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Posted at 10:20 AM ET, 02/ 8/2011

Looking at Longwood: Just who are the Lancers?

By Matt Bonesteel

Good morning.

Here's what we know about Longwood, Maryland's opponent tomorrow night at 8.

--The Lancers (8-18) are 334th in the RPI ratings out of 345 teams. They have one win this season over a team ranked in the RPI top 200 (95-76 over Columbia on Nov. 20).

--They are one of six programs in the country to be playing as an independent. Another is Seattle, which Maryland defeated to open the season.

--Junior Antwan Carter leads Longwood in scoring (18 points per game), rebounding (8.8 per game), blocks (19) and field goal percentage (56.8). Longwood lists him as a center on its roster, even though Carter is only 6 feet 6.

--Coach Mike Gillian is in his eighth season at Longwood. He previously was an assistant to Jim Larranaga at George Mason. Assistant coach Tim Fudd played at American in the 1990s.

By Matt Bonesteel  | February 8, 2011; 10:20 AM ET
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What does a game like this do for us? I would rather have seen a game like the one Duke played 10 days ago, at the Garden against St. Johns. Sorry, but to me this is simply a waste of time.

Posted by: petecard | February 8, 2011 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Pete, we are all well aware of your long held belief that MD's bball and football teams should only schedule games against top 5 teams, but unfortunately we have to fill a schedule of 30+ game in bball and it's just not possible. Longwood played Kansas this year and it didn't seem to hurt them. They played Duke last year, again it didn't seem to hurt them. The fact you've never seem to care about is that every single team in the nation plays a few cupcakes every single year. It's part of college sports. It would be great if we could only play top 5 teams all the time but unfortunately it's just not possible Pete.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 8, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I actually like the softie scheduled in the middle of the ACC season. If the season is in trouble, it really gives the Terps a chance to work out the kinks in a game that would take a seriously pathetic effort to lose. When the season is going well, a game like this allows the team to take a breath, and give bench guys some time against live competition. Scheduling Longwood at home is better than no having a game at all, a problem that VaTech will face as they only have 29 games on their regular season schedule. There was no way for Gary to know before the season that the ACC would be so down this year, and the position of this game is perfect with 2 tough road contests on the horizon (@BC and @VaTech).

There are some things the Terps need to work on, their full-court press, their half-court trap, their perimeter defense, and zone offensive sets (assuming Longwood actually throws a zone out there).

Playing against conference foes that have you well scouted and tend to play you tougher for 2 months can really wear on a team, so breaking up the conference slate is a good move, and something that just about every major conference team does now. Occasionally, you can get a game against a solid opponent (Temple a few years ago), but more often than not, all of the other major teams are just looking for an easy one to give their kids a break.

Posted by: Russtinator | February 8, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

What does a game like this do for Maryland? Can you say 20 wins........

Posted by: markh1362 | February 8, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I actually agree with Barnie and Russ for once, yikeess! But, I think we could put someone a little better and local in this spot in the future, i.e. George Mason, etc.. Good for local recruiting and for NCAA selection if we beat someone like them that wins their league a good amount.

Posted by: cm88 | February 8, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: steven09 | February 8, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

@cm88, Thats what I am saying. I don't mind our fair share of cupcakes. But at this point in the season I wish we would do a little better. Sorry, but I don't believe we work out any kinks against a team like this. Now, did we know Longwood was going to be this bad when the game was scheduled? Maybe not. That doesn't mean we have to like it. Simply put... This game is a stinker.

Posted by: petecard | February 8, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

The schedulers must have known that this game would be stupid.

A few years ago, Md games were mostly sell-outs. Lately, only the biggest games are sell-outs, while mid-level ACC games are not always full. So a game like this further dampens enthusiasm at a time when the Md basketball community needs to build. But I guess a practice game won't hurt all that much, and could even help, from just the basketball standpoint.

Posted by: EdDC | February 8, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I would agree that the quality of this game could be a little better, but the problem is that it just won't happen. The locals are all in the midst of their own conference schedules (GMU, GWU, Navy, Morgan, Coppin, Howard, American, UMBC, and Towson), so it would take a minor miracle of scheduling for Maryland to share an open slot in their schedule with another team after conference schedules are created. Longwood is an independant, and can pretty much play anyone at any time (for the right price of course). Also, the locals with slightly higher profiles (GMU, VCU, Richmond, GWU, and ODU) don't take away games anymore for a paycheck. Those schools will want a 2 for 1 with a paycheck or a straight up home at home, which does not serve the purpose of this game as a slot filler.

Most of the major interconference games in late January and February are typically set up a year or two in advance, before conference schedules are put together (Duke/St. Johns, Tennessee/UConn, etc...). With a schedule this year already loaded with quality non-conference opponents, the Terps did not need another one for this year, so there was a gap in the schedule that needed to be filled. Again, would anyone here rather play no one tomorrow night, and finish the season with just 29 regular season games instead of the maximum 30 (less exempted events like CvC or Maui) like VaTech? Should the Terps just throw a quarter million dollars and another game of experience for a young team down the toilet because a few fans don't want to see the Terps play a cupcake in February?

Gary tends to do a really good job of putting together a quality schedule that matches well with the strength of the team (final RPI and SOS very close). However, sometimes it's difficult to determine how good or bad a team is going to be 4-6 months before the season begins. Colgate was supposed to be improved this season, but has dragged down the Terps' RPI. Elon was supposed to finish in the top half of the SoCon, but has struggled. More and more of the regional top mid majors are no longer playing for paychecks (Fairfield, Iona, Farliegh Dickenson, Winthrop, UNC Wilmington, VMI, Liberty, JMU, etc...), so the options are growing more and more thin. Major conference teams aren't even scheduling home at homes anymore (remember when the Terps played teams like Kentucky, Florida, and UMass home at home?), relying on increasing their SOS/RPI through tournaments and neutral site games in November and December, when losses don't hurt as much.

In response to the attendance issue, yes it is a problem, and part of the problem is less than stellar home competition. However, attendance is something that is affecting every NCAA program, and yet Maryland continues to rank in the top 10-20 in attendance nationally since the moving to Comcast. Attendance is also affected by the economy and the increasing television coverage (in HD). Only 3 Terps games this year are/were not on TV in HD.

Posted by: Russtinator | February 8, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

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