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Terps Q&A with Heather A. Dinich

Roger, Miami, Fla.: It has been frustrating to see how both the men'sbasketball and football teams failed to capitalize on their successes 3 & 4years ago. What are they doing about their staffs to improve recruitingbecause it is obvious to me that, even though they are both great X's andO's coaches, this where both of them fail. There is no excuse that neitherone of them can win the recruiting battle in the state and that is prettypathetic.

Heather A. Dinich:What both coaches are doing now is hiring the people who can do it for them. Ralph said yesterday he is taking recruiting into consideration when he hires his next offensive coordinator, and that's one of the top things that prompted him to hire Chris Cosh as his defenisve coordinator. Cosh is a native of Washington and a graduate of Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville - not to mention a former recruiting coordinator at Maryland.

As for hoops, assistant Rob Moxley is also a local guy (Fauquier High in Va.) and earned a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the country. He was recruiting coordinator for seven years at Charlotte, where four of the classes he helped land were ranked in the top 20 nationally. His recruiting class in 2000 was 14th in the nation, and included 2001 National Freshman of the Year and NBA lottery pick Rodney White.

Brad, Baltimore: Hi, Heather. During postgame press conferences do anyjournalists ever ask Gary Williams why he never calls for screens for goodoutside shooters like Mike Jones? I've been following the Terps for 15 years now, and can't remember the last time that a Gary-coached team purposefullyscreened for a 3-point shooter!

Heather A. Dinich:Hi Brad. No, that question hasn't popped up yet, but it's an interesting one. If I had to guess, I'd say it's because the way Maryland is running its flex offense doesn't inherently call for screens for outside shooters. It doesn't seem like they're looking for a three, they're just looking for the open man. If it happens to be Mike Jones, so be it. I'm just not so sure Gary wants to rest his offense on Jones shooting threes, although he has said that next to J.J. Redick, Mike is the best open three-point shooter in the league. Statistically, though, his name doesn't appear among the ACC 3-point leaders.

Tim, Baltimore: Why do Gary and his staff continue to recruit second andthird tier high school players after the national championship?

Heather A. Dinich:Hot topic these days, Tim. In the previous set of questions, I dug up some of the hype that surrounded this senior class and pointed out that had Gary NOT recruited Travis Garrison, a McDonald's All-American, he probably would be getting heat, too. Sometimes these kids just don't pan out, and had Gilchrist and McCray not left, I wonder how much the talent of this class would be questioned. You're right, though - it's not the Xs and the Os, it's the Jimmys and the Joes.

Gene, Tampa: Is there a problem working with Coach Friedgen? It seemsstrange that a coach would lose both coordinators in the offseason. The oneto retirement is explainable, however, not the one with spring practice just around the corner.

Heather A. Dinich: Yes, it is strange, but like you said, Gary Blackney's retirement is explainable, and it really wasn't a secret that Charlie Taaffe wanted to return to the head coaching ranks. The timing can be easily explained if Taaffe has something else in the works, but he didn't return a message I left on his cell, so I don't want to speculate any further.

Mike, Chambersburg, Pa.: Over the past few years, several big-time recruitsfor football (Kent Hicks) and basketball (Shane Clark) have been deniedentry at Maryland, only to turn around and enroll at another majoruniversity and play that year. What gives? Are the academic standards atMaryland hindering the success of their teams?>

Heather A. Dinich: To some extent, yes. Maryland's admissions standards are higher than the NCAA and the ACC. The deeper question, though, is can't coaches win with solid students? Can Joe Paterno's Grand Experiment still work? I know this is probably more than you were bargaining for, but I think it's a really interesting question. If not, why not?

The first year I covered the Nittany Lions, Penn State's graduation rate was 86 percent, but the team finished with a 3-9 record, the worst in school history. I wrote a story trying to answer that question, and here are some snipits of it (Keep it mind it ran Dec. 7, 2003):

  • The top 10 teams in the current Bowl Championship Series rankings graduated an average of 48.6 percent of their football players.
  • Some teams with high graduation rates also had losing records. They include Notre Dame (92 percent, 5-7), Duke (83 percent, 4-8) and Stanford (82 percent, 4-7).
  • "If you want to see more academics, go see Columbia play Cornell," said one Penn State season ticket holder. "If folks think the typical Penn State fan is going to be happy to hear about values and graduation rates, they're just whistling past the cemetery."
  • "We feel that we have an obligation," said Chris Kennedy, a senior associate athletic director at Duke. "When you're recruiting a kid, you don't say, 'Listen, we're going to bring you in for a year and see if you're as good as we think you are. If you are, we'll keep you around; if you're not, we won't.' You say, 'Hey, we have a great institution and our kids graduate and they're all lawyers and we have this many guys in the NFL. It's the place for you.'"Bill, Hanover, Pa.: Are there any plans that you are aware of to have Terpgames that are broadcast by RJSplit expanded to include the Hanover Pa.area? There are more than a few Terp fans here that have moved from theBaltimore/Washington area and are faithful followers of the Terps.Heather A. Dinich:Sorry it took so long for me to get back to you on this one, Bill. I had to get in touch with Fred Barakat of the ACC to answer it and then I got swamped. Anyway, there aren't any plans because it's a regional network and Hanover just isn't in the "region," so you're going to have to rely on FOX, ESPN, etc. I guess you guys will just have to check The Sun for the latest Terps news.
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