Posts Tagged ‘the Maryland program


Maryland alternate uniforms: Black vs. Gold
















 Time for some more Shell Games crack reporting.

Did you know that Maryland is the only D-1 school with FOUR team colors? It’s true, my friend.  And with all these colors come many opportunities for uniform sales designs. And ever since Nike took it over, everyone’s gotten a little more greedy inventive. Hence the gold and black alternate uniforms.

They’re both tight unis. No question. So the real question is, which one has better karma?

As you know, on Tuesday the Terps rocked the blacks at Carolina but got rocked 108-91 (nice word play, MASH,  hey, thanks, MASH, I appreciate that).  But did you know they first wore the blacks back in 2004, and lost a scrimmage to some Italian team?  That is not a good sign. Not hospitaliano as I know it. After that, a superstitious Gary Williams shelved the jerseys, supposedly forever. But back they came for the Terps’ 2006 ACC tournament game against Boston College, which the Terps promptly lost 80-66. And now there’s the Carolina game. The lesson here: get the hell rid of those black jerseys right the hell now. Burn them in the alley and watch the ghosts fly out.  They look pretty good, so maybe down the road break them out against Central Delaware Tech or something and try to build a new legacy. But for now, they need at least a few years of non-existence.

Now for the golds. Of course, these are a holdover from the Lefty Driesell years, but Maryland first wore the new-school golds last season in a 73-48 win over Holy Cross. They rocked the gold again a week ago in a big 73-68 win over Miami.

So by my count, they’re 0-3 in the blacks and 2-0 in the golds. There you have it. Case closed. Gold uniforms for every game. This is the answer we’ve all been looking for. We’re through the looking glass here, people.  You can mail the Pulitzer to my house.

(Photo credits: Gold uni: Jonathan Newton — The Washington Post; Black uni: The ACC)


It’s getting ugly out there


Ye gods. You can tell a situation is getting bad when it shows up on the ESPN ticker. I looked out of the corner of my eye and saw something to the effect of: “Maryland assistant athletic director Kathy Worthington says Gary Williams released recruits himself, contrary to Williams’ previous statements.” Then there was another line: “Maryland head coach Gary Williams states that ‘the next time I see her, Kathy Worthington will feel the back of my hand.'”

Well, maybe not. But he did tell reporters that “Kathy Worthingon has never won a national championship. She has never done anything.”  Jesus. Of course, Gary’s true target here is athletic director Debbie Yow, whose sister, Kay, just lost a very long and public battle with cancer.  This is beyond messy. The full transcript of Gary’s rather defensive comments are here.

This lash-out comes on the heels of the athletic department’s own rebuttal of Gary’s claim that he was not the one who prevented certain recruits from coming to Maryland, with the implication (for some, anyway) seeming to be that the athletic department, and not Williams, icksnayed the players. But then the AD went and drug out a paper trail on him, in a display that, as the D.C. Sports Bog points out, seemed precisely calibrated to inflict maximum damage and embarrassment on Gary.

If Gary was intending to get his team’s poor performance off the front pages, he has succeeded, at least for the time being. He has also sent a message to Yow, who is apparently his mortal blood enemy, that he will not be going quietly.

And make no mistake — given this war of words, Gary is gone after this year barring a dramatic turnaround. Like it or not, the writing is on the wall.  And with half of the team’s final 10 games against Duke, Wake, Clemson, and Carolina TWICE, and with the team needing at least seven more wins in general and a couple more “signature” wins to make the tourney, I’m not expecting said turnaround (hoping yes, expecting no). And Gary knows all of this. This is the basketball coach equivalent of stealing office supplies and peeing in the coffee pot on his way out.  Here’s hoping that he won’t need a letter of reference.


The noose is tightening for Gary Williams

This post is a little long, but hang with me, it’ll be worth it (hopefully)…

There seem to be two emerging schools of thought on Saturday’s Duke loss. One side is that it was simply a tough (very tough) loss for the Terps — i.e., it was an awful game, but there really wasn’t any deeper “meaning” to it. The other side is that the Terps were exposed as a fatally flawed group that personifies the deeper failings of a program in decline.  This other side, which is seeing a real surge in membership today, wants change. What this means is that they want Gary Williams’ head on a silver platter, surrounded by field greens and dried cranberries. I’m kind of over field greens, but still, what a lovely presentation that would be.  Except for the head part, which would be a little macabre.

The criticism is hitting a fever pitch. Gary’s name now comes up on TV segments like “Who’s On The Bigger Hot Seat” and so forth. One of WaPo’s Terps beat guys, Steve Yanda, said in his online discussion that the Duke game was “the worst performance I have ever seen from a Division I program.”  That’s a bold statement. National college hoops pundit (and Dookie) Seth Davis said in a recent mailbag that “Maryland looks like it’s going to be irrelevant for the foreseeable future.”  Ouch.

You can tell it’s bad when people are not only speculating that Gary will be fired, but speculating on his replacement as well. The Examiner suggests Oklahoma coach and local boy Jeff Capel. Fans and bloggers are throwing out names as quickly as they come to mind. Memphis’ John Calipari, Miami’s Frank Haith, and Xavier’s Sean Miller seem like popular selections. Others point to Gary’s tense relationship with athletic director Debbie Yow as more evidence that his firing may be inevitable. (Still others want to fire Yow herself, but that’s a topic for another day.)

Discussion board posters and bloggers love to parse and re-parse the Gary situation, grind it up, beat it into dust, reconstitute the dust into a kind of putty using their own urine, and grind it up again.  Every fan knows what the problems are:  He can’t (or won’t) recruit top talent. The talent he does get doesn’t always meet its potential. Today’s players are put off by his intensity.  He has problems getting consistent effort from his guys.  His teams lack poise and appear sloppy.  (Personally, I think he goes too easy on his guards and too hard on his bigs, but that’s just my own pet theory.)

So those are the problems.  No real debate there, despite the constant discussion they elicit.  The real debate is whether they should fire him.  Those who say yes simply point to the aforementioned problems and the recent postseason drought.  Those who say no point to the championship, the two Final Fours, and the fact that Gary came to his alma mater while it was under NCAA sanction and lifted it back into prominence. They also ask, fairly, who would replace Gary. Top D-1 coaches don’t grow on trees.

Here’s my take, if anyone cares.  I love Gary. I remember how jacked up I would get, standing in the student section and getting the fist pump from him as he walked to the bench during warm-ups. I would love nothing more than to see him ride off into the sunset on his own terms. But at this moment, he is embarrassing himself.  Over and over again. Everyone loves to complain about the “what have you done for me lately” attitude in the sports world, but let me ask you this:  If you performed really well in your job for many years, but then sucked it up for four or five straight years, wouldn’t you be hearing whispers, too?  Even if they didn’t fire you, wouldn’t there at least be some kind of mandate that you improve your performance immediately, or else?

I personally believe we’re at the “improve or else” stage.  I don’t want to start settling for this “gee, I hope we make the Dance this year” mentality. I know there are off years, and I know that the playing field is more level now between the BCS schools and the mid-majors, but Maryland should be a lock for the big tournament more or less every year.  So if they don’t improve this season, and next year’s new recruits don’t make a big difference, then I say it’s decision time.  At that point it would become a question of whether the school prefers the devil they know versus the devil they don’t.  And is fear of the unknown really a good reason to hang on to a coach?  Does blind loyalty eventually just become blindness?  How long can a fan base hold onto old memories without needing any new ones?  Is a true fan the one who refuses to criticize, or is it the one who criticizes the loudest?  Is it a matter of believing in your team through thick and thin, or is it a matter of the emperor wearing no clothes?

So that’s my take, but I’m not even sure he’ll get that long.  Given what we know and where we stand right now, I think it’s very possible that, in three months, we’ll all be saying that Saturday’s loss at Duke was the beginning of the end for Gary Williams’ time at Maryland.

(Update: It’s getting worse between Gary and the athletic department. Like it or not, this could be an irreparable rift.)


Basketball vs. Football: Which team needs more mental help?


The most frustrating part of being a Maryland fan lately may not be the fact that the teams are falling short of the mythic heights they reached earlier in the decade. The problem is that the potential is basically there, but the teams constantly prove to be their own worst enemies. I don’t know if it’s because they want to marry their mothers or because the balls give them an inferiority complex, but when it comes to the Terps, it’s all between the ears.

The basketball team’s implosion Wednesday against Miami was just the latest example — and the ho-hum response to the meltdown showed just how commonplace this has become. As repeatedly documented, the team does not perform well when the game has direct implications for their season or they are playing an opponent they are expected to beat.

The football team hasn’t fared much better. Sure, they make bowl games, but an ACC team could line up my mama at tight end and still make one of those. That’s the beauty of playing in a BCS conference. This is a team that loses to Middle Tennessee State, then beats a ranked Cal team…beats a ranked Clemson team, then loses 31-0 to a terrible Virginia squad.

So who is in greater need of a little quiet time on the therapy couch?  Let’s break it down, armchair-psychiatrist style.

They say team personalities mirror that of their coach, so it makes sense that Gary Williams’  Terps are a high-strung bunch, capable of big ups and big downs. Sometimes, they seem overwhelmed by the moment. Other times, they achieve nice things, but only when they are not expected to do so and can play the role of “giant killer.” Diagnosis: bipolar disorder with severe anxiety and panic attacks, fear of success. Prescription: Zoloft, Effexor, Xanax as needed.

If the basketball team sometimes runs too hot, the football team seems to run a little cold. High expectations also create extra stress for the football team, although they seem to respond a little better than the basketball team. Overall, they need a big challenge, like a ranked opponent, or else they get bored and lose motivation. So the challenge needs to be high, but it can’t be too high. Diagnosis: ADHD with mild comorbid anxiety, general malaise. Prescription: Adderall, Wellbutrin.

So it looks to me like the basketball team needs the couch time a little more. The football team is a roller coaster ride, to be sure, but the solution seems simpler: just get them to pay attention. The basketball team’s problems are a little murkier.  Hey, basketball team. Wanna go for a little ride?



I tip my cap to mid-major cannon fodder

Are you excited for the 2008 Delaware State University Hornets basketball season?  If so, that makes one of us.  And not one of us as in you and me.  One of us, as in, one of us members of the human race.  Not even the school’s athletic department is excited, at least if their Web site is any indication.  I went there to check out the team’s schedule, and the site appears to have been created using a Tandy and a stack of punch cards.   Have a look:


Delaware State Hornet Athletics

Delaware State University Hornet Athletics


Thank God for field hockey

Without field hockey, and men’s soccer, Terp fans wouldn’t have much to be proud of right now.

First, on Saturday the football team lost to BC to wrap up its season the way the mobsters wrapped up that dead fish in “The Godfather.” Meow Mix Bowl, here we come. Despite the crazy ups and downs, the team ended exactly where most people (including us) thought they would — smack in the middle of Mediocre Town. Maybe they can celebrate the season with mashed potato sandwiches and Miller Lite drafts at the Medicore Town Diner, followed by a lecture from Friedgen on the Jimmy Carter presidency. I can already hear the polite applause.

It’s a Sicilian message. It means
“welcome to the Meineke Car Care Bowl.”

So after that, the hoops team follows up a bad loss to Gonzaga with an even worse loss to Georgetown. The Hoyas took a scalpel to the Terps — it was clinical, it was ruthless, and it was humiliating. Outplayed, outcoached, outhustled, outeverythinged. When the Terps were on defense, the Hoyas slashed the interior to ribbons until the Terps packed the middle with a zone, at which point Georgetown simply knocked down open perimeter shots. When the Terps were on offense, the Hoyas screwed down on Vasquez, perhaps figuring that not only is Vasquez the team’s only consistent offensive threat, but that intense pressure was likely to force Vasquez into sloppy mistakes. The final Vasquez line: 2 points, 4 assists, 4 turnovers. But that wasn’t even the worst line of the night. For that, of course, we must go to the frontcourt, where, in 21 minutes of play, Braxton Dupree finished with 6 points, 1 turnover, zero blocks, and zero rebounds. Again, he got 21 minutes. Just FYI, Jerome Burney and Dino Gregory each got 4 rebounds in 8 minutes of play. Draw your own conclusions.

Bottom line: the football season ended with a whimper, and if the basketball team doesn’t treat this weekend as a wake-up call, they may not even get a whimper out before their cold dead carcass hits the hardwood. Better moments could be in store for the hoops team, but if the football team and previous basketball seasons are any indication, another up-and-down campaign will just mean more mashed potato sandwiches real soon. If they’re lucky. Gulp.


It’s a Shell Games field trip!

This Saturday’s tilt against Florida State will be HUGE for the Terps.  A win puts them in the driver’s seat of their division. And if Wake also beats BC on Saturday, we’re in the ACC championship.

So yeah, lots riding on this. And what makes it even more exciting is that the Shell Games staff — all two of us — will be in attendance.  Tickets are purchased, spousal permission forms are signed, cameras and hip flasks are charged up, lunch money is taped to our jacket linings. 

To make Byrd Stadium extra intimidating (I guess), they’re encouraging fans to wear black:

This kind of works out for me, as I was planning to wear black anyway — with a predicted high of only 39 degrees, I’ll need it in order to absorb the sun’s precious rays.  On the other hand, I’m getting tired of these contrived stadium gimmicks.  Let’s all wear a certain color! Does it matter whether it’s the actual team color?  Shut up! Hey, let’s all wave dish towels over our heads!  Everyone bang thunder sticks!  Everyone learn the macarena! Everyone bring one red carnation wrapped in a banana leaf!  Everyone wear adult diapers! It’s like the Terp marketing team comes up with new gimmicks, campaigns, and jersey designs just so they have something to talk about at their weekly staff meetings.  But it’s a larger issue, too.  Every crowd is the same now.  Same gimmicks, same jumbotron, same cheers, same songs.  Everyone jingles their keys on third down, everyone hops around when their hoops team is on a run.  Et cetera.   Some times certain sports leagues are accused of being “copycat.”  I guess that now goes for many fan bases, too. Or at least PR staffs.  Hey, you guys want an intimidating environment for the other team?  Sell beer.

Anyway, it looks like tickets are still available for the game.  How is this not sold out?  I feel like there are a lot of Maryland fans out there who get up for the Duke game at Comcast Center and nothing else.  We’ve got a conference championship in the balance here!

I’m sure it will be rockin once kickoff rolls around, especially since it’s at 7:45. Someone’s going to break the campus police’s BAC record.  Let’s just hope it’s not me.  And let’s hope Terphed has some black he can wear so university marketing security doesn’t find him and extract him at the turnstiles.


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April 2020