November 13, 2009
The Hunt for the Most Interesting Team in the World is the Dagger's 2009-10 countdown preview series. Check out the overriding principles here.
Last year's record: 21-14 (7-9, ACC)
2009-2010's toughest games: Maui Invitational (possibly Gonzaga, Cincinnati or Arizona), at Indiana, vs. Villanova, vs. Winston-Salem
Primary attraction: Maryland may be the most overlooked team in the country. Or everyone may be wary of the team's erratic play last year. With a bulk of its talent returning, anything from an ACC title to an NIT bid is in play.
Three items of undeniable interest:
1. Greivis Vasquez -- He's as talented as he is obnoxious and as inconsistent as he is passionate, and it's great to have him back in college basketball. The senior guard withdrew his name from the NBA draft last spring and returns to lead an enigmatic Terps team that bring back most players from a squad that defeated both national championship participants, but lost at home to Morgan State (hence the inclusion of Winston-Salem on the "toughest games" list). Terps fans will welcome his all-around play (Vasquez led Maryland in points, rebounding, assists and steals last year), while us bloggers are eagerly anticipating the return of his All-American trash-talking skills. It's never a dull moment with Greivis around.
2. Size matters -- The biggest problem Maryland faced last year was a lack of frontcourt size. The Terps were forced to use reserve Dave Neal much more than they would have liked, and it showed against physical, athletic teams like Clemson and Wake Forest. Two recruits will be charged to fill the void. Forwards James Padgett and Jordan Williams will be expected to produce almost immediately, especially given that no top returning Terp measures more than 6-foot-7.
3. Garyland -- I'm an opinionated guy, but usually I'll listen to your flawed logic before telling you you're wrong. Not when it comes to Gary Williams though. Every year in the D.C. area you hear talk about how Gary has lost the team, or that he can't recruit or that the game has passed him by or that he's too much of a headache for the UMD administration, blah, blah, blah. It's garbage. Gary Williams resurrected Maryland basketball back after the death of Len Bias and sanctions from the Bob Wade era crippled the program. Those two Final Four and one national championship banner hanging at Comcast Center? Gary. Heck, Comcast Center itself? Gary. Maryland basketball is all about Gary. So quit with the talking about how he needs to go. I'm sure Gary wouldn't mind telling you what you can do with that opinion.
Whoa, he steals!: It's hard not to include a Juan Dixon clip here (so I'll do it here instead), but it'd be harder not to include what may be my favorite college basketball moment of all-time:
Billy Packer was all over that call, by the way. (Bonus: When the replay begins at the 1:09 mark, check out the dude on the bench in the beige suit-vest who starts jumping up and down. It's Steve Francis. Who said he never did anything in his NBA career?)