Midnight Madness 2011

10/14/2011 1:27:49 PM Not since 1992 have we entered a Midnight Madness with lower expectations than this season.

Gary Williams' retirement and Jordan Williams early and unfortunate departure have left the program at a crossroads.

The hiring of Mark Turgeon and his early recruiting successes have given Terp Nation reason for optimism; but for most fans, that optimism starts next season when the new recruits arrive.

Well, allow me to be the quiet voice of optimism for this year's Terps. 

Most Terp watchers will tell you that all of Maryland's problems are in the frontcourt. For the most part, they are right.  We are thin and inexperienced.  However, all is not lost.

Assuming 7'1" Alex Len is cleared to play (a big "if"), then Terps will have an instant difference maker on the defensive end.  At the very least, he'll keep Maryland in games with his shot blocking and rebounding capabilities.  Len would have started at center for Maryland on any of the teams that have been fielded over the last 10 years.

At small forward, the Terps have an athletic duo of Nick Faust and Mike Parker.  Wait a minute!  Nick Faust is a shooting guard, right?  Wrong.  The kid has grown 2 inches in the last year.  He's currently 6'7" inches tall. He's can slash to the hole and knock down the three.  He's a classic 3 and his size will allow him to defend most small forwards in the league.  Parker, while raw, seems like an able back up.

Suddenly, the Terps look pretty solid at two of the three frontcourt positions.  As for the third and final, power forward, the Terps can utilize a two-pronged attack of James Padgett and Ashton Pankey.  Both kids have bulked up in the offseason and are healthy.  If Len plays, they should see rebounding opportunities as Len alters opponents' shots. Offensively, they may be deficient, but there should be significant scoring from the other four positions on the court.

Well, I've painted the rosiest of pictures, and of course things are not going to work out exactly as I've laid out; but hopefully, this puts you in an optimistic frame of mind as we head into a night that should be filled with excitement and anticipation.

As for tonight, the 2002 championship squad is returning to College Park (minus Lonny Baxter).  That is something that is truly worth celebrating.  Add in Grevis Vasquez and tonight's alumni game is sure to be entertaining.

Savor this one, folks because if we find ourselves fortunate enough to enjoy the rarest of sports joys: an unexpected successful season; every moment will be worth remembering--including Midnight Madness.

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