Okay, so it took us long enough. Whatever. And no real-time chat this time around; our schedules conflicted too much, so we went with the email route. Next time, folks, next time.
In the second roundtable we did, we determined that anything less than a Sweet 16 tournament appearance or ACC tournament championship tournament would've been a failure. Neither was accomplished. Of course, that was done before it was apparent that Maryland had a chance at the ACC regular season championship. So: was the year a failure or a success?
Ben G.: I wouldn't call this season a failure based solely on the fact that there will be an ACC Regular Season Championship banner hanging from the Comcast rafters next year. The Terps certainly didn't accomplish all that we hoped they would, but anytime you can hang a banner (especially a co-championship banner with the eventual Natty champs) I'd say it's hard to call your season ‘a failure.' Going into the year, I thought this was a Top 4 ACC team with Sweet 16 potential. They ended up tied for first in the conference and were a Korie Lucious buzzer beater away from the Sweet 16. Not to mention the fact that this season gave us Greivis breaking records, Cliff hitting a miracle buzzer beater, and another upset home victory over a Top 5, hated rival. Overall, I say successful season.
Dave: This was a hard question to answer initially but I think the answer is simple - there is no way you can consider this season anything other than successful. We were co-ACC regular season champs, Gary was ACC Coach of the Year and Greivis was ACC Player of the Year. Although a ACC Tourney TItle or making it back to the Sweet 16 would be nice, you have to remember that winning the ACC Regular Season is a lot harder and I think a bigger accomplishment than either of the later. Was it disappointing that they didn't make it back to the Sweet 16, especially considering we had a good shot to be playing Duke (and I think beating them) last night, I think that loss to Michigan State was disappointing and disheartening, but the overall season was rather successful, especially considering our good play during that one 7 game stretch. I think that really allowed Jordan Williams to develop into a very good center, and looking at next year, the winning culture that Greivis, Eric and Landon established this season will likely carry over. That loss is going to motivate these guys. They don't want to experience that again.
Ben B.: It's always tough to assign a successful/unsuccessful grade to something because the world is so gray, but gun to my head, I say it was a successful season. It certainly wasn't a failure. Too much good happened: a co-conference championship, Greivis Vasquez's sensational finish to his career, literally an inch away from the Sweet 16...I'm normally one of the "raise the bar" guys, but it's tough to complain about anything related to this year. Cumulatively, it's a different story, but that's not the question. Good year.
Here's a bit more of a fun one: what was your favorite moment from the season that was?
BG: Tough one here between Cliff Tucker's buzzer beater and the home victory over Duke. I hate Duke. The fact that they just won it all makes me hate them even more. And the fact that we knocked them off on Senior Night and I got to rush the court with Juan Dixon standing next to me is pretty incredible. But nothing can top that single moment of shock, excitement, and euphoria, when Cliff Tucker's last second heave rattled through the rim. I stood on my chair and screamed obscenities that Maryland Basketball can only bring out of me. It was my favorite moment of the season.
DT: I think for me it was either the Duke game or the Georgia Tech double win. I was at both games. The atmosphere at the Duke game was amazing but that Tech game, where Greivis his the half court shot and then Tucker hit the game winner after we called the TO to wipe out Greivis' shot. I'll give it to the Duke game.
BB: Tucker's buzzer-beater was amazing, but I feel much more warmly about the Duke game and the students rushing the court. When I think of Greivis Vasquez, him standing in a sea of yellow is probably going to be the first thing to pop to my mind. Not to mention this.
On another note, the Vasquez floor mop is probably #3.
This one might be a little tough: where does Greivis Vasquez rank in the list of players that Gary Williams coached? I want two answers here: one that's a combination of all factors - how far he took the program, personality, skills - and one based on talent alone.
BG: Glad you clarified the question because my two answers are completely different. In terms of pure talent, Greivis is probably in the 5-7 range. He doesn't beat out Walt Williams, Joe Smith, Francis, or Dixon. After that, you could have a real debate about whether he's better than Blake, Baxter, Wilcox and maybe one or two others. When it comes to overall package, Greivis is #3 to me. Now, I didn't see Walt Williams and Joe Smith play so some of you older guys can school me here but for me personally, it goes Dixon, Blake, GV, in that order. The two guards in front of him anchored the 2 Final Fours/National Championship run and Greivis never came close to that post-season success. But he did provide some amazing memories, and wore the Maryland uniform with as much pride as I've ever seen any athlete wear any uniform. His domination of UNC last season and miracle off-balance shot to sink Duke this year are two moments I'll keep with me for a long time. The fact that he's the 2nd all-time in both points and assists, doesn't hurt either.
DT: In terms of where he took the program, I think that is actually the harder question to answer. Greivis only won 3 NCAA Tourney games while he was here. But while he didn't take the program back to some of that elite status (Sweet 16 or better), where would this program be if he left last year or if he wasn't here at all? I think you seriously might not have Gary on the sidelines anymore and this program is really struggling. So basically I think Greivis did a lot for the program, including winning the regular season title. I put Greivis around #5 in that regard.
In terms of individual players in Gary's era, I think Greivis is definitely top 5. I've thought about this a lot. Gary has had a lot of good players and some of them get forgotten. Joe Smith was REALLY good. Dixon was obviously amazing. But you also have to remember how good Steve Blake was for Maryland. Walt Williams averaged 26.8 ppg as a senior. That's pretty amazing. And Keith Boooth was pretty good too. Here is how I rank the Gary Williams era players:
1. Juan Dixon - No need to explain
2. Joe Smith - Averaged a double-double (20 & 10)
3. Greivis - Greivis did so much, so many things, in so many different ways. Only player with 2,000+ pts, 700+ assists, 600+ rebounds.
And the rest of my top 5, just for arguments sake...
4. Walt Williams - Just a dominant player. Had 7 straight games his senior year where he scored 30 or more points. That's sick.
5. Tie - Keith Booooth and Steve Blake. Both were amazing in their own right, but in different ways.
BB: For overall talent, Greivis has to be one of the best players in Gary Williams tenure. Joe Smith and Juan Dixon were insanely good, and Greivis had a bit of a different situation, but he's right up there in terms of talent level. Think about it this way: he is arguably the most successful ACC player ever, statistically speaking. That's saying something. Smith might've had more pure talent, but if I'm looking for the best player, Vasquez is probably #2. Dixon was great, but does he carry the team like Vasquez? I don't know. (Of course, Vasquez wouldn't have adequately filled Dixon's role, either).
The total package is more difficult and is ultimately a biased answer on everyone's part, but Dixon is undoubtedly number one in my mind. After that? It's really up for grabs. Maybe it's because it was so recent, but part of me thinks that Vasquez will live on a long time in Terp lore. Frankly, after the season's end, I have him at #3, right behind Dixon and Walt. Blake and Smith tied at #4.
Touchy topic: is Maryland still an elite program? If not, what will it take for them to get there?
BG: Very touchy topic. In a word: no. We're a good program, probably a top 30 program, but right now, not elite. In order to get back there, we need to start making the tournament comfortably nearly every year and we need to be Sweet 16 contenders most seasons. That's what elite programs are: contenders year in and year out. In order to get to that place, we need a steady string of good players. When you look at the truly elite programs right now, they always have a stud or two on their team and when that stud leaves, he's replaced with another stud. Now "stud" doesn't have to mean top recruit (see Juan Dixon, GV, and maybe/hopefully Jordan Williams) but someone has to take the reigns of the team year after year. The passing of the torch from GV to Jordan Williams/Sean Mosley is a good start in getting back to "elite."
DT: I think Maryland is still an elite program. I think there is a perception that they're not, but when you look at their product of work, I think they're still there. I think they're on the border of elite and really good and that the next 2-3 years will determine where we end up. But right now I still think we are, but I think Gary needs to get back to the Sweet 16 or Elite 8 in the next 2 seasons to stay there.
BB: Not right now. Maryland as a program has elite potential, and has been elite, but they aren't right now. It's not just the no Sweet 16s since the natty, or the missed tournaments, or the bubble years, but all of them together make it tough to be an "elite" team. Think of it this way: no one would argue that Maryland is on the same level as Kansas, Kentucky, and Syracuse right now. So much of it depends on how the word is defined, but it would be a loose definition to call this program "elite" currently.
That said, it won't take a lot to get there. If Jordan Williams is as good as everyone thinks, then all that's needed is one more stud - Quinn Cook, say, or Justin Anderson - and they have a real potential to make noise. All they need is one Elite Eight run and then moderately sustained success - not talking consistent Final Fours or anything of the like - after that, and this program can get back to an "elite" level. If you look at teams that aren't elite, Maryland probably has a better chance than any other to get there.
Let's look far into the future. Give me the starting lineup at the end of the 2010-11 season, where Maryland ends up in the postseason (I would include predictions for both a 65- and 96-team tourney), and any and all individual accolades.
BG: Stoglin at PG, Bowie at SG, Mosley at the 3, Dino at 4, and JWill beasting it up at Center. I'll say we make the Tourney (both 65 and 96 team version) and win one game there (two games if it goes to 96 teams.) We'll finish 4th or 5th in the conference with Duke, UNC, and VT above us. Also, Jordan Williams will get some consideration for Conference POY as will Stoglin for Conference ROY.
DT: Oooh, interesting one here. I think it really depends on how Bowie does when he's running the point. I think we're looking at:
Suger Sean Mosley
Jordan "Tank" Williams
Cliff "best last name ever" Tucker
I think Dino starts off the year in Parker's spot but by the end of the season, Parker is going full steam and Dino comes off the bench, maybe even plays more than Parker. Padgett could be a sleeper pick and it wouldn't surprise me if Howard or Stolglin were running the point at the end of the season, with Bowie moving to the off guard and Tucker coming off the bench, but getting more minutes than the other starter, similar to the Eric Hayes role of last year. But unless Tucker because super turnover prone or makes a lot of stupid mistakes, I think he's just too good on fast breaks to have him on the bench. But, we shall see...
I think MD is in the tourney next year, regardless of whether its 65 or 96. I think based on some of the coaching and personnel lost from the ACC after this season, Maryland could be in line for another 10-12 ACC wins next year. Carolina might end up at the top and although Duke loses a lot, they have some really good people coming in as well. I think MD finishes 4th in the ACC at 10-6. Mosley is 2nd All-ACC, Bowie is 2nd All-ACC and Jordan "Tank" Williams is 1st team All-ACC.
BB: Starting lineup for me at the end of the year looks like: Pe'Shon Howard / Adrian Bowie / Sean Mosley / Dino Gregory / Jordan Williams. Tucker starts the year, but Howard takes his place mid-way through. Honestly, that's a very bubble-y team if it stays at 65. The performance in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic - which also has Pitt and Texas - might be the deciding factor. They probably sneak in by a hair, though a lot will depend on how Mosley and Jordan develop. If it's 96? No problem.
I honestly believe that Jordan Williams will be second team All-ACC next year. Make me look good, J-Dub. Howard will make the All-Rookie team and get consideration for it nationally. He'll challenge Harrison Barnes for Rookie of the Year in the ACC, but lose thanks to hype.
Tell us who was right, who was wrong, and everything else you want to in the comments. We do this all for you.