Maryland Terrapins Basketball Season Preview (Part 2 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
With just two weeks to go before tipoff on November 8th teams throughout the NCAA warm up their courts and begin their practices in earnest to prepare for the 2008-2009 season.  In part 2 of this 3 part series we examine the past performance of in-conference teams the Terrapins will face and predict some of the strategies that will unfold.  The third and final part of this series will be released next Friday, October 31th.
Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech ended the 2007-2008 season with a 15-17 overall record including a 7-9 record in conference play. This season the Yellow Jackets will certainly miss the output of seniors Anthony Morrow and Jermis Smith. Morrow was the best three-point shooter on the team and the leading scorer (14.2 ppg). Smith was the team’s leading rebounder (7.1) and second-leading scorer (10.5 ppg). The Yellow Jackets will also play this season without Ra'Sean Dickey. Dickey redshirted last season to recover from acute tendonitis and opted out of his senior season to play professionally in the Ukraine.

The loss of Smith and Morrow will impact the team, but the Yellow Jackets aren’t without talent. They will return three starters this year including sophomore point guard Maurice Miller, senior guard D’Andre Bell and sophomore forward Gani Lawai. Miller started as point guard in 19 games last season, but played inconsistently throughout his freshman season. Bell and Lawai assisted Tech’s offense with 6.6 and 7.2 points per game respectively.

Zach Peacock, a junior forward averaging 9.9 points per game, will also rejoin the line-up along with senior guard Lewis Clinch. Head coach Paul Hewitt said Peacock was one of Georgia Tech’s best all-around players last season and expects Peacock will emerge this year as a strong leader. While the prognosis for Peacock’s play is positive, Tech fans aren’t quite as certain about Clinch. His scoring percentages tumbled from 53.2% and 13.2 points per game as a sophomore, to 39.8% and 9.0 points per game as a junior. Hewitt blamed Clinch’s slump on a lack of confidence, but says the senior will be back to his prime if he can re-gain his self-assurance. Senior forward/center Alade Aminu, the 6-foot-10 forward who can block shots and pull down rebounds, will also return this season. Aminu averages 6.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Four new players will also join the Georgia Tech roster. They include freshman walk-on guards Derek Craig and Nick Forman, sign-on Iman Shumpert a versatile 6-5 point guard, and junior Basirou Dieng a 6-9 transfer from St. Francis. Dieng averaged 8.5 points and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 46.2 percent in two years at St. Francis (Pa). He is eligible to play under the NCAA rule that allows a graduating senior to play immediately after transfer if he is pursuing a graduate degree in a field not offered by his present institution.

Maryland has beaten Georgia Tech in each of the last five contests, most recently with an 88-86 victory at Alexander Memorial Coliseum on February 2, 2008. The Terrapins will play Georgia Tech twice this year. The first contest will take place Saturday, January 10th at noon in College Park.

Maryland Head Coach Gary Williams answers questions about the 2008-2009 season during Media Day on October 16, 2008. David Lovell/DC Sports Box
Miami ended the 2007-2008 season with a 23-11 overall record including an 8-8 record in conference play. The Hurricanes journeyed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years, ultimately losing in the second-round game to Texas (72-75).

Four Miami starters will return this season, including top scoring senior guard Jack McClinton who averaged 17.7 points per game. McClinton is an accomplished perimeter and free-throw shooter. He enters this season ranked second among ACC leaders in free throw percentage (.919) and third in three-point field goal percentage (.433). Junior guard James Dews will provide additional scoring power. As the second-leading scorer Dews averaged 10.3 points per game last season.

Lance Hurdle, Dwayne Collins and Jimmy Graham will also be on hand to support the Canes this season. Hurdle, the Hurricanes’ senior point guard, averaged 8.0 points and 2.4 assists per game. Forwards Collins and Graham added an additional 14.6 points and 11.4 rebounds per game combined. Collins’ consistency wavered last season, but he did have a number of double-figure games including a 26-point rally against Duke.

Julian Gamble, Cyrus McGowan and Adrian Thomas will see their first action this season. Gamble, a 6-foot-9 forward sat out freshman year, McGowan, (a junior forward), sat out last year after transferring from Arkansas and Thomas missed the majority of the season due to a side-lining ACL injury.

Since joining the ACC, Miami has dominated Maryland. The Hurricanes have beaten the Terps in five of the last six contests. Maryland will play Miami twice this year. The first contest will take place Wednesday, January 14th at 9:00 pm in Coral Gables.

Florida State
Florida State finished the 2007-2008 season with a 19-15 overall record, including a 7-9 record in conference play. The Seminoles were left out of the NCAA tournament for the tenth year in a row. In post-season play the Seminoles lost to Akron in the first round of the NIT.

As last year’s season came to a close Seminole fans said goodbye to powerhouse seniors Ralph Mims, Jason Rich and Isaiah Swann whose combined average resulted in 37.0 points, 6.6 assists, 11.8 rebounds and 3.8 steals per game. Head coach Leonard Hamilton has built a strong recruiting class to make up for this loss, including freshman Chris Singleton and Xavier Gibson. Singleton, a McDonald’s All-American, is a versatile forward who can score inside and outside the paint. Gibson can shoot from the outside too, but most of his time will probably be spent dominating the paint. Three other freshman newcomers will provide reinforcements on the perimeter, including Deividas Dulkys, Luke Loucks and Pierre Jordan. Derwin Kitchen will also join the Seminoles roster. Kitchen, a sophomore transfer from Iowa Western Community College, excels in both the point guard and shooting guard positions.

Florida State will also welcome back senior guard Toney Douglas who earned All-ACC Third Team honors. Douglas averages 15.4 points and 2.6 steals per game. He was named to the All-ACC Defensive Team after leading the Seminoles with a career high 90 steals. Uche Echefu will also return this year. The senior forward averages 10.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. After being sidelined after just ten games last season, 7-foot-1-sophomore center Solomon Alabi will also return to play this season and Ryan Reid, a junior forward, will rejoin the Seminoles line-up as a staple player in the post.

In their last contest in February of ’08 the Terrapins beat the Seminoles with a final score of 82-72 in Comcast Center. This season Maryland will play Florida State only once in Tallahassee Florida on January 17, 2009 at 12:00 pm.

#22 Adrian Bowie talks with Chick Hernandez during Media Day at the Comcast Center on October 16, 2008. Christopher Blunck/DC Sports Box
The Virginia Cavaliers finished the 2007-2008 season with a 17-16 overall record, including 5-11 in conference play. Last season three-time, all-ACC point guard Sean Singletary led the Cavaliers with 19.8 points, 6.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Singletary’s name is synonymous with the Virginia Cavaliers and to say that his leadership will be missed on the court is an understatement. Head coach Dave Leitao has never coached the Cavaliers without Singletary on the floor and other players will certainly need to step up in his absence.
Last season, physical injuries plagued the Cavaliers. The physical problems of Will Harris, Sammy Zeglinski and Tunji Soroye kept them sidelined for the majority of the 07-08 season. Laurynas Mikalauskas, the 6-foot-8 native of Lithuania, also missed the last few games of the season due to shoulder injuries. Mikalauskas averaged 7.1 points and 3.5 rebounds shooting 65.4% from the field. In the off-season Dave Leitao dismissed Mikalauskas for failing to live up to the standards set by the University of Virginia program.

This season, new injuries mount as old injuries heal. Junior forward Jamil Tucker, (5.2 ppg, 3.3 rbg), will sit out the preseason to strengthen and rehabilitate his right shoulder, while junior guard Calvin Baker is indefinitely out pending further evaluation of a stress related foot injury. The junior transfer from William & Mary debuted for the Cavaliers last season averaging 8.6 points and 2.4 assists per game.

Even more importantly 6-foot-5 wing, Mamadi Diane, underwent surgery in June to repair a defective bone on the bottom of his toe. That surgery will keep him on the bench throughout the preseason. Last season Diane was the team’s leading shot blocker and second leading scorer with 11.8 points per game. In the 06-07 season, Diane scored a career-high 26 points against the Maryland Terrapins at John Paul Jones Arena.

This season 6-foot-6, McDonald’s All-American, freshman Sylven Landesberg will join the Cavalier’s roster. Landesberg averaged 12 points and 8.0 rebounds in the Cavaliers exhibition trip to Canada in late August. Landesberg will compete with Zeglinski and Baker for the point guard position.

This season will be a tough one for the University of Virginia; between the loss of Singletary and the mounting preseason injuries the Cavaliers are pegged to be one of the worst teams in the ACC.   

Last season the Terrapins split their conference games with Virginia. Maryland beat Virginia at home, (85-75), but later lost to Virginia at John Paul Jones Arena (91-76). The Terrapins will play Virginia again twice this year. The first contest will take place Tuesday, January 20th at 8:00 pm in College Park.

Duke finished the 2007-2008 season with a 28-6 overall record, including 13-3 in conference play. The #2 seeded Blue Devils cinched a narrow victory over #15 seed Belmont in the first round of the NCAA tournament (71-70), but fell in the second round to #7 West Virginia (67-73).

This season Duke will play without the top-scoring and top-rebounding capabilities of DeMarcus Nelson (14.5 ppg, 5.8 rbg), who headed off to the NBA. The Blue Devils also lost sophomore forward Taylor King, (5.5 ppg, 2 rbg), who transferred to Villanova.

This year’s key returning players include senior guard Greg Paulus, sophomore forward Kyle Singler, junior guard John Scheyer, Nolan Smith and sophomore Greg Henderson. Paulus has played the point since his freshman year. He averages 11.4 points and 3.2 assists per game. Singler, last year’s second-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, averaged 13.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Singler was named 2007-08 ACC Rookie of the Year. Scheyer’s stats fall just behind Singler with 11.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Henderson proved to be a strong competitor in the NCAA tournament. He scored a combined 39 points in the two NCAA tournament games including the game-winning basket over Belmont.

On defense, the Blue Devils may provide more playing time to 7-foot-1 junior center Brian Zoubek. On offense, sophomore guard Nolan Smith from Upper Marlboro, MD, may also see more time on the court. Coach K will need to prepare for the loss of Paulus next season, which may provide Smith, a strong ball handler, to direct the Duke offense.

Three incoming freshman will add support to the Duke roster. Guard Elliot Williams will add firepower to the perimeter with his three-point shot, while forwards 6-foot-7 Olek-Czyz and 6-foot-10 Miles Plumlee will add much needed strength in the paint. Williams is a five star recruit who can get to the rim and finish in traffic. Plumlee is expected to demonstrate keen shot-blocking capabilities. His brother Mason is committed to Duke for the ’09 season.

Last season the Maryland Terrapins lost both conference games to the Duke Blue Devils. The Terrapins will play Duke again twice this year. This first contest will take place Saturday, January 24th at 12:00 pm in Durham.

#21 Grievis Vasquez talks with reporters during Media Day at the Comcast Center on October 16, 2008. David Lovell/DC Sports Box
Boston College   
Boston College finished the 2007-2008 season with a 4-17 overall record, including a 4-12 record in conference play. The Eagles started out relatively strong, but their momentum faded quickly and they lost 13 of their last 15 games. In an otherwise dim season, senior point guard Tyrese Rice shined. Rice averaged 21.0 points, 5.0 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. In March, Rice scored 46 points against North Carolina, (the second most in school history), and walked off the court to a well-deserved standing ovation.

Boston College lost a number of players last season including senior forward Shamari Spears and junior Daye Kaba who left the Eagles in search of more playing time. Spears averaged 9.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, while Kaba left the Eagles after playing only 17 minutes in total last season. Graduates Tyrelle Blair and John Oates will also be missed this season, primarily for their size and presence in the paint.

This year the roster includes a heavy mix of underclassman. Four sophomores will return this year including Rakim Sanders, Biko Paris, Corey Raji and Joe Trapani. The 6-foot-5 Sanders scored in double-figures in 17 of 31 games. Paris, an alternative point guard averaged 5.7 points and 2.9 assists per game and Raji the 6-foot-6 forward shot an average 8.3 points per game with an outstanding 60.8 field-goal percentage. Trapani sat out last year after transferring from the University of Vermont. At Vermont he averaged 11.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game.

The Eagles will also be joined by three freshman including Evan Ravenel, Dallas Elmore and Reggie Jackson. Ravenel will focus on interior defense and rebounding, Elmore will be an alternative at the big-guard position, and Jackson will play in the point guard or shooting guard position.

There is no doubt that the Eagles will be led again this year by senior guard Tyrese Rice. The question is whether or not other players can step in to assist the Eagles scoring.

In their last contest the #11 seeded Eagles beat the #6 seeded Terrapins in the first round of the 07-08 ACC Tournament (71-68). This season the Terrapins will play Boston College once on Tuesday January 27th at 7:30 pm in College Park.