The Problem With The Terps

January 29, 2009

For the past four years, my own school’s prestigious basketball program has toiled in mediocrity (and missed the tournament the year before I arrived here, too).  Mind you, this was a team that, when I was a freshman, was three years removed from a national championship and one year removed from a conference championship.  However, as my years here have gone on, the team has gotten worse and worse, and the situation has finally reached a boiling point with fans, players, coaches and the athletic department.  I usually do not like to comment on big things like sports or politics (even though they are my passion) because there are way too many critics and professionals who could do it a lot better than I can (and are paid accordingly), but the situation at the University of Maryland needs to be commented on by a fan.

As a freshman, I was pretty excited to come to a school like the University of Maryland that was rich in tradition and lively fans.  That year we reached a ranking of number twelve before our best player became academically ineligible and we were left on the outside looking in for the NCAA tournament.  I thought that year was a fluke and bad luck just hit the team.  Despite our bad luck, us fans continued to pack the Comcast Center and cheered with pride.

This pride and packed houses continued for the next two years, where we made the tournament my sophomore year and collapsed and did not make the tournament my junior year.  My junior year was when things truly started to go downhill.  At the end of the year, the Terrapins completely collapsed and lost very winnable conference games.  In addition, they were in position before the stretch run to make the tournament despite losses to American and Ohio.  By the end of the year, the fans had lost interest and the team was not playing to the kind of crowds they used to.  I hoped that this would not carry over to the next year.

Over the offseason this past spring, there was some very turbulent times.  We lost our top two recruits (and now there is finger pointing over this).  We were ranked anywhere from eighth to twelth in the ACC preseason rankings.  People were calling our coach, Gary Williams, over the hill and out of the loop.  Well, the Terps answered the challenge early on, however they were playing to an empty house.  Now, despite the start, the team is not playing well and the fans that were so loyal a couple years ago are no longer around.

This disappearance of loyal fans includes myself.  I am sick of mediocre basketball.  As Stephen A. Smith commented in an article a couple days ago, it is our job as fans to keep the team in check and to make sure they are playing their hardest.  And in my opinion, the Terps look flat and not polished and giving a half-assed effort.  How can they expect fans to want to watch this kind of basketball?  In addition, nobody on this team is likable.  The Terps do not have a marketable star or anyone the student section can relate to.

Many are calling for Coach Williams’ head, but in my opinion the Athletic Department should give him one more year to prove himself–one more year of fantastic Gary Williams circa 1998-2004 basketball.  This will give him one last chance to prove he can recruit (which he has failed to do for a couple years now.  Here’s a suggestion, Coach: we are in a great area for recruiting.  Go to these blue chip basketball players and say, “You have a chance to be the reason why the Maryland basketball program is saved.”  Simple as that.  Sure, you will probably lose half of the recruits to Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, etc., but I’m sure there are recruits out there who would love the added ego boost with saving a program on their resume.

As for the fans, I think you should stay loyal, but I don’t blame you if you stay away from the stadium until the team gets better.  Terps fans were used to a certain quality of play.  And now, it’s gone.  So I don’t blame you. 

For me personally, it’s hard to take three hours of my day to go to a game where I know I am going to watch a subpar basketball team play subpar basketball.  Tuesday’s game against Boston College was a perfect example.  We completely fell apart in a perfect sample of subpar basketball.  I got angry, and taking Stephen A. Smith’s advice, I yelled at the players, and was actually warned by staff to be quiet.  I was annoyed and disappointed.  I didn’t want to see this team play anymore.  It didn’t help that a day after this horrific showing, the backlash against Coach Williams became national news and became quite controversial.  All of this really betrayed me as a fan.  I guess it makes it easier to leave College Park in May, but as a I diehard sports fan who lives and dies with his teams, this just hurts.

The Opening and Closing of Chapters in My Life

November 23, 2008

Wow, I haven’t written a post in a long time, so I figure I owe one to my loyal readers (that “s” at the end might be a bit of stretch) out there.  So here are my thoughts on the past month.

Mazel tov America.  We did it.  We elected Barack Obama.  Now, I planned on writing a post blaming college aged kids if Senator McCain won.  I planned on saying how the youth are so outspoken and always complaining about this and that and jumping on the “I Hate George W. Bush Bandwagon” and then never showing up to vote.  But you proved me wrong.  The 18-25 demographic showed up in record numbers.  It was insane that President-elect Obama won in almost every demographic, including outstanding showings among Christians and Protestants (which have both leaned Republican since the Reagan years), the Jews (almost 80%) and even the elderly.  It is important to mention that Senator McCain’s concession speech was incredible and inspiring.  If he would have spoken like that all campaign long (and the economy didn’t fall apart and Bush’s approval ratings weren’t in the crapper) he would have had a fighting chance.  The Senator McCain I know (and have met numerous times) has a great sense of humor and is incredibly insightful and we didn’t see that on the campaign.  In addition, it will also be interesting to see how the Republicans recover and what Governor Palin (or should I say “Rock Star” Palin) will do.

What else, what else.  Oh!  So it’s pretty rad that Blink-182 is talking again, huh?

Anyway, moving on…  So I started my edits and rewrites of a script I am writing.  I wrote it over the summer and decided not to look at it for a couple months to see if I still liked it after the wait.  Well, I looked at it and still liked it.  It needs work though.  It’s just good to be writing again, especially since the script is very personal, but also incredibly hysterical.  Obviously, this is the first time I am posting on it (and only a handful of friends know about it), but I take pieces of my blog and real life experiences and put it into this piece of work that I am so passionate about.  It’s a pretty cool and funny script and I will continue to work on it throughout the winter (it’s a slow process).  It’s kind of hard to write the script and then come back to the blog.  It’s two completely different kinds of writing pieces.  I will try though.

So I went to visit a prestigious law school in Washington (whose school has a weird mascot) and two things went through my head: 1.  “Well I guess this is growing up.”  2.  These people are strange.  So my first thought was the idea that I was growing up.  It seemed like a far off thought until I actually stepped onto campus and saw myself there.  It was a very strange feeling.  I mean, I’m looking forward to the future but also enjoying the present (I will get back to this in a little).  The second thought I had is that the people at this school were strange.  There were two types of people:  the pretentious people that wore sweater vests and nice clothing and the people who wore sweat pants and a hoody to class.  I started to think about which one I would be.  The pretentious one is interesting.  In all fairness, they deserve to be pretentious;  this was a hard school to get into and they are clearly better than most.  But also, they kind of seemed like douches.  But cool and smart douches.  The sweatshirt people were laid back, but also a little too informal for a place like this law school.  I don’t know what I would be.  Both sides are attractive.  Hopefully, I could find a healthy medium.

My last tidbit is that I went to my last home college football game as a student, and although my team got whipped, I stayed until the end in the freezing cold.  I just sat there as my team was down by over 30 and thought about the good and bad times.  I was incredibly emotional and although my team let me down last night, they were one of the few constant things in my college career.  I could always count on them to be there for me every Saturday.  It was an emotional experience, but like some band said, “Well I guess this is growing up” (although before this they said, “Take your pants off.”).  I’m sad this chapter of my life has come to a close but I will always cherish the times I had in that stadium living and dying with every touchdown and interception thrown.