Archive for the ‘College Basketball’ Category

Maryland basketball star Len Bias: remembering ACC great who died 26 years ago

July 8, 2012

The poster is old and wrinkled, gathering dust. Len Bias is slamming home one of his ferocious dunks. The caption reads, “I’m Bias. Maryland is number one.”

It has been 26 years since Maryland basketball superstar Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose in a dorm room. Bias’ sudden death became the biggest story in the history of Washington, D.C. area sports, and one of the biggest news stories in the city’s history. How could such a seemingly invincible player be gone all of a sudden, just two days after being drafted second overall in the 1986 draft by the Boston Celtics?

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

25 best Maryland Terps of the modern era: Bias, Dixon, Lucas, Williams

March 10, 2012
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The University of Maryland basketball program has produced some of the greatest players not only in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference, but in all of college basketball. Below is my subjective list of the Top 25 Terps since 1970 (which includes the eras of Lefty Driesell and Gary Williams) first published March 24, 2010. See the updated list on Bleacher Report.

  1. Len Bias
  2. Juan Dixon
  3. John Lucas
  4. Walt Williams
  5. Tom McMillen
  6. Buck Williams
  7. Joe Smith
  8. Albert King
  9. Len Elmore
  10. Greivis Vasquez
  11. Keith Booth
  12. Steve Blake
  13. Ernest Graham
  14. Brad Davis
  15. Adrian Branch
  16. Lonny Baxter
  17. Steve Francis
  18. Greg Manning
  19. Johnny Rhodes
  20. Keith Gatlin
  21. Mo Howard
  22. Steve Sheppard
  23. Derrick Lewis
  24. Chris Wilcox
  25. Larry Gibson

Honorable Mention:  Jeff Adkins (‘81-‘85), Lawrence Boston (’75-78), Owen Brown (‘72-‘75), Evers Burns (’89-93), Nik Caner-Medley (‘02-‘06), Ben Coleman (‘82-‘84), Obinna Ekezie (’95-‘99), Rodney Elliott (‘94-‘98), John Gilchrist (‘02-‘05), James Gist (‘04-‘08), Eric Hayes (‘06-‘10), Will Hetzel (1967-70), Exree Hipp (‘92-‘96), Tahj Holden (’99-03), Ekene Ibekwe (‘03-‘07), Sarunas Jasikevicius (‘94-‘98), Cedric Lewis (’87-91), Tony Massenburg (‘85-‘90), Kevin McLinton (’89-’93), Chris McCray (‘02-‘06), Landon Milbourne (’06-’10), Dutch Morley (‘78-‘82), Terence Morris (‘97-‘01), Sean Mosley (‘08-’12), Byron Mouton (‘00-‘02), Jerrod Mustaf (‘88-‘90), Drew Nicholas (‘99-‘03), Jim O’Brien (‘70-‘73), Laron Profit (‘95-’99), Duane Simpkins (‘94-‘98), Terrell Stoglin (‘10-’12), Terrell Stokes (‘95-‘99), Terell Stoglin (’10-’12),  D.J. Strawberry (‘03-‘07), Herman Veal (’80-84), Jordan Williams (’09-’11).

This list was first published on March 24, 2010.

Washington, D.C. is not just a Redskins town – it’s a great sports city

October 31, 2011

The Caps have been the most underachieving playoff team of all time in any major North American sport, yet the games are all sold out for the third year in a row. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

Washington, D.C. may not be the best sports town in the country, but it deserves a lot more credit than it usually gets.  In fact, D.C. is an excellent sports town that supports more teams in more sports than just about any city in the U.S.

The Washington Post, a marketing machine that bores its tentacles further and further into the belly of local radio, TV, and the internet all the time, recently had the gall to call D.C. a “mediocre” sports town.

Don’t pay attention to such drivel, though, because the writers behind the series for the most part, namely Dan Steinberg and Mike Wise, have only been in town for a few years, and they overlook many of the aspects of D.C. sports fandom that make D.C. sports fans unique. Virtually none of the columnists who criticize D.C. as a sports town, many of whom live off the reputation of the once great Post, hail from the area.

D.C. sports fans shouldn’t be judged on their teams’ lack of recent championships or blamed because people want to live here. Examine the loyalty of fans through good times and bad, and you’ll find that D.C. stacks up well with almost any major city.  Washington hasn’t won a major pro sports championship in 20 years other than the four Major League Soccer trophies DC United took home between 1996 and 2004.  Yet D.C. fans are remarkably passionate in supporting their teams.

How many cities have the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, plus major college basketball and football? Not many.  We have the Redskins, Wizards, Caps, Nats, D.C. United, Maryland and Georgetown basketball, Terps football, and a whole lot more. Given what we’ve had to cheer for, D.C. has turned out to be a great sports city.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Washington Wizards draft Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, and Shelvin Mack

June 24, 2011

Shelvin Mack (1) watches Pitt's Gilbert Brown shoot a free throw during Butler's NCAA tournament win over the top-seeded Panthers last March at Verizon Center. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

The Washington Wizards drafted an athletic European forward, a tough defender from the ACC, and a solid combo guard who played in back-to-back national championship games Thursday.  In Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, and Shelvin Mack, Washington hopes it has three players who will be able to contribute immediately.

With the sixth overall pick, the Wizards selected Vesely, a 6-11, 240 pound forward from the Czech Republic who helped his team, Partizan Belgrade, to the Serbian championship last season.  Vesely, 21, is known as an athletic dunker, and when ESPN’s Mark Jones suggested he could be the “European Blake Griffin,” Vesely responded, “Blake Griffin is the American Jan Vesely.”  After being picked, the crowd at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. cheered wildly after Vesely kissed his longtime girlfriend.

In Belgrade, Vesely regularly played in front of crowds of 22,000.  One of his teammates in 2011 was former Maryland Terrapin James Gist, also known for high flying dunks.  Gist spoke about Vesely to Frank Lawlor of Euroleague.net last February.  “He is the most athletic player I have seen in a while, and it’s great to play with a guy like that,” Gist said of the Czech star.  “It helps to have someone like him. If for some reason I can’t get the crowd going, he’s right there behind me to do it.”

For the rest of my article on examiner.com, click here.

Washington Post fails to mention 25th anniversary of death of Len Bias, ignoring biggest D.C. sports story ever

June 19, 2011

The Washington Post has ignored the 25th anniversary of the death of Maryland basketball star Len Bias.  It’s only the biggest D.C. sports story ever.  A few days ago they ran a story by Dave Ungrady urging Maryland to put Bias in its athletic Hall of Fame, but other than that, the Bias story barely got a mention here:

“Today is Sunday, June 19, the 170th day of 2011. There are 195 days left in the year. This is Father’s Day.”  They proceed to mention one sentence about Bias.  Then they mention today’s birthdays.  I love how they say “there are 195 days left in the year.”  Thanks.  This is what radio stations in Podunk, Iowa do.

The Post’s sports page used to be great.  They still have good beat writers, and Jason Reid is an excellent columnist who writes clearly and strongly, without name dropping or using “I” 100 times per article like Mike Wise.  But for such a good paper the sports page is lacking.

Whatever happened to the Washington Times sports page with great writers like Thom Loverro, Dave Elfin, Dick Heller, and Dan Daly?  You could always count on them.

Anyway, maybe they did something on Bias and it’s just impossible to find.  But I think it shows gross negligence to completely ignore the 25th anniversary of Bias’ death.  Though Mike Wilbon got very arrogant in the past few years, he would have probably done an article if he were still employed by the Post.  And where is John Feinstein? It’s not too late for him to do something in the next week.  All these guys have become big stars – that’s part of the problem.

The Post’s coverage of Bias’ death was excellent. A quarter century later, they are asleep at the wheel.

To see my Examiner.com article on the death of Len Bias, published today, click here.

25 years ago Maryland basketball player Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose

June 19, 2011

The grave of Len Bias. Photo by Mike Frandsen

Twenty-five years ago today something happened that was so shocking that it was hard to fathom that it really took place.

On June 19, 1986, University of Maryland basketball player Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose.

The scene that morning, as documented in news reports, was surreal and tragic as family members and teammates learned the news after gathering at Leland Memorial Hospital in Riverdale, Maryland.

Kirk Fraser recounted the story of Bias’ death in an ESPN documentary, 30 for 30: Without Bias.

It was like a nightmare that seems so real and then you wake up.  Only this was real.  It haunts Maryland fans to this day.

Bias was not only the best player ever at Maryland, he was the greatest player in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference. He was better than Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, David Thompson, and Ralph Sampson. Bias was a power forward with the strength of a center, the quickness of a small forward and the touch of a shooting guard. But that doesn’t come close to telling the story.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Mark Turgeon leaves Texas A&M to become the new Maryland Terrapins basketball coach

May 12, 2011

Mark Turgeon will leave Texas A&M to become the new coach of the Maryland Terrapins.  Turgeon will replace Gary Williams, who retired Thursday after 22 years as Maryland’s basketball coach.

Turgeon, 46, led the Aggies to the NCAA tournament all four of his seasons in College Station, getting Texas A&M to the second round of the tourney three times.  Turgeon also coached at Jacksonville State and Wichita State, where he led the Shockers to the Sweet 16 in 2006.

Turgeon played college basketball for Larry Brown at the University of Kansas. He was a backup guard on Kansas’ 1986 Final Four squad.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Maryland coach Gary Williams retires; who are top 10 Terps of Williams era?

May 6, 2011

Whoever replaces Gary Williams as the University of Maryland’s basketball coach will have huge shoes to fill.  The 66-year old coach announced his retirement Thursday, after more than two decades at Maryland that included a national championship in 2002 and a Final Four appearance in 2001.  Under Williams the Terps made 14 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, won three ACC regular-season titles, and captured the ACC Tournament in 2004. Williams had seven wins over top-ranked teams, more than any other coach. Williams, a former Terrapin point guard, was also the National Coach of the Year in 2002.

So who are the best Terps of the Gary Williams era?

  • Juan Dixon, shooting guard, ‘98-‘02.  Excelled at mid-range jumpers, three-pointers, defense, and steals and played with a lot of heart…Team leader brought Maryland to back to back Final Fours including its only national championship in ’02, and was named first-team All-American…Earned Most Outstanding Player honors at the ‘02 Final Four, averaging 25.8 points in NCAA tournament that year…Was Maryland’s all-time leader in scoring and three-pointers and second in steals…Averaged 20 points a game in ‘02…Led team to 109 wins in four seasons.
  • Walt Williams, shooting guard/small forward/point guard, ‘88-‘92. It’s not an exaggeration to say the “Wizard” saved the Maryland program when he decided to stay after the Terps were put on NCAA probation from ’91-‘93…In ‘92, Williams averaged a school-record 26.8 points per game, and also had 5.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 2.1 steals…Named All-American senior year when he scored more than 30 points in seven straight ACC games.
  • Joe Smith, center, ‘93-‘95.  Athletic center dominated the ACC his sophomore year…Won ‘95 College Player of the Year award…Averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds for his two-year career…Terps made Sweet 16 in both his seasons after five-year NCAA drought…Drafted number one overall in ‘95 NBA draft.
  • Keith Booth, power forward, ‘93-‘97.  Averaged 19.5 points as a senior, made more free throws than any player in Terp history and ranks sixth on Maryland’s all-time rebounding list despite being only 6-4 and playing power forward…Played a key role in Maryland’s resurgence to NCAA tournament after five-year absence…Decision to attend Maryland opened pipeline for other Baltimore players to play for the Terps.
  • Greivis Vasquez, shooting guard, ‘06-‘10.  Scored from inside and out, also an excellent passer and rebounder for his size…Only player in ACC history with 2,000 points, 700 assists, and 600 rebounds…Was voted ‘10 ACC Player of the Year…Maryland’s second all-time leading scorer…Only Terrapin basketball player to lead the team in points, rebounds and assists in a single season…Had triple double in win vs. eventual national champion North Carolina junior year…Scored 10 points in final two minutes of final college game, an NCAA second round loss to Michigan State.

For the complete list, and the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Reggie Miller – try to give Len Elmore some respect

March 27, 2011

Reggie Miller is usually pretty good as a color commentator on the NBA, but Len Elmore is a much better college analyst.  So when Miller constantly argued with Elmore and stepped on his toes during the NCAA tournament’s Butler-Florida telecast, it didn’t sound too good. Keep Johnson and Elmore together – Elmore is probably the best color guy in the country.  He’s good with Mike Patrick too. Elmore is better than Clark Kellogg and Bill Raftery, better than Dick Vitale too. Elmore is as good of an analyst as Jay Bilas but Bilas can be overbearing and little annoying as a know it all.

Having the NBA guys in the studio was a little awkward.  Kenny Smith was ok but Charles Barkley didn’t do his homework. Greg Anthony was very good because he’s been doing college for a few years now. Steve Smith is very average.

Miller is pretty good on the NBA but he made himself look bad next to the classy Elmore.

I used to think Gus Johnson was cheesy like Kevin Harlan but Gus’ enthusiasm is real and he actually sounds very good now.

Brought to you by http://www.mikeneedsakidney.com.

Mike Anderson leaves Missouri to coach Arkansas

March 24, 2011

Mike Anderson left Missouri to become the new head basketball coach at Arkansas. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

Mike Anderson has accepted the job as the basketball coach at Arkansas after coaching the last five years at Missouri.  He also coached Alabama-Birmingham from 2002 to 2006 and was an assistant at Arkansas from 1985 to 2002. Anderson coached under former Razorbacks coach Nolan Richardson, who lead Arkansas to the national title in 1994.

Anderson’s teams made the NCAA tournament six out of the last nine years including this season, when Missouri lost to Cincinnati in the opening round.

Mike Anderson, seen here coaching Missouri against Cincinnati in the 2011 NCAA tournament, is the new basketball coach at Arkansas. Photo by Mike Frandsen.


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