In the happy aftermath of making the field of 65, lets take a look at what really happened with recruiting and the NCAA tournament of the past few years.
First a little season history:
In 2004 the Terps won the ACC tournament and went on to Denver in the NCAA tourney. The Terps lost in the round of 32 at the last second to Syracuse. It came out later (rumor) that Jamar Smith, the center on that team, had fears of a pregnant girlfriend. He was distracted and thosuands of miles from home.
In 2004/2005, John Gilchrest, the 2004 ACC tournament mvp went “crazy”. John and Gary did not see eye-to-eye on almost any issue. By the end of the season, John was no longer on the team. The Terps end up one win short of the NCAA tournament. In the NIT, the Terps beat TCU in College Park and go on to the Final Four. In NYC, the Terps fall to eventual tournament champion South Carolina.
In 2005/2006, fresh off of the team dissension of 2005, senior leader Chris McCray fails out of the university. Nik Caner-Medley tries to take over the offensive load. Once again, with things going poorly, the Terps only need one win in the ACC tournament to get in. At the MCI Center, basically a home game, the Terps fall for the 3rd time in the season to Clemson. To follow that up, the Terps lose to Manhattan in the NIT. It is only the 2nd time to a non-conference opponent at Comcast. The other loss was to Florida. It is the 3rd loss to a non-conference opponent since 1996 (Coppin State with Chuckie Lightening who made the NCAA tourney that year).
In 2006/2007 the Terps have the wins to get to the “Big Dance”. After beating Davidson and Stephon Curry, the Terps are a catch and shoot away from beating Butler. Mike Jones fumbles away his last chance at being a hero.
In 2007/2008, needing a win to get into the NCAA tournament Maryland leads Clemson by 20 in College Park late in the season. The Terps blow the lead and their chances slip away again. After beating Minnesota in the NIT, the Terps go cold for 10 minutes in Syracuse and lose to the Orange.
Now onto the recruiting angle. The class that had Ibekewa and Garrison was very highly rated. Nik Caner-Medley was a top 100 prospect. As was Chris McCray. Mike Jones was the highest rated shooting guard in the nation that went to college. The other guard (did not attend college) was LeBron James.
These folks did not pan out. Is it Gary’s fault? Sometimes the tea leaves don’t fall your way. DJ Strawberry, Boom Osby and James Gist over that period exceeded some expectations.
In 2005, Shane Clark, now a 6-7 Senior at Villanova, was recruited by Maryland and accepted. He was on campus for two weeks in September before admissions told him that he did not qualify.
In 2008, Bobby Maze a talented point guard who was attending junior college wanted to come to Maryland. The Terps could have used him, but it was known that his grades would not have made it at Maryland. He went to Tennessee and is the starting point guard.
In 2007, Gus Gilchrest (no relation to John, but just as batty) a 6-10 center was to be the center piece of the 2008/2009 team. Although he was a needy player, the Terps were penciling him in as the star. Sometime after the 07/08 season ended, Gus decided that his personal trainer / handler needed to part of the Maryland staff if Gus was going to stay in College Park. Gary said, “No Way!” and Gus now plays for South Florida (part of the Big East).
In 2008 the Terps recruited Tyree Evans, a stud 6-5 shooting guard. He had an interesting past that involved some run-ins with the law. When he decided to commit to Maryland, the Richmond native finally disclosed that he had been arrested 5 times. Maryland said, “No Thanks”. Tyree now plays for Kent State.
Circa 2008, a foreign superstar to be Ater Majok (pronounced Majic) wanted to come to Maryland. Once again, transcripts and grades became a big issue. Ater Majok is now with UConn (no surprise there) and will be eligible for play in 2009. He is projected to play one year of college ball and then turn pro.
The problem is not the recruiting. It is getting the players into school. The academic and administrative burden is way too heavy. Gary is making contact and getting good players to want to come to the Univeristy of Maryland. In fact, if you take a look above here is what you have for this season:
Starting Center – Gus Gilchrest
Point Guard – Bobby Maze
2 Guard – Tyree Evans
Forward – Shance Clark
The small forward would be Greivis Vasquez. Coming in off the bench at the point is Adrian Bowie. Eric Hayes is the 2 guard. Dave Neal gets 15 minutes at forward / center. Landon Milborne also gets minutes at PF and small forward. I think that one might agree that that is a heck of a team. Remember, they all said “Yes” to being a Terp.
In conclusion, of the administration wants to have standards higher than Villanova, Kent State, South Florida, Tennessee and Connecticut (no to mention others), that is fine. Just be up front about it. In fact put it on the face of Comcast Center. Engrave something to this effect, “We are, above all, an academic institution.”
Just don’t blame Gary.