's not going to happen. He's likelier to average six points and four rebounds per game while he learns Bennett's system.
It's also silly to put so much emphasis on rankings. Guys like Duke's Lance Thomas (No. 18 in 2006), Michigan State's Delvon Roe (No. 11 in 2008), Memphis' Elliot Williams (No. 16 in 2008) and UTEP's Rashanti Harris (No. 17 in 2008) are just three of a number of five-star prospects who never lived up to their enormous expectations.
As for Maryland fans, fear not. It's early in the game for the Class of 2012 and there's plenty of fish in the sea. With a super staff of Scott Spinelli, Dalonte Hill and Bino Ranson on the recruiting trail, there's at least 15 wings on Maryland's radar who are realistic targets and wouldn't be a dropoff from Anderson.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Maryland won 11 of 17 faceoffs against the Blue Devils, and led 5-2 at the half despite allowing a goal in the first minute of action. The Terps went on to win 9-4 behind a hat trick from senior attack Grant Catalino.
Maryland (13-4) faces off against No. 7 seed Virginia (12-5), 14-8 victors over No. 6 seed Denver.
It's Virginia's sixth appearance in the National Championship game under head coach Dom Starsia, and Maryland's first under first-year head coach John Tillman.
The Terps haven't reached the NCAA Tournament finals since 1998, and haven't won it since 1975. But after beating Virginia 12-7 in Charlottesville in early April, Maryland is favored to win the game.
It won't be an easy task, though. Virginia has two NCAA Championships in the last decade, and Starsia is one of lacrosse's winningest coaches. And unseeded teams don't have a rich history of winning the tournament.
Unseeded Notre Dame lost to No. 5 seed Duke 6-5 last year, and unseeded Massachusetts got blown out 15-7 to No. 1 seed Virginia in 2006. Beyond that, unseeded teams haven't reached an NCAA Tournament final in the last 10 years.
And while Maryland may have gotten the best of the Cavaliers earlier this season, look for the championship game to be close. The championship has been decided by more than two goals just twice in the last 10 years, and has been a one-goal game seven times in that time.
Friday, May 27, 2011
The three-year old golden retriever/poodle mix escaped from his invisible fence in Fulton, Maryland, joined the race around five miles in and crossed the finish line at the 2 hour, 14 minute mark.
According to ESPN's Thomas Neumann, "Maryland Half Marathon co-founder Jon Sevel said many runners spotted Dozer in various places on the course, at times lapping up water from cups at rest areas, but nobody realized the dog was running solo."
Asked whether Dozer would be paving the way (get it?) for the Maryland Half Marathon to open up to non-humans, Sevel said "At the very least, Dozer will have his own bib number -- K9. "We will definitely have him involved."
Even more amazing than finishing the race was Dozer politely excusing himself and running back home to his owners as if nothing had happened.
Though he ran eight miles alongside 2,000 or so other half-marathoners, Dozer was fine the next day. And once his owners and the race organizers realized what had happened, he even earned a medal for his efforts.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
With almost two months in the books, let's take a look back and assess what our beloved O's have been up to.
The Orioles exploded out of the gates catching everyone's eye with a record of 6-1. Then reality sunk in with eight consecutive losses.
So, what's gone wrong?
Mike Gonzalez is still on the team. He's an enigma and it hurts my eyes to watch his delivery. If a team makes an offer for him, the O's should take it. I don't care if they only offer us a bag of Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts are delicious if you prepare them right. Gonzalez hasn't delivered regardless of how prepared he is.
Injuries have plagued the Orioles once again. Brian Roberts and J.J. Hardy need to stay healthy to jumpstart the offense. Hardy currently has lackluster statistics, but it's evident that the team has a spark when he's in the line-up.
Derrek Lee has been amazing defensively at first base. He's saved Mark Reynolds' fielding statistics many times and has stretched his seemingly seven-foot frame to beat out speedy base runners in the process. However, as a No. 3 hitter in the line-up, he needs to bring in some RBIs and clutch hits.
Reynolds, while connecting well, needs to hit the ball into the gaps. When he does hit the gaps, doubles are abundant. He may have the lowest single-to-base-hit ratio in all of baseball right now.
We can't blow leads late in the game. (Read: Gonzalez rant above, as well as Kevin Gregg's multiple blown saves.)
And the good?
Zach Britton is the stud O's fans anticipated. A frontrunner for AL Rookie of the Year, Britton leads the O's in ERA, wins and walks + hits per inning. At the start of the season, many figured the leaders would be Jeremy Guthrie (who has pitched well) and Brian Matusz (who hasn't pitched at all due to injuries).
Overall, the O's young starting pitching has surpassed expectations. Jake Arrieta has been solid, but somewhat inconsistent. Tillman has shown flashes of the brilliance fans have been waiting for (like the six-inning no-hitter he got pulled from due to pitch count), but has been more inconsistent than Arrieta.
The last piece of the rotation, Brad Bergesen, has not justified his position in the rotation, and is a likely candidate for demotion to the bullpen or Triple-A Norfolk when Matusz returns. But on the whole, the rotation has given fans more than they could've expected at the start of the season.
Clutch hitting has greatly aided the Orioles, with the major exception being the recent 15-inning loss to the Yankees. As of May 23rd, the Orioles are in third in the major leagues with home runs, RBIs, batting average with runners in scoring position (RISP) and slugging percentage. Unfortunately, these stats only help when you have the at-bats to do something with those runners. The O's have the lowest at-bats in the league with RISP.
Lastly, some of our young hitters have started getting hot, specifically Matt Wieters, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, followed by veteran Vladimir Guerrero, who's on fire. If they can keep this up, the offense will begin to carry the team like critics thought it would.
MVP: Tight race between Jones and Wieters. Wieters' 24 RBIs, .563 BA with RISP (best in the AL with more than 10 attempts) and handling of a young pitching staff gives him the early lead.
Most likely to get rotten vegetables thrown at him: Gonzalez
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Maybe it's my sick sense of humor, but I really get a kick out of watching people's reactions as bats and balls fly into the crowd.
I mean, I really get a kick out of it.
So imagine my delight when I heard that at a Texas Rangers game on Monday night, a foul ball nearly struck former President George W. Bush.
Bush spends many of his days at Rangers games. Hell, he used to own the team, before he was elected to the White House.
It's not as if I sit around hoping to see celebrities hit with baseballs -- well, at least not often -- but it's honestly the reaction that cracks me up.
But when Rangers batter Adrian Beltre fouled a seemingly innocent ball that found its way to the owners box, it was (almost) all up to Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski to save the day.
Pierzynski couldn't quite reach the ball, but it didn't end up mattering, as the ball ended up bouncing a foot or so away from the President.
"Obviously, I knew (the former president) was there. When I saw the ball go up, I actually thought I had a chance to catch it. I was going to reach around. I needed about another foot and then I realized I almost jumped in the president's lap. It was funny. I had Nolan Ryan and George W. Bush sitting within five feet of each other," Pierzynski said.
Of course, it wouldn't be nearly as funny if he got clocked on the head.
But for a guy who made headlines for gems like: "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?" and "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country," it's just another notch on the bedpost of funny things he's been involved with.
Pierzynski knew the magnitude of letting the President get whacked with a baseball. In Texas, he would have become Public Enemy No. 1.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Wolfe was arrested Sunday night in Miami, Florida after refusing to pay for a $1,600 bar tab at a club. After Wolfe politely declined to settle his bill, he attacked one of two nearby off-duty cops who had been called to help diffuse the situation.
He was then arrested and charged with retail theft over $300, disorderly conduct, assaulting a cop and resisting arrest.
In a strange twist of fate, the Chicago Sun-Times spoke to Wolfe last week, where he said "For a guy like me, there is absolutely no reward for going to work out because I don’t know where I'm going to be.
If I knew I was going to be back with the Bears, it would be a great reward because I'm working with my teammates. ... But I don't have the slightest idea whether I'm going to be back with Chicago or whether I'm going to be with some other team. If you're not under contract, it's all risk."
Of course, he said that while attending a charity event.
Translation: I basically need to not get arrested before getting signed to my next contract. Oops.
So while Bears rookie J.T. Thomas was using his free time to take an eighth-grader suffering from spina bifida to a school dance, Wolfe was getting drunk and refusing to pay a bar tab. And then punching a police officer.
Hey, different strokes for different folks, I guess.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Behind one goal and four assists from seniors Grant Catalino and Ryan Young, Maryland advanced to the NCAA Men's Lacrosse semifinals for the first time since 2006, with a chance of reaching its first National Championship game since 1998.
Despite starting out 0-for-10 shooting and falling behind 2-0, the Terps stormed back to tie the game at the half.
Maryland continued its momentum in the third quarter, rattling off two more goals to take a 4-2 lead. And though Syracuse narrowed the deficit to a single goal on a JoJo Marasco goal in the third quarter, the Terps responded when senior midfielder Scott LaRue scored a goal with one second left in the quarter to send Maryland into the fourth quarter with a two-goal advantage.
That advantage seemed safe until Syracuse scored a goal with 10 minutes, 53 seconds left in the fourth quarter in a man-up situation. And with the clock ticking down, the Orange tied the game on a Jovan Miller goal with just 65 seconds remaining in regulation.
In overtime, Syracuse won the faceoff, but redshirt freshman goalie Niko Amato chased down a stray shot, forcing an Orange turnover. Ultimately, Young fed Catalino for the game-winning goal with just 32 seconds left in overtime.
In the end, Maryland's ability to win faceoffs (11-for-14) and offensive pressure (outshooting Syracuse 34-22) was too much for the top-seeded Orange.
First-year coach John Tillman had already captured an ACC Championship prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament, and now has a Final Four to his name. Former head coach Dave Cottle won two ACC Tournaments and reached three Final Fours in nine seasons.
The last time Maryland faced Syracuse in the postseason, the Orange advanced with a comfortable 11-6 win, sending the Terps packing in the quarterfinals. Syracuse's record in the NCAA quarterfinals was an astonishing 26-2. Make that 26-3.
Maryland becomes the fourth unseeded team to reach the semifinals in 14 years. Last year, unseeded Notre Dame lost to No. 5 seed Duke in the National Championship game.
The Terps face No. 5 seed Duke on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
Watch the final play and the reaction below:
Friday, May 20, 2011
First, a video of Radford University and High Point University just about went viral when catchers from each team hopped onto the shoulders of their teammates and hosted a makeshift joust.
That may or may not have prompted Clemson University and Davidson College to play around during their own rain delay. Watch as Clemson's baseball players pull off an entertaining game of human bowling.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
In the end, though Maryland will suffer in the immediate short term, the future looks brighter than ever for Terps basketball, as his assistants comprise arguably a Top 10 staff in the nation.
In his introductory press conference, Turgeon emphasized the need for an east coast staff. A quick glance at his assistant coaches at Texas A&M revealed mostly ties to the Midwest.
But Turgeon's longtime head assistant Scott Spinelli knows his way around the east coast -- particularly the D.C. area -- as I wrote last week.
Spinelli, born in Massachusetts, spent two years at American University, and recruited standout guard Naji Hibbert from DeMatha High School, just five minutes from Maryland's campus.
Spinelli joined Maryland's staff after A&M hired Murray State coach Billy Kennedy to replace Turgeon. He's an excellent recruiter, also hauling in stud forward Khris Middleton, but more importantly is a strong Xs and Os guy, too.
As expected, Turgeon retained Bino Ranson, a familiar face around Baltimore basketball. Ranson came to Maryland after stops at James Madison and Xavier, and is known for his local relationships. Those relationships paid almost immediate dividends in the form of Baltimore sharpshooter Nick Faust, a lanky 6-foot-6 guard ranked the No. 12 shooting guard in the country and the No. 36 player overall in the Class of 2011 by ESPN.
Though Faust decommitted -- along with point guard Sterling Gibbs and big man Martin Breunig -- Ranson being retained ensured Faust was staying a Terp. Gibbs went on to commit to Texas, while Breunig has been courted by 35 programs since decommitting.
Gibbs was originally recruited by Chuck Driesell, the former associate head coach who landed a head coaching job at The Citadel. Former Maryland assistant and wunderkind Rob Ehsan maintained the relationship, but when he was relieved of his duties on the staff, Gibbs decommitted for good. Ehsan's departure also meant the end of Breunig's time at Maryland.
Ehsan will land on his feet, likely taking the same job at Virginia Tech. And while that may seem like a short-term setback, his seat on the Maryland bench went to former Kansas State assistant coach Dalonte Hill.
Hill is one of the most well-connected AAU guys in the country, particularly in the D.C. area. He was an assistant coach for DC Assault, which produced some unbelievable talent over the years: NBA players Michael Beasley, Keith Bogans, Jeff Green, DerMarr Johnson, Mark Karcher, Deron Washington and Arinze Onuaku.
In the college ranks, Assault produced: Rodney McGruder (Kansas State), Kenny Belton (Cincinnati), Darnell Dodson (Kentucky), Gus Gilchrist (South Florida), Kris Joseph (Syracuse), Jamar Samuels (Kansas State), Nolan Smith (Duke), Tyler Thornton (Duke), Josh Hairston (Duke) and Eric Atkins (Notre Dame).
In addition to having a few high-major prospects here and there, Assault is a franchise that includes Virginia Assault, Texas Assault, Florida Assault and Delaware Assault that Maryland will benefit from. Texas Assault has a number of high-major kids who are going to be big-time prospects, including 2012 recruit Marcus Smart, ranked the No. 4 small forward in the country and the No. 34 overall player by ESPN.
He played basketball for Keith Stevens at the Newport School in high school. Stevens now runs one of the area's premier AAU teams in Team Takeover.
Hill also single-handedly took Beasley, Jamar Samuels, McGruder and Wally Judge -- all high-profile recruits -- to play basketball in Manhattan, Kansas. The Beasley class was the No. 1 ranked class by Scout.com. He also landed Jacob Pullen, one of the Wildcats' all-time greats.
But Hill isn't only being hired for his relationships. He's also considered an above-average Xs and Os coach, frankly a necessity when shelling out around $350,000 for his hire. And more than simply hiring an AAU guy, Hill's hiring shows a new era in Maryland basketball. Turgeon is willing to play the game. Make no mistake, that doesn't mean outright cheating. He's not going to hire an AAU coach as a video coordinator, but he will do what it takes to recruit top talent and lock the area down.
The response to Hill's hiring was overwhelmingly favorable:
MikeWiseguy Mark Turgeon getting Dalonte Hill as a Md. assistant coach was bigger than any recruit signing -- because Dalonte will get them for him.
SteveFranchise3 great move now we talking back to the final four. Local great recruiter
GoodmanCBS For all those questioning whether Mark Turgeon can get it done on recruiting trail at MD, he just landed 5-star assistant in Dalonte Hill.
JeffEisenberg Plucking Dalonte Hill from K-State is a huge coup for Maryland
With guys in the 2012 class like James Robinson (No. 7 PG, No. 59 overall) and Jerami Grant (No. 17 SF, No. 62 overall), and in 2013 like Nate Britt (No. 3 PG, No. 34 overall) in the area, plus Spinelli and Turgeon's Texas ties (including several high-major prospects from Houston), it's a new chapter of Maryland basketball.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Story, ranked the No. 6 wide receiver in the country by ESPN, chose Florida over offers from just about every major football program on the east coast.
And in a recent interview with GatorCountry.com, Story showed he's got some personality. In fact, maybe a little too much personality.
After fielding questions about challenges he's overcome, what he plans to study and how he got started playing football, GatorCountry's Amy Campbell lightened the mood with a flurry of non-football questions.
His taste in music, like your average 17-year old, is questionable. And his pregame ritual, well, I'll let that speak for itself:
Q: What's the most played song on your iPod?
A: Most played… I don't know, I want to say Katy Perry, “Fireworks.” It’s intense.
Q: What's your favorite pre-game ritual?
A: Well, I take a doodoo. Before every game I doodoo.
Q: That’s your FAVORITE pregame ritual?
A: Well, that's the only thing I do. That's one thing I have to do before every game, or I won't feel energy, and I'll just feel slow. When I do I just feel light on my feet and everything, and I feel faster, so that's what I do.
Q: You know I'm going to write this in a story right?
A: Well, I mean, that's what it is. I doodoo and then listen to Katy Perry.
There you have it, folks. Remember to eat your Wheaties, listen to your Katy Perry and make sure to take a doodoo before stepping on the field. It's the ritual of champions.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Assuming the numbers from HoopsHype.com, Rotoworld.com and ShamSports.com are accurate, the Wizards will be between $8 and $14 million under the salary cap, depending on what happens with Yi Jianlian and Nick Young's contract offers.
With the NBA Draft approaching -- and the lottery tonight at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN tonight -- it seems appropriate to discuss the Wizards and their offseason plans.
Washington has the fourth-best chance of grabbing the top overall pick (behind Minnesota, Cleveland and Toronto), with 119 of the 1,000 total lottery balls. Last year, the Wizards stole the No. 1 pick with just 103 balls.
Entering what appears to be a two-man draft class (Duke's Kyrie Irving and Arizona's Derrick Williams, then a bowl of mush), the Wizards desperately need Williams' presence in the frontcourt. Other viable big men are Kentucky's Enes Kanter and a whole host of European big men, who are often more Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Darko Milicic and less often Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol.
But assuming Washington doesn't grab a top two pick -- a scenario that is 75% likely -- where will it look for an infusion of talent in free agency?
Yao Ming -- a high-risk, unlimited-reward guy, Ming has been hurt the last two seasons, and commanded a $17.7 million salary in 2010-11. Not worth nearly that amount with huge question marks lingering, Ming would be worth a flyer if he's willing to take a serious reduction in pay.
Zach Randolph -- Randolph earned $17.3 million in 2010 and was worth every penny, stepping up huge for Memphis this year while averaging 20.1 points and 12.2 rebounds per game.
David West -- a potential bargain due to a torn ACL, the Hornets big man averaged 18.9 points and 7.6 rebounds this year. He earned $8.3 million, and could be a steal coming off an injury in a contract year.
Jason Richardson -- productive wherever he goes, Richardson put up 15.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game for the Magic, and is productive wherever he goes. But with his best years behind him, he'll likely earn less than the $14.4 million he earned this season.
Andrei Kirilenko -- a guy who has never quite had the chance to be the man, "AK-47" has only gotten 31 minutes per game over his nine-year NBA career, averaging around 12 points and five rebounds per game. But in Washington, he could be the star of the frontcourt. At $17.8 million, he'd need to make himself more affordable for that to happen.
J.R. Smith -- the Nuggets' perennial sixth man, Smith's numbers have dropped from the previous two seasons. He's started just 24 games over the last four years in Denver, but has proven to be a capable scorer. And at $6 million, the Wizards could afford to bring him and another medium-profile free agent into the fold.
Tyson Chandler -- the one-time NBA Draft bust in the Kwame Brown class has developed into a nice pro, and averaged nearly a double-double this year in Dallas. Though he's not likely to leave a playoff contender for a team in rebuilding mode, he could get paid and get more burn in Washington than the 28 minutes per game he's getting for the Mavs.
Caron Butler -- boy would that be awkward. But really, Butler would be a nice fit in Washington, the team that so nonchalantly sent him packing two years ago. He averaged 15 points and 4.1 rebounds for the Mavs this year, but appeared in just 29 games. If he doesn't harbor bad feelings toward the Wizards (and we can't blame him if he does), he probably hasn't even sold his house yet. Come home, Caron!
Glen "Big Baby" Davis -- another longshot candidate, Davis seems to love Boston. And he's doing well, averaging nearly 12 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. But he's overshadowed by the other four starters on the court, and doesn't get a ton of minutes. Earning $3.3 million last year, he's due for a double in salary for his next contract. And Washington could be that team.
Michael Redd -- a perfect candidate for a bargain basement price, Redd averaged 21.2 points per game for the Bucks two years ago. He made $18.3 million last year, but he's over the hill and would be a great signing for the Wizards if he'd take two-thirds off his asking price.
Monday, May 16, 2011
It puts Nebraska's 1984 Orange Bowl "fumblerooski" to shame.
Watch carefully. Hell, it won't matter. You'll have to watch it more than once.
It's called the hidden ball trick. Senior longstick midfielder Brian Farrell tossed the ball to senior attack Grant Catalino, who weaved his way toward the goal and took a shot.
Except... Catalino didn't actually have the ball. While UNC assumed Catalino had the ball -- and Maryland's offense acted like he did -- Farrell actually tossed the ball to himself, then subtly passed to junior midfielder Drew Snider, who scored while the entire UNC defense stood around confused.
Over the years, as lacrosse has started to boom into a household sport -- at least, in the eastern time zone -- trick shots have gotten cooler and cooler. Behind the back, between the legs, all that good stuff.
But I've never seen a misdirection play that left an entire defense scratching its collective head like the one Maryland pulled off yesterday.
Check out the video below.
For their efforts, the Terps face off against No. 1 seed Syracuse (15-1) this Sunday.
Friday, May 13, 2011
But Turgeon's background, his past, his philosophy and his approach to the game actually mirror Williams in several ways.
Twenty-two years ago, when Williams first took the Maryland job, he was a 44-year old with a pair of Sweet Sixteens and three NCAA Tournament appearances in 11 years of coaching three different programs (American, Boston College and Ohio State).
Turgeon takes over the Terps' program as a 46-year old with one Sweet Sixteen and five NCAA Tournament appearances in 13 years at Jacksonville State, Wichita State and Texas A&M.
Williams, a former Maryland point guard, boasted a 207-128 record prior to coming to Maryland. Turgeon, a former Kansas point guard, has tallied a 249-158 head coaching record.
Both Williams and Turgeon began their respective Maryland tenures as unheralded recruiters, primarily known for their excellent in-game coaching. After leading Maryland to a National Championship in 2002 behind largely unrecruited-turned-star guard Juan Dixon.
Fox Sports' Jeff Goodman recently called Turgeon "the most underrated Xs and Os coach in the country."
Both are obsessed with the game. Williams was known for becoming so involved in his team, many of his players, including Dixon, a former Washington Wizards guard, and current Memphis Grizzlies guard Greivis Vasquez, developed a father-son-like relationship with him.
In his Maryland press conference, Turgeon admitted the hardest part about coming to Maryland was leaving his players at Texas A&M, of whom he had grown so fond.
Like Williams did in 2001, 2002 and 2010, Turgeon has had success in building teams around four-year players. At the time of his 2002 National Championship, Williams' roster included five seniors and four juniors.
Williams, a two-time ACC Coach of the Year, came to Maryland having had success at Ohio State, a traditional football school that had been to just four NCAA Tournaments in the previous 15 years.
Turgeon was named the MVC Coach of the Year (2006) and Big 12 Coach of the Year (2010). He leaves a Texas A&M program he took to the NCAA Tournament four times in as many years – a feat never before accomplished in College Station, Texas.
Both coaches are known for their witty, honest and direct personalities. But perhaps most important to the success of the program, both are fiercely competitive – on and off the court.
Anyone who's watched a Maryland game in the last two-plus decades has undoubtedly seen Williams furiously pace the sidelines, often shouting himself hoarse by the end of the game.
According to the Kansas City Star, on his honeymoon with his wife Ann, Turgeon lost four out of six games of backgammon. The two shared a silent dinner afterwards.
The last time Maryland's men's basketball team was looking for a head coach, it went with a guy whose tenure ended 22 years later, after 461 wins, seven Sweet Sixteens, a pair of Final Fours and a National Championship.
Maryland fans have good reason to think the Turgeon hire could work out just as well.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
With just 0:20 left in the fourth quarter and Gonzaga leading 9-8 in a man-down situation, sophomore defenseman Matt Borda found himself near his own goal with two Good Counsel players chasing after him.
Borda figured a field-long pass would kill enough time to run out the clock.
He had no idea his lob from 80 yards away would find its way past the Good Counsel goalie. The once-in-a-lifetime goal gave Gonzaga the 10-8 lead and the team's second Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Championship in a row on Monday.
"We wanted to kill time and send it back to the other end of the field. No one expected that to happen," said fourth-year head coach Casey O'Neill.
"I've never seen something like that in a game. It was absolutely unbelievable. I didn't know what to do," O'Neill said.
There's not much else left, besides linking you to the video below. Check it out.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Last year, he officially blew up on the high school scene, leading Patterson High to a 25-2 record while averaging 32 points, six assists and five rebounds per game. I wrote about him again last year, profiling who many believe to be Baltimore's best player since Carmelo Anthony.
Carr was named Baltimore Sun player of the year and has been earning plenty of college looks. But after a recent trip to Italy with the U.S. Elite Select under-19 team, Carr came back with even more than a gold medal.
While leading Team USA to the championship, Carr averaged 30 points, and reportedly picked up an offer to play professional basketball in Italy.
"The Patterson point guard had never left the country before the [Junior International Tournament], but his introduction to Italy was a surprisingly welcome one," wrote Baltimore Sun reporter Matt Bracken.
According to ScoutsFocus.com, Carr earned an offer from Lottomatica Virtus Roma. If that team sounds familiar, it's because it was the same team that signed now-Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings to a one-year deal while he waited to become eligible for the NBA Draft.
So Lottomatica busted out a $750,000 offer for one year, a pretty unbelievable sum for a 17-year old who had never left the country.
But Carr seems interested. He told Yahoo blog Prep Rally that he'd consider the offer.
"I just want to keep [the Roma offer] in mind. I don't want to make my decision so fast. But perhaps we might do that," Carr said.
His high school coach, Harry Martin, wasn't as convinced, at least not immediately. "This time next year we'll have a better understanding what he's doing academically and what his options are," he said.
Though it's doubtful he heads overseas, from the video below you can tell how special a player he is.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
OK, at first glance, fans are going to hate the hire. After all, the Terps were thisclose to landing Arizona's Sean Miller, a stud in the coaching community, before Miller had a change of heart. Well, that's the nicest way to put it.
Not unlike Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson's hiring of former UConn coach Randy Edsall in January after promising a big-name hire (aka Mike Leach), fans feel a familiar sense of "what could have been." Within arm's reach of a slam-dunk hire, for whatever reason, Maryland came up short for the second time in five months.
That Turgeon (TERR-jin) wasn't Maryland's first choice doesn't make him a bad hire, though. Sure, he's not as sexy a hire as Miller, Pitt's Jamie Dixon, Villanova's Jay Wright or Butler's Brad Stevens. But he's not Notre Dame's Mike Brey or VCU's Shaka Smart, either (that's a good thing). Let's take a look at what we've got.
Turgeon spent two years at Jacksonville State, turning an 8-18 team in his first year around to a 17-11 squad in his second year. He parlayed that into a job at Wichita State, where he spent the next seven years.
At Wichita State, Turgeon took a 9-19 Shockers team and improved their win total every year to 15, 18, 21, 22 and finally 26 wins in his sixth season, where they reached the Sweet Sixteen, beating No. 10 seed Seton Hall and No. 2 seed Tennessee before losing to No. 11 seed George Mason during the Patriots' historic run to the Final Four.
At Texas A&M, he compiled a 97-40 record over four seasons, guiding the Aggies to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances. That's a tall feat for a football school that never gave much of a crap about basketball (more on that later). But even more impressive, A&M had never before been to three straight NCAA Tournaments before his arrival.
Turgeon is known more for his Xs and Os than his recruiting -- sound familiar, Terp fans? Then again, consider he's going head-to-head against Texas for recruits. Good luck with that.
Indeed, there are some striking similarities between Turgeon and Williams. Both are/were known for having close relationships with their players. Both had success in cycles as they built teams around classes of four-year players. Both ran clean programs and neither was an elite recruiter -- though Turgeon certainly hits the recruiting trail harder than Williams ever did.
Most people will undoubtedly hate on Turgeon because of how close Maryland was to landing Miller, who would have undoubtedly taken the Terps to the promised land. But it's pretty damned hard to pull a coach from an established program, unless you're Kansas (Bill Self), UNC (Roy Williams) or Kentucky (John Calipari).
He's an above average in-game coach, not quite at Williams' level but also 20 years his junior. He's got A&M in a pretty good spot with a talented roster, and has a good relationship with AAU teams in Houston, including one of Under Armour's premier AAU teams, Houston Defenders Select. And with the politics surrounding Miller potentially jumping ship from a Nike school to an Under Armour school, that could pay big dividends quickly.
The key to all of this may have been that Turgeon has been frustrated with A&M's level of commitment from the Athletic Department. It's hard to convince a football school in a football conference that you should be getting a ton of resources, so he never got a ton of support from his AD. Meanwhile, he's competing against one of the most attractive college towns/basketball programs in college hoops (let alone the state of Texas), and he's still got a fringe top 25 recruiting class and a top 25ish team most years.
As a Midwesterner for life lacks local ties, which may initially hurt his DC/Maryland/Virginia recruiting, though that may mean he keeps current assistants Rob Ehsan and Bino Ranson on the staff, a move that would be popular among fans who follow recruiting.
And Terp fans should hope he retains associate head coach Scott Spinelli, who is from Massachusetts and spent two years as associate head coach at American University in Washington D.C. Spinelli has been largely responsible for landing current A&M standouts Naji Hibbert (Baltimore, Md.) and Khris Middleton (North Charleston, SC).
But most importantly, he doesn't have ties to Nike (A&M is an Adidas school), one of the biggest things that kept Maryland from landing Miller.
So while it stings to not have landed a date with the prom queen, let's not look at Turgeon as Shrek, either. He's a guy who studied the game under Larry Brown and Roy Williams. He knows what it takes to recruit at the highest level of college basketball. At A&M he landed Naji Hibbert, a shooting guard from DeMatha in nearby Hyattsville, Maryland, so he's already got a bit of a relationship with the local landscape.
And he's a guy who overachieved at Wichita State and Texas A&M with a lack of resources. At Maryland, with some of the best basketball in the nation within a 45 minute drive, at a basketball school with fantastic facilities, working with significantly more resources and competing in one of the best conferences in college basketball, Turgeon should do just fine.
Welcome to the family, coach.
Monday, May 9, 2011
A natural rivalry.
And yet, the two teams have met just three times in the last 31 seasons. Only one of those games was actually scheduled -- the other two were an NCAA Tournament and the Old Spice Classic.
With great, historic rivalries across college sports (i.e. Duke/North Carolina, Ohio State/Michigan, Texas/Oklahoma and Army/Navy, to name a few), it's mind-boggling that two schools this close don't play regularly.
But with a new athletic director in town in Maryland's Kevin Anderson, it seems like both parties have opened up a line of communication.
"Lee Reed, the athletic director at Georgetown, is a very good friend of mine. We've talked about renewing that series and doing a home-and-home series. We're in a serious conversation now," Anderson told Washington Times reporter Patrick Stevens.
But, as AOL Fanhouse's David Steele wrote two years ago, "one major complication" is where the games will be played.
"The most logical neutral site, Verizon Center in downtown D.C., with easy access to both fan bases, is not neutral -- it's Georgetown's home court," Steele wrote.
"But Maryland's on-campus Comcast Center doesn't solve the problem, either, and Baltimore has no suitable site," he continued.
Indeed, it would make no sense for the Terps to play a "neutral court" game at the Verizon Center. Though a home-and-home at Comcast Center and Verizon Center would solve that problem.
Two years ago, now former Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams seemed open to the idea. "I think both schools will just have to get together on it, that's for sure. To say it'll never happen, it's hard to say. There's a lot of history to that game ... (But) I know the fans would like to see the game."
Friday, May 6, 2011
That's the only word I could muster as I checked my cell phone yesterday to see roughly 27 missed calls and 84 text messages.
Out of left field, legendary Maryland men's basketball coach Gary Williams was hanging it up. After 22 seasons, the Hall of Famer was retiring.
It makes sense. Williams is 66 years old, got remarried recently and his star player, big man Jordan Williams, just signed with an agent to enter the NBA Draft.
But still. Wow.
Williams always struck me as a more lucid version of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. A guy who would coach until he was dead.
In a way, this post feels like a eulogy. As strange as it sounds, the news hit me like the death of a loved one. After all, Williams was the face of Maryland basketball for more than two decades. He was the fifth-winningest active coach in men's college basketball after last season.
Eleven consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Seven Sweet Sixteens. Two Final Fours. One National Championship.
But more than that, Williams was loyal to his alma mater, a rarity in college sports. After back-to-back Final Fours in 2001 and 2002 (when he won a National Championship), Williams didn't chase a paycheck or take an NBA job. He stayed with Maryland until the end.
When he took the job in 1989, he was inheriting a job few wanted. In his first year, the NCAA slapped Maryland with severe sanctions, following major violations from its previous coach, Bob Wade. The NCAA handed Maryland postseason bans and took away several scholarships.
It took Williams a few years to turn the ship around, but in his fifth season, Maryland was in the Sweet 16 for the first time in nine seasons.
He won nearly 700 games and sent eight assistant coaches on to other head coaching jobs. But facing serious rebuilding, Williams was ready to say goodbye.
"My entire career has been an unbelievable blessing. I am fiercely proud of the program we have built here. I couldn't have asked any more from my players, my assistant coaches, the great Maryland fans and this great university. Together, we did something very special here," Williams said.
Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson has been on the job for less than a year. When he took the job, he inherited a football coach and a men's basketball coach who had both been there for at least 10 years.
Four months after hiring UConn football coach Randy Edsall to replace Ralph Friedgen, Anderson's got a job search on his hands again.
Unfortunately, the timing isn't great. Almost every school has made its hire for the next season, leaving Maryland with fewer options than before.
However, it's one of the better jobs in the country, and the best opening this off-season by a wide margin (Oklahoma, Missouri, Miami (FL), Georgia Tech and NC State are all a notch below the Maryland job). With great facilities, one of the nation's most talent-rich locations, a rich program history, solid academics and one of the best leagues in college basketball, the Maryland basketball job is significantly better than its football job.
Coaches at the top of Maryland's wish list are likely: Alabama's Anthony Grant, Arizona's Sean Miller, Butler's Brad Stevens, Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon, Texas' Rick Barnes and Villanova's Jay Wright. None would shock me to be introduced as the next head coach. All should be interested in the job. And all would be fantastic hires.
Grant, 45, has been successful at VCU and Alabama. But more importantly, he's a young, charismatic, minority candidate who routinely pulls in impressive recruits. Miller, 42, has east coast ties and has taken both Xavier and Arizona to Elite Eights in seven years of coaching.
Stevens, 34, might be the hottest commodity in the country today. He's led Butler to back-to-back National Championship appearances, an unprecedented feat in mid-major hoops. But he's under contract for 10 more seasons. Dixon, 45, has taken Pitt to eight NCAA Tournaments in as many years, and has finished first or second in the Big East five times.
Barnes, 56, has east coast ties, too. He's led Texas to 12 straight 20-win seasons and has reached three Elite Eights. Wright, 49, has taken Villanova to seven NCAA Tournaments in a row, and the Maryland job is an upgrade over Villanova based on every factor besides academics and conference prestige.
It is likely one of those candidates lands the job.
In the meantime, assistant coach Rob Ehsan is the acting head coach, holding down the fort among the chaos. He'll be doing his darnedest to keep the commitments of the incoming recruits. And Williams will stay on as an Assistant Athletic Director, his duties to be determined.
The next few weeks will be a circus. It might not even take that long. But the only certainty is that, regardless of who Maryland hires, Anderson must rename the court at Comcast Center "Gary Williams Court."
Thank you, Gary. We'll miss you.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
After appearing in the February 14 issue of Sports Illustrated under the "Faces in the Crowd" section, Mason went from an unknown commodity to a full ride at a mid-major basketball program.
NATRONA HEIGHTS, PA. -- Basketball
Micah, a junior guard at Highlands High, went 40 for 43, scoring a school-record 64 points in a 101-83 victory over Valley High, the second-highest scoring performance ever in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League. Through Sunday, Micah had seven 40-point-plus games and led the league with 34.6 points per game.Impressive in its own right, Mason's efforts didn't go unnoticed. Coaches from Drake University made the 715-mile flight to Pittsburgh to see if he was the real deal.
Sure enough, they liked what they saw, offered him a scholarship in March and two months later he was theirs.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review even noted that "some larger schools also showed interest, including Boston College, Maryland and Arizona State, but Mason felt he was going with a sure thing."
Even Butler coach Brad Stevens had become intrigued, visiting Mason recently. But the 6-foot-2 guard wasn't swayed from the school that originally showed interest.
And after committing, his quotes to The Des Moines Register and The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review showed he was anything but your stereotypical jock:
"It's just an amazing school, I love it out there. It just seemed like everyone cared."
"I loved the people, the players and the campus. The school isn't too big; there's like a 13-1 ratio. The coaches know you. I am not the type of guy to make a sudden move, but I can't pass this up."
Mason, who averaged 34 points and nine assists per game this season, had somehow managed to fly completely under the radar. He's an honor roll student.
And in the YouTube Age, it's surprising to hear a kid who played AAU basketball was discovered from a paragraph in a magazine.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
And after a recent string of tweets, we can officially add "Historian," "Philosopher" and "Lover of Fine Arts" to that list.
On Monday, while the rest of the nation was processing the death of al-Qaeda founder and known terrorist Osama bin Laden, Mendenhall did his thinking out loud, via Twitter.
It's actually a pretty decent two-sided argument for the merits of Twitter. On one hand, it's a look into the thought process of people you'd never get to see writing publicly. On the other hand, it's a venue where people can spout off verbal (?) diarrhea.
Let's get to it:
Well, that's going to piss a lot of people off. Part of me appreciates the first sentence of that tweet. After all, it's sort of embarrassing to dance around, singing and laughing about someone's death. But the second part of his tweet implies Mendenhall thinks there may be more to the story? Maybe bin Laden's not so bad after all? Wha?
Next, Mendenhall tackles topics of history and physics. I guess it's true, nobody was filming the inside of the planes that crashed on September 11. Pretty much all we have to go off is the movie United 93. But I'm not even sure what the second part of that tweet means. Didn't he see the footage of the planes taking down the World Trade Center? It's interesting to know he's skeptical a gigantic jet might not be able to take down a skyscraper.
Then, Mendenhall poses a philosophical question. For everyone celebrating the death of bin Laden, how would that look on your resume as you stood at Heaven's gates? My guess is, probably better than bin Laden's resume. I imagine bin Laden's afterlife looking a lot like the DMV on a weekday.
Of course, team president Art Rooney didn't much appreciate Mendenhall's tweets, issuing the following statement: "I have not spoken with Rashard so it is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments. The entire Steelers' organization is very proud of the job our military personnel have done and we can only hope this leads to our troops coming home soon."
It appears there's more between his ears than we all thought. And as dumb as his thoughts are, I guess something is better than nothing.
Then again, this is the same guy who tweeted this:
It's nice to know he's really a deep thinker. Remember, future murderers of America: When you're stabbing someone in the stomach, make sure to maintain eye contact.
And boom goes the dynamite.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Rather than trading away picks, the Redskins acquired four additional picks, giving them 12 for the draft. It was atypical for a team known for its lousy NFL drafts over the last decade.
With the 10th overall pick, Washington traded back six picks to Jacksonville, earning the Jaguars' second-rounder in the deal. Six picks later, the Redskins drafted Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, an uber-productive pass rusher commended for his work ethic and leadership.
Kerrigan was a solid if unspectacular pick. It was a relief to see the Redskins draft for value and not spend their first-rounder on a quarterback, but Kerrigan seems to have a lower ceiling than UNC's Robert Quinn, drafted two picks before Washington. And with Ohio State's Cam Heyward and Clemson's DaQuan Bowers -- similar talents -- coming off the board 15 and 35 picks later, perhaps there was another position the Redskins could've addressed instead.
In the second round, Washington took Clemson defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins, who made Bowers look great all year. His ceiling, too, seems a little stunted, and with Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea still on the board, it was a bit of a head-scratcher. Again, thankfully the Redskins shored up one of its weakest units, but they left some talent on the board.
Washington's next two selections, Miami (FL) wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and Nebraska running back Roy Helu were fantastic values. The Skins reportedly wanted Hankerson in the second round, but he fell to them in the third. He plays a bit like Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin and should start right away. Helu averaged more than 6.5 yards per carry for Nebraska, and is exactly the kind of unheralded running back head coach Mike Shanahan has been turning into a 1,000-yard rusher for years now.
Washington spent the rest of its picks on Penn State running back Evan Royster (the school's all-time leading rusher), Nebraska safety Dejon Gomes, a pair of wide receivers in Nebraska's Niles Paul and SMU's Aldrick Robinson, Boise State defensive back Brandyn Thompson, Florida offensive lineman Maurice Hurt and defensive linemen Markus White and Chris Neild.
The one area Washington didn't address at all was at quarterback. But after the draft, Shanahan explained he's high on John Beck, who the Redskins acquired last year from Baltimore. "I had him rated as the top quarterback coming out that year, and I didn't even think it was close," Shanahan said.
That's high praise for the 29-year old passer, who's thrown for a touchdown and three interceptions in five games. He hasn't attempted a pass during a game since 2007.
The team also failed to address much of anything on the offensive line. While Hurt was a value pick in the seventh round, the Redskins ended up with just one offensive lineman in the entire draft.
ProFootballTalk.com gave the Redskins an A-. ESPN's Mel Kiper gave them a C+. It's pretty clear the analysts differ on opinions. But I'm going somewhere in the middle...
My all-too-premature draft grade for the Washington Redskins: B