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Pointing the Finger for Terps' Struggles

It appears the blame game has started in College Park, where Coach Gary Williams and associated AD Kathy Worthington had a nice tit-fot-tat as they disagree on why Tyree Evans and Gus Gilchrist aren't suiting up for the Terps this season.

Maryland's struggles are a topic of strong interest for most area high school coaches, players and parents, who want to know how the team went from being a national champion to a middle-to-bottom of the pack team in a weakened ACC so quickly. The consensus is that this year's team simply isn't very talented and that Williams' hands-off approach to recruiting - allowing his assistants to do much of the work - has hurt the Terrapins.

That said, I look back to the teams when Maryland won the national title in 2002. (Shameless plug here.) Look at the key players on that team and the ones around it. Juan Dixon certainly wasn't a high-profile recruit; I can remember rumors circulating during his freshman year when he enrolled in January that he was too skinny and would never play at Maryland. Lonny Baxter? Byron Mouton certainly wasn't a big addition when he transferred from Tulane. Steve Blake was a well-known recruit, but also not in the superstar category. And so on and so on. Doesn't seem much different from the current team.

So what's the difference? With the growth of the Internet, is it just a case of things circulating quicker and knowing more about more players? Or did Williams and the Terps simply hit home runs with those previous recruiting classes and strike out with later ones? I'm sure this will be discussed much, much more in the next two months.

By Josh Barr  | January 28, 2009; 7:48 AM ET
Categories:  Basketball  
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That team had skilled guards AND good size with skilled big men. Lonny was our anchor and (you forgot) Chris Wilcox, a big-time player. We also had Tahj Holden and Ryan Randle. Compare those guys with our "bigs" now and in recent years.

After Juan, Lonny, Mouton, and Wilcox left, we still had skilled big men in Tahj, Randle, and then we brought in Jamar Smith. And we still had a knock-down shooter in Drew Nicholas.

The landscape of recruiting has changed a lot in those short years too. Kids now want to interact with the HEAD coach, whereas Gary's way used to work. You can't expect to pull the great players that way these days...

Posted by: sargeantmofo | January 28, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Its an embaresment that year after year, the best athletes in pg county go out of state.Wat md should do is hire one of those PG AAU coaches to be the head coach in waiting or someone like a Dalonte Hill at k state who has conncections to DC and PG county who can keep these kids in state.

Posted by: BALTOMAPP2 | January 28, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Wow! What's happened to this once proud program is a complete travesty! Let's go back though and look at when this all started...something I like to call the curse of Cole Field House! You have a top 5 on campus college basketball venue...14,500 seats the loudest most perfect place for college basketball in the country...Cameron had nothing on it...and because of some rich boosters wanting a new arena with luxury boxes you throw it all away! For money! Just money! You won't see Kansas, UCLA, Duke, Kentucky, etc. pull a stunt like that! You don't mess with success...ask anyone who has followed this program for many years and they will tell you even the 2003 and 2004 teams that made the just didn't have the same feeling after leaving Cole...and it never depressing is that? Enough to make this once proud MD fan become a G'town fan...and it has nothing to do with winning and has to do with a program letting success get to their head and think they were gonna turn their success into a money making machine! Shame on you MD! Shame on you!

Posted by: hoyasaxa3 | January 28, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Oh...and by the way...I second that baltomapp2 comment about building a PG pipeline...I recently read an ESPN the Magazine article claiming PG County had more basketball talent per capita then any other part of the country that last 5 years...yet MD gets hardly any of it...and the ones they get like Chris McCray and Travis Garrison are complete bums both on and off the court...look at the top 6 in the country right now...a PG kid in their starting lineup in 4 of them...Nolan Smith at Duke, Sam Young at Pitt, Jerome Dyson (Montgomery County) at UCONN, and Ty Lawson at UNC...but who needs them...MD has Dave Neal and Eric Hayes tearing the ACC apart!

Posted by: hoyasaxa3 | January 28, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

and the ones they get like Chris McCray and Travis Garrison are complete bums both on and off the court...

Posted by: hoyasaxa3 | January 28, 2009 1:27 PM

Travis Garrison was a McDonald's All-American from DeMatha. What are you going to do, pass on him? Hindsight is 20/20.

Maryland need to find the in-between areas in recruiting. Where you're courting AAU players and coaches, but clearly not a dirty program. It can be done, Gary is either not interested or not able to do it anymore.

Posted by: Kev29 | January 28, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Reason is they aren't getting the best local recruits, via John Thompson III and Georgetown: Roy Hibbert(Gtown Prep), Jeff Green(Northwestern), Dajuan Summers(McDonogh), Austin Freeman(Dematha), Henry Sims(Mount St. Joes), Jason Clark(O'Connell), Chris Wright(St Johns)...All of those guys are from the area, and all were either Washington Post All Mets or Baltimore Area players of the year.

Posted by: nike12 | January 28, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I loved - loved these results.

Duke --- 85
Maryland --- 44

Boston College -- 76
Maryland -- 67


Miami -- 87
Maryland -- 58

Maryland will finish with a 15 - 16 record

No NCAA bid

No NIT bid

How can any parent, let their son play for a program like Maryland - with a 10 % graduation rate.

Carolina blue - Carolina WHITE - Go Tar Heels ! - Let's go Tar Heels !

Posted by: hclark1 | January 28, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

hire a PG AAU coach for a major college program? are you kidding me?

that sounds so much like a 21st century version of the Bob Wade model my sphincter just tightened thinking about it.

if you're gonna bring in a new head, go out and find someone with local roots that having success at the next tier or two down, but don't reach into the AAU cesspool

Posted by: mdrockjock | January 28, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Times change and people must change with them. Gary Williams refuses to change. Oddly I notice all the blame going to his assistants when the word is Williams does not speak to recruits and work in the pursuit of recruits, e.g. pampering and selling the company line. What does that say for him when Coach K or Roy Williams are literally placing a call and are personable on the phone? I argued that Gary Williams should have been fired before they won the championship for this very reason.

Dealing with AAU's is not cheating. simply cultivating relationships with them is beneficial. it's no different than the pipelines some old coaches had with high schools. the coaches simply had a relationship. Williams is not changing with the times.

Posted by: oknow1 | January 28, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Bob Knight was a terrific coach, but there came a point where he simply couldn't attract some of the better players in his own state. The reason? He wouldn't consider the one and done guys. Gary's not as bad as Knight (who could be?) but any area player knows he'll kick and scream even if you stay two full seasons.

I suspect that's what a Rudy Gay wanted to avoid. He was looking for a coach that would support his ambitions, not undermine them.

Gary still does a good job with the recruits he gets. His players get better while at College Park, and you can't say that about a whole lot of coaches.

Meanwhile he's tempted to take a chance on somebody like Gus Gilchrist or Tyree what's-his-name, and those guys are the real nonpredictors.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 28, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Look at the two guys coming in next year: They are both 3 star players. Where are the 5 and 4 star players a national championship coach is suppose to bring? Gary has made a critical mistake not recruiting the "one and done" superstars. It's too bad because Gary can coach.

Posted by: jmpalomo | January 29, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Just so people know the bad years at MD are STILL better than 75% of the ACC.
ACC Records
2007-2008 2006-2007 2005-2006 2004-2005 Total Rank
North Carolina .875 .688 .750 .875 .797 1
Duke .813 .500 .875 .688 .719 2
Boston College .250 .625 .688 .521 3
Maryland .500 .625 .500 .438 .516 4
Virginia Tech .563 .625 .250 .500 .484 5
Clemson .625 .438 .438 .313 .453 6
Wake Forest .438 .313 .188 .813 .438 7
Florida State .438 .438 .563 .250 .422 8
Georgia Tech .438 .500 .250 .500 .422 8
Virginia .313 .688 .438 .250 .422 8
Miami (FL) .500 .250 .438 .438 .406 11
North Carolina State .250 .313 .625 .438 .406 11

Posted by: Lee26 | January 30, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Absolutely - good stats. It has been a tough and frustrating few years, but Maryland fans need to be careful what they wish for. There is no doubt that Gary Williams has had his problems, but he has consistently put a contender on the floor, in spite of all the issues. Any other coach would have ended up with 3 or 4 wins in the ACC. Fans at Virginia, Clemson, GA Tech, NC State, etc wish they had he type of success we have had over the last 10 years. Gary will learn from his mistakes in recruiting and, mark my words, Maryland will be a top 10 powerhouse again.

Posted by: bburnman | February 2, 2009 4:26 PM | Report abuse

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