19
Nov
09

Shell Games has moved to www.shell-games.com

Shell Games has moved to a new site:  www.shell-games.com

Please update your blogrolls, bookmarks, and RSS feeds to reflect the change, and join us on the new site for fresh content.

12
Nov
09

Shell Games is on the “GROW”

Did you get it? I hope the CAPS made it clear. We’re in the process of making some technical upgrades, and will not be posting for a day or so. This means we won’t get to all the player previews (or the team/season previews) before the season starts, but whatever. Hopefully you’ll find a way to watch the Charleston Southern game without this information. Thanks for your patience…see you on the other side.

11
Nov
09

Know Your Starters: James Padgett

(Aw, stuff. Now it’s getting serious. To delve into the rotation players and the benchwarmers, begin here.)

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So, here we are. By process of elimination, the starting center for your Maryland Terrapins is James Padgett! Dude, did you know he’s from Brooklyn OMG he’s from Brooklyn that’s in New York City dude!

I always love it when I can figure something out by process of elimination. Nine out of 10 baby mamas agree: it’s just a solid way of handling your business.

But in any case, that’s where we find ourselves. Jordan Williams is too green, Steve Goins is too injured, Dino Gregory is too suspended. But you know? I don’t mind. I’ll go to war with James Padgett. At 6’7″ and 210, he’s not the biggest dude in the world, and he could stand to get stronger, but he’s still tough in there. He played nervous in the preseason, although I think he got that out of his system. We’ll see on Friday, of course.

The pleasant surprise with Padgett is that he has moves. Imagine that — a big guy who has hands! Footwork! An offensive game! The biggest part of his game, though, is dirty work. He’s Windex on the glass, and you know what? I heard we have some other shooters on the team who are not shy with the chucking. Padgett could fit perfectly in that regard. At Lincoln High School (did you know that’s in Brooklyn?!?!?!) he played Robin to Lance Stephenson’s Batman, so he’s fine with that unsung role. And hey, he got enough singing even in the unsung role to get to Maryland, so he’s gotta be good at it. He’s also very beardy, so he has that going for him.

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What? There can't be TWO James Padgetts.

I think he’s eventually gonna take a more complementary role to Gregory, maybe Goins, and, eventually, Williams, but for now he seems to be the man. I’m thinking at least 20 a game at the outset, probably average a 5 and 7 or something like that. Nice.

11
Nov
09

Know Your Rotation Guys: Jordan Williams

(Oh, crap. Only three days til basketball season. An out-of-town conference put me behind the 8 ball, so I gotta step this up. Read the previous Rotation Guys post here.)

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I’m going to do something crazy and put the “bottom line” summary at the top. I know it’s crazy someone bring me my meds omg.

Anyway, here goes: Jordan Williams could end up being the best out of Maryland’s four current big men, but as of now, he’s probably the worst. However, he is also their second-least injured and/or ineligible post man, so he’ll get plenty of run. That pretty much sums it up.

Assuming Dino Gregory does in fact get an extended suspension, Williams is probably gonna be one of the first, if not the first, guy off the bench. (Either him or Bowie is my guess.)

The 6’10”, 260 pound J-Will — can I call you J-Will? — is well-known to Terp fans. He’s a freshman from Torrington, Connecticut. Our first legit center prospect since, what, Mike Mardesich? Ryan Randle? He captured a lot of peoples’ attention — including mine — in a grainy YouTube video, in which the opposing crowd chanted “What’s a Terp?”, to which Williams responded by sprinkling their court with shards of backboard glass. Please allow me to post that video for the eleventy hundreth time. Nice.

So the guy is strong. The guy is tall. The guy is tough in the paint. He defends the rim. He can dunk, and, unlike some of our other recent big men, he seems to have no reservations about doing so. What’s the downside? As of now, the downside is that he’s mainly upside. He’s got a high ceiling, but he doesn’t seem especially close to it. There are concerns about a general lack of college-level athleticism, and the fact that he’s not shredded like Mr. Olympia.  I think, to some extent, that will resolve itself as he plays his way into top shape. His somewhat limited offensive arsenal is a larger question mark. (Padgett is probably ahead of him in both these areas, hence the reason why he’ll probably get the starting nod.) Here’s an interesting and promising nugget on his offense, though: he is silky smooth from the charity stripe. He went 5-6 against IUP, so that bodes well for his future development as well as this season, in which I’m guessing he’s gonna get hacked a lot.

Bottom line: probably 15-17 minutes a game for Williams out of the box. As previously mentioned, early part of the schedule, if Dino is suspended, could be good seasoning time for Jordan. I’m high on this guy. Once he gets into the swing of things, I think he’s gonna be a player for us, and I see that happening sooner rather than later.

(Photo credit: Baltimore Sun)

10
Nov
09

Know Your Rotation Guys: Dino Gregory

(The miniseries continues. Read the previous installment here.)

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I can’t wait for the Dino Gregory era down low.  Sure, he wasn’t a world beater last year, but he came on late and worked hard on his game over the summer.  What’s not to like? 

Suspen-what?  OHHHHHHHHHHH.  The sus-PENNNNN-sionnnnn.

Right, right, right, right, right.

Well, that puts a bit of a damper on the expectations now, doesn’t it?   So as we wait, and wait, on news (and the season starts Friday, so it can’t be THAT much longer), I am of two minds on this.

On the one hand, it’s unfortunate. Duh.  I wasn’t really buying all this talk that he had become some kind of offensive force in the offseason (although I’m sure he improved somewhat), but even so he was the consummate puzzle piece for the team.  He was all hustle, all heart, all dirty work.  No glory, no nothing.  When you’ve got the piercing electric guitar that is Greivis Vasquez, you need a bass player to round out the sound.  Dino has shown he can do that.  He could be the Bobby Dahl to Vasquez’s C.C. Deville.  So in that sense, his missing time (if, in fact, he does) is unfortunate.

But on the bright side, it’ll give the young bucks some seasoning time.   Worst case scenario on Gregory seems to be that he’ll miss the fall semester, returning in December.  So he’ll miss some big games (Cincinnati, Villanova, Indiana, etc.), but won’t miss a second of ACC action.  So hopefully, this gives Padgett a chance to hone his game, and Jordan Williams a chance to play his way into top shape, and suddenly we’re a frontcourt to be reckoned with when we open against Florida State.  I predict Mike Gminski repeatedly saying things like “these young guys aren’t freshmen anymore,” and so on.

So maybe it’s a blessing in disguise, especially if Dino really did work on his game that much over the offseason, and if he stays in shape during the extended suspension that I presume is forthcoming. In the meantime, I’ll slot him in as a rotation guy.

09
Nov
09

terps men’s soccer concludes solid regular season; faces uva in acc tournament

The defending National Champion Terps men’s soccer team wrapped up another successful year with a win against College of Charleston this weekend.  With the win the Terps finished regular season play with a 12-4-2 record.  Considering their tough schedule this was pretty impressive.

Maryland enters the ACC Tournament ranked #6 in the nation.  Their first postseason game will be against #7 UVA in Cary, NC, on Wednesday afternoon.  It’s a tough draw, but at least UVA is an out-of-towner, too, so Maryland will be on a truly neutral field.  UNC is #2 in the country and Wake is #4, so the ACC Tournament will be a dress rehearsal for the NCAA Tournament.

The NCAA Tournament starts on 11/20.  It’s been another great season for the defending champs.  The Terps have a legitimate shot at repeating, so stay tuned.

08
Nov
09

#1 maryland field hockey continues to roll, wins acc again

The Terps field hockey squad added another trophy to the case this weekend with a 3-2 win over UVA to capture the ACC Championship.  Katie O’Donnell, the best player in the nation, captured the tournament MVP award.  The Terps had to beat #6 Wake Forest and #3 UVA on their way to the title.  With the two wins the Terps are now 20-0 on the season and they are likely to capture the #1 seed in the ACC Tournament.

“Dominant” is the only word I can think of to describe this team.  Dominant.  The team has six shutouts this season and they have outscored their opponents 96-24.  That means they are scoring four times as many goals as their opponents for those of you fellow English majors.

I love this team.  If I had one free minute of time in my life I’d go to their games.  Maybe I’ll go to a game one day soon.  In the meantime I’ll follow them from afar and use the power of the blogosphere to broadcast my cheers.  Go Terps Field Hockey!

08
Nov
09

terps lose game, turner, virginity to nc state

It’s one of those times when I hate being right, but in Maryland’s 38-31 loss to NC State this afternoon the game covered the over and State covered the spread.   I had a feeling this was coming given that both teams employ the Wet Paper Dag defense.  It’s an innovative variation on the 3-4 where the linemen use only their thumbs to tackle and the secondary covers the cheerleaders.

Even as turnovers mounted for the Wolf Pack, the Terps yielded 482 total yards to NC State.  Adding injury to insult, Chris Turner left the game in the first half with an injury to his MCL.  Backup Jamarr Robinson was ineffective in relief, going 5-11 passing with 27 yards in the second half.

Chris Turner could be lost for the rest of the year.  The Terps finish the season with three tough opponents, starting with Virginia Tech this weekend and continuing with games against Florida State and Boston College.  If you think the team looks ugly now, look for it to get uglier in the next three weeks.  There may be some competition for the starting QB job between Robinson and Danny O’Brien to keep you tuned in.  Either way, the Terps have a long November ahead of them.

06
Nov
09

maryland versus nc state in football: the failure will be palpable

The Lakers versus the Celtics in the 1984 NBA Finals at the Old Boston Garden

The Yankees versus the Dodgers in the 1963 World Series at Ebbitts Field

The Terps versus the Wolf Pack in 2009 at Carter-Finley Stadium

One of these games is not like the others.

The 2-6 Maryland Football Terps roll into Raleigh tomorrow to take on the 3-5 NC State Wolf Pack in a battle of ACC bottom feeders.  Eric Prisbell reports in the Post that this is one of two DI-A games that is not televised this weekend, the other being Baylor vs. Missouri.  While that nugget was the result of some cutting edge investigative reporting, the rest of Prisbell’s article leaves the impression that there is some reason to watch this game.  Even if this game was on terrestrial television rather than E-f’ing-SPN 360, there is zero chance I’d watch it, and even less of a chance that my co-blogger MASH would watch it given his newfound multimedia fame.

Both teams have suffered a number of injuries, including some to key underclassmen, which means that this game will do little to show progress and growth in either team.  Despite the fact that the winner of this game remains “bowl eligible”, neither team will win out, so eligibility is a moot (checking the spelling this time so I won’t be muted) point.  Neither team plays defense period.  Maryland ranks 104th in the country giving up about 32pts per game, while NC State ranks 89th at 29pts per game.  The saddest fact about this game is that both teams have lost to Duke this season.  Maybe this is how ESPN 360 should promote the game, “Both teams are looking for blood following embarrassing losses to Duke, the worst football program in the long history of the conference.”  Wait, nope, that still doesn’t make me care.

Vegas has NC State at a 6.5pt favorite and the over/under is 56.5.  I belive the Wolf Pack will cover.  One thing they can do is score, and Maryland’s depleted defense will not be able to keep them off the field.  Conversely, the Terps have not been able to get the ball in the end zone very much this year, scoring only 22pts per game against a schedule that has included some pretty weak opponents to this point.

Final Score: NC State 33 Maryland 26.  The Wolf Pack will cover and take the over.  If there is any defense played in this game it will be by the losing coach in the postgame press conference.

I have to go and take a shower now.  I feel dirty just writing about this terrible game.  Go Terps… blech.

05
Nov
09

On the radio tonight with Kirk Fraser, director of Len Bias documentary

Tonight’s episode of Terp Talk should be a good one.  Terp Talk host Bruce Posner is welcoming Kirk Fraser, director of the “Without Bias” documentary, to the show. Fellow blogger Chris Stoner is going to be on as well, along with yours truly. Hope you tune in. Those not in the Baltimore area can listen here.




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