Football's back in less than a week, but basketball is still the big dog on the horizon. And it's a lot closer than you might think (only a month and a half away from Maryland Madness!). ESPN helps remind us of this with their Summer Shootaround series, which has been going around previewing each conference (far too early).
They hit on the ACC today, and its a great way to spend a few minutes. Jay Bilas, who is the only Dukie you should actually like, predicted Maryland at 5th in the conference, behind this year's Big Three of Duke, UNC, and VT, plus North Carolina State. That should be enough to get into the tournament, as long as the Terps can pull out at least one decent OOC win (Temple, Pitt).
(Oh, and I just realized that Charlotte NC Terp has had this posted like an hour before me. As always, props and thanks.)
Jordan Williams was one of the 10 "players to watch" in the conference, too, and he's joined by some top-tier talent: Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, Malcolm Delaney, and Harrison Barnes also made that cut. Pretty good company for J-Dub, though we all knew he was good enough anyway. Mychal Parker got a high-profile mention, too, as one of the top 10 freshman they want to see play:
Parker is always thinking about scoring and he does it well in a variety of ways. He likes to attack the rim and will dunk over defenders if need be. He can rebound and start the break, hit pull-up mid-range jumpers and even knock down spot-up 3-pointers. Parker competes and has the skills to be a scoring threat from anywhere on the floor.
Everyone seems to think that Parker's underrated by the fanbase, but everyone still underrates him anyway. I have my doubts about how much he'll be able to contribute this year, but there's no doubting his potential and scoring ability.
There's also a basic description for each team over on the right sidebar. The most/only interesting thing for the Terps came at the end:
Gregory's offensive game was a big surprise over the summer. The sleeper on this squad could be 6-10 JC transfer Berend Weijs, who blocked 119 shots last season at Harcum (Pa.) College. If Weijs can stay on the court and be a defensive deflector next to Williams, the Terps will be a tough out.
No idea if they're just spit-balling there, but if Dino is better on offense than last year and if Weijs can be a serious defensive presence, things are looking very up indeed. Now we just need a true point guard.
To round it off, Eamonn Brennan does an overview of each team's best- and worst-case scenarios. Maryland's are pretty tame: the best case is sneaking into the NCAA tournament, and the worst case is falling flat without Vasquez.
Can't say I disagree with either one, actually.
Ah, basketball. I missed it.