Dan, Bowie: Hello Heather! I agree with all of your responses regarding recruiting. The senior and junior classes have been two of best classes "on paper" in the Gary Williams era. The problem I see is that these players are not developing over the years. Mike Jones still has the same problems he had as a freshman - the inability to put the ball on the floor and take it to the basket when defenders are taking away his jump shot, looseness with the ball when making passes, lack of lateral quickness on defense and the inability to move without the ball on offense. Does the coaching staff provide these players with off-season goals and are they allowed to monitor their progress? Thanks.
Heather A. Dinich:Because it was my first season covering
the team, it's hard for me to gauge the improvement these guys have
made, but there was a block Mike Jones made this season - I'm
almost positive it was against Virginia - and Gary said it was a
move Jones wouldn't have been able to make three weeks ago. This
was really Mike's first true opportunity in the starting lineup,
and the first year he got the green light from Gary to shoot at
will. Gary recently said Mike is real close to being a great
player. So if we don't see that leap next season, then I think it
will be fair to question the development. Gary will meet with each
player individually this spring, and yes, they set off-season
Heather A. Dinich: He can make a player great, but first
he has to recruit the diamond in the rough. And at what point can a
coach say, "OK, I've done all I can to get you ready to play
Manhattan in the NIT. Now you have to go out and do it?" Don't the
players have to accept some responsibility for their own
motivation? You're right - it was definitely part of the problem.
At some point, though, people need to accept the fact that maybe
this team just wasn't that good.
James, Prince Frederick: The current Terp basketball team
does not have the talent to execute Gary's "Flex Offense" and win.
It would appear that the only hope of winning with this lot would
be to change offenses; try to work some screens to get Mike Jones
the ball for a barrage of threes. Why don't they try something like
this when it is obvious that they can't match up with good teams
playing as they do?
Heather A. Dinich: Everybody is hung up on this whole
flex offense thing not fitting this team, and I think it's bunk.
Good players can adapt to any system, especially at the Division I
level, and if somebody is teaching it as thoroughly as Gary does. I
was talking to Chris Knoche about it and he brought up a good point
- The flex is a get-the-ball-inside-first kind of offense. Do you
think that was suited for Juan Dixon? I've got a video on it I'm
going to watch, and I'm getting another from Gary so I have a
better understanding of it. To answer your question, though, they
DO set screens for Mike, they're just not very good at it, and Mike
isn't always good at picking them up. Even though he's labeled with
it, Gary probably runs about 15 plays outside of the flex
Joe, Tacoma, Wash.: Scout.com rates UNC, GT, Duke, WF, FSU,
and N.C. State's 2006 recruiting classes in the Top 25. Why should
Terp fans hope for things to get better anytime soon? When do you
think Coach Williams will get serious about recruiting?
Heather A. Dinich: I saw that, but if you look at
Rivals.com, they have Maryland's class ranked No. 18. That just
goes to show you how the opinions differ. I'm not saying one is
better than the other. Anyway, Maryland's incoming class is
expected to be good, and just as important, the Terps got what they
NEED in guards. To answer your question, Gary is serious about
winning, and after 17 years, you'd think he'd know it goes
hand-in-hand with recruiting.
James, Ellicott City: Can you summarize the changes in Gary
Williams' coaching staff since the NCAA championship? What has been
the impact on the players and recruiting?
Heather A. Dinich: Since then, the Terps have lost Jimmy
Patsos, Dave Dickerson and Billy Hahn. Gary has hired Rob Moxley
(1998-2005 UNC-Charlotte assistant coach), Keith Booth and Michael
Adams (2004, head coach Washington Mystics). Obviously when you
lose guys who spent a combined 34 seasons with Williams, it is
going to have an effect. That being said, Gary added guys who are
locals, which should positively impact recruiting.
Booth lives in Baltimore, and played at Maryland. Moxley
graduated from Faquier High School in Warrenton, Va. He earned a
reputation as a recruiter, as four of the classes he helped land at
UNC-Charlotte were ranked ranked in the top 20 nationally. And
Adams played for the Bullets in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
He's always had a house in the area. So, everyone needs to give
these guys time to see what they bring in.
And thanks to Randy, who reminded me later of two other fomer Terp assistants.
Former player Matt Kovarik is an assistant at Loyola with Patsos. Mike Lonergan, who won a Division III NCAA championship at Catholic University, just finished his first season at Vermont. Lonergan was with the Terps for one year.
Richard, Oxon Hill: When is Gary going to get a big guy in
the middle with a little size? Lonny's been gone for a couple of
years and nobody has stepped to the plate. It's killing me to watch
Duke and North Carolina hammer us. Especially Duke when with a
little inside presence we could put the smack down on those
Heather A. Dinich: A big guy with a little size? That has
to be some sort of an oxymoron. Right now the staff is looking at
jucos and scouting the National JUCO Tournament in Hutchinson,
Kansas in search of exactly that.
Patrick, Williamstown, Mass.: Do you think its common around
the country for "fans" of successful programs (2 final fours, 3
major bowls in the last 5 years) to be so consistently critical of
their coaches? Frankly, I think the media perpetuate the atmosphere
of discontent by giving airtime to the fair-weather fans. As a
lifelong Terp, it bothers me to hear these "fans" voice their lack
of support so freely. Last time I checked there were three ACC
basketball teams to win a national championship in the last 10
years and we are one of them. Gary and Ralph have proven their
coaching ability and have more than earned our respect. All true
fans recognize this and support them even when they aren't ranked
in the Top 10.
Heather A. Dinich: Actually, in my experience, that has
been the norm, and I think it's only because those fans get
spoiled. The same thing happened when I was covering Penn State
football, but I have yet to see a www.garymustgo.com web site.
There's also the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mentality that is
overriding with sports fans. Forget the past four years. It's the
past two seasons that are in the forefront of people's brains. Wake
Forest guard Justin Gray summed it up at the ACC tournament when he
said people remember the last thing you do. Nobody will forget the
Terps' national championship - or their loss to Manhattan.
Randy, Great Falls, Va.: Heather, I am a long time Terp fan
and season ticket holder. There sure seems to be something gravely
wrong with the program. Too many issues surfacing making one wonder
if the right people are in charge? We lose a kid to Villanova that
didnt get into Maryland over some transcript issue, McCray failing
to go to class, not knowing we committed to NIT, losing many local
players to other programs! One of these things happen you say, "Ok
we missed it, but now there seems to be a trend....what's going on
in your opinion?
Heather A. Dinich: Way to sum it up, Randy. You just
forgot the legal issues. (Travis Garrison is due in court April 7).
There certainly were a fair share of fiascos within the athletic
department this season. I think it would be fair to say there was a
problem with communication, and that's as far as I'm gonna go with
that one. Since I'm the beat reporter, my opinion doesn't count. It
is my job, though, to look into it.
Dan, Crofton: One of the things that I have noticed about the
basketball team is that their bigs get pushed around quite often in
the post. What is particularly frustrating is seeing a freshman
like Hansbrough push around a sophomore (Gist), junior (Ibekwe)
& senior (Garrison). Has Coach Williams talked about plans to
improve his team's strength training? This didn't seem to be a
problem when Curtis Schultz was the team's strength coach.
Heather A. Dinich: Yes, following Maryland's loss to
Manhattan, strength was the one thing Gary specifically pointed out
needs to improve for next season. Maryland hired a new strength
coach just before fall classes started, so Pete Yurish didn't have
too much time to implement his philosophy/system. Here is his
direct quote from the post-game press conference on that topic: "We
have to get stronger," Williams said. "If you wanted to look at a
constant through the season - some games worse than others - there
were a lot of loose balls we didn't get. That comes from two
things. That comes from strength, and it comes from wanting the
ball more than the other team does. And there's conctact in those
plays. But getting stronger gives you the confidence to make that