Maryland Terrapins Basketball Season Preview (Part 1 of 3)
Maryland Terrapins Head Coach Gary Williams, an iconic coach in the NCAA, poses for a photo at midcourt before the start of the 2008-2009 basketball season. This season will be Coach William's 20th with the Terps and his career was highlighted by the 2002 NCAA Championship Trophy. Photo taken during Media Day for the Men's Basketball Team at the Comcast Center on the campus of the University of Maryland at College Park on October 16, 2008. Christopher Blunck/DC Sports Box
The Maryland Terrapins Men's Basketball Program begins practice on Saturday morning and the DC Sports Box has a preview of the upcoming season. In this 3 part article guest writer Julie Gilden provides an in-depth analysis of the opponents Maryland will face over the upcoming season. We will post part 2 of this series on October 24 and part 3 will go up on October 31st.

The Maryland Terrapins played a rollercoaster of a season last year, ultimately concluding play 19-15 overall and 8-8 in conference play. The Terrapins lost to American University for the first time in 82 years, but then went on to beat #1 ranked UNC in Chapel Hill. Inconsistency seemed to plague the Terrapins and frustrated Maryland fans found themselves watching yet another Maryland loss in the early rounds of the NIT.

So what’s in store for the Terrapins this year? Gary Williams will certainly need to find suitable replacements for James Gist and Bambale Osby. The two averaged 27.4 points, 14.4 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game combined. As a freshman Braxton Dupree played 10.3 minutes per game and averaged 2.5 points per game.  Jerome Burney also averaged 1.8 points per game in 7.4 minutes of play. With a year of experience behind them both Dupree and Burney will need to step up to fill the void left by Gist and Osby.

Greivis Vasquez will continue to direct the Terps this season. Vasquez led the team in scoring and assists averaging 17.0 points and 6.8 assists per game. Eric Hayes will also provide a huge boost to the offense. Hayes averaged 9.9 points and 4.5 assists per game last season.

Freshman Adrian Bowie and Cliff Tucker also showed great promise for the Terrapin squad. Tucker averaged 4.1 points in 15.8 minutes of play with a 49.1% field goal percentage. Bowie averaged 3.7 points in 12.4 minutes of play with an astounding 58.1% field goal percentage.

The 08-09 schedule will be a tough one for Maryland. The Terps will compete against 11 opponents that played in the postseason a year ago. They will also play Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, George Tech and Miami twice this season. Boston College, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech will face the Terps only once and in Terrapin territory.

Maryland Head Coach Gary Williams talks with reporters before Media Day held in the Comcast Center on Thursday, October 16, 2008. David Lovell/DC Sports Box
Northwood University
Northwood University is a Division II institution that has campuses in Michigan, Florida, and Texas. The Terps will face the Northwood Seahawks, who hail from the campus in West Palm Beach, Florida. Northwood is a member of the NAIA, not the NCAA, and the Seahawks compete in the Sun Conference (formerly the Florida Sun Conference or FSC). Seahawks men's basketball is coached by Rollie Massimino, who in 1985 led the Villanova Wildcats to an NCAA tournament title. During his two-year tenure at Northwood, Coach Massimino has led the Seahawks to two FSC titles and two appearances in the NAIA national tournament. They were an early exit the first of those appearances but reached the Elite Eight last year. Assistant Coach Dennis Hopson played for Gary Williams at Ohio State, and spent several years in the NBA, earning a championship ring with the Chicago Bulls in 1991.

The Seahawks finished last season with a 27-8 overall record, including 12-2 in conference play. The offense will be powered by returning seniors forward DeSean White (17.6 ppg), guard Baree Ward (13.0 ppg) and forward Seven Ezumba (9.4 ppg). White and Ezumba were also the leading rebounders on last year's team, average 8.7 and 6.5 rebounds per game, respectively.

The first meeting between Northwood University and the University of Maryland is scheduled for Saturday, November 8th at 2:00 pm in College Park.
   
Bucknell   
Bucknell University was founded in 1846 in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The Bucknell Bison, members of the Patriot League, finished their season 12-19 overall and 6-8 in conference play. The Bison made their first mark in the national arena in March of ‘05 when the #14 seed Patriot League Champions beat the #3 seed Kansas in the most shocking upset of the NCAA tournament (64-63). In that defining moment, later dubbed the “Patriot Act”, Bucknell became the very first Patriot League team to win a game in the NCAA tournament. In 2006, the Bison broke another first for the Patriot League, by becoming the first team to attain a national ranking. The Bison finished the ’06 season ranked 25th.

This season the Bison will be led by first-year head-coach Dave Paulsen, who will coach his first Bucknell game on the hardwood of Comcast Center. Paulsen hails from Williams College where he led the Ephs with a .762 winning percentage in eight seasons and a 2003 Division III National Title. Paulsen replaces head-coach Pat Flannery who led the Bison to two NCAA Tournaments, including the 2005 upset of #3 seed Kansas. In addition to losing Coach Flannery, Bucknell will start this season without two of their top three scorers. The leadership of seniors John Griffin (13.1 ppg) and Darren Mastropaolo (7.8 ppg) will be missed on the court. This year Justin Castleberry, a senior guard from Upper Marlboro, MD who scored 10.9 ppg last season will be the player to watch.

The last time Maryland played Bucknell was in the 1994-95 season and the Terrapins dominated the game. The Terps ended the contest with a 38-point victory (102-64). The Terps will take on the Bison at 8:00 pm on Friday, November 14th in College Park.

Dave Neal talks with reporters before Media Day held in the Comcast Center on Thursday, October 16, 2008. David Lovell/DC Sports Box
Youngstown State   
Youngstown State University was founded in 1908 in Youngstown, Ohio. The Youngstown Penguins, members of the Horizon League Conference, finished their season with a 9-21 overall record and 5-13 in conference play. The Penguins will start the 08-09 season without two of their top scoring players from last year. Senior guard Byron Davis and senior forward John Barber contributed to the Penguin offense with nearly 30 points combined per game. Senior Jack Liles and sophomore Vytas Sulskis will likely step in to fill the void of Davis and Barber’s absence, with each averaging roughly 9 points per game. The Penguins will also welcome eight newcomers to the team, namely junior DeAndrew Mays (13.1 ppg) and sophomore Tom Parks (14.2 ppg and 4.6 rebs).

This will be the first match-up between Youngstown State and Maryland in school history. It is also the Penguins first match-up against an ACC team since they faced the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in 1992. The Maryland Terrapins will take on the Youngstown State Penguins at 8:00 pm on Tuesday, November 18th at 8:00 pm.


Vermont
The Vermont Catamounts, members of the America East conference, finished their season 16-15 overall and 9-7 in conference play. Marqus Blakely was and still is the Vermont player to watch. He led the America East in points (19.0), rebounds (11.0) and blocks (2.72). At one point during the 07-08 season, Blakely managed 10 double-doubles in a row and finished the season with 15 total. Blakely was named the Kevin Roberson America East Player and Defensive Player of the Year. This season Blakely will be rejoined by three other returning starters including sophomore Evan Fjeld, junior guard Nick Vier, and senior guard Mike Trimboli. Trimboli has earned a spot on the America East All-Conference team in each of his first three seasons and reached his 1,000 career point last year.

Maryland and Vermont last met in the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic Regional quarterfinals in 2006. Maryland’s athleticism dominated the match-up, resulting in an 81-63 victory for the Terps. Maryland will play Vermont on Friday, Nov. 21st at 8:00 pm in College Park.

Sean Mosley joined the Terrapins this season and talked things over with reporters during Media Day in the Comcast Center on Thursday October 16 , 2008. David Lovell/DC Sports Box
Michigan State   
The Michigan State Spartans, members of the Big Ten Conference, finished their season with a 27-9 overall record and 12-6 in conference play. Michigan State is high on the list of tough opponents Maryland will face this year. In 2008, MSU made its 11th straight NCCA Tournament appearance, ultimately losing to Memphis in the sweet 16. Michigan State holds the longest NCAA appearance streak among Big Ten schools and is fifth longest in the nation.  Head Coach Tom Izzo has an astounding .722 winning percentage (26-10) in the tournament and ranks third among all active coaches.

The loss of last year’s heavy hitters, senior guard Drew Neitzel (13.9 ppg, 4.0 apg), and senior center Drew Naymick (4.3 ppg, 4.1 rbg), will impact the Spartans, but Tom Izzo still has a lot of returning talent including guards, Kalin Lucas (10.3 ppg, 3.8 apg), Travis Walton (3.5 ppg, 4.3 apg), and Chris Allen (6.3 ppg). Talented forwards junior Raymar Morgan (14.0 ppg) and senior Marquise Gray (4.3 ppg, 3.7 rbg) will return again this year along with senior center Goran Suton (9.1 ppg, 8.2 rbg). The newest and most highly touted addition to the Spartan roster is 6-foot-7 forward Delvon Roe, who many consider to be one of the nation's most talented freshmen.

Maryland last played Michigan State in the championship game of the 2006 2K Sports Hoops Classic in New York. In that game the Terrapins defeated MSU, 62-60. If the past is any prediction of the future, this game is bound to be a close one. Prior to the Classic, Michigan State beat Maryland 60-58, in the 2003 NCAA regional semifinal at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Maryland will take on Michigan State in the first round of the Old Spice Classic scheduled for 7:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 27 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida. Depending on the outcome of the first round of the Old Spice Classic, Maryland will play Gonzaga or Oklahoma State.

Michigan
The Michigan Wolverines, members of the Big Ten, finished their season with a 10-22 overall record and 5-13 in conference play. Following a disappointing season, junior forward Ekpe Udoh announced his decision to leave Michigan in May. Udoh was the leading blocker, second leading rebounder, and third leading point scorer for the Wolverines. Udoh was a defensive specialist leading the Big Ten with 92 blocked shots in 07-08 and 159 blocks in just two seasons. His absence could leave a large hole in the Wolverine’s defense. However, three of the four leading scorers will return in the 08-09 season. They include Manny Harris (16.1), DeShawn Sims (12.3), and Kelvin Grady (5.6). Big things are also expected of Michigan’s new freshman center, 7 foot, 265 pound Ben Cronin.

Head coach John Beilein ended his first season with the Wolverines with only ten wins under his belt. Although last year’s record is extremely disappointing, Beilein has plenty of faith that the Wolverines will fare better in subsequent seasons. After all, it will take at least two to three years to turn around a basketball program that hasn’t participated in the NCAA tournament in over a decade.

Maryland will face Michigan this year in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday, December 3rd at 7:30 in Comcast Center. Michigan holds a slim margin in the all-time record against Maryland (3-2). Maryland has never faced Michigan in the Challenge but the Terrapins do have a 6-3 all time challenge record and have never lost a contest on their home court. Maryland and Michigan last faced off in the 2000 BB&T Classic where Maryland won (82-51). 


#22 Adrian Bowie returns as a sophomore for the Terrapins and talks with Chick Hernandez about the upcoming season during Media Day for the Men's Basketball Team at the Comcast Center on the campus of the University of Maryland at College Park on October 16, 2008. Christopher Blunck/DC Sports Box
George Washington
The George Washington Colonials, members of the Atlantic 10 conference, finished their season with a disappointing 9-17 overall record and 5-11 in conference play. Last year Karl Hobbs dismissed three student athletes from the team. Maureece Rice was the first to go. Rice declared for the NBA draft after averaging 15.8 points per game in the 06-07 season and being named Most Outstanding Player of the Atlantic 10 tournament. He subsequently changed his mind and returned to play his senior year. In the 07-08 season, Rice’s offense struggled as he stepped into the point guard position for an injured Travis King. His average plummeted from nearly 16 points to less than 10 points per game. Rice served two one-game suspensions in the 07-08 season and was ultimately dismissed by Karl Hobbs in March for failing to adhere to team rules. In the post-season, two other players, junior forward Cheyenne Moore and freshman forward Miles Beatty were also dismissed from the team. Hobbs said the two were dismissed for failing to meet their on and off court expectations.

The loss of Rice, Beatty, and Moore will provide room for GW’s highly touted recruits: Tony Taylor, Matt Allbritton, Aaron Ware, and Dwayne Smith. A healthy Travis King will return to the court to reclaim the point guard position. As a freshman, King averaged 5.7 points and 2.4 assists. Senior Rob Diggs who averaged 13.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks last season will also return to lead the Colonials. In addition, GW will receive offensive support from junior forward Wynton Witherspoon (11.1 ppg), junior guard Damian Hollis (9.1 ppg) and senior guard Noel Wilmore (6.0 ppg).

Maryland will take on the George Washington Colonials on Sunday December 7th at 7:30 in the 14th annual BB&T Classic held at the Verizon Center. GW has beaten MD in the last two BB&T face-offs.

Delaware State   
The Delaware Hornets, members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), finished their season with a 14-16 overall with 10-6 record in conference play.
 
In 07-08 the Delaware State roster primarily consisted of young and inexperienced freshman and sophomores.  In fact, the team was so young that the Hornets lost only two seniors last year. Unfortunately, one of those seniors, senior guard Roy Bright was the highest scorer and most dominant offensive force on the team. On average Bright scored 19.1 points per game. The next highest scorer, junior Donald Johnson scored 10 points per game. Trevor Welcher, last year’s freshman point guard, will return this season to guide the Hornets. With more experience and playing time under Welcher’s belt, the Hornet’s offense is bound to improve this season.

The Maryland Terrapins will take on the Delaware State Hornets on Friday, December 12th at 8:00 pm in Comcast Center.  Maryland has beaten Delaware State in all of its last four contests.

Terrapin Junior Eric Hayes smiles while talking with reporters during Maryland's Media Day in the Comcast Center on Thursday, October 16, 2008. David Lovell/DC Sports Box
American
American University Eagles, members of the Patriot conference, finished their season with a 21-12 record overall and 10-4 in conference play.

Few Terrapin fans can forget the unbelievable loss that took place last season when AU beat Maryland 67-59 for the first time since the 1926-1927 season. The Terrapins shot 36 percent, committed 13 turnovers and were out-rebounded 40-33. Maryland fans sat in disbelief as Senior James Gist fouled out of the game with only 3 points and over 5 minutes left in regulation. American University guard Derrick Mercer and forward Bryce Simon scored 35 points in total against the flailing Terps who scored only five baskets in the first-half. Simon scored a career-high 17 points.

Mercer and fellow junior Garrison Carr went on to lead American University to the Patriot League Championship and their first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament. AU won the PL's regular season title. Mercer started 32 of 33 games for the Eagles, leading the team in minutes played at 37.9 per game. Carr led the Patriots scoring with 18.1 points per game and played an average of 36 minutes per game. Both seniors will return for the 08-09 season along with senior Bryce Simon. The Patriots will also add Mike Technow, Riley Grafft and Stephen Lumpkins to the roster who are each expected to provide the provide additional rebounding power and blocked shots.

Maryland will play American University at 7:30 pm on Monday, December 22nd in Comcast Center.

Bryant University
Bryant University was founded in 1863 in Smithfield, Rhode Island. This season the Bulldogs will be Division I members for the very first time in school history. At the conclusion of the four-year transition period, Bryant will become an official member of the Northeast Conference.

The Bulldogs will start the 08-09 season under the direction of new head-coach Tim O'Shea. Although the coaching staff has undergone a major change the Bulldog roster looks almost exactly the same as it did last season. Four of the five starters will return including, forward Cecil Gresham (12.1 ppg, 4.6 rbg), guard Chris Birrell (11.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg), guard Barry Latham (7.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg) and forward Jerrann Wright (7.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg). The Bulldogs did lose their top scorer, senior guard John Ezeokoli, who averaged 14.1 points per game and pulled down 5.4 rebounds. The Bryant Bulldogs finished their season 18-13 overall and 12-10 in conference play.

Maryland will take on Bryant University on Saturday, December. 27th at 2:00 pm.

Elon   
Elon University was founded in 1889 in Elon, North Carolina. The Elon Phoenix, members of the Southern Conference, finished their season with a 14-19 overall record and 9-11 in conference play. Last season, despite the disappointing record, the Phoenix made a determined run in the Southern Conference tournament, ultimately losing in the championship round to top-seeded Davidson. With the confidence of a championship run behind them, the Phoenix are looking forward to the 08-09 season. Senior guard Brett James, (selected to the Southern Conference’s all-conference first team), scored 12.4 points per game last season. Ola Atoyebi scored 12.1 points per game, with an astounding 57.3 field goal percentage.     

Maryland will play Elon on Tuesday, December 30th at 8:00 pm in College Park.

The 2008-2009 Maryland Men's Basketball Squad poses for a team photo during Media Day at the Comcast Center on Thursday, October 16, 2008. David Lovell/DC Sports Box
Charlotte   
The Charlotte 49ers, members of the Atlantic 10 Conference, finished their season with a 20-14 overall record and 9-7 in conference play. Head coach Bobby Lutz has coached the 49ers to five NCAA tournament appearances and three NIT showings, including an NIT appearance last year. This year the 49ers will play without top scorer, Leemire Goldwire, who averaged 18.6 points per game. Backup point guard Michael Gerrity will not return this year either. He left the university despite two remaining years of eligibility.

This season the 49ers will be lead by Lamont Mack (12.8 ppg, 5.1 rbg), Charlie Coley (8.7 ppg, 6.2 rbg) and An’Juan Wilderness (8.1 ppg, 4.9 rbg).  Mack shot an outstanding 64% from the floor, Coley led the team with 46 blocks, and Wilderness was nominated to the Atlantic 10’s all-rookie team. Point guard DiJuan Harris will also return to direct the team. Harris led the team with 3.2 assists per game last season.

Maryland will play Charlotte on Saturday, January 3rd at 4:00 pm in College Park.

Morgan State   
Morgan State University was founded in 1867 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Morgan State Bears, members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, finished their season with a 22-11 overall record and 14-2 in conference play. Last season the Bears won the MEAC regular-season title, but fell in the conference tournament championship to Coppin State. In post-season play the Bears lost in the first-round of the NIT to Virginia Tech.

Morgan State lost five seniors at the end of last season. The biggest loss may be forward Boubacar Coly, who was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year. Coly led the MEAC in blocked shots (2.59 per game) and rebounding (11.1 per game). The loss of defensive experience may hurt the Bears but their offense will remain relatively strong as top scorers Marquise Kately (13.1 ppg) and Reggie Holmes (12.9 ppg) will be back again this season. The Bears will lose Jamar Smith who scored 17.0 points per game. Jermaine Bolden (5.4 ppg, 2.7 apg) will take over as point guard.

Maryland will play Morgan State University on Wednesday January 7th at 8:00 pm in College Park. The Terps have won the last five contests against the Bears. In the last contest on December ’07 the Terps beat the Bears 89-65.