The Washington Post today published part 1 of a three part series on Maryland's Men's basketball program. The title of the piece is called "Missed Shots - Maryland's Fall From the Top."
Todays portion is called "A Shell of Its Former Self"
There are things I liked and didn't like in the story. Overall, I think it beats a dead horse, has a horrible lack of journalistic integrity, and in part smears Gary's name a little. It even says Gary might have to step down at the end of the season, which is completely false, and is being stated even after AD Debbie Yow held a press conference to say so. That is piss-poor journalism right there folks. I think it's interesting to see some of the stories that the writers bring up regarding some recruits Maryland missed out on. I'm not entirely sure I believe the stories and I think the writers try to produce a pattern for Williams' recruiting since the National Championship based on recruits Maryland didn't go after hard. That left those people upset and the story makes it seem like Gary and his staff don't know how to recruit, period. if Maryland treated EVERY recruit in the way they allege in this article, why did all of the current players on Maryland's roster, including Sean Mosley and 2009 commits Jordan Williams and James Padgett, committed to Maryland?
The story doesn't interview a single past or current Maryland player to ask them about how they were recruited to Maryland. Granted, I can understand why the University might not want to put current players into the spot light, but why couldn't the Post try to interview Nic Caner-Medley, Travis Garrison, John Gilchrist, Mike Jones - all highly-sought after recruits when they came into Maryland?
The story also highlights players that ALL major programs missed out on in terms of evaluating how good they were and yet still tried to blame Maryland for missing out on them.
I think the story does do a decent job highlighting Maryland's talent evaluation problems, saying how they recruited some players that just didn't pan out. But I don't think they talk about this problem enough. Maybe their inability to recruit "local talent" is because they didn't think those players were as good as advertised?
Gary also is quoted in the article about having to recruit guys that fit into what the team needs and he says this when the writers of the story question why Maryland didn't recruit a certain point guard. Gary points out that the team had already recruited and received verbals from Vasquez and Hayes to fill their point guard holes on the team, so why would he recruit for a need we didn't have and take away his ability to offer a scholarship to a player at another position that we did need?
I think the article also fails to point out that the change in the NBA's rule for how old you must be before playing in the league is something that has also impacted Maryland. A number of players who would have jumped right from high school to the NBA are now enrolled at colleges around the nation. That means that players who would normally be the best players in college basketball (the ones who were a tier below the high school to NBA jump player) are now the second-tier talent in College Basketball. I think this has hurt Gary in that he seemed to not target the one-and-done players because they didn't fit into his system/style of coaching. He liked to recruit players and develop them into 5 star talent. But since this change has happened, it seems like that coaching philosophy has not worked as well as it did from 1989-2005. I think Gary is now realizing that and is going after more talented players as a result.
I think the story also does a good job detailing the great asset Gary had with his assistant coaches from 1989-2002 and how well they worked together. I think Gary is starting to rebuild that with his assistants and I think he knows how important that is. The huge turnover in his staff after that National Championship is something that has hurt Maryland a lot. Some of the inroads we had were gone after we basically lost our entire staff that had been in place for 12 seasons in just 2 years. The article also fails to talk about Rob Moxley, who abruptly left Maryland, I think family related, and I think that hurt Maryland a lot as well. When you don't have a constant staff in place, it's hard to build recruiting relationships. I think that's changing now with Drisel and Booth in place, especially with Booth's Baltimore connection.
Overall, I think the story was more about creating a buzz and trying to rehash the issue and not let it die. The credit the story tries to build in Gary's lack of recruit is all hashed from stories of the girls that the prom king didn't ask to the prom. It would have carried a lot more weight if they interviewed past players and they said the same thing, but alas, they didn't, so it's hard to say where the truth lies.
I article has a second part, due out tomorrow I believe, on the AAU recruiting angle. Should be interesting...