Archive for August, 2009

31
Aug
09

UMTerps.com: It’s all about Technology

TurtleComputer

I really have to tip my cap to the fine and hard-working folks at the University of Maryland athletic department.  They know the score.  They have seen the writing on the wall.  Would you like to know what that writing says?  It says “the future is now.”  It is all around us.  A scary thought, I know, but The Information Age — as I call it — will be loaded with opportunities.  You wait and see.  For example, the Internet?  The World Wide Web?  It’s going to change our lives.

I know what you’re thinking — that I’m freaking you out.  But do not be afraid, son.  This could be great for the Terps.  Did you know that, one day, basketball games will be played not on a court, but in the fourth-dimensional world of cyberspace?  Soon, I won’t have to write out these posts longhand on carbon paper and airmail them to processing facilities in Rochester and Cedar Rapids. If you can grasp that, then you’re catching on.  There are no limits anymore!   It’s all like, where do you want to go today?  The Superhighway is open for business.  Are you ready?

Behind the scenes at UMTerps.com

Behind the scenes at UMTerps.com

The Terps are.  To wit, behold their newly updated home on the World Wide Web. It’s revamped for a new century. Gone are the clunky, not-regularly updated features. Instead witness the online auctions, sponsor ads, and premium ticket and apparel and seat purchasing opportunities. Opportunities! Business opportunities. That’s what it’s all about…driving your business. Twitter feeds abound…want to know what the women’s gymnastics team is up to? Check them out on their Twitter feed. That’s what we mean when we say connectivity. It’s a global marketplace…of ideas. Plus, the site looks much cooler now, with every sport receiving a periodic-table-style abbreviation on the home page (football, for example, is Fb…anytime you appropriate scientific or medical terminology for a non-scientific-or-medical use, it’s just cool. It’s a winning “formula.”).

So kudos to the athletic department for riding this wave to new shores of interactivity. It’s been a long time coming, and it looks absolutely terrific. But mark my words — mark them — this is not an end, but a beginning. Go Terps, dot com.

28
Aug
09

Sweet

Got Maryland-Virginia Tech tickets.   November 14 baby — could be a big one.  Only eleven million dollars apiece!

27
Aug
09

Caleb Porzel’s gonna reverse the Earth’s rotation

CW-Earth-flight-wp-01

If Maryland is deep anywhere, it’s at running back, where Da’rel Scott leads the pack of usual suspects.

But now, from the bowels of training camp depth charts, a new candidate emerges.  Look!  Up in the sky!  It’s Caleb Porzel!  Apparently, the dude is so fast that the coaches can’t keep him off the field.

Terps alpha blog Testudo Times cites a couple Twitter feeds noting Porzel’s apparently blinding speed. How fast is he? Well, according to his Scout.com profile, he runs a 4.21 40 time. That is fast. Really fast. Good God, that is fast. To give you a frame of reference, the fastest 40 time at the 2009 NFL combine — turned in by our own Darrius Heyward-Bey, no less — was 4.30.

Here’s hoping he gets in on some kick or punt returns, at least. And in so doing, he shall smite our enemies! Look out, Heisman!

Isn’t training camp the best?

26
Aug
09

Terrapins Rising Recap: Episode 7

Fridge[1]

The excitement is starting to build as Terrapins Rising moves from spring practices to summer training camp, meaning these episodes were filmed just weeks (or days) ago.  It’s a great time of year, baby!

In this very special episode, we see some amusing home footage from senior d-lineman Charlie Villanueva  Sam Cassell Jared Harrell. New players and coaches introduced themselves to the team, with the highlight being D-coordinator Don Brown’s observation that “I don’t have any hobbies, but I do like to get BEEEEEEEEP after a victory on Saturday.”   All right!   I also like to get beeeeeeep.

Another cool moment — maybe the coolest of the season — showed about 10 seconds of an actual pregame sideline, with the crowd chanting that “oh-oh-oh-OH-oh” song and the players about to lose their minds from the adrenaline. It was only 10 seconds. But I think I actually had to stand up off the couch, I got so pumped. That’s saying something.

But here’s where it went downhill.  The rest of the episode was bascially one big commercial. Now before you call me a communist or Hitler or whatever, let me say that I understand the promotional aspect of this program.  That’s the price CSN pays for its access.  I like Under Armour as much as the next guy.  I know we all gotta make this money. But I do think this episode got a little carried away.

First, some athletic department suit gives us a “tour” of the new luxury boxes, which we all know have been such a rousing success. I wonder if this little “tour” would have happened if the boxes were sold out.   This wasn’t even the worst part, though.  They spent a whole segment, or close to it, discussing Ralph Friedgen’s weight loss. And hey, the man lost 105 pounds. I take my hat off.  Seriously, that’s incredible.  But then he started talking about this great diet company he hooked up with, and how he can eat the food he wants, and how it fits with his lifestyle, and etc.  They even interviewed the diet company guy — wearing his gay diet company logo-emblazoned golf shirt, no less — who was all like “[Diet company name redacted] was just so happy that our delicious line of entrees were able to” blah blah blah.  What?  But the coup d’etat was 10 solid seconds of Ralph eating one of the diet company bars. Just sitting at his desk. Eating the bar and smiling with chocolate all in his teeth. That airtime could have contained something interesting. But no.  Had to get the pitch in.  Sure, Fridge!  No prob, we’ll do it for ya!  What angle should we film you at while you’re eating the bar?  Before you eat it all, can we do an interview with the remnants of the bar? That’d be an awesome get.

Bottom line:  at this time of year, I believe they should be trying to get us fans as pumped up as possible for the season.  Because in the end, isn’t that the best sales pitch of them all?  Word up.

(Photo credit:  Well, I took it, but the image was from Comcast SportsNet)

25
Aug
09

Basketball schedule released, me want to talk hoops

Anyone interested in talking basketball great me too. As long as the words “Tobias Harris” don’t appear then I’m good (seriously…we’re not getting him…plus, am I the only one who thinks of Mortal Kombat when he hears the name Tobias? I’m a weird guy.)

Right, basketball. So on the heels of the college b-ball schedule release (check out Maryland’s here — note Villanova, Duke twice, and a possible showdown with Lance Stephenson’s Bearcats on Nov. 24) ESPN puts out a nice little ACC primer/preview today. I was starting to get a little agitated as I read through — no mention of the Terps anywhere! Sean Mosely was listed as the ninth out of 10 “key players” in the conference, and when we get down to the “10 Freshmen We Can’t Wait To See” section, nary a Jordan or James mention to be found! That’s bullcrap, dude. You know what freshman I can’t wait to see, ESPN? Your mama. Your big, stupid, sweatstained, bus-pass-having mama.

But then, what do I see on the righthand side but Jay Bilas’ rankings. And guess who he’s got number three? Let’s take a read:

The Terps had a very good season, but will be better with some bulk and talent inside. Greivis Vasquez is one of the best guards in the country, but his emotional play seems to get more press than his skills. Vasquez is a complete player whom I believe is underrated. Add James Padgett and Jordan Williams to returnees Dino Gregory and Jerome Burney, and Maryland is not playing shorthanded in the paint this year. And no team will outwork this bunch. The Terps should be back to Garyland’s expected standards this season.

Not bad, Jay. You know, for a Dookie. Color me placated.

24
Aug
09

It’s ALL about Alex Wujciak

wujciak

Ahhh, training camp. Burning questions abound! Who will emerge as the fourth-string tailback? Who, dammit? WHO!?!?!? Who’s gonna be the backup punter? THIS AIN’T NO FU*KIN GAME, MAN!!!! YOU GOTTA LET ME KNOW!

Not to say that there aren’t legitimate battles going on (kicker comes to mind), but with all due respect to the Gary Douglases of the world, I’d like to focus on the players who are actually going to play. In the real games. Is that a weird thing for me to say? Sorry. I hope you’ll indulge this old codger’s cockamamie notions. I’m much obliged to you.

So with that in mind, I’d like to discuss Alex Wujciak, the long-haired linebacker with the onomatopoetic surname. I know I’m not exactly dropping a new name here, but when the bullets start flying in September, I think Wujciak will be the most important guy on the field for the Terps, on either side. Yeah, he was good last year, but he’s gonna have to be really good this year. Like All-America good. And you know what? I think he can do it.

A quick review. In his sophomore campaign last year, Wujciak made 133 tackles — good for second in the ACC and 13th in the nation (fifth among returning players). Maybe that’s why he’s on the watch lists for the 2009 Bednarik Award (nation’s top defensive player) and Nagurski Award (nation’s top linebacker). He’s fast, he’s strong, and he’s athletic. This season, he wants to attack more. New defensive coordinator Don “Attacking Style” Brown should be able to accommodate him.

But. And you knew there was a but coming. They lost four LBs after last season (Philistin, Fokou, Chase Bullock, and Rick “Douche” Costa). The only other guy on the unit with a start is Adrian Moten. And as you probably know, Wujciak had his knee scoped this offseason — nothing major, and he should return at full speed for the first game, but still, it was a surgical procedure, and it’s gonna raise some questions until we see him back 100%. (Have you seen that guy in the green jersey on Terrapins Rising who high-fives everybody and has hair like Troy Polamalu? That’s him.)

Perhaps this is why, despite Wujciak’s presence, the Terp LB unit is ranked seventh in the ACC by several sources. But this unit is still the most highly regarded on the Terps defense — the perception is that the secondary seems deep but not especially talented, and that the D-line is fairly, uh, green, to say the least. So as the middle linebacker and the unquestioned best player on that side of the ball for Maryland, Wujciak is going to have to make his own plays, make other peoples’ plays for them, and generally act as the quarterback of the defense, all while not letting the younger guys get too down on themselves if something goes wrong. Which it inevitably will.

So it’s a tall order for Wujciak. To reiterate, he was definitely good last season, but I never did a double take when I watched him. When E.J. Henderson was at Maryland, he seemed at times to be a one-man gang out there. Every so often he would elicit a “whoa, did you see THAT?!” as we watched him. I don’t get that feeling from Wujciak. In other words, he’s been solid, but unspectacular. I think he’ll need to raise that up and become truly dominant. And not “dominant for Maryland,” or “dominant through the rose-colored glasses of a Terp fan.” I mean dominant dominant. This is not to say that other players can’t step up. But if Wujciak doesn’t become a consensus, no-brainer top two or three defender in the ACC (or better), then I don’t see this unit having the spark it needs to be in the ACC’s upper echelon. And he seems to have a lot of factors lining up for him. We shall see.

(Photo credit: Lindyssports.com)

22
Aug
09

is 2009 the year of the forward pass?

We'll see more of Jamarr Robinson this year.

We'll see more of Jamarr Robinson this year.

I just read Eric Pisbell’s column on Maryland’s deep receiving corps and I’ve been sifting through the preseason football camp logs on the umterps.com site.  They are excellent reading if you want to get yourself psyched up about the team.  The recurring theme in these reports is that the offensive focus in the preseason has been on the passing game.  One could argue that the passing game is in focus because that is where the Terps need the most work.  I see signs that there is something different going on this year.

Coach Ralph Friedgen seems to finally trust QB Chris Turner.  When asked which players have stood out in the preseason, Friedgen responded, “Chris Turner – he’s really doing a great job of seeing things, setting the defense, using his cadence, making decisions. I’m very pleased with how he’s playing.”  This is the first year in as long as I can remember that there is a clear cut #1 starter at the QB position.  Consistency has been the knock on Turner in the past, but he’s going to benefit from having all the first team snaps he needs before the beginning of this season.  Backup QB Jamaar Robinson has progressed.   Should Turner suffer an injury, the reports out of camp indicate that Robinson is a capable backup.  Robinson also gives the team a QB that can get out of the pocket and make plays on the ground.

When Friedgen took the team over in November 2000, he was touted as an offensive coach that knew how to balance the run with the pass.  The team’s success during his tenure has been mostly due to stout defense and punishing running backs.  While Maryland has a very capable set of backs in Da’Rel Scott and Davin Meggett, they have three standout receivers that have emerged from a field of ten.  Torrey Smith, Adrian Cannon, and Ronnie Tyler have all benefited from preseason competition for roster spots.  According to Prisbell’s article, the focus of the competition has been on limiting drops.  If the receiving corps can succeed in achieving their goal of limiting drops to 3% of passes, 2009 will be Maryland’s Year of the Forward Pass.

20
Aug
09

maryland field hockey: award tour 2009

Go ahead ladies.  Take your victory lap around the Maryland Field Hockey & Lacrosse Complex.  You earned it.

The 2008 NCAA Champion Maryland Field Hockey Team returns to defend its title.  Three of the eleven spots on the Preseason All-ACC Team are occupied by Terrapins.  Forward Katie O’Donnell ranked second in scoring and assists in the nation last year, and was the NCAA Offensive Player of the Year.   Katie is not only the best collegiate player in the country, she also has a well documented, fantastic smile.  She’s not the only one.  Backfielder Emma Thomas joined Maryland in mid-season 2008 and made an immediate impact, scoring 22 points in 16 games.  Midfielder Brianna Davies was a Third Team All-American last year, and returns to lead a shutdown midfield defense.  Ameliet Rischen is also key to successful D at midfield.  Ameliet returns for her senior year looking better than ever.

The Terps will miss team leaders Susie Rowe, who tied the team record for goals in a season last year, and Sarah Scholl, who was an offensive spark plug that also led the team in blogging.  However, the person most key to the team’s success, seven-time NCAA Coach of the Year Missy Meharg, does return for her 22nd year.  Last year marked the fifth championship the Terps have won over Meharg.  What can you say?  You can’t miss with Missy.

It’s easy to make bold predictions when you’re not the one that has to fulfill them, so I’m going to make one.  The Terrapins will successfully defend their National Championship.  Despite losing a few key players, the team returns with a lot of talent.  The Terps have balanced scoring and defense.  Just one look at the smile on their faces tells you they have what it takes.

Maryland Field Hockey Murderers Row

Katie O'Donnell has the smile of a champion.

Katie O'Donnell has the smile of a champion.

Emma Thomas has the smile of a champion.

Emma Thomas has the smile of a champion.

Brianna Davies has the smile of a champion.

Brianna Davies has the smile of a champion.

Ameliet Rischen has the smile of an international supermodel.

Ameliet Rischen has the smile of an international supermodel.



14
Aug
09

A thin D-line gets about 300 pounds thinner

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Via Terp alpha blog Testudo Times, it looks like big nose tackle Dion Armstrong is set to leave the team and transfer. Apparently he was having academic issues. If the photo above is any indication, the difficult class in question was Neckties 101. And you know what I can sympathize. That’s a tricky one. It really all hinges on what professor you get.

So this is a real problem. As it stands, the replacement is apparently redshirt freshman A.J. Francis, who seems promising if a little green at the college level, what with being redshirted and never playing a live down before and all. The guy seems ready for the challenge, though, and appears to be a pretty fun guy. Seems very motivated to become a successful rapper football player. So that’s good.

(Photo credit: UMTerps.com)

13
Aug
09

Maryland Athletic Budget Slashed

Well, we kinda saw this coming, but that doesn’t make it any more fun.

The Terps athletic department is cutting $301,000 out of the football budget, according to the Baltimore Sun. That’s about a 3 percent reduction out of a $9.7 million overall budget.

So what are the ramifications. Well, the team now has to take the bus for some of its games, and the PR folks are sending out media guides on CDs instead of printing them. WHAT? Unacceptable. Oh wait…they won’t give a lowly blogger like me the time of day anyway. At least, I imagine they would not, if they knew I existed.

Lots of other sports are also affected. Men’s basketball, which has a $4.4 million budget, was trimmed $137,786, or about 3.1 percent. Women’s basketball saw its budget – about $2.6 million – cut $61,583, or about 2.4 percent. The “Olympic sports” of swimming and diving, track and field, gymnastics, tennis and other sports, are being cut by 9 percent (tennis is an Olympic sport?). Lots of Ramen noodles in their future, I’m afraid.

The good news is that it seems like no sports will be eliminated barring some catastrophe. AD Debbie Yow said “I’m pretty steadfast on the 27 [sports]. We’re just going to get through this period.”

So just a little general belt-tightening. It’s understandable. It could be worse. Besides, riding the bus builds character.




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