2009-10 Maryland Terrapins Basketball Preview, Part I

10/21/2009 9:50:14 PM

Gary Williams on the court during the Maryland...
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I started this blog the year I graduated from Maryland's Smith School of Business in 2004.  I believe my "season preview" post for that 04-05 season predicted an Elite 8 appearance as the Terps were poised to build off their improbable run in the 2004 ACC Tournament.  John Gilchrist looked like he was headed for the NBA Lottery and all signs pointed to the Terps remaining in the upper echelon of college basketball.

What a dismal five years it has been in retrospect.  In fact, I'm starting to think that Turtle Soup is bad luck.

If only it were that simple! In fact, the Terps problems were easy to pinpoint. We've all learned that a successful program must prepare for success.  It doesn't just magically appear.  The great John Wooden said it best, "failing to prepare is preparing to fail" Gary Williams has learned his lessons better than anyone.

Fans and alumni have been heartened by Gary's rededication to recruiting.  Many of us (including myself) now see a path back to sustained success thanks to these efforts.

It started last year with the addition of Sean Mosley, a four-star recruit from Baltimore.  It continues this year as Gary and the Terps welcome two four-star recruits, Jordan Williams and James Padgett. Next year looks even better; but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Padgett and Williams will be immediately called upon to plug the holes in the frontcourt.  Their progression throughout the season is the most crucial component to the Terps success.

But before I get into my analysis of the team player by player; let's take a look at the schedule.  I'm going to break down the schedule and try to make some predictions about the upcoming season.  Now, before you scoff at my attempt to predict the future; one need only look at the last paragraph I penned in last season's preview:
According to my count, the Terps will finish the season 22-8 (10-6) in the regular season. That’s good enough for a #3 seed in the conference and a #5 seed in the Big Dance. Yes, in perhaps his greatest coaching job ever, Gary Williams gets it done and proves the doubters wrong.

Ok, so I was way off on the conference and regular season win totals; but look at that last sentence!  It was like I had a crystal ball!  Who could look back at last season and not agree that Gary Williams pulled off a sublime performance? (which begs the question, what on earth was I smoking to think that the Terps were winning 10 ACC games last year?)

Now, that I've simultaneously built up and destroyed my credibility; I give you my annual stab at predicting the record for the upcoming season:

Easy Wins aka Cupcakes aka Teams that if we lose to will cause me to put a hole through my flatscreen TV

(Note: I realize that we have lost to cupcakes in each of the last two years so my flatscreen is not feeling safe right now)

- Indiana U of PA (DII)

- Charleston Southern

- Fairfield

- New Hampshire

- Chaminade (DII)

- Eastern Ky

- Winston Salem State

- Florida Atlantic

- William and Mary

- UNC Greensboro

- Longwood (??)

By my count that is 10 easy wins, two of which don't count in the eyes of the Tournament committee because they are against DII schools (note: I can't tell if the IUP game is an exhibition or not. Either way it doesn't matter I guess.). Let's call it 8 wins and let's move on.

Tough Non-Conference Games

- Cinncinnati/Vanderbilt (Born Ready Alert!)

- Maui Classic third round game (opponent TBD)

- Indiana University (of Indiana)

- Villanova

Considering the fact that Jordan Williams has already predicted that MD will win the Maui Classic, who am I to argue?  Nevermind the fact that I can't recall the Terps ever winning a preseason tournament.  I'm giving Jordan and the Terps the benefit of the doubt.  The field in Maui is pretty weak (Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Colorado, and Arizona are possible opponents) and none of those teams have the senior leadership that Maryland boasts.

As for the other two games; I think we win one of them.  IU is on the road but coming off a horrendous season.  Nova is a top 5 team, but the game is in DC.  The final tally is that Maryland comes away with three "quality" non-conference wins out of four.

Before we head into the ACC season, our Terps should be 11-1 (12-1 counting Chaminade and 13-1 counting IUP).

ACC Schedule

My quick primer on the ACC is as follows:  Duke is down and wildly overrated, UNC is good but reloading, Ga Tech is a sexy pick, FSU will be tough and so will Clemson.  BC, UVA, VaTech, NC State, and Miami will suck as usual and Wake is rebuilding.

Home Games:

- FSU

- NC State

- Miami

- UNC

- UVA

- Ga Tech

- Clemson

- Duke

I see Maryland struggling against UNC, Ga Tech, FSU, and, Clemson (I'm telling Duke is going to be bad). That said, we should win our home games and I think we can ome away with a 6-2 home record. For those keeping score; that's 17 wins so far.

Road Games:

- at BC

- at Clemson

- at FSU

- at Wake

- at Duke

- at NC State

- at Va Tech

- at UVA

Road games in the ACC are nearly impossible to predict; but I look at the schedule and see 4 wins. I think Va Tech, UVA, and NC State are winnable and we should be able to pull out one more on this list.  Based on my calculations; I've got the Terps coming in with 21 wins, and 7 losses.

I'm about to set a record for longest post ever; so I'll leave it at that for now.  Let the dissection begin.
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