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Dazed and confused in College Park

You can fry an egg on Gary Williams' forehead this morning. The Maryland coach is still steaming -- and his team is still reeling -- from the news that the Terps have been snubbed by the humble 32-team NIT.

This was a total shocker. It's the first time Maryland hasn't played in the post-season since the 1992-1993 season. And it's definitely the low point for the program Williams brought back to respectability all those years ago after the cocaine-induced death of Len Bias had left it in shambles.

Being snubbed by the NIT, the tournament for also-rans, is mind-blowing for Williams and his Terps. While a few college hoops pundits thought 19-14 Maryland was on the bubble to make even the NIT, most everyone else thought it was a slam-dunk.

Everyone knows what a bid to the NIT means. It means your team isn't good enough for the NCAA Tournament. It means you're eating at Hardees instead of Ruth's Chris, drinking Deer Park instead of Perrier, driving a Chevy Aveo instead of a Mercedes.

But it's still basketball, as several Terps had pointed out after the team's 87-71 loss to Duke in the ACC Tournament.

The Terps didn't want their season to end on the sour note of another loss to Duke. And the younger players wanted the seniors -- Cliff Tucker, Adrian Bowie and Dino Gregory -- to go out on a positive note.

Winning the NIT championship would have accomplished that, although with the way the Terps had been playing of late, there was certainly no reason to think they would be the last team standing.

You can bet the Terps will use this snub as motivation for next season. In that regard, it might actually turn out to be a positive development for a program that some feel has grown increasingly complacent in terms of recruiting and signing the best players available.

"We worked very hard to get to where we were with 19 wins this season," Williams said in a prepared statement Sunday night. "We're looking forward to the start of next season."

 Even during his most successful seasons, when he railed about the lack of respect Maryland received nationwide from the basketball literati, Gary Williams seemed to coach with a chip on his shoulder.

 But now the chip is the size of a giant redwood.

Comments

I will certainly critisize Gary if deserving, but I really think there was something screwy with the RPI this year, and the SOS. How in the world did Maryland SOS get so low this year with the ACC + Villanova, Illinois, Temple, Pittsburg, etc. Maryland played 11 games this year against tourney teams, including 4 games against #1 seeds. UNLV played 8, VCU played 4 (Harvard, GMU, and ODU). This is ACC bias. Forget that 5 of the past 10 national champs have been from the ACC. I have started to read the pomeroy ratings at www.kenpom.com. They have Maryland as the #36 team in the nation, the highest ranked team to not get an NCAA bid.

You all can make light of this NIT snub if you want but this just shows how far this program has really fallen under Gary Williams. Please guys i am tired of living in the past, and listening to everybody constantly telling us what Gary has done for this program and where would md basketball be without Gary. All i know is the reputation of md basketball has hit a all time low under is leadership.If this was a 1 year thing i might ignore it but we have been steadly going down hill and somebody better taka serious look at what is happening and make a tough decision. Totally unacceptable.

Posted by: blancione

I read a comment by one player who expressed his total disinterest in the NIT - some time ago. Don't know about the rest of the team. Perhaps, word got back to the NIT officials that Maryland's players didn't care for their tournament??

If I were Gary I'd never play in the NIT again and I'd make that pretty clear to them right now.

We were a disappointment this year, but at least we follow the rules.

Thoughts:

1) Maryland shouldn't have to use "snubs" as motivation to be a good team. Maybe Gary and his team could try demanding the best from themselves, and expecting to be a top 10/top 25 team every year, rather than waiting for some external source of motivation.

2) This implies that Maryland isn't even considered to be among the top 100 teams in college basketball (65 NCAA teams and 32 NIT invitees), which is a total embarrassment for the school and program. There's no way around that.

3) For once, Gary needs to accept things as they are and cast a critical eye toward himself and his players, and the way they have been doing things in College Park. I realize his reflexive reaction to anything like this is to become defensive and bristle at perceived criticism/snubs, but at the end of the day it is on him. If the Terps win, this conversation isn't even taking place, and nobody else controls that except Gary and his players.

4) Gary is 66 years old and has 2 seasons left on his contract. His teams have underperformed for 8 years straight. Yes, he led this program back from the dead and great run of success between 1993 and 2004, capped by two final fours and a national championship. And for this he deserves the eternal gratitude and respect of Terps fans, he deserves his name on the court, he deserves to make the Naismith Hall of Fame. But he does not deserve to continue making millions of dollars a year indefinitely, regardless of performance. Gary benefited from the business side of this sport by getting rich off his good years, so he cannot bemoan the business side of the sport when things aren't going his way. If this team doesn't rebound in a big way next year (i.e., top 25 and NCAA berth), then I say to give Williams a big parade and name the court after him, then buy out the final year of his contract and get a young up-and-comer in here.

Motivation for next season? Why wasn't there ANY motivation for THIS season??? You're a MaGoo!!! they suk, Gary W is DONE, they can't even get a HoCo player to commit to U of MD - WTF???

Maryalnd Collegiate Sports = Nonexistent...

NIT snubbed them because they can't be watched! 5 minutes into a game and you want to lash out irrationally at the poor level of play...

The common thread for UMd basketball since the death of Len Bias has been a lack of solid character players. With a few exceptions, these lightweight people can become no more than lightweight players and students. Nothing more than a bunch of CSNs..........

The team was pathetic this year and didn't deserve to play any more games in March. A bunch of backups, minus Jordan Williams, playing as starters...yuck. Gary Williams has run his course. I have always been a fan of his, but it's time for him to step aside and MD to bring in a coach that knows how to recruit kids that keep us in the hunt each year.

7-9 in the ACC...0-5 against the ACC teams that made it to the NIT...the "big" win was in December against Penn State? This is a program that has nose-dived since the National Championship. Look at the record since 2003, and you have at team that hasnt made it past the 2nd round of the NCAAS (when they made it), and other than last year, consistently finished 5-7th in a 12 team conference. Gary needs to take a long hard look in the mirror..when you dont win, it is due to either coaching or recruiting, and he is responsible for both

Obviously Gary will act outraged.

But how can a "sports" reporter/analyst find this the least bit surprising.? Nary a single win as an underdog all year long with over a dozen chances to accomplish that.

Posters have been predicting this for weeks now. Gary should have played Palsson and Howard and Parker more.

How is this a shocker? The Terps have shown they can beat up on the not-so-good teams (NC State is a perfect example), but they can't beat teams that are halfway decent or even really good. They've looked pretty bad the past 2-3 weeks. Then, throw in MD's recent history in the NIT (they phone it in) and you can see why they were skipped over. I hope this is a wakeup call to the program.

This is a serious message to Gary. Fridge was dismissed even with UM going to a bowl game. What does that say for Gary? He is living off his reputation and just does not recruit well. He has to go on the road and publicize UM. I remember, at halftime against NC, as the Terps were being blown out, he stated "We have to find some way to score more since we can't get taller." Well, if he recruited better, maybe the team would get taller and better.

There is too much talent in this area for the Terps not to contend in the ACC ever year. There will continue to be up and down years as long as Gary recruits 2nd tier players. He really needs to go, national title and all.

And the Terps did not have a single player miss even one game with an injury, suspension or academic problems. What does that say about the talent level of this team?

Good for him. Nice to have the NIT selection committee to deflect all the anger and disappointment. Crushed by Boston College and Virginia, but that does not shake the sense of entitlement. Well at least one question has been answered. We now know just how long a program can milk an NCAA championship. Gary is a great coach. Now, maybe he can remember how to be a great recruiter. If not, welcome to the Terps' new reality.

It's just as well.

What's worse: not being invited to the NIT, or being invited and losing in the 1st or 2nd round?

The Gary-hater crowd has been strangely silent thus far. Of itself, that's probably more of an upset than the Terps not getting an NIT bid. Now, I wonder what the VTech fan base is thinking this morning?

On the NIT "bubble?" Really? Let's face it, the NIT is all about making whatever money it can as a subordinate tournament showcase. From that standpoint, it understands that it will do better, for the most part (and after the top 2 seeds have been selected), by inviting schools that actually want to be there, i.e., whose fans will attend the games. Aside from the additional playing time a bid would have afforded the freshmen--and with 33 games under their belt, they can no longer be considered freshmen--an NIT appearance would do nothing to stimulate the Terps' fan base. Accordingly, that is what took Maryland off the NIT "bubble," if something like that even exists.

Clearly, the Terps, by all accounts, performed below standards this year. Am I pleased by that? Of course not. Do I think they could have done better? Of course I do. But that does not mean that the team didn't work hard or give great effort.

This team was missing some critical intangibles, namely, how to elevate their game when it mattered. That takes leadership, something that was never in question when the likes of Booth, Dixon, Blake, Vasquez (and even Gilchrist for a time) roamed the court. In hindsight, it appears that these seniors lacked this instinct. What we learned is that this was simply beyond their capabilities. That is not their fault. They gave great effort and commitment to the program; their ceilings just happened to be lower than expected. So, while the results weren't particularly great and their legacy will certainly be tainted, this season should leave this young team bitter and motivated for next season to erase this feeling.

By the way, it should be noted that this team, in the Williams-led program's nadir, still won 19 games and beat a handful of NCAA and NIT teams. For what it is worth, I'm still trying to figure out how Colorado was excluded from the Dance, Texas is only a #4 seed, Texas A&M is seeded substantially lower than K-State and the ACC only got 4 bids, while schools like Penn State (lost to Maryland by 30 at home), Michigan State, Michigan and 11 Big East schools all got bids. As well, Florida as a #2 seed??? It's truly "March madness."

Let's not pretend this is some snub or outrage. This is lower-rung basketball program without a quality win all year. Only reason we think we should be rewarded with postseason play is cause we won a championship a decade ago. I'm appreciative of Gary and all he has accomplished, but the recruiting part of this game has clearly passed him by. We just do not have the talent to be competitive anymore. Until he retires, this is what we can expect; medicore basketball, settling for the NIT or worse, just hoping maybe we can catch lighting in a bottle and make it far enough to get eliminated in the round of 32.

now Bisciotti will know how us Ravens fans feel, although the Ravens belonged in the big show unlike Md. I think he worries more about MD bball than the Ravens anyway. It's been a few months but welcome to the "it hurts real bad" cub Mr B.

They shouldn't be crying. Thyey've looked inconsistent all season without one quality win. Yes, they played well with some of the top teams, but it comes down to wins and losses. Remember a few years back, Gary and company got into the NIT and they thought they should've been in the NCAA tourney. They felt insulted to be in the NIT so it looks like its coming back to them.

Why the shock everyone? The players have been talking all year about what a lousy tournament the NIT is. Further, in recent years when Maryland DID play in the NIT the effort was lackadaisical at best. "Invitational" is the NIT's middle name. You have to be invited. It's not a god given right for a middle of the pack ACC team. If Johnny dumps on Sally all year and was a borish at her party last time he was invited, why should Sally invite him again?

It's tough to feel sorry for the guy with the "giant redwood" sized chip on his shoulder when he's carrying an axe in his hands.

This is the weakest Maryland team I have seen in a long, long time......no outside shooting, poor ball security, undersized, and no senior leadership. Hopefully, one day we can look back on this day and laugh; but right now you can fry an egg on the heads of many Maryland basketball supporters who can't believe the lack of talent this senior class had. Sorry to say that this might be EXACTLY what is needed to get the TERps back on track---new demanding AD, and a "big-time" snub by an "also-ran" tournament.

The NIT committee knew the Terps would be one and done. That's why they weren't picked. When they lost their last two home games to sub-.500 Miami and Virginia, they were cooked. This just wasn't a very good Terps team.

"You can bet the Terps will use this snub as motivation for next season." Really? Why would you think this? Gary clearly hasn't used his team's past failures as enough motivation to get the kinds of kids into the program to prevent them from needing such motivation. Frankly, there is no reason to believe anything will change. Gary is Gary and he has been asleep at the recruiting wheel since winning the NCAA tournament. Why should being snubbed by the lowly NIT change anything like making the NIT would have foregone any such need for motivation? Here's all the motivation Gary needs. Your teams just aren't good enough. Your players just aren't good enough. Your record just isn't good enough. I would think that covers that base.

I love the Terps but they earned the snub. Gary got us the NCAA title several years ago and deserves our thanks. He can coach. However, it is obvious that he doesn't have his heart in the recruiting business. We can't get all of the Balto/Wash. standouts but we never get our fair share. Georgetown, Syracuse, Connecticut, Pitt and the rest of the ACC recruit our area as if it was their own. They recruit right under Gary's nose and the great ones rarely end up at Maryland. After Andeson's Edsall debacle, I suspect that he is gunshy and afraid to reach for greatness like Jim Kehoe did years ago when he brought in Lefty at a time when we were the doormat of the ACC.. Time to turn the page before the Terps extend Gary again after he has one good season next year.

You do have to admire the symmetry of Gary's rise and fall.

Rise: In Gary's first 7 seasons (eliminating the three years of NCAA sanctions, which wasn't Gary's fault), the Terps averaged 20 wins and 12 losses, and made three trips to the NCAA tournament.

Peak: In the next 8 seasons (96-02), the Terps averaged a 24-9 record and went to the NCAA tournament every year (and for the middle four seasons of this period they averaged 28-8 with 3 sweet sixteens, two final fours, and a national championship)

Fall: Over the past 7 seasons (since 2004) the Terps are back to averaging 20.7 wins and 12 losses, nearly identical to where Gary started out. They also have 3 NCAA tourney appearances to show for it, the same as in their first 7 seasons.

Pathetic...again, this team has all the resources to be an ACC title contender every year. There is no excuse, he's just not getting the job done

When Jimmy Patsos and Billy Hahn left Maryland, so did any semblance of quality recruiting. Gary NEVER liked kids living rooms and did not recruit the Joe Smiths and Juan Dixons. Jimmy and Billy did. This exposed Gary for what he is....a good coach and a second rate recruiter. 1 ACC title in 23 years??? 2 Regular season titles in 23 years?? Whats all the fuss? Time to move on.

Maryland "has hit an all-time low under Gary"? Really? Really?

Hmmm, NCAA Championship, tourny at least every other year.

I guess the guy who wrote that wants to bring back Bob Wade.....let me guess - Joe Flacco stinks, too.

Give me a break. Then again, as with any 'group' in society, you have the sane, and the insane.

Disappointing sure, but before jumping on the bash Gary train is no one else excited about next year? Stoglin, Palsson and Howard showed great potential, Faust is coming in, and if Gary can get J Will to stay through Sr year they will go deep the next two years.

Take away some of the patsy teams Maryland beat and their record is barely 500. Does that warant making a post season tounament.

look at all the hate - "look how the program has fallen" - "gary has run his course"

Oh how people forget that MD won the regular season ACC championship, just last year. They also had the ACC player of the year - for those recruiting bashers. Oh, and they were also a 35ft shot away from going to the Elite 8.

Real fans realize teams is all sports will have down years.

Bandwagoners are the worst kind of fans. Oh, and Gary has a nice recruiting class for next year.....but I guess we will ignore that too.

Gary will leave when he wants to leave.

Everyone wants to complain about Gary, but who would you replace him with? If you can name someone better then great let's do it. The truth is without Gary we would consistently be in the bottom half of the ACC.

Some of the more rediculous comments:

"This is lower-rung basketball program".

How many "lower-rung" programs went 13-3 in the ACC last season?

"Gary is Gary and he has been asleep at the recruiting wheel since winning the NCAA tournament"

We have the best C in the ACC (Soph) and a top 3 PG next year coming back (Fresh). Nick Faust is going to be outstanding.

"The common thread for UMd basketball since the death of Len Bias has been a lack of solid character players."

This is rediculous on a number of levels. The list that I can where not solid chachters were: Gilchrist, Tucker, Hipp, McCray, Garrison and Caner-Medley". Who else???

The same whiny MD fans (sound like NC State fans) now will be the same bandwagoning when MD finishes in the Top 3 in the ACC next season. The future looks bright. Let's call this what it is - a transitional year (Senior role players with talented Fresh/Sophs), where our kids played hard, were in a lot of games. Recruiting has gotten better and we have a good core nucleous coming back next season.


For those who think next year's team will be better, you may want to rethink:

1) Chances are Faust will not get much more playing time than Parker this year. Gary likes to punish the more highly recruited players like Mike Jones and Parker. He likes to teach them a lesson that he's the boss.
2) We won't have anyone to give JW a breather and will be without a 4 to replace Dino (an undersized 4 at that).
3) Still an undersized squad and Breunig will be stuck behind Mosley and Hawk as Gary doesn't play freshman unless the other players really stink it up. (why did Tucker and Bowie get so much playing time?
4) We still don't have the quality of player on the floor that the rest of the ACC has.

Unfortunately Gary has two more years on his contract and I hope we save some extra scholarships for the next head coach who cares to go out and recruit one of the best ares of the country.

well at least I don't have to think whether or not to buy my NIT tickets!

Not only did UMD miss the NIT, but it also missed the 24-Team CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament and the 16-Team College Basketball Invitational!!! Which means are they not in the Top 100, but not even in the Top 140 (68 NCAA teams and 32 NIT invitees, 24 CollegeInsider Teams and 16 CBI Teams) That means they are behind such Basketball powerhouses as Tenn Tech, Hofstra, Montana and the dreaded Weber State.

Tick Tock ain't just a Liquor store near campus anymore....

Time to give Gary the Fridge's address. They should share the same fate. Its been a long time since Maryland has won anything.
Time to move on to a real recruiter.

TThrash


#1;it was not the death of len bias that brought md.,but the bob wade fiasco;ncca suspension etc. since then md. gets bad mouthed a lot,by the basketball people in baltimore,SEEN IT,HEARD IT! As for recruiting,had seasons tickets for over ten years kept them even when i moved 965 miles away to tn.missed only 1 game in seven years,practically nobody but the student body and a few ticket holders show up for preseason and acc games unless acc teams are ranked.ive been to preseason duke,n.c.,kentucky games, and the places are packed; tough to recruit against that.AS FOR THIS YEAR TWO FRESHMAN GUARDS,WHO SHOWED MOMENTS OF BRILLANCE,SOPHMORE CENTER,FRESHMAN SMALL FORWARD.IF YOU CANT SEE THE TALENT FEEL SORRY FOR YOU

POPS1:

I'm no Gary Williams' or Terps' apologist, but please get your information right before you spout off. Certainly, as Andrew correctly pointed out, there has to be some level of critical self-analysis. However, there are any number of significant factors, some within and others outside of Maryland's control that must also be considered.

First, Williams did recruit well immediately after the NC. Maryland's first 2 post-NC classes were widely regarded as Top-5 national classes: Gilchrist, Caner-Medley, Ibekwe, Garrison, Jones, Fofana, McCray, Strawberry and Bowers. That list included 2 McD-AAs. How did that work out for them? That group of players, with the exception of Strawberry, were all largely underachievers, and set the program back 4-5 years.

Second, recruiting is based upon established relationships and assistants are the primary force behind same. As a result of their longtime and sustained success, the Terps experienced a near complete turnover of a staff that had been together for approximately 10 years--Dickerson, Hahn and Patsos, followed later by Lonergan and Driesell all took head coaching jobs. You cannot disrupt that continuity without suffering a loss in maintaining the critical close relationships to high school coaches, etc. that earmark recruiting. Of course, it should be mentioned that, during this same time, we witnessed the AAU system take over as the primary recruiting source, versus the old school HS coach. I believe we are all already well aware of Williams' utter contempt for those guys and their reciprocal view of Williams. Bino Ranson's hire will hopefully correct some of this history, but it will take some time.

Next, the Terps lost a number of high ceiling recruits for any number of reasons over the years, including Maryland's refusal to give a job to a "handler" (Gilchrist), "pay" for a recruit (Gay) and academics (Jennings, Clark, Goodman and, possibly, even Whittington--not the only ones) and who knows what else (Ross).

The real elephant in the room, however, still remains Maryland's academics. No one seems to want to pay it credence, but the fact is it still remains tougher for an athlete to get into and stay eligible at Maryland than Duke. Maryland does not broadcast it, and properly so as it preserves both the school's integrity and the recruit's esteem, but it appears that many of these kids opt to go somewhere else, not because of any animus towards Gary Williams, but because they recognize early on that they will not be able to cut it academically or simply do not want to put in the required classroom time at Maryland. Often, they cannot qualify or, even if they do, they understand that remaining eligible will be difficult. At 18, when faced with the choice between knowing you'll be able to play or having to work to remain eligible, the vast majority of kids opt for the easy way out. It's the rare kid (Mosley) who decides to take the "hard" road.

In all, there are myriad reasons to explain why the Terps' have failed to maintain the success they experienced between '93-03. It's just not that easy to blame it all on a single issue, although it would appear that Williams' apparent disdain for direct involvement in recruiting would be one of those self-critical analysis points. So, while Maryland has certainly fallen, it can and will get up again. I'm pretty sure, too, that it'll happen under Williams' leadership.

This is actually not a snub by the NIT committee but simply a by product of how the NIT field is created. The NIT is required to take the regular season conference champions if they dont win their conference tournament to make the NCAA. This year I believe that resulted in 21 spots over which the NIT committee had no control. Given that leaves only 11 available bids, and that they had to take VT and BC from the ACC at the least it should be obvious why there was not room for UMD.

As for Maryland's under-performance this year I too am frustrated, but I just dont see how replacing GW is going to help. Look at Iowa, they brought Todd Lickliter in from Butler, where he had tremendous success, and three years later they fired him due to a lack of improvement. Look at Arkansas under John Pelphrey no improvement in spite of I might add top-10 recruiting classes. Look at Jeff Capel at Oklahoma, NCAA only two out of five years despite 3 McD All Americans in 09-10.
I would like those who wish GW fired to tell me who are going to hire who is likely to succeed?

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