The "New" Terp Fan

12/15/2009 6:11:53 PM Boy I was ready to lay into young Ethan for his remark in the previous post about Gary Williams "screwing up" the Ross situation should the young man decide not to sign with the Terps. I got all lathered up.... I was like Artest heading into the crowd ready to tear someone's head off (sorry for the 4 year old reference). Then I noticed that a lot of you guys beat me to it. How dare the youngster say such things about GW. I know we all have our opinions on Gary and what he's done and how much longer he should be doing it, but how could he say that Gary could 'screw up' the recruiting?

Then I relaxed and thought about it. I certainly don't agree with that sentiment, but I can see where it comes from. Think about it. We all lived through the program at it's worst. Most of us remember where we were when the Bias story hit. Folks my age (35), who are alums, were at the school when Joe Smith, Keith Booth, Johnny Rhodes, etc. brought the school back. We were there in 1995 and in 1998 when we toppled number one UNC at home. We remember nearly every play from the 2001 Final 4 and the jubilation of 2002.

But for a current sophomore in College Park, they were 4 years old when Joe Smith was a freshman. They were 8 years old when we beat Carter and Jamison in 1998 (well, Carter didn't play, but you know what I mean!). They were 11 in '01 and just 12 when we won the national title. The Terps were a top team for most of their entire childhood and they went to College Park with expectations. After all the success, these current students were spoiled. Therefore, they don't truly realize the history. I think you can read about it and perhaps watch some shows about it, but most of us have lived that history. It gives us a different perspective, and it gives THEM a different perspective.

They see the lack of top recruits as a failure by Gary, and it some ways it has been. The margin for error is small for a team without a breakout star. Gary does not play the AAU game and that has cost us. And after the Washington Post hatchet job from last year, most of these students see the program in a negative light.

If those students saw the way the students were in the 90's, they would be embarrassed by some of their behavior, like booing their own players. But that being said, young sports fans are all fickle these days. In most places, if you win, you'll have great crowds. If you lose and the expectations were high, you will get booed. Think of the Redskins fans who booed when the team kneeled to run out the clock to WIN a game earlier this year. It's tough.

Now, I sound like an old guy. I know it. I'm not saying those students need to change the way they root for their team. It's up to them to decide how they want to cheer. But I understand how things are different now than they were when we were students.

Now, as for the Ross situation. Anybody can see that if this kid keeps his word and comes to College Park next year, we will have a very exciting team. I think they have a chance to do a lot of great things over the next couple of years should they keep the team intact. The current senior class will be missed, but the speed and skill of the younger players, especially those coming in next year can really bring that success back into the program so we aren't sweating over a few losses in November or December.

It's in most of us to be nervous and pessimistic over whether we will lose recruits these days. We have reason to. But let's hope that Mr. Ross decides that this is a chance for him not only to bring the Terps back into the top 10 in the country, but to play in the best conference in the country. Why roll the dice with one of those other programs with questionable people in charge? You know, those coaches who will bolt at the earliest sign of trouble (usually of their own making). Gary Williams makes players better. I challenge anyone to give me a list of more than 3 or 4 guys who did not improve under Gary. I put Gary's credentials up against any other coach out there and Ross should know he's going to a great program led by a great coach and with some of the most passionate fans in all of college basketball.

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