Once again, the Maryland Terrapins failed to beat a ranked opponent and legitimize their NCAA Tournament résumé, losing to North Carolina, 87-76.
It doesn’t take John Wooden to break down why the Terps lost: North Carolina was just better—better in every facet of the game.
They were bigger. Faster. Stronger. Longer.
They were just better.
This is where fans would say, “Gary has to recruit better.”
And to a certain extent they’re right. Gary should do a better job at keeping local talent home. And he can’t lose out to schools like the College of Charleston for recruits, like in the case of Adjehi Baru.
But, as I have said before, Gary Williams and Maryland are in a transition year—the type of year North Carolina went through last year. This is a young team that is full of young talent. And next year, even more talent will be injected into the team.
And can we really complain about Gary’s recruiting when his last three classes have brought in Jordan Williams, Terrell Stoglin, Pe’Shon Howard and Nick Faust?
They may not be the 5-star recruits that Duke and North Carolina haul in every year, but they will be in College Park for four years.
Meanwhile, North Carolina will lose Harrison Barnes and John Henson to the NBA following the season, and in 2011-12, they will have to rely on the fragile Tyler Zeller, the offensively inconsistent Kendall Marshall and freshmen.
A year later, Zeller will be gone, Marshall might be gone, and the Heels will be—once again—relying on freshmen. The Terps, on the other hand, should have Jordan Williams as a senior, Stoglin and Howard as juniors and Nick Faust as a sophomore.
The NBA’s one-year-in-college policy has both helped and hurt the ace recruiters like Roy Williams. Sure he gets talent like Harrison Barnes, but he spends so much time recruiting those players that he misses on the slightly less-talented players who are more likely to stay for three or four years.
And, as Duke proved last year, those are the type of players that win championships—the Jon Scheyers, not the John Walls.
As of now, Maryland seems to be loaded with those types of players.
Will it result in a national championship?
Probably not, but it’s not out of the question.
Stoglin is putting up efficient 20-point performances as a freshman—imagine him as a junior paired with a Jordan Williams with three years of coaching under his belt. Throw in Howard and Faust, and Maryland may be championship contenders in a couple of years.
But that is assuming that Williams stays, Stoglin and Howard continue to improve and Faust lives up to the hype.
Maryland has been down this road before. The Terps won the 2004 ACC tournament with an extremely young roster, which included John Gilchrist, Nik Caner-Medley, Chris McCray and Travis Garrison as sophomores, and Mike Jones, DJ Strawberry and Ekene Ibekwe as freshmen.
This was a team full of elite recruits, and what did it yield?
That one ACC tournament championship, one NCAA Tournament appearance and one NCAA Tournament win. And that all came in that first year together.
People weren’t complaining about Gary Williams’ recruiting then, and it was those recruiting classes that got Maryland into their mid-decade funk.
And who was it that brought them out of it?
Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes, a couple of 3-star recruits who stuck around for four years.