Posts Tagged ‘Basketball



02
Nov
09

Len Bias documentary tomorrow on ESPN

Like every other sports fan who was alive in 1986, Len Bias’s death is still a mile marker on my own personal sports landscape. More than 20 years later, his death and life still strike a chord. (See iconic image on the sidebar to your right.) Tomorrow night at 8, a new documentary called Without Bias will air on ESPN. It’s part of the network’s “30 for 30” film series.

Sports Guy and Boston Homer Bill Simmons, who masterminded the whole “30 for 30” concept, has previously lamented Bias’s death and What Could Have Been for the Celtics. It’s a good (or maybe bad) read for getting into the Bias mood.

“Without Bias” is directed by Kirk Fraser who, as I’m sure I don’t need to remind you, is the brains behind “Lil Kim: Countdown to Lockdown.” For truly, hers, too, was a life interrupted. (He also did “American Gangster,” which was a good movie.)

We’ll be back to share some reactions to the film Wednesday morning.

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02
Nov
09

Know Your Rotation Guys: Cliff Tucker

(Hello, and welcome to “Know Your Rotation Guys.” It’s a hybrid offspring of our previous series “Know Your Benchwarmers,” which can be found here. No further explanation needed, I imagine.)

Tucker

I kind of think about Cliff Tucker as the invisible man in the Terps’ rotation. I also like to refer to him as the guy that was caught laughing on the sidelines with Braxbum Dupree at the end of a loss last year.

Tucker averaged 12 minutes a game last season in his sophomore campaign, and with Sean Mosely and Adrian Bowie (not to mention Vasquez et al) really coming on at the end of last season (and with Mosely emerging in the offseason as the Terps’ next offensive option behind the seniors), I don’t really see that number going up. He could get a little time in the post, but again, I don’t think Tucker, at 6’6″, would be in line for that over Milbourne, Jordan Williams, Gregory, and Padgett.  Gary Williams has hinted he’ll play three or even four guards at once.  So that’s my guess as to Tucker’s role this season.  He’s the “we’re gonna go small now” sub-in.

Tucker had some big games last season. He also had some bed-crappers. His two biggest games, both statistically and psychologically, were the 18 and 22 points he got against UNC last year. But in the Jan. 24 Duke debacle, he played 17 minutes but only scored two points on one shot. In the March 13 Wake Forest win, he played 12 minutes but only scored 2 points on 1-3 shooting. So yeah…he really was invisible at times.

And there are the character questions. Aside from the laughing incident, which caused a minor stir on the blogosphere, there was the DNP-coaches decision that he sustained against Miami, after which he (and his mother!) complained to the media about his utilization on the team. There were accusations that Tucker wasn’t giving it 100 percent, and wasn’t getting it when it came to the program and its objectives.

Throughout the season, his minutes were all over the place, ranging from 1 to 29. Obviously that’s not all his fault, but it does speak to the inconsistency of both his performance and his role last year.

As for this season, Tucker worked hard on his game over the summer. Along with Bowie and Gregory, Tucker attended a special camp to improve his ball-handling with Pro Hoops Founder Jay Hernandez. No word on whether they shared spiced meats in the hot TUB. (Sorry, archaic SNL reference.) They emphasized his ball control while running at full speed, as well as his “confidence” as it relates to “taking guys off the dribble.” This all hints at the way he anticipates being used — as part of a smaller, quicker, run-and-gun lineup.

In a way, Tucker mirrored the team last year. Capable of greatness and gret underacheivement. Gifted but tempermental. No floor, no ceiling. Roller coaster. And so on. But if he can get a more solid role within this small ball lineup, that should have a stabilizing force on him and the team. We shall see.

(Photo credit: MEAC/SWAC Sports Main Street)

30
Oct
09

In both preseason polls, Maryland in a rankings sweet spot

The AP and ESPN/coaches preseason polls are both out. Maryland tops the “other schools receiving votes” category in each, meaning they’re the consensus #26 team heading into the season.

Most teams and coaches go to great lengths to make clear how little these polls mean to them. Methink they doth protest too much, in fact. And that’s another reason why Gary Williams is so great. He tracks the polls and he’s not afraid to show it. Gary is also delightfully shameless when it comes to playing the “no one respects us” card with his players. This ranking serves up that option on a silver platter for the Terps, while at the same time quietly placating Gary. At least a little. In other words, he can play the “no one respects us” card without having to worry about whether it’s actually true. I likey.

29
Oct
09

Know Your Benchwarmers: Steve Goins

(Welcome back….to “Know Your Benchwarmers.” This is the third in a series designed to get you acquainted with your 2009-2010 Maryland Terrapin ballers. I’m starting with the reserves so that you, the reader, can make an informed decision on who to root for in garbage time. Read the previous installment here.)

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Of all the reserves we’ve highlighted so far, Steve Goins is easily the most well-known. And with good reason. When you’re 6’10”, there’s no hiding. In his freshman season last year, Goins saw action in four games, averaging three minutes of PT per game. During that time, he pulled down four rebounds and scored two points (*coughuhthatstotalcoughcough*). So that’s good! Great job, Steve.

Here’s the downside with Goins. In a team last year that played Big Dave Neal at center, it’s a bit of a head scratcher as to why Goins couldn’t seize the moment. Hey, I love Big Dave Neal as much as the next guy, but we all know his physical capabilities were limited. He was listed as 6’7″, but that measurement must have been taken either right after Big Dave woke up, or while someone was still actively dreaming. Following last season, Goins announced he was going to transfer, only to change his mind at the last minute.

Now, here’s the upside. After returning to Maryland, Goins apparently promised to raise his game. With the transfer of Braxbum Dupree and Jerome Burney’s unfortunate career-ending injury, the path to PT could be a lot clearer for Goins. He had surgery over the offseason and is working his way back into shape on the court. He had a tweak of the knee during a scrimmage a few days ago but it doesn’t seem terribly serious, and he got eight points and seven boards during the game, which is more than what Jordan Williams got.

(UPDATE: So I guess the injury did turn out to be fairly serious. Consider the rest of this post contingent upon Goins’ recovery. Hey, thank you so much.)

Now obviously, Williams, Dino Gregory (tentatively scheduled to start at center, we’ll see if that holds up), and James Padgett are expected to get the bulk of the work in the low post this season, and rightfully so, but Goins could be valuable depth. Six-ten doesn’t grow on trees after all.

Overall, the book on Goins is the same as it was when he first came to Maryland: he’s a late bloomer. He’s a project. He’s raw. He didn’t start playing until his freshman year of high school and wasn’t really recruited until his junior year — a pretty glaring fact considering that scouts these days are following large women into the delivery room. In terms of his game, it’s the same story that other Maryland big guys have had (see Braxbum, Mardesich, Garrison, etc.) — i.e., he’s got a nice touch for a big man but isn’t especially tough or athletic. But his supporters insist he can be a player, and he seems like a nice enough guy. Any fan of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is good in my book. Now if he can just take the smoothness and mix in a little ruggedness, that’ll be two good tastes that go great together.

(Photo credit: UMTerps.com)

28
Oct
09

Know Your Benchwarmers: David Pearman

(Oh, hello. I didn’t see you come in. Welcome back. This is the second in a series designed to get you acquainted with your 2009-2010 Maryland Terrapin ballers. I’m starting with the reserves so that you, the reader, can make an informed decision on who to root for in garbage time. Read the first installment here.)

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Ahhhh, David Pearman. This guy has a little bit of a cult following. Personally, I think Pearman is my favorite Terp benchwarmer since Earl Badu, or even Big Dave Neal (oh, wait, he was a starter).

I wonder: what’s the attraction? Part of it could be that he looks like he should be handing me a vegan breakfast sandwich. Part of it could be that he looks like he should be handing me a bong. Either way, this 6’6″ junior has plenty of fans.  I assume.

First of all, Pearman hails from the mean streets of Columbia, Md. And I do mean mean. Ever been down Red Bandana Way? Ever stumbled into Hobbit’s Glen? Ever been called to settle beef down at the People Tree? I thought so. 

Well, somehow Pearman survived, and he’s now playing at Maryland. He’s a combo guard/forward mainly known for his tenacious defense. He’s quick and rangy for 6’6″ so can guard a bunch of different kinds of positions and players — which is probably one of the main things that makes him so useful in practice. Offense, however, is a different story. In 1.5 minutes per game over the past two seasons, Pearman is averaging a crisp 100 percent shooting percentage — 0.0 points on 0.0 attempts. Sweet.

Now on the personal side.  He’s long dreamed of playing for Maryland (even over Elon?). His roommate is Eric Hayes. He’s a letters and sciences major. And, uh, that’s about all I got.  Finding information on these benchwarmers is not easy. Check out Pearman’s Scout.com profile. Capitvating!

Maryland Media Day Basketball

David Pearman's the one on the right.

Anyway, please enjoy this grainy footage of Pearman tearing up a bunch of inferior high school competition. You gotta love high school basketball audiences…anytime anyone dunks or hits a three, it’s like the Final Four, Christmas, and Armageddon all wrapped into one. “Someone just up a shot…WAIT…I THINK IT’S GOING IN!…IT DID!!!!….IT WENT IN!…WWWUUUUUUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!…I CAN’T HANDLE THIS…WHY AM I EATING MY OWN ARRRRRMMMMM?!?!?!”

(Photo credits: UMTerps.com, Baltimore Sun)

26
Oct
09

Know your Benchwarmers: Ersin Levent

(With basketball season just around the corner, it’s time to get acquainted with your 2009-2010 Maryland Terrapin ballers. I’m starting with the reserves so that you, the reader, can make an informed decision about who you want to ironically cheer for during garbage time. It is my gift to you.)

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Ersin Levent is a sophomore forward on the team. He’s 6’7″, 185 and hails from right here in Rockville, Md., where he played his high school ball for the Landon School, an expensive private school for wealthy people. What? It is. While there, he made honorable mention in The Gazette’s all-county team on his way to helping Landon to its first Interstate Athletic Conference Championship in four decades. He also played golf (rather successfully) and ran track for Landon.

This is all well and good, but it doesn’t really tell you about the man, does it? What about the man? Well, Ersin played on the Maryland club team as a freshman, then worked his ass off and made the big team as a walk-on. Do I detect a hint of Rudy in the air? Like a really, really rich golf-playing Rudy? My eyes are welling up. Plus, in the interview, he says that on a scale of 1 to 10 his hatred for Duke is a 10. Oh, Ersin. You’ve cinched my heart.

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Also, if those notoriously authentic discussion board posts are any indication, Ersin enjoys studying business, strategizing about how to conserve dining hall points, sharing the mundane details of his life, going to Thanksgiving at his uncle’s house, being really REALLY active on Terps message boards, and pleasuring women.

He also resembles Chris Turner, does he not? I think it’s the lopsided smirk-grin.

As far as his game, he seems to follow the classic benchwarming white guy mold — he shoots and then he scraps, scraps and then shoots. He’s a hustle guy. An effort guy. I’m imagining a lot of footage of Ersin leading the cheers in his warmup suit. Every team needs a guy like that.

Ersin is the one on the left.

Ersin is the one on the left.

Final recommendation: I predict some name chants for Ersin; that is, if the students can figure out how to pronounce his name. ER-sin LE-vent, clap, clap, clap-clap-clap.

(Photo credits: UMTerps.com, DCSportsfan.com, Baltimore Sun)

26
Oct
09

Maryland ranked fifth in preseason ACC poll

So Maryland is ranked fifth in the official ACC preseason poll. Seems a little low. Duke is picked to finish first. Seems a little high.

Clemson was picked third. I would complain that this seems high, but since they’ve beaten the Terps six out the last eight times they’ve played, I’ll just keep my mouth shut.

In the same announcement, Vasquez was picked second in the running for ACC Player of the Year. Seems about right. Duke’s Kyle Singler was picked first. Seems a little high. Although I most definitely have him number one in my preseason Player Who Most Looks Like Boo Radley Award. So he’s got that going for him. I hear the trophy is carved out of soap.




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