Terps Q&A with Heather A. Dinich

Baltimoresun.com Staff

Texas Terp, Dallas: I follow Maryland basketball closely and a recent Q&A referenced the Terps' interest in possibly recruiting a 'big' for next year from the JUCOs. I have not heard anything about this, however, given the clear lack of bulk with the present frontline, with no immediate answer in the 2006 recruiting class, and Gary's prior success with same (Ryan Randle, Jamar Smith), I think it's a good and necesary idea to bridge the gap between DuPree's and Gregory's arrival in 2007. Is Maryland specifically targeting any single player?

Heather A. Dinich:The staff is going to see four JUCO post players and they're trying to figure out which one is the best fit. In the '07 class, Maryland is also looking at 7-foot-1 center Kosta Koufus, a five-star recruit out of Glen Oak in Canton, Ohio, Michael Sanchez, a small forward from Har-ber High in Arizona (Rivals Top 100), and Anthony McClain, a 6-11 center out of National Christian who is also ranked among Rivals' Top 100.

Ray, Ocean Pines: When you make as much money as Ralph and Gary make, you are going to be criticized when you do not produce. And I really don't think JUCO players are the answer for the teams recent failures. You don't see UNC or Duke bringing in JUCO players. Gary has not recruited a true center since Joe Smith, and Joe was a big surprise and was not heavily recruited. Don't you think Gary has to bring in a true big man to play the middle, in order to compete with UNC and Duke? And why can't our coaching staff teach Ibekwe proper shooting technique? He is still shooting his jump shot and his foul shots from behind his head. As long as he continues to shoot the way he does now he never will be a consistent scorer.

Heather A. Dinich:You're absolutely right, and JUCOs are usually a quick fix - not to say the Terps don't need one of those right now. See the above answer, though, on who the Terps are looking at. Ibekwe has worked a LOT on his shot - including some time with Andy Enfield, a.k.a the shot doctor, but you're right, it's still off. Not that mine is any better.

Mike, Baltimore: Will Gary Williams ever be held accountable for his low graduation rate?

Heather A. Dinich:You're going to get more than you bargained for on this one, Mike. First we have to be clear which method of the NCAA's graduation rate you're talking about. The zero percent graduation rate is misleading. It's a snapshot of the student-athletes who enrolled in school six years ago -- the allotted time the NCAA allows players to graduate. In this case, it was the 1998-99 school year.

Check this out from an earlier story I did:

The zero percent graduation rate for the Maryland men's basketball team is based on the paths of the two freshmen on the 1998-99 roster. Danny Miller transferred to Notre Dame, and Lonny Baxter didn't graduate within the six-year period (school officials wouldn't confirm if he has since graduated). Juan Dixon did not count toward the 1998-99 graduation rate because he joined the team the season before but redshirted.

Half the ACC basketball teams have a graduation rate of zero percent based on the data of less than five players.

Now, there is also an other one which is at 30 percent, and pretty poor in comparison with the rest of the ACC. It's called the "Graduation Success Rate," and is the NCAA's newest method. Debbie Yow's answer to this was to make higher graduation rates an incentive in Gary's contract. His current 10-year deal -- which expires May 31, 2009 -- will be extended by one year for each of the next four seasons if the team gains the NCAA tournament and one of two academic standards are met: Maryland meets the annual NCAA Academic Progress Rate cut score of 925, or the scholarship athletes on the team earn an average of 27 academic credits per year.

Williams also will receive bonuses if he graduates at least 50 percent of his players and finishes in the top half of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Maryland DID meet the cut score this year.

Jon, Baltimore: Heather, nice coverage of the Terps this year. Unfortunately, this whole media/team slant that the team "did not show up" and Gary "can't motivate the team" I think is bunk. Bottom line, the team over-performed in my mind. I have been a season ticket holder since 1972. This team is just simply, not good. They had a sub-par year in a sub-par conference (save for Duke, UNC, and BC). The Chris McCray situation is downright as embarrassing and tragic as great as it was them winning the ACC championship 2 years ago. Other embarrassing points: what are opponents three-point percentage against MD the past 2 years? How many turnovers will it take to reason that DJ is not a point guard? I like Gary Williams because he bleeds red and he obviously brought Maryland basketball back. But his on and off court chip on his shoulder is getting older and older each year. Get some key wins (or players) and you don't have to whine about committees and TV shows not mentioning your name. If we want to be compared to Duke, Gary should do something different: recruiting, flex offense, whatever it takes, he knows best.

Heather A. Dinich: Thanks for your thoughts, Jon. They're right on target. For the record, opponents shot 36.7 percent from three-point range against the Terps this season, and 34.4 percent in 2004-05.

Wayne, Baltimore: Hey Heather, I am a big time fan of your Q&A sessions, and it's great to have you covering the Terps. I want to know what the deal is with Mike Locksley. Everything I have heard suggests that Fridge wants him, Debbie Yow wants him, and Locksley himself wants to be back with Maryland. Is it just the contract clause that is keeping this from being done? A lot of Terp fans want Locksley back, and I'm sure it would greatly improve the local recruiting scene for Maryland. So what's the hold up?

Heather A. Dinich: From what I've heard, yes it is true, Locksley would love to be back. But I'm sure that having a son who is going to be a senior in high school next year and is an aspiring Division I athlete who has been at three different high schools in three years factored into the equation. Also, Locksley has a contract obligation at the University of Ilinois. He probably has some loyalty to Illinois for giving him his first opportunity as a coordinator. So, it was a matter of timing, but it's not out of the question -at least from his end - for the future.

Craig, Townsend, Del.: Any word on Melvin Alaeze's eligibility for this fall?

Heather A. Dinich: He took the SAT again recently and is waiting on those results. If I hear anything else, I'll report it. Promise.

John, Leesburg, Va.: With spring football practice about to start for the Terps, who do you see as the guys to have a breakout season?

Heather A. Dinich: Sorry, John, I've been at the Final Four and am getting to this a few days into spring practice, but here goes: I think some of the younger receivers will be guys to watch, like Danny Oquendo and Isaiah Williams. Also, at running back, Lance Ball has a year of experience under him now - and made a name for himself with his tip-toe dance along the sideline against Navy.

Josh Allen, who missed last season with a torn ACL, should be fun to watch. Stephon Heyer, a legitimate pro prospect, returns to the offensive line after missing last season with a torn ACL. Defensively, Christian Varner is a hard-hitter at safety, and Jeremy Navarre benefited from a starting as a true freshman last season. Those are just a few, but they are the names that immediately popped into my brain. I deserve a little slack, considering I'm sitting in the Indianapolis airport and haven't made the mental transition from hoops to football yet. Give me a day.

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