Posts Tagged ‘Cliff Tucker

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)

01
Mar
09

Terps inch a little closer with N.C. State win

It’s been a crazy few days here in the D.C. area.  The Obama administration’s first budget, The Biggest Snow Storm in Years coming through (although it’s gonna end up only being like two inches, but whatever), plus the resignation of Nats GM Jim Bowden under some strange circumstances, and of course, let’s not forget the Redskins overpaying for Albert Haynesworth and winning yet another Paper Bowl, for which, last I checked, you receive no trophy.

Not to be outdone, Terpland was abuzz as well, as the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams both dispatched the Dookies, the lady hoopsters won an ACC title, and last but not least, the men beat N.C. State to keep their tournament hopes afloat.  Only two games left, and as usual it’s set up for a crazy end.  Can the Terps do it?  I want to believe, Scully.

This game embodied how people thought Maryland would be this season. They got totally worked on the blocks (Wolfpack center Tracy Smith was like Baby Shaq down there), but the Terps guards were able to compensate, turning N.C. State’s miserable ball handlers over 16 times while keeping their own mistakes to a minimum.

Vasquez led the way from wire to wire, scoring 33 on a combination of threes and pretty runners in the lane. Even more importantly, he did a great job of keeping Evil Greivis at bay — that is, until he swished a meaningless three at the buzzer just to piss off the fans. And he wonders why he’s a target. But whatever. Vasquez has been rolling lately, and may have worked his way back into all-ACC contention. Props also to the resurgent Cliff Tucker (man, has he been nice down the stretch) and the rock solid Big Dave Neal, who hit four Big Dave threes.

Given the mismatches inside, this had Trap Game written all over it. N.C. State made it tight, but the Terps manned up and pulled away.  I’m dangerously close to drinking the Kool-Aid on this team.  I’ve just been burned so many times, it’s hard to let my guard down.  I want to take things slow…I hope you understand, basketball team. We’ll see how I feel after the huge, HUGE game this Tuesday in the CP against Wake. You could maybe even say…that it alllllllll comes down…to that.

23
Feb
09

I’ll hold off on the partying and the unborn chicken counting, thank you very much

executive

Good gravy!  What’s all the commotion in here?  Turn on those lights!   Hey!  You in the corner!   Put your pants back on!    One big win and suddenly Terps fans are a bunch of extras from Superbad?  Well, not in this blog post.  I know I’m a pessimistic pain in the ass and all.  But I’m a good pessimistic pain in the ass.  Because the team still has A LOT of work to do.  So I’m here to dunk some heads in the horse troughs.  Sober up out there!  It’s Monday, for god’s sake.

So yeah, Maryland beat the #3 UNC Tar Heels.  Great win.  Huge win.  An important resume win.  The gold unis are truly a power to behold. Credit where it’s due:  Vasquez was incredible.  He deserves all the accolades.  As do Gary Williams, Cliff “He should have benched me earlier” Tucker, and everyone else. It was a great team win and a  big step forward.

But whoa, Nelly. Hold the phone there. The feeling now seems to be that we’re basically in the tournament. It’s true that we’re on the bubble, but for now, that’s it.  No one should even be uttering the word “tournament” at this stage.  Nothing should be taken for granted.  But as a fan base we love to do this.  One big win and omgthatwassoamazingBIGGESTWINEVERwe’retotallygonnamakeitomg.  Should I remind you that they beat #1 Carolina last year and still didn’t make it because they fell apart down the stretch?  Or that in 2004-2005 they swept Duke and still found a way to miss the dance? For this season’s finale, the line of logic seems to be that the Terps “only” have to beat either Duke or Wake, then have the manager throw their jerseys on the floor in Raleigh and Charlottesville and they’re in with a 20-10, 9-7 record.  Or, they could win two of their last four and get one or two in the ACC tourney. Oh, the ACC tourney, no prob!  Because they’ve been so dominant in that venue.  We’ve gotta learn from the past.  NC State and Virginia now have “Trap Game” written all over them.

Bottom line: they’ve proven they are capable of making the tournament, and in general, just playing good basketball. But I’ve been on this roller coaster ride a few times before. The same emotions that get them up for Duke and Carolina also get them down for the Miamis and the Morgan States and the games they’re “supposed” to win. We have to find consistency, or else come Selection Sunday, when Jay Bilas mentions the Carolina win it’s gonna be followed by a big BUT. So come on. No more fruity business. Finish strong this year and close the damn deal. Then, and only then, would I celebrate. Huzzah Terrapins.

04
Feb
09

Welp, we got out butts kicked

Jin Soo Kim does not know of this "defense" of which you speak.

There goes that man again.

The immortal words of Steve Spurrier were in my mind as I watched UNC put the finishing touches on last night’s whooping. This is one of those beatings where you tip your cap and get the F out of dodge.

If it’s possible to be encouraged after a 17-point loss to a tough conference rival, then I am. After all, the Terps scored 91 points. It’s just that UNC would have beaten the Bobcats last night.

It’s funny how much agreement there is on this point in the local media.  Only the Washington Times, who blamed the Terps’ D, departed from this “they were just the better team last night” angle.

The Terps did some good things. Cliff Tucker played his way out of the doghouse with a career-high 18 (a lot of it came after the game was already over, but we’ll just ignore that). Sean Mosely and Eric Hayes again played well in their respective new starter and bench roles. I liked Gary’s hit-em-in-the-mouth game plan, which included pointedly physical play, imposing black unis, and best of all, pushing the ball upcourt as quickly as possible, especially after a Carolina score, when the Heels prefer to saunter back on D. It happened so fast a few times that even the Raycom cameras couldn’t keep up.

But when the other team hits 16 threes and gets 79 points from three guys (Ellington, Hansbrough, Lawson), it’s not your night. Although the rebounding battle was admirably close in the end (37-35 for UNC), this was the biggest size difference I’ve seen between the Terps and their opponents all year.

Despite this, the Terps fought hard and didn’t allow the revenge-minded Tar Heels to break their spirits. I think the Terps can finish strong if they come out with this same mindset against Georgia Tech. And Virginia Tech. And Clemson. And North Carolina again. And Duke. And NC State. And Wake Forest. And Virginia. And the ACC tournament. Goterps.

(Photo credit: Charlotte Observer)

02
Feb
09

A love-in at Comcast Center

Things were feeling so right in the CP on Saturday. The Terps got some good home cookin against Miami, and it seemed to be just the right medicine.  It was chicken soup for their souls.  It was a soothing balm. Could you feel the love, mama. Could you feel the healing. I sure hope that you could.

The team played well, the crowd was engaged and ultra-supportive, Gary did him some good coaching, and a top recruit (Lance Stephenson) looked on from the stands. I gotta say it was a good day.   

The game was pretty close up to the end, but even so the Terps seemed to be in relative control throughout.   Miami’s a better team than they generally get credit for, but beating them isn’t rocket science.  You just lock up their shooters and get drives in the lane, and that’s what the Terps did.  But most importantly, when it got down to crunch time, they kept their heads and kept their undies clean.  Vasquez fell one assist shy of a triple-double in a signal that he’s getting off the schneid.  Cult legend Jin Soo Kim furthered the feel-good atmosphere by scoring his first points in ACC play. 

Perhaps the two biggest pieces of news, besides the victory itself, are that Sean Mosely started at the point (and played pretty decently) in place of the psychologically battered Eric Hayes, and Cliff Tucker was benched entirely. Tucker and his mother are upset about it. But whatever. Want more PT, Cliff?  Stop scoring three points a game and yucking it up on the bench during losses.

I don’t know if any of these moves are a long-term solution, but it was good to see Gary doing something to spark the troops. At least for one day, it worked. But the Terps still have a long, rugged, twisting, turning, hellaciously steep path back into the light. No rest for the weary, either:  Carolina’s up tomorrow night.  Get the chicken soup ready.




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badge/terps.win.jpg

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