Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Maryland Turns It Around

February 7, 2008 Columns No Comments

Not The Same Maryland Team

by Phil Kasiecki

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Back in December, it was hard to imagine that Maryland would be 5-3 in ACC play and right there in the battle for third place behind Duke and North Carolina. But after Wednesday night’s 70-65 win over Boston College, that’s where the Terrapins stand.

It was hard enough to imagine Maryland contending even in October. The Terrapins start three sophomores and have six freshmen on the team, to go with a pair of seniors in the starting lineup. If not for a seven-game winning streak to end the regular season, they wouldn’t have made the NCAA Tournament last season.

Early on, there were signs that they wouldn’t be a bad team, but perhaps an also-ran in the ACC. They barely knocked off a young Northeastern team in overtime, then lost to UCLA and Missouri in Kansas City at the CBE Classic before beating Illinois. They were, for the most part, beating the teams they should, but then a close loss to Boston College in their ACC opener started a string of three straight home losses. The other two came at the hands of Ohio and rebuilding American.

At that point, the Terrapins were 6-6, and the three straight home losses were not good. That was a point where they could have gone into the tank, but instead, they reeled off four straight wins to close non-conference play before their first half of ACC play.

“I think we had two ways to go,” said head coach Gary Williams. “We could try to get better, or we could just say we’re not going to be very good this year because we have six freshmen on the team this year.”

It’s clear that they have gone the former route, and along the way, they haven’t lost sight of the goal. Greivis Vasquez, who looked every bit a special player in Wednesday night’s win, said making the NCAA Tournament is their goal. If they can finish third or fourth in the ACC, which is realistic given how wide-open the ACC is after Duke and North Carolina (and they have defeated the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill), they could certainly make it. The Terrapins are as good a pick to finish there as anyone.

And if they get there, you can credit the six freshmen to a good degree for how the team moved on after they were 6-6.

“I thought our freshmen realized that it’s important for us and for them to play hard,” said Vasquez, who scored 25 points and handed out eight assists on Wednesday. “They’re helping us out a lot, and we need those guys.”

There’s still plenty more for them to do at this point, though. After seniors James Gist and Bambale Osby and sophomores Vasquez, Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne, there’s a sizeable drop-off in production. Part of the problem is that they are giving away possessions, as no ACC team turns the ball over more. On the bright side, they have improved in that regard over the course of the season.

Give Williams credit for how he has managed the team through this and handled the scrutiny. Last year, there was speculation that his job could be in danger when it looked like the Terrapins would miss the NCAA Tournament yet again, and all he did was calmly coach them back to the NCAA Tournament. He’s calmly handled the questions about this season’s team and doesn’t look shaken or negatively affected in any way by it, and perhaps that is one reason the Terrapins have started to come alive as well.

Vasquez showed plenty of promise last season, and if Wednesday night is any indication, he’s only getting better. He showed a terrific feel for the game, finding ways to get to the basket and making an array of great passes on the move. His jumper has been inconsistent, although he knocked down a key shot from long range Wednesday night. It’s not a secret that he’s a great competitor as well.

As important as he is to this team, he’s also symbolic of this team’s big question mark: experience. He is still a sophomore, as is their other point guard, Hayes, who missed three games due to injury last month. While Vasquez is the one who will have the ball in his hands late in the games, he’s quick to admit that he can’t be as effective if he’s always playing 37, 38 minutes a game and that’s one reason they need their younger players to contribute. A senior echoed a similar sentiment.

“They’ve given us positive minutes game in and game out,” said Gist, who had 23 points on 9-11 shooting against BC as he continues to have a solid senior campaign. “As long as we can get positive contributions off the bench, it’s going to help our team out.”

Williams says this team has shown a lot of toughness to rebound from where it was in December. The toughness would seem to come in part from Osby, a post player who wasn’t an ACC player in the minds of many when he was in high school. He was undersized and not the best post scorer, but he’s always been tough inside and competes. That’s no different now as he helps lead this young team, as his toughness seems to have caught on.

“What I’ll remember about this team is our toughness,” said Williams. “We had to be tough to come back from that, because we were really criticized, and probably rightly so.”

With the win over North Carolina to go with four others in ACC play, the Terrapins aren’t getting criticized quite as much. Indeed, if last season’s finish is any indication, along with how far they’ve come to this point, the criticism could die off by the time March rolls around.


Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 17, 2018

March 17, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, there is one main story to focus on: history being made in Charlotte and its aftermath. But we also talk about tough times for the Pac-12 and a key member school, plus an added challenge ahead at Pittsburgh.

College Basketball Tonight – March 11, 2018

March 12, 2018 by

College Basketball Tonight returns with a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament bracket, and in the second segment Mount St. Mary’s head coach Jamion Christian joins us.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 10, 2018

March 10, 2018 by

As Championship Week nears its climax on the big Saturday, we look at a pair of semifinals and a lot of bubble teams that may be sweating it out on Sunday.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 8, 2018

March 8, 2018 by

As Championship Week heats up, we talk about bubble teams who may or may not want to earn their way into the NCAA Tournament, as well as a couple of mid-majors whose conference championship game was played earlier in the week.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 22, 2018

February 22, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with floor issues in the Big East and an important NCAA ruling that was upheld. Then we go on to the Big 12, where Wednesday night had a new twist, as well as the ACC and how it shapes up along with no team going undefeated in conference play this year.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.