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Basketball Q and A Session with Testudo Times

We were recently in touch with our Maryland SBN sister blog, Testudo Times for a little question and answer session in preparation for the Clemson versus Maryland contest this weekend. Testudo Times is one of the better ACC basketball blogs, so if you are interested in ACC hoops, its a good one to join up with.  Please see our responses at their page by clicking here

Testudo Times

STS Question:   Maryland, over the past decade, seemed to fall from an upper echelon program to NIT status.  What does this program have to do to return to its ACC and NCAA Champion quality and how soon can this program return to this steady benchmark?

TT Answer:  Maryland fell for a variety of reasons - mostly bad luck, really poor recruiting, and some complacency. They didn't take advantage of the National Championship, and are paying for it now. 

Step 1 to the return to glory is to make the most of this year. Maryland has a very, very good opportunity to step back into the national spotlight, and they can not blow it. It'll make recruiting easier and raise the profile of the program back up. This team has a legitimate Sweet 16 chance.
Step 2 is to turn recruiting around. Gary Williams has been lauded for turning below-average ACC players into a team that can make the tournament, but that's a corner he's backed himself into. This year was a good start to the recruiting revival, but the class still probably won't be top 25 and that's what Maryland needs to get back to competing consistently. Consider that everyone except Vasquez, Hayes, and Jordan Williams on this team are three stars. That's an oddity for an ACC team, but imagine what he could do with a few more 4 star players.
As for how soon it'll happen, well, next year will almost certainly be a step back seeing how they're losing 3 starters. I think 2011-12 could be a really good year, though, as Mosley will be a senior and Jordan Williams will be an experienced junior. After that, it all depends on recruiting.

STS Question: Currently, Maryland is on top of the ACC standings at 4-1. Do you think that it is possible for UMd to win the ACC regular season and what will the Terps need to do to achieve this goal?

TT Answer:  Actually, I do think it's possible for Maryland to win the ACC. It's far from likely, but this team is playing better than they have in years, and the ACC is completely wide open. Duke isn't immortal and will lose probably two more times, and they already have two losses. Maryland is in very good position. 

The key to actually contending and possibly winning the ACC regular season crown will be consistent, solid play. In the past, this was a team of a runs and slumps. It wasn't unusual to see three game winning streaks followed by three game losing streaks, generally against the exact opposite teams you would expect. They have to play at this high level the rest of the year to have a shot.

STS Question:  Maryland did not play well early in the season to lesser opponents (William and Mary loss immediately comes to mind).  Maryland has battled back and beaten some ACC teams pretty handily.  What is the difference between the team that lost to W&M and the team that beat a pretty good FSU team?

TT Answer:  Three things have changed: the mentality of the team, the mentality of Greivis Vasquez, and the contributions other people make. The entire team seems to care about winning so much more right now than they used to - it's good fundamental basketball, and the support for each other is remarkable. Very big on the "team" idea, and it's working. Vasquez has toned down his game a little, particularly at the starts of matchups, just enough to allow others to make his job easier. They've taken advantage and the team is much more balanced because of it, and that in turn helps Vasquez's stats.

STS Question:  Over the past few seasons there have been rumblings that it may be time for legendary coach Gary Williams to move on.  Can you comment on these calls for his job and elaborate on your opinion of the situation?

TT Answer:  This is actually a really complex situation. There are two groups of Maryland fans - those that were fans through Lefty Drieselll, Len Bias, and the sanctions that nearly killed the program, and those that became fans around the turn of the century when Maryland was a Final Four team. Thus, there are two different sets of fans with two vastly different expectations. Combine that with an administration that some people say haven't been supportive, and it's just this whirlwind of opinion. 

I think a lot of people saw the National Championship as a way to get to the next level. That never happened, Maryland actually regressed, and that angered a lot of people. The dogs have been called off, probably for good, but Gary Williams wasn't far from losing his job last year had they not pulled a rabbit out of the hat and gotten to the tournament.

STS Question:  Maryland has four (4) players who average double figures in scoring on the season.  What will Clemson need to do to limit UMd's offense?  Can Clemson be successful by focusing mainly on stopping Vasquez? 

TT Answer:   Rather than stopping Vasquez, Clemson should be focused on stopping everyone except Vasquez. When Maryland is effective and efficient, they get their points from people not named Vasquez before he starts scoring. He needs some time to balance the defense and get himself into the rhythm of the game before he'll start hurting you. When others are taken out of their game and Vasquez is the one who has to score, he'll generally start to force the action and make bad plays. The more others score, the more Vasquez plays within the offense and the better it is for Maryland. You can shut down Vasquez, but others will pick up his slack and he'll eventually get his looks anyway.

STS Question:  We have heard a lot about Sean Mosley.  How good is he at this point in his career and is he ready to take over games at this point in his career?

TT Answer:  Mosley is very, very good, easily a fan favorite. His offensive games is miles ahead of where it was last year, and he's actually turned into a very good shooter to go along with great defense and absurd hustle - he usually comes up with about 5 loose balls a game. That said, he generally maxes out around 12 ppg, sometimes 15. He's not ready to take over a game yet, because he's not a volume scorer (he doesn't drop 20), doesn't have a scorer's mentality (doesn't look for his shot first), and just generally doesn't have the attitude of "the Man". He's not coldblooded yet, and that's a major concern for next year.

Then again, he can develop all those things to an extent. Hopefully he actually has them and Vasquez just overshadows him right now. Regardless, he's probably the 3rd best player on the team, right behind Landon Milbourne.