Everyone loves to wax poetic about how pitchers and catchers reporting to training camp (oh, those magical, erotic words!) is a harbinger of spring. But for us Murlanders and other enclaves up and down the Eastern Seaboard, the true harbinger is the start of lacrosse season. And the weather, of course. The weather is another strong harbinger.
With all that weather talk comes talk of metaphorical rebirth and so on. And the Terps men’s lacrosse team hopes to be on that bandwagon this year for sure. They started their 2011 campaign and a new chapter in their program Saturday with a 16-4 smearing of the Detroit Mercy I-Can’t-Believe-They-Have-Any-More-Sports-Teams-At-All-Much-Less-Lacrosses in the CP. Though if you want a good deal on a lacrosse field, Detroit Mercy is offering theirs for a bag of irregular claw hammers. Just FYI.
As you may recall, last season ended with a bitter postseason defeat to unseeded Notre Dame–a loss that cost coach Dave Cottle his job. But the team quickly recovered, hiring Harvard’sJohn Tillman to lead the squad. In addition, they return top scorers Grant Catalino and Ryan Young, who each finished in the top 50 last year in points per game.
So we’ll see how they do. Go Terps.
I have a breaking announcement. Are you sitting down? I’m sorry, it doesn’t matter…this can’t wait.
Maryland head basketball coach Gary Williams has announced his retirement. I know…hard to take. It’s a lot to absorb. But it’s true. While I am always wary of Internet rumor-propagating, I decided to go ahead and run with this. Here’s a little journalistic strategery for you: When they hold a press conference, that’s usually a giveaway that the info (or “scoop,” as we call it in “the industry”) is reliable.
I actually heard this news for the first time last week, from a source I’ve spent months cultivating by listening to the radio in my car. When the news came down, it caused me to ask myself certain questions. Why is a part of me not excessively optimistic about the search for Gary’s replacement? Why do I feel like Terrapins athletics are sinking into some kind of morass? Why do I have to pretend I understand root for lacrosse in order to watch a winning team from Maryland?
But perhaps the biggest area for introspection was around this very blog. I’ve been doing Shell Games for about three years now, two of which I undertook with my friend Ian. Posting daily about the Terps awoke in me a wide range of emotions: sadness, confusion, frustration, disappointment, consternation, concern, crestfallenness, befuddlement, nausea, angst, anxiety, anxiousness, and anger. Although maybe it wasn’t that bad. After all, nausea isn’t really an emotion, per se. It’s more of a symptom. So scratch that one.
After taking all of that in and giving it some thought, I have decided to follow the lead of coach Williams, one of my sports heroes, and close up shop on the Shell Games. As of this post, I’m calling it a blog.
That may beg the question: is this guy really comparing himself to the most successful coach in Maryland sports history? I would just respond to that by saying, yes, I am. Very astute of you to pick up on that.
How are we the same you ask…what do I have to do, draw you a map? Gary Williams won a national championship. I won a Mobbie. Gary Williams is married. And, hello, what’s this? Is that a wedding ring on my hand? It’s like we’re brothers from another mother. Moreover, Gary has hundreds of thousands of devoted fans. I have about ten, which looks a little like “thousand” if you squint. And I have even more fans if you count all those Russian pharmaceutical salesmen who have diligently left so many comments over the years. For the last time, guys: I’m happy with my current Flomax connection. But if or when I get the wandering eye, I’ll let you know.
So why did I come to this decision? Let me assure you I’ve lost none of my fondness or enthusiasm for the Terps, nor am I jumping off “the bandwagon” in any way, shape, or form. (In fact, I’ve found that the more dire a program’s status, the more fun it is to write about…have you counted the number of Redskins blogs lately?) The reason is that I’ve recently found myself in the happy position of gaining more freelance writing and editorial work, in addition to my full-time job and family responsibilities and what have you. As evidenced by the dwindling number of posts around here, this has forced me to make hard decisions about how I spend my time. As a result, running a sports blog (which, it may shock you to learn, is not terrifically lucrative) has drifted to the margins.
In all seriousness, I had great fun writing this. I loved doing it. Though it never exactly took the world by storm (the Terps blogosphere is surprisingly saturated), I’m proud of it and believe it was reasonably successful. I also like to think I provided news and analysis on Terps sports (and not just basketball and football, either) in a unique, or at least somewhat unusual, fashion.
This also doesn’t mean, however, that I’m done with sportswriting on the Internet. Do you like mixed martial arts? If you do, or you just want to keep tabs on me, I am now a featured MMA columnist over at Bleacher Report, a position I got thanks in no small part to SG. And please spare me the snickering and eye-rolling…I seem to remember the “mainstream media” hating on bloggers at first, just as bloggers now hate on Bleacher Report. Do we learn nothing from the past? Are we so desperate to validate ourselves that we eviscreate anything that brushes our sensors? Yeah, it may not be as great as YOUR site, but it’s a huge site, and getting huger (and better). As with the blogosphere and every other platform and vehicle that preceded it, the cream will rise to the top.
OK, now dismounting the soapbox. In addition to MMA, I also plan to write about basketball and maybe Maryland from time to time on the site. Feel free to check out my profile, which includes a recent story archive, here.
As for Twitter, I’m going to keep the feed up and running for now. I suspect the urge to opine might strike again some day, so I’ll at least keep this option open to myself. You can follow mehere.
If, for some reason, you still want to use the Internet to get Terps news despite my departure, anything in the blogroll to the right will more than suffice. Let me in particular recommendMaryland Basketball: Where Are They Now?, whose blogger, Mike, is good at what he does and was always a valued Shell Games supporter. So special shout-out to Mike and the always-worth-reading MBWATN.
I’ll definitely keep reading some or all of these blogs, and will follow the Terps as rabidly as ever. After all, I bleed Maryland red. And that’s not just idle talk like it is for so many others. I really do bleed red. Because of Maryland. Don’t question me on that. I WILL CUT MYSELF OPEN RIGHT NOW!
So there it is. I’m excited about what the future holds for me. I’m less excited about what the future holds for the Terps. But I’ll remain loyal to my alma mater through thick and thin. Thanks to everyone who took time over the years to read us, follow us, debate with us, and support us.
Oh, and one more thing: GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO TERPS!
(Photo credit: UMTerps.com)
So you may have noticed I haven’t posted in a while. I meant to. Really. First the dog ate one of my posts, and then I was washing my hair. But to be honest, I’ve had a lot of business travel, and am going to continue to have business travel. In addition to my day job, I’ve suddenly gotten a few writing gigs that actually, what’s the phrase I’m looking for, pay me. So that’s what I’ve been doing with myself. Plus, Maryland basketball couldn’t beat Miami in front of ten homeless people and the football program is failing its offseason. Every team has its ups and downs, and this would never dampen my enthusiasm for the Terps in any real way (nothing ever could). It’s just that this stuff is not exactly the kind of stuff that makes me run to the keyboard in the morning.
So long story short, I’m going to go on hiatus for a little while. Just a little while. I’m not closing up shop by any means…just gonna take a break and do some of this other stuff. But mark my words: I WILL be back, and probably sooner rather than later. After all, those big-time spring lacrosse games don’t pretend to watch themselves.
So keep me in your newsreader and keep following me (or just follow me) on Twitter, and I’ll let you know what’s going on through that. See you later, and GOOOOO TERPS!
P.S. Who am I kidding? I can’t stay away entirely…I’m still tweeting when games, big news, etc., happen. Apparently.
- Welp. Here we are. A season gone to pot, and a fan base awkwardly trying to celebrate a season and a group of players who don’t deserve it. It’s like when a disagreeable person dies, but everyone feels the need to be magnanimous at the funeral. He was, ehhh, his cursing was always really creative. Yeah! Yeah, that’s the ticket!Well, guess what. No one’s dead, and after that gutless shitty bed-puking at home on senior day in front of thousands of fans against garbage UVA, I don’t feel the need to be nice.
I can’t believe those guys rolled over on senior day like a bunch of dying whales. Full disclosure: I was on business travel and didn’t watch the game. But did I really need to? What mystically happened during this game that a fan simply had to eyewitness in order to understand the zeitgeist in a way that he or she couldn’t understand by looking at Twitter, all those pathetic stats and, you know, all those other games? Nothing, ok good so we agree.
Answer me this: if the season ended today, how do you think Maryland fans will remember the Bowie/Tucker year? I mean, they mailed it in on senior day. Yeah, I know the game didn’t mean anything, but how about One Last Effort For the Fans Who Supported Us?
Cliff Tucker: I actually liked you. What the fuck, dude? How are you gonna give up like that? Let’s face it: Bowie was never a world beater. He was a role player who because of awkward timing got caught facing a situation he was simply incapable of overcoming. But you had tools, Cliff. You could’ve gotten good, and you just didn’t do it.
Tucker and Bowie scored 10 points combined today on 2-8 shooting. So not only did the seniors combine for 25 percent shooting on senior night, they did it taking four shots apiece. They didn’t even go down swinging!
The exception here, of course, is Dino Gregory, who came on late to assume a senior leadership role with this team. But him and Jordan Williams and Terrell Stoglin simply couldn’t get the team over the hump. And why not? Because of Cliff Tucker, Adrian Bowie, and honorary senioritis sufferer Sean Mosley.
Speaking of Mosley, the three of them averaged five points apiece over the past five games. Way to be team leaders, guys. Way to nut up down the stretch, when your team needed its experienced upperclassmen the most. I wonder if Stoglin and Howard can even look you in the eye in the locker room.
And by the way, I don’t want to hear “well, Mosley’s defense got better” or whatever. Don’t be a Maryland apologist. The SID doesn’t need your help. Your team let you and themselves down. And now they’re in the NIT. Where did all that stay-positive gar-bahj get you? Nowhere, that’s where. And don’t give me any of that don’t-rip-the-players stuff either. If you’re mature enough to play D-1 basketball, you’re mature enough to take the arrows. After all, I don’t see them eschewing credit when things are good. You buy the ticket, you take the ride.
Look. Here’s the bottom line. I didn’t work hard in college either. I know what it’s like. But you know what? I regret that now. And something tells me that when Cliff Tucker’s team is running third in the Burkina Faso junior league, he’s going to regret this game today. He’ll wish he could say “at least I did it at Maryland when I had a chance.” Or “at least I made a memory for my family and friends and fans on senior day.” These guys did none of the above.
Moving forward, the best Tucker and Bowie can hope for is to play Jacob Marley to Mosley’s Ebenezer Scrooge. Become a better and more committed player, Sean! Or your chains will be heavier than ours!
Whatever. Just go win the ACC tournament. And if you can’t do that, win the NIT. And if you can’t do that, well, I guess that means we’re all out of if-then statements for you. Best of luck.
Crap! And they play Miami tonight? CRAP!!!
Wait, wait, wait. I thought it ended after they lost to Virginia Tech. You mean to tell me there were more games on the schedule? Wow. They played North Carolina, huh? Oh, was that in Chapel Hill? I think I caught some of that. If I remember correctly, I fell asleep about midway through the second.
Hey, at least I made it longer than the players. OHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, now that I’m awake, I guess I have to type something. Yeaaah, HUGE game tonight in Miami. They’ve never won there! Durand Scott! And so on. But whatever, they suck. We should beat them easily. You hear me? Easily. And that’s from a guy who’s been sleeping for the past week.
Actually, no self-respecting fan needs anyone to tell them anything at this point. We need to beat Miami, beat Virginia, then make a deep run in the ACC tourney. And that’s just to make Selection Sunday interesting. I personally think we need to win the tournament, but hey, that’s just me. I’m a pessimist.
At least Maryland’s in Joey Brackets’ “Next Four Out” now. That’s something. So we’ll spend the next couple weeks jockeying with the USCs and the Michigan States and we’ll see where we’re at. I guess we all need something to get us through the day. I choose quiet resignation and defeatism as a defense mechansim against disappointment. It’s almost as if I’ve been a Maryland fan for a really long time.
But again. Maybe that’s just me.
Game tonight is 7 p.m., ESPNU. By the way, there’s a cool Maryland-all-access-type show on at 6 p.m., same channel. Looks kind of cool, actually.
Welp. It’s not like people didn’t see this coming–people like oh I don’t know me. (In my opinion, it was all over after the Villanova game.) And now, even the delusional among us must admit that Maryland will now have to win the ACC tournament to make the big dance in March. Well, I guess they don’t have to do anything. They’re delusional. To the points:
- The Terps came out flat and stayed flat. How else can you say it? They shot 34 percent and missed a bunch of easy ones. It doesn’t take John Wooden to see what happened tonight.
- I never thought I’d write this sentence, but Jordan Williams got whored tonight by Reggie Johnson. And I don’t use that verb lightly. Ray-Jay, as I like to call him, got a 12 and 16, while J-Will netted an 11 and 12 while shooting 3-17 from the field. That’s 17 percent. That’s not what you want out of your premier player.
- Sean Mosley leads the ACC in falldowns. That’s your Shell Games Fun Stat of the Night.
- Miami shot 54 percent tonight, including 52 percent from three. The last time they shot that well was against, ehhhhhhh, I don’t know, Pepperdine. Whatever, I don’t care. Why don’t you do the research? Dick.
- You know that joke when somebody’s doing really well, and somebody else says “I’ll have what he’s having” or “I want some of whatever’s in his water cup,” and so on? What’s the opposite of that? Because I want to use it for Cliff Tucker. I’d submerge that water cup in boiling water for two minutes and then dip it in a solution of Purell and Iodine before ever letting it touch me, if you get my meaning.
Next up. Hey, it’s Senior Night! Ther Terps welcome UVA to Comcast Center. Good seats still available!
(Photo credit: The Baltimore Sun)
Florida State 62, Maryland 78. Thanks to my great friends at Raycom Sports, I was at Comcast for the game, where the atmosphere could be categorized as good but not great as the Terps finally landed their white porpoise. To the points:
- Dino Gregory seems, at this late stage of his college career, to be emerging as a leader on this team. On a night when Jordan Williams was sluggish with foul trouble, Dino stepped up to exploit an undermanned FSU frontcourt with 14 efficient points, eight rebounds, three blocks, and some excellent defense including drawing at least two charges.
- Terrell Stoglin is one wild and crazy guy. Fans cringe at his sometimes-reckless style, but when the whistle blew, he had 17 points on 5-9 shooting, four assists, and three turnovers. Whenever you can get that on a defender like Derwin Kitchen, you’ve had a good night.
- Free throw watch: 21-30. Getting better.
- Adrian Bowie and Sean Mosley played respectably with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Cliff Tucker was a ghost on offense and defense.
- I hope the Maryland faithful someday start showing up and cheering hard again for games other than Duke and one or two others. Comcast still has not recaptured the environment of Cole, and cursing a lot and burning stuff aren’t going to get us there on their own.
Next up: Some ranked team, North something, this Sunday at the So-and-so Smith Dome. My sources tell me this game may gave postseason implications.
(Photo credit: Gene Sweeney, Jr./The Baltimore Sun)
This season’s Maryland Terrapins have been tossed around on some turbulent seas. Give them credit, though, they didn’t hide under the bleachers. They’re still out there, looking for that white whale. And with Gary Williams–or, as I like to call him, “Captain Ahab”–at the helm, you can be certain they will never fold up the sails. Let the mythical Pursuit of the Signature Win continue!
When last we left, Maryland had still not landed a victory over a team with an RPI in the top 50. They were still searching tirelessly through the Wakes and the Longwoods for any object of value. And now, avast! Something takes shape on the horizon! Why, I believe that be a band of Florida State Seminoles! And what’s that I see trailing behind them? None other than an RPI ranking of 49!
DID YOU HEAR THAT?!?!?! FLORIDA STATE IS IN THE TOP 50 FOR RPI! The selection committee can’t stop the Terps now. All we have to do is defeat Florida State, and we will have met the selection committee’s precious criteria. Never mind the losses to Pittsburgh and Illinois and Temple and Villanova and Duke twice and Boston College twice and Virginia Tech twice. NEVER MIND THOSE! This team is on a MISSION, dammit! It’s Maryland–the tournament is their destiny!* All they have to do is pick up this one big win that qualifies as such by the skin of a mollusk’s beard (which is VERY thin), and they’ll be in!**
Seafaring metaphors momentarily aside, though, this is a winnable game for the Terps. Chris Singleton is still out with a fractured foot, so hopefully Jordan Williams and Dino Gregory can keep up their good play while holding Terrance Shannon and Bernard James in check. FSU’s real threats at the moment are pretty much all in the backcourt. Derwin Kitchen and Michael Snaer are the two leading non-injured scorers on the team, combining for about 16 per contest. Overall, though, FSU really can’t shoot that well. They’re the same old Florida State: they’re just looking to dirty it up. They’re in the ACC’s bottom half in scoring, shooting percentage, and assists. But they’re also second in scoring defense and first in three-point defense. If Maryland’s freshman point guards can do against Florida State what they did against N.C. State, the Terps should win. A big if, of course, but if they pull it off, they’ll have their white whale. Maybe it’s just a pilot whale, maybe it’s just a white dolphin, or you know what, maybe it’s a toilet seat. But they’ll have caught something. Don’t you see that? And in the end, isn’t that what really matters?***
*Unless it isn’t
** Unless they lose
(Photo credit: Mike R. Baker)
Those are the final scores for the Maryland wrestling team’s last three matches of the regular season, which ended Sunday. Oh, and that 42-0 donut laying? That was against Duke.
Now, what do these scores mean, you might ask. That’s a question to which I respond: good question. I don’t know how they score wrestling matches. But you don’t have to be George “The Animal” Steele to see that these are three very dominant victories for the Terps.
As they wait for the ACC tourney to begin March 5, Maryland can bask in their having cracked the top 25, as they “weighed in” at no. 24 in the latest poll. They are led by 174-pounder and senior Mike Letts, who today was named ACC Wrestler of the Week for the third time this season. The Terps are second in the conference behind undefeated Virginia Tech. Here’s hoping they put together a good tournament in a couple weeks.
So it’s come to this. Maryland’s game today against N.C. State (5:30 p.m.) is compelling not for anything that might happen in the game, but rather for what will happen before opening tip-off.
That’s because this evening, Greivis Vasquez, the second-leading scorer and assister in school history, will have his number 21 raised to the rafters at Comcast Center. And if that’s not enough, they’re also going to honor the Terps’ 2001 Final Four team.
Come for the ceremony, stay for the basketball game. Maryland may not be tourney-bound, but there’s still pride on the line, and a chance for Gary Williams to continue to find out what kind of hand he’s been dealt for next season.
Let’s check out some of the State players the Terps will face. I’ve got a rhetorical objective here. Rankings and excerpts courtesy of ESPN and DraftExpress:
C.J. Leslie, power forward:
Ranked #11 overall in ESPN’s 2010 recruiting class. “Leslie is one of the most athletic players in the country…excels as Amare Stoudemire-type player that is a great finisher and offensive rebounder.”
Lorenzo Brown, shooting guard:
“Unstoppable coming off high ball screens, turning the corner and either finishing at the rim or getting to the free-throw line…while Brown must learn to play hard on every possession and become a more consistent perimeter shooter, he promises to be an impact player at N.C. State.”
Tracy Smith, power forward:
DraftExpress has him at #42 among NCAA seniors. “While he isn’t the most powerful or explosive player, he is a good athlete overall, possessing very good quickness and reactiveness along with high levels of coordination and mobility…he should get opportunities in summer league and should be a productive overseas player regardless.”
And that’s to say nothing of Ryan Harrow or Javier Gonzalez. So at a minimum, N.C. State has three players who will probably get looks from the NBA, and one potential lottery pick in Leslie. Their reward for all this recruiting? A record of 14-11, good for an eighth-place tie in the ACC.
Wolfpack fans have heaped this disappointment at the feet of head coach Sidney Lowe. And I say, heap away. I believe strongly in giving credit where it’s due, but never forget that there are two sides to that coin. From what I’ve been able to tell, Lowe is considered a poor teacher who is a bit too involved during the game (basically to make up for the knowledge gap he wasn’t able to close during practices). He’s also a serial lineup shuffler. Looks like he’s got a touch of Point Guard Micromanager Syndrome. Or, as it’s more widely known, Avery Johnson’s Disease.
Decades ago, they used to say of Bear Bryant that “he could take his’n and beat your’n, then take your’n and beat his’n.” For those not fluent in Middle Hillbilly, that means he was such a good coach that the players didn’t matter; he knew how to get a winning effort out of any group. Take that phrase, flip it on its ear, and then it applies to Sidney Lowe.
That’s what Maryland fans will have the pleasure of watching—and, hopefully, watching Gary Williams and the Terps use to their advantage—this evening. At least, if they stay tuned after Greivis Vasquez has received his well-deserved honor.