Posts Tagged ‘Lance Stephenson

02
Jul
09

Cincinnati loves the bad boys, thinks it can change them

From the pages of the obvious files, former Terp recruiting target Lance Stephenson has chosen Cincinnati. It’s not unlike the day that peanut butter chose jelly, that Amy chose Blake, that Hall chose Oates…looking back the whole thing seemed scripted. The talented-but-troubled blah blah blah picked the school with the history of thuggery, low graduation rates, me-first play, etc. Although if Kenyon Martin hadn’t broken his leg that year at Cincy, the Bearcats were going all the way. That team was STACKED.

But, well, this team isn’t. Probably one of the reasons why they don’t care about his sexual abuse scandal. Hell, Lance, they’re gonna throw in a few of those special massage ladies for you. Go to town, baby…they’re on retainer and they don’t have green cards. If you could just close your door there first, that’d be great. See no evil and all. Or leave it open. That’s cool, too. Whatever you want, Lance. Hey, if you get bored later I’ve got some fingerprint-resistant tire irons in my trunk. Neat stuff, right? Where do they come up with these ideas?

Seriously, though, good luck to Lance at Cincinnati and in his future pro career with the Oakland Raiders.

Before I go, also from the obvious files, did you know that Dookies are boy lovers? I know…news flash! Offended? Have J.J. write a poem about it.

Happy 4th!

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17
Jun
09

thank goodness for greivis

“I love him,” Williams said yesterday as he sat at the conference table in his office at Maryland.

“I love Coach,” Vasquez says often.

Mike Wise, Washington Post, 6/17/09

And I love both of those guys.

All I have to say is thank goodness for Greivis.  For all his trash talking and middle fingering, Vasquez is the heart and soul of the Terrapins, not to mention that he’s also most of their offense.  I breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when Vasquez withdrew his name from the NBA Draft.  It would have been a shame for him to go undrafted and lose his eligibility, stranding the Terps without a leader and with a big hole in the back court.

In his column, Wise alluded to the fact that Vasquez will use this draft snub as motivation to run faster and jump higher.  I disagree with that assessment.  Greivis is the one guy that doesn’t have room for more motivation.  Whether you love or hate him, you can’t question this guy’s drive.  He literally willed the team into the tournament last year.

As for the reports that the Terps have given up on Lance Stephenson, I say good riddance.  I’m sure he’s as talented as everyone says he is, and I admit that I’ve written in the past that he could have been the missing link for a deep tournament run this year.  But let’s face it, the kid would have brought the circus to town.  The last time I wrote about Stephenson I hadn’t realized that he stood accused of sexual assault.  Maryland is first and foremost a respected academic institution.  Would the school want to bring in a kid that stands accused of sexual assault to be the face of the program?  No.  Leave that to the Memphises and Floridas of the world.  It seemed clear that Williams and Stephenson would have been oil and water.  No matter how talented he is, one year with Stephenson could have done more damage than good.

Like last year, the Terps will be coming into this season with front court auditions and holes in the rotation.  Unlike last year, the Terps will come into this year knowing they have a guy that can lead the team to the tournament.  If the rest of the team works as hard as Greivis does, then there’s hope they can make a legitimate run at the ACC.

02
Jun
09

stephenson may fall to terps yet

Lance climbs up the ladder, then down it.

Lance climbs up the ladder, then down it.

Talented?  Undoubtedly.  Head case?  It appears so.  Enigma?  Too many rhetorical questions.

In a rare sign that college coaches may actually have a conscience about the character of the players they recruit, Arizona has announced that their roster is full and they are not interested in Lance Stephenson.  Kansas and Kentucky have reportedly filled their starting back courts with players that have come back to school.  That basically leaves Maryland and St. John’s as the front runners.  Although St. John’s might have a local edge on the NY player, Maryland has a much bigger program of late and would provide the blue chip with a much larger stage to showcase his pro talent.

Stephenson’s coachability is still a major question.  I don’t think he’s a fit for the combustible Gary Williams.  The only thing that works is that he is clearly a one-and-done player, and with Vasquez likely to come back to school the Terps would have one of the top back courts in the nation for next year.  If Williams lands Stephenson he would permanently get the media off his back regarding blue chip recruits, although this might be a “for better or for worse” scenario.

For now, it appears as though the Terps might actually be in the driver’s seat to win the Lance Stephenson sweepstakes.  Let’s recognize that it would be a circus with Lance in town, but a circus can be very entertaining.  Stephenson would make Maryland an instant contender for 2009.  It’s just one year baby.  One year.

Just one thing Lance: Please take your own SATs.

02
Apr
09

Lance, I want you to let down your defenses

gary_williams1

Gary Williams: Hi, Lance. Hey, thanks again for agreeing to meet me here.

t1_stephenson_si1

Lance Stephenson:  Sure. Hey, coach, I just want to say I’m sorry…you know, for putting you through all this. It’s just that…I’m just very confused right now.

Gary: I know you are, Lance. And that’s okay. I’m not mad. You know I would never pressure you.  That’s the last thing I would ever do.

Lance: You have no idea what it means to me to hear you say that.  Because, you know, one day, you feel so sure of yourself.  Everything was, you know, set up. Life was finally — finally! — coming together for me. And then I saw you in the stands the other night, and, well, all the old feelings just came rushing back.

Gary: When you say it was all coming together — you mean Kansas, right? You were going to go to Kansas?

Lance (looks down demurely): Yes. Yes, Gary. I won’t lie to you. I was going to go to Kansas. But then you were there! In the stands! I…everything just unraveled.

Gary: And that’s okay, Lance. It’s okay to have these feelings. Hey, I know a lot of schools are interested in you. Who wouldn’t be? You’re an amazing guy, Lance. You’re a 6’5″ guard with huge ups and a perimeter game to boot. You can get into the lane whenever you want. Does it hurt me to see these other schools wooing you? Sure, it hurts. Of course it hurts. I’m a human being, after all. Never forget that. But even so, despite all that, I want you to know, Lance…that I’m here for you. I’ll always wait. You know what’s been going on with me lately. I just haven’t been right. Don’t you see that you’re my big chance to turn it all around? You could be the one who saves me, Lance. I see myself complete in your eyes.

Lance: Wow, coach. I mean…wow. Hearing you talk like that, well, it makes me want to sign a letter of intent right here, on this table. But then I look at your team, and I see…I see…

Gary: What is it, Lance. You can tell me anything.

Lance: I just can’t stop myself from thinking about Greivis.

Gary: What? Greivis Vasquez?

Lance: Yes, coach. You know what Greivis I’m talkin about. Don’t insult my intelligence. Don’t you do that to me, Gary!

Gary: Okay, no, you’re right. I’m sorry. Yes, he does play the same position as you. And he’s a senior next year. So maybe playing time will be limited for you. At least the first season.

Lance: But what if I’m only there for one season? I have my future to think about, too. Everyone keeps telling me I’m a lottery pick, that I could be a lottery pick right now if the rules allowed it. So I can’t make you any promises beyond one season.

Gary: And I know that, Lance, I really do. I swear on my mother’s grave.

Lance: Don’t swear on your mama’s grave, Gary.

Gary: Okay, sorry, you’re right again. You’re always right, Lance.

Lance: I don’t care for swearing…especially about nobody’s mama.

Gary: Right. So I know you could go after one season. I know it. And that’s okay. Did I ever say you had to commit to me for more than one season?

Lance: Well…

Gary: Come on. Did I?

Lance: No, Gary. You didn’t.

Gary: Right. And that’s the kind of guy I am. I don’t know what Bill Self told you, or what the St. John’s guy told you, but I do know what I told you. And what I can promise you. And I can promise you this: if you come to Maryland, we will make it work. We’re gonna make beautiful music together, Lance. Just you wait and see.

Lance: I want to believe you, Gary. It’s just…I just need….I just need a little more time.

Gary: Fine, Lance. Take all the time you need. Late signing period is April 15 to May 20. Take all the damn time you need.

Lance: Don’t swear at me!

Gary: Waiter! Double chivas on the rocks, please!

01
Apr
09

blue chip watch: stephenson on the fence

The Post reported today that McDonald’s All-American Lance Stephenson has delayed his decision regarding which school he wants to play for.  Stephenson is Maryland’s top prospect, and his decision is to choose between Maryland, Kansas, and St. John’s.  According to the article, the late recruiting period runs through May 20th, so we may not know Stephenson’s choice for weeks.

I have a few thoughts on Stephenson.  First, the kid has crazy talent but is apparently quite immature.  I have already said that I’m concerned that he might not be a good personality fit for Gary Williams.  He also might not be a good personality fit for College Park.  I’ve seen a few brutal bar fights on Rte. 1 in my time.

Second, the article stated that he’s leaning toward Kansas, but Williams came to visit him and his teammate at Lincoln High James Padgett, who will be a forward at Maryland next year.  One has to interpret this as a sign that he initially wanted to go to Kansas because it has a bit more direct NBA exposure, but the Williams visit combined with oncourt events for the Terps from the last few weeks might be swaying him toward going to Maryland.

Third, despite the fact that many Terps fans think Greivis Vasquez will go unpicked in the NBA draft, I believe there is a good chance he will go.  Vasquez had a strong showing in the postseason, and a few NBA players have touted his skills after playing against him in international competition.  Shawn Siegel at CollegeHoops.net has Greivis as a late second rounder.  If Vasquez is drafted, he’s got to go.  His family lives in Venezuela and they need the money.

I can imagine that Williams is feeling the heat to get Stephenson, because there will be a big hole in the lineup if Vasquez actually does leave.  What do you think he said to Lance on that trip up to NY?  “Lance, come on baby, you know you’re my guy.  Even if Greivis stays I’ll give you all of Mosely and Hayes’s minutes. Just come to Garyland.  Come to Garyalnd.”  The conversation probably went something like that.

The signs point toward Maryland getting Stephenson.  That should end the recruiting criticism of Gary once and for all.  The funny thing is, signing a letter of intent should be the easy part for Stephenson.  The hard part is winning.  Even if he is in a Terrapins uniform, Stephenson will have a lot of work to do to show he can be a winner.

02
Mar
09

damned if you do

The Washington Post broke a “story” this Sunday that the University of Maryland did not commit a recruiting violation when star basketball prospect Lance Stephenson visited the Under Armour headquarters during a recruiting trip to the area in late January.  The non-story was then picked up by the Baltimore Sun, New York Daily News, the Sporting News, and a number of other major news outlets.  Under Armour CEO Lance Plank is also on the board of trustees at UMD because his company is a major donor to the school’s athletic programs.  Although they have not violated and NCAA recruiting rules with this visit, Plank and Stephenson have given an air of impropriety due to the associations between the university and the company.  That’s the gist of it.

The Post recently wrote a three-part series on how Gary Williams can’t recruit and his team is suffering for it.  Since then, Williams has righted the ship and has the team on the verge of making the big tournament.  The stories sparked boosters, fans, and other school supports to put on an overwhelming display of support for Williams.  What do we have here?  I’m guessing that Eric Prisbell and Steve Yanda needed something else to keep themselves in print, so they looked back through their notes on the recruiting stories, noticed this tidbit about Stephenson, and decided to make something out of nothing.

I think the Post needs to make-up its mind on whether they are for or against Maryland recruiting blue chips.  The paper has a lot of influence over the university and how it conducts its business.  What is it going to be?  Should we go after the All-World players with borderline personality disorders, or should we stick with the system Gary already had in place, which was to get diamonds in the rough and try to mold them into gems?  Maybe the Post can just tell Maryland what they want out of this situation instead of continually embarrassing the program on a national stage.  I think the writers there sometimes forget that the Post is not just a local paper.

Personally, I think Stephenson is a specimen but I would pass on him.  I wouldn’t pass on him because of this Under Armour garbage, but because I’ve heard he has problems with authority, and he’s probably not the kind of guy that would thrive in this system.  We have some other talented guys coming in.  Gary should probably take a flier on Stephenson like he has on other borderline guys in the past.  That’s his system, and he should stick to it.

That’s how I feel.  Isn’t it amazing how easy it was to interpret the message of this story when I simply stated it rather than beat around the bush?

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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