Taking Stock Of The Basketball Team

11/29/2010 1:20:35 PM
Throw it down, big man!
(Photo Credit: Inside Maryland Sports)
Over the last 10 days, Terp fans have endured quite the roller coaster ride.  Both the football and basketball teams have put us through the ringer emotionally. While the football team's ride ended on a high note; the basketball team's ride is just getting started.

The ride started in Madison Square Garden, where the basketball team hung tough; but ultimately lost to some top-ranked opponents.  Both Pitt and Illinois have elements that we will see again this year (big interior players, athletic guards). 

While any loss is disappointing; I found silver linings in both of these games.  Jordan Williams proved he can be a force against anyone.  Ditto for Cliff Tucker.  The Terps' backcourt cut down on turnovers.  If not for poor free throw shooting; the Terps would have likely left NYC with a split.  What's more, the FT shooting is already showing signs of improvement.

The freshman showed flashes of brilliance and Gary is starting to learn how and when to ride the hot hand between Stoglin and Howard.  Weijs looks like a real find.  Palsson seems to do everything well and could really be a big contributor if his shot ever starts falling. 

Thanksgiving week offered up two cupcakes (Delaware State and Elon College).  The Terps didn't destroy either team; but they demonstrated their ability to dominate when necessary.  Also, we saw improved play from Dino Gregory and James Padgett; both of whom are essential to any success we hope to enjoy this season.

At 5-2, our Terps are heading into the most crucial week before the ACC gets underway.  A road game against Penn State on Wednesday followed by Temple this weekend at the MCI Center.

Penn State is beatable; but road games are not to be taken for granted and this is the Terps first one of the season.  Temple is ranked and they play a style that is counter to Gary's run and pressing.  If the Terps can go undefeated this week; the losses in NYC will be all but a distant memory.   The Terps will be poised to enter the ACC season with a good non-conference resume.

Speaking of the ACC; it could be an epically bad year for the conference. Only Duke is undefeated. When was the last time you could say that in November?  The Big Ten is probably going to beat the ACC in the Challenge for the second straight season and some of the schools look downright awful.  Georgia Tech, UVA, Wake Forest look as though they are in store for historically bad seasons.  Wake's has lost to Stetson, Winthrop, and VCU.  Virginia has lost by wide margins to Washington (by 43 points!), Stanford (21 points), and Wichita State (12 points). Not to be outdone, Georgia Tech got shellacked at home by Kennesaw State (17 points), although they did lose respectably to Syracuse (4 points).  And that is what it has come down to for the ACC: a search for silver linings like "respectable losses" and I haven't even gotten to what looks like a wildly overrated UNC squad. 

All of this mediocrity points to an incredible opportunity for the Terps.  If the boys can survive this week unscathed; they should be a Tournament lock if they can capitalize on all the rebuilding being done at the bottom of the conference.

It all starts Wednesday.  The Nittany Lions have no basketball tradition whatsoever.  We don't need to give them anything to hang their hat on by coming out flat on Wednesday. Go out and take what's yours, Terps.

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