Tuesday, September 30, 2008
2008-09 Opponent Breakdown: University of Maryland
After what should be a tough encounter against the Oklahoma St. Cowboys, GU will be "rewarded" with a matchup against the winner/loser of the game featuring the Michigan St. Spartans and the Maryland Terrapins. I'd be quite surprised to see the Zags and Terps play against each other, as that would likely mean that GU was upset by Oklahoma St. With a small incoming recruiting class, and the loss of two senior big men, I don't expect Gary Williams and his squad to have much success in the incredibly difficult Old Spice Classic.
Last Season's Results: It's safe to say that Maryland fans are longing for the days of Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, and Lonny Baxter. The fall from relevance for the Terrapins since their national championship season has been nothing short of amazing, and last season did nothing to stop the fall. In a season that saw the team upset on its home court by Ohio University and American University, the Terps finished 19-15 (8-8). Their season ended in the second round of the NIT, when they were defeated 88-72 by Syracuse. Maryland fans will not want to remember the 3-7 conclusion to the season, that saw the team go from an NCAA tournament lock, to an NIT participant.
New Faces: Unfortunately for Gary Williams, the struggles on the court have led to struggles in recruiting. The Terps lost two key recruits before school began this year, when Bobby Maze and Gus Gilchrist both left the program. Maze, a JC transfer from Hutchinson CC, had a falling out with the University, and was not believed to have been admitted academically. Maze has had some issues off the court that may have led to his not being admitted to the university. Equally as interesting was the recruiting saga of Gus Gilchrist. Gilchrist originally committed to Virginia Tech, but after the tragedy on their campus, he ended up at Maryland. Gilchrist was expected to play significant minutes after the loss of James Gist and Bambale Osby, but in June he decided to leave the program, and ended up at USF. The highlight of the new faces that will be playing for the Terps is Sean Mosley. The 6'5 SG will enter the rotation this season, and will be a very good scorer for Maryland. Mosley can shoot the ball the ball, and could be part of a three-guard lineup including Eric Hayes and Greivis Vasquez. The other newcomer is Steve Goins. To be honest, I'm a little surprised would recruit Goins, as he was hardly dominant at the high school level. However, the Terps were in desperate need for a big ma, and Goins fit the bill. Lastly, there is the case of Jin Soo Kim. The Korean is currently waiting to see if the NCAA Clearinghouse will declare him eligible. If he is eligible, Kim could provide a scorer off the bench for Gary Williams.
Players to Watch: This year more then ever, the Terps will rely on the backcourt duo of Eric Hayes and Greivis Vasquez. Hayes is a solid point guard in the mold of Steve Blake, and provides a good contrast to the unpredictable Vasquez. Hayes averaged nearly 10 pts and 5 assists last season, and has proven to be a leader for the team. However, the leader for Maryland is the dynamic Vasquez. The junior is coming off a season that saw him average 17 pts, 6.8 assists, and 5.7 rebounds. Vasquez is one of the most exciting guards in the nation, and is capable of winning a game by himself. What makes Vasquez so unique is the passion he plays the game with, and the almost reckless speed that he plays at. Even is you are not a Maryland fan, Vasquez is so unique that it makes the team fun to watch.
TKR's Concern-O-Meter: To be honest, it would be a disappointment if GU were to play Maryland at any point in this tournament. The Terrapins are coming off another average season, and despite the steady play of Hayes and Vasquez, I don't see a breakthrough season in the cards. I would be nervous if the Zags were to play against the Terps, because it would mean that we had just been upset by Oklahoma St. But in terms of talent and depth, it is a battle between Maryland and Wichita St. for last place in this tournament.
What We are Watching for: Hopefully we are watching the Bulldogs against Michigan St., in what would be a rematch of the epic 3 overtime game from the 2oo5 Maui Invitational. If we are watching GU play Maryland, it likely means that we will be seeing GU coming off a loss for the fist time this season. If this is the case, it will be interesting to see how we handle the loss, and if this group is mentally tough enough to bounce back from a bad performance. It would be fun to see Pargo and Vasquez doing everything they could to lead their respective teams to victory. This game would also give Josh Heytvelt an opportunity to dominate in the post and gain some of the confidence that will be essential to his success throughout the season.