Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Maryland Basketball

I watched the Maryland / Clemson game tonight. I wish I hadn't, but it's probably a good thing that I did.

There was a series of three articles in the Washington Post last week about the decline of Maryland Basketball. A lot of fans called it a hatchet job, Gary-hating, etc.. After part one, I thought Gary Williams should be fired. After parts two and three, I pretty much felt that if you want to compete in big time College Basketball you have to get a little dirty and Gary won't do that. I thought Gary should be commended on sticking to his principles and not dealing with the shady side of the recruiting.

And then I watched the Maryland / Clemson game tonight.

The first half was competitive, even close. A hard fought half on both sides. And then in the second half, Clemson just basically said "F You" and did everything they wanted, ended up scoring 59 points (59?!?!?) in the second half to win by 29. And it just became so obvious to me.

Gary Williams is an excellent coach. He gave his team a chance to compete, a chance to steal a game. Maryland played hard, played smart. But my god, if this is the best basketball talent / athletes he can get, 30- and 40-point losses are going to become the norm, and quickly. The Maryland kids literally didn't belong on the same floor as the Clemson kids. Clemson was bigger, faster, more athletic, and better basketball players. There is not one player from Maryland who will play in the NBA, or even get a sniff. There is not one player who would start on MOST of the other 11 teams in the ACC. Grevious Vasquez, arguably Maryland's best player, is a mediocre (average) college player who plays with a lot of intensity. I felt so bad for the kids, and frankly you could see it on their faces - they just didn't belong out there.

Gary, thank you for the National Championship in 2002. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication, but I think the ability to recruit and evaluate talent is just as important in college sports as is X's and O's, and this is just not an area where Gary's style and system works anymore. Please Gary, retire gracefully and play golf 6 times a week, enjoy your grandkids and live a good life, but don't make them fire you, because that's coming and frankly, maybe it's needed.

Maryland plays Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, N.C. State and Virginia to finish the season. I will be shocked if Duke, UNC, and Wake don't win by a combined 80 points. Maryland has no chance at the NCAA tournament and frankly won't fare well in the NIT either. But not because they didn't try, or play hard. It's just not there for these guys, and that is the saddest part.

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