Thursday, March 13, 2008

MARYLAND: BUILDING A MYSTERY

So, a University of Maryland student is walking down the beach one morning and he happens upon a sea turtle. The turtle speaks to the kid saying “I’m a slight variation of the bottle for a genie. Flip me on my back, give me a good spin and my genie will pop out and endeavor to sort out your wishes.”

The student was somewhat befuddled by this strange occurrence, but seeing no apparent or immediate downside, flipped the reptile over and gave him his best spin-the-bottle twirl.

Imagine his surprise when out popped an exasperated Gary Williams.

(Yes, we know Coach Williams always looks exasperated, but these days he sort of hair-on-fire while pumping gas and can’t find the fire extinguisher exasperated).

Williams immediately begins waving his hands around and peppering the student with questions:

“Do you speak English? On a separate, but not totally unrelated, note, do you understand English? Do you consider yourself to be someone who can follow simple instructions? Do you know what a stupid foul is? Can you shoot the three consistently?”

The student looks at the turtle and says, “What’s up with him?”

The turtle replies, “I’m not sure, but he’s been like this all year.”

+ + + + + + + +

…and now we know why.

The Terps, thought to be one of the second tier teams in the pre-season (picked 6th in the preseason poll), have been building a mystery. And by God, they’ve whipped themselves up a doozy. In most phases, a war of regression, so to speak.

If you can figure out the 2007-2008 Terps go straight to the head of the class. How can a program just a few years removed from the National Championship be reeling so? It’s as if Williams’ team just doesn’t understand what he’s saying…

Part of the issue is expectations. Williams’ Terps are not so far removed from a National Championship we all still expect them to contend for the ACC title every year. No doubt the same is true at Florida (4th Eastern Division of S.E.C., 21-10) and Ohio State (5th in the Big 10, 19-12) where fans are no doubt puzzled as well.

Maryland features talented seniors in Gist and Osby, first rate underclassmen in Vasquez (2nd team All-ACC) and Hayes and a solid group of role players, and yet they have struggled at the beginning and end of this season. They are currently on a five-out-of-seven losing spree which punctuates early season losses to Ohio and American. ( Mind you, American at 20-11 is pretty good, and Ohio (19-11) turned out better than folks thought.)

None the less, Maryland continues to underachieve, and we aren’t sure why. According to Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun:

“Maryland's Rating Percentage Index has dropped to 70, its lowest since the end of January. After several weeks of being projected as an NCAA tournament team, Maryland was removed from all the updated brackets yesterday.

While the team's inconsistent offense has been the biggest problem this season, its defense had kept the Terps in most games. Defense was the issue, however, against the Cavaliers, who scored 55 points in the second half.”

Oops.

We’re gonna add some insult to a season full of injury and predict that Maryland doesn’t make it past Boston College in the opening round of the ACC tournament.

Sorry, Coach. Back in the shell.

Having been raised on Jim O’Brien, Steve Gillmartin, Lefty Driesell, Tom McMillen, Len Elmore, John Lucas and the gang, it hurts to say that.

What would Mo Howard say?

(Williams: Photo by Brian Cassella/Tampa-St. Pete Times and AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
(Florida: AP Photo/John Bazemore)

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