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Basketball Restoring Order

Even though it was just a few years ago since the basketball team made the NCAA tournament, it feels like it has been forever. With yet another dismal football year, Maryland desperately needed to get going in one of the “big sports.”

This year, the basketball team appears to be doing just that. The team has size and depth, yes, but it also has chemistry, which is present in any championship team one looks at. It is the way this team has already meshed together that is the most promising features about this young squad.

Maryland’s lone loss came at the hands of a highly ranked Kentucky team. Other than the three-point shortcoming in that game, the Terps haven’t really come close to losing. Many expect that this team is just a few weeks away from being nationally ranked in the Top 25.

For the remainder of December, Maryland doesn’t really have a game that they should lose. Their next test will come the first week of January when ACC play kicks off against Virginia Tech. It will be then that the team’s talent will be really tested. Until then, sit back and enjoy one of the most promising basketball teams to play at Maryland since the 2002 Championship squad.


-Josh Birch


Batters Up in the Big 10

The only sport I really, truly love is baseball, so my last blog post of the semester is going to be about baseball. Specifically, about how this university’s much publicized move to the Big 10 is going to affect its baseball squad.

As you don’t know, because very few people on this campus care about our baseball team, the Terps finished 32-24 last year. But, in their very tough ACC conference, they compiled a 10-20 record. Almost objectively, the ACC was much better than the Big 10 last year.

Last year, seven ACC teams made it into the College World Series, putting up a collective record of 18-15. One team, Florida State, made it into the final eight before being dispersed by eventual champion Arizona. On the other hand, just two Big 10 baseball teams, Purdue and Michigan State, made it into the CWS, putting up a dazzling 1-4 record. In the NCAA’s year end rankings, eight ACC teams were among the top 50 squads (including Florida State at #3), compared to just one Big 10 team, previously-mentioned Purdue. Detractors can point to the fact that the Big 10 had one less team than the ACC last year, but I don’t think that makes much difference.

Still, even against easier competition, the Terps will undoubtedly have many questions to answer this season. They have a new head coach after Mark Bakich departed for the University of Michigan in June, setting up what could become quite the intra-conference rivalry. And, perhaps more importantly, they are not bringing in the kind of talent needed to compete nationally. They had exactly zero “graded” players in their 2012 recruiting class, compared to five for former conference rival Florida State.

But who knows. With baseball fever spreading across the D.C. area, perhaps there will be renewed interest in the Terps baseball team. For many students, it is certainly a lot easier to get to Shipley Field than it is to get to Nats Stadium. College baseball also comes earlier in the year, providing a nice hold-over until the real action starts in April.

— Jeremy Barr

The Cupcake Schedule

The Maryland Terrapins are 6-1 at the moment. They’ve reeled off six straight after a tough season-opening loss to defending champion Kentucy, and figure to easily notch a seventh Wednesday against Maryland-Eastern Shore.

In fact, the Terps should be 12-1, soon enough. The remaining nonconference schedule is abysmal, and any slip up before the conference slate would be inexcusable.

Also inexcusable? Scheduling games against a litany of programs that barely even field Division I-caliber basketball teams.

While Terps fans made the journey north to New York and excitement for the team was palpable during the Kentucky matchup, the fan base has settled down, impatient for the conference schedule to begin. And I’m not confident the Terps will be ready when the likes of Florida State and Duke come to town, as Maryland has been playing a cupcake schedule to pad its win total instead of prepping itself for the conference matchups.

Take, in contrast, Maryland Eastern Shore. A program that’s among the worst in D-I – seriously, it’s awful – has already faced a quality South Florida team, and will leave College Park to meet No. 11 Cincinatti, followed by a trip to UConn and then to the University of Ohio, which enjoyed a nice run to the Sweet 16 last year. Maryland Eastern Shore – an intra-state squad so unheard of that it doesn’t even register as a rival – plays a far, far tougher out-of-conference schedule. And when it starts playing MEAC opponents, I’m sure the experiences of these road battles will come in handy for the team.

Maryland won’t have these experiences. It’ll have a wistful defeat that took place in early November. It’ll have an impressive record that only signifies that the program isn’t at the bottom of the NCAA barrel. And it’ll have a host of schools to face that have been matched up against real competition, records be damned.

I’ve a fan, Mark Turgeon. But this cupcake scheduling can’t last.

-Mark Sanchez

The Local Team Blues..

Maryland, George Washington, and George Mason all played in the BB&T Classic over the weekend. The tournament has been played since 1995 and often invites local teams, in fact Maryland and Georgetown stumbled across one another courtesy of the BB&T while I was in undergrad.  Maryland survived against George Mason and GW prevailed against the out-of-towners, Manhattan.

My post honestly has little to do with the tournament. From what I saw the games were competitive and well played. I’m more interested in the coverage particularly by Comcast.  As the local station I was shocked there wasn’t a reporter at the game.  I think the Comcast could do a better job with it’s local coverage beyond the professional real, especially since the Capitals aren’t in session.

I think they should be tapping into the local stories that people  that live and work in the area would be passionate about. Comcast needs to get a better grip on the pulse of it’s audience instead of re-airing Poker finals and boxing.

I am no news director, but television and networks aren’t complete exceptions to some of the problems print sections are facing. Yes, Comcast has Redskins and Ravens pre-game and post game coverage and the same for the Wizards but beyond that there isn’t much “local” coverage. Honestly those three teams are addressed on the national level and if you’re not for talking heads, ESPN discusses the issues just enough.

A number of speakers have discussed innovation and other courses have discussed hyper local coverage, I think Comcast should consider “hyperizing”(yes, I made that word up) it’s coverage.

Monica McNutt

Proving to be the Right Move

I like football.  Really, I do.  But there’s no denying that this is a basketball school.  The University of Maryland goes as their men’s basketball program does, and that’s why I’ve been paying particular attention in recent weeks, to the success of the Big Ten Conference – our home to be in 2014.

ACC traditionalists can say all they want about tradition, which conference last won an NCAA Championship, which league produces more draft picks etc.  But, to me, the rankings tell the only story worth hearing.  

There are three ACC teams in the Top 25: Duke at #2, UNC at #20 and NC State barely hanging on at #25.  I’m gonna speak my piece about this and be done with it.  The ACC is not the conference it was when we were growing up as kids.  Back then, a handful of teams each year were competitive and the ACC was undoubtedly the best conference in the country.

Now, the ACC is spiraling.  Every year there’s one excellent team.  Last year it was UNC.  This year Duke.  Same story.  Same teams.  ZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Let’s look at the state of Big Ten basketball right now.  Six, yes six teams, in the Top 25.  That’s incredible.  The conference is a wealth of consistent talent.  CONSISTENCY.  This is what the ACC lacks.  

The Big 10 has all the makings of a successful basketball future for a few reasons.  One, they have consistent talents like Ohio State, Michigan State and Illinois.  But, unlike the ACC, they also have teams that are on the rise; programs that will be at the top for years to come, like Indiana, Minnesota and Michigan.  And, when Maryland comes in two years, they will be right in the thick of things.

This conference may not have the flash and pizzazz of our current home, but they know good basketball.  And I, for one, can’t wait to be a part of it.  

– Adam Gutekunst

Terps make the Sunday Sports Section in the Post…twice

Two Maryland teams received a high amount of coverage this weekend as evidenced by the stories that made the cover of the Sunday Edition of The Washington Post.

The story under the section head was about the Maryland Men’s soccer team reaching the final four, a feat Maryland has accomplished seven times under head coach Sasho Cirovski. The Terps defeated No. 10 Louisville 3-1 at Ludwig field on Saturday in front of 3,556 fans and face the Georgetown Hoyas in Hoover, Ala. for the College Cup.

The second story was a preview piece about the Maryland Men’s basketball team’s game against George Mason in the BB&T Classic held at the Verizon Center. The Terps won the game 69-62, and were led by Dez Wells’ 25 points, Nick Faust’s 14 and Alex Len’s 12 points and nine rebounds.

The story caught my attention particularly because I had heard students on campus talking last week about how that tournament was not as big of a deal as it used to be. Prewitt’s article alluded to the declining numbers in attendance in the tournament games, and that the BB&T Classic used to feature higher profile schools opponents like Michigan State and Kansas, versus this seasons Manhattan and George Mason.

The article also mentioned how attendance for the home games has not matched the madness that was the showdown with Kentucky (a team not ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in the Calipari era) at the Barclays Center early in the young season. Coach Mark Turgeon made a public plea to students and fans last month to come out and support the team. He was quoted as calling Maryland a team that is “going to play hard for you [the fans].”

I was guilty of not going to the game on Sunday myself, but that was due to a previously scheduled event at the Newseum. I was, however, able to talk to people who attended the college basketball double header at the Verizon Center about how Maryland looked. The consensus was that Dez Wells was a great player to watch and that despite not having a great afternoon, Alex Len would likely go in the NBA draft following his sophomore season.

I didn’t attend the soccer game Saturday either, but I’m sure some of the guys on the soccer team this season are talented enough to follow the paths of many other soccer standouts during the Cirvoski era and enter the 2013 MLS SuperDraft.

From what I have seen both in person and on TV from both teams, these teams are a lot of fun to watch. I’m surprised the turnout at home games for basketball have been lower than desired. That will likely change if the team continues to make national headlines and consistently find a place in the top 25 rankings though.


-Julia Maldonado

Big Time

In the first few minutes of Maryland’s first game this year, on a nationally televised Brooklyn stage, against the reigning champion Kentucky Wildcats, Alex Len was awful. He dropped a pass, bricked a bank shot that hit the backboard and nothing else, and missed a layup at the basket. I turned to my dad and told him that Len was an enormous talent who couldn’t get past his awkward lankiness last year, and apparently it was going to continue this year as well.

Two minutes later, Len showed fire, raw athleticism and emotion on a breakaway dunk. Two hours later he finished the best game of his career. And now, about one month later, he’s being talked about as a first-round draft pick.

The evolution of Alex Len has been an absolute joy for Terp fans, lottery NBA teams, Len’s teammates and of course, Mark Turgeon. While the lanky, awkward nature is certainly still present, he is now more physical, poised, aggressive and intelligent as a basketball player. It’s resulted in six straight wins, plenty of Terps rebounds, and NBA Draft chatter.

Chad Ford of ESPN put Len in his top five of this year’s potential draft class. “Only player that I’ve made some major revisions on is Alex Len of Maryland,” said Ford. “Just think he took a major leap over the summer and at 7-1 with his skill set, he’s going to be a Top 5 pick. Reminds me a little bit of a young Ilgauskas.”

While this news is exciting for Len and Terp fans, it also brings up the inevitable question – what about life after Len? The Terps are just now starting to make a bit of a splash, getting a couple votes in the most recent coach’s poll and being talked about as a potential ranked team. If Len leaves after this season, will our program slip back into the middling success we’ve become used to?

Hopefully and probably not. Charles Mitchell, another Terp big man, has proven he can be a big-time rebounder, averaging seven boards a game. Seth Allen is proving himself as a dynamic, super-quick guard who can make big plays when they’re needed. And Dez Wells is coming off his best game as a Terp so far, a 11-17, 25-point performance in a win over George Mason. It certainly looks like, with or without Len, Turgeon and company have built a Maryland program that is ready for primetime.

Still, we should hope Len stays. This year we have a potential tournament team. Maybe next year, we could have a championship contender.

– Adam Offitzer