Ah, basketball, how I missed thee. It's been a long offseason, but basketball's almost back; one surefire way to tell is that ESPN has started its basketball preview series, kicking it off (of course) with the ACC. So luckily for you, you get a mid-day mini MM.
Just as luckily for you, Andy Katz focused his piece on Maryland, wondering if they have the talent to, if not make another run at the league title, at least surprise some people and be competitive again.
Maryland could end up being a contender for second in the ACC behind overwhelming conference and national favorite Duke, or could slide considerably lower in the conference because of the lack of proven star power on the perimeter.
The expectations don't change at Maryland, even if the predictions are tempered outside of College Park. Based on the returnees, the Terps don't appear to be a lock for the NCAAs. But why should that matter? Maryland certainly wasn't predicted to win a share of the ACC at this time last year.
"We were an example last year in college basketball of having three pretty good players come together and stay together for three years," Williams said. "It's not just having the talent. The players have to play off each other and that takes time."
There's a lot of stuff hardcore fans already know in there, but it's worth reading anyway, if only for a few Gary quotes.
If you want something more in-depth and you have ESPN Insider, check out the Maryland Blue Ribbon preview. Surprisingly, the Blue Ribbon people seem pretty up-beat on Maryland, too.
Everyone is so focused on what the Terrapins lost; they're not looking at what they actually have on the court this year -- two returning starters in one of the ACC's best big men and one of the league's scrappiest competitors, three senior reserves all moving into starting jobs and a coach with a proven track record for getting the most out of his teams, especially teams that buy into the work ethic Williams demands.
Jordan Williams will be stronger and better, and whether Gregory or Padgett emerges as power forward, the Terps will be bigger and better defensively and on the glass. If the freshmen wings can fill in reserve roles, the backcourt is deep and athletic, too. Maryland will run and press and wear opponents down.
If Tucker is ready to put his entire game together, watch out. Sure Vasquez' numbers and joie de vivre will be missed, but don't think the Terps are without weapons. And a dirty little secret is they'll be much stronger defensively on the perimeter, a trademark of Gary Williams' best teams.
Again, there's a lot more in there - a deep run-down of Maryland's roster, for one, although there's a mega-weird Pe'Shon Howard exception - but that's to be expected from the Blue Ribbon folks.
And hey, if you want to hear some broad, obvious platitudes from Fran Fraschilla's home office, ESPN has you covered there, too, though that's not just MD-related (is J-Dub ever going to stop drawing Lonny comparisons?). And blogger extraordinarily Eamonn Brennan attempts to preview the conference in one minute, but passes by Maryland entirely in doing so.
And yes, we're within one week now.