George, Fort Washington: Maryland fans are so desperate for the recruiting class to help this team out in 2006-07. I like the prospect point guard, Eric Hayes, but people should realize that he is coming in as a freshman, and he is going to make some mistakes like every freshman in college basketball. If he can't make an immediate impact on the team next season, will Gary Williams (unfortunately) rely on D.J. Strawberry or Parrish Brown again?
Heather A. Dinich: I don't see any alternative, but I'd also guess that the situation has forced Parrish to be slightly ahead of the game, and that by the time the season starts next year, he'd be more comfortable in the role. That would allow D.J. to move back to the 3 spot. You're right, though -- what Maryland needs is a freshman like North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough, who can make an immediate impact.
James, Prince Frederick: Why have the Terps proven to be so inept at recruiting following their NCAA Championship? As a fan it strikes me as painfully obvious that they don't have the talent to compete in the ACC. North Carolina lost almost its whole team last year and the new players are already excelling. If anything, Maryland's talent level seems to have fallen since winning it all. Why?
Heather A. Dinich: It's pretty simple -- they just didn't pan out. You're talking about the No. 6-ranked power forward in the nation at the time, Travis Garrison, a McDonald's All-American and a four-star recruit according to Rivals.com. Chris McCray was considered by Rivals the 11th best shooting guard in the nation coming out of high school. John Gilchrist was ranked among the top 15 point guards in the country. Had Gary not landed those guys, y'all would've gone bonkers. Granted, recruiting is not at the top of Gary's list of "favorite things to do as a head coach," but I think he realizes the importance of it.
Jack, Silver Spring: Why isn't Adrian Branch's number honored at Comcast?
Heather A. Dinich: Great question, and one I'll ask Gary when the timing is right. There doesn't seem to be a set criteria. Since Branch (1982-85) played under Lefty, I guess he really doesn't have anybody to champion his cause. Branch is fourth at Maryland with 2,017 career points.
Winston, San Francisco, Calif.: Hello Heather. This basketball season has been even more disappointing than last. I blame it on Gary and his unwillingness to change his ways (much like a certain Ravens head coach we all know). What do you think about going to a smaller, quicker lineup and just trying to outrun the other teams? I suggest Brown at point, Jones at shooting guard, Strawberry at small forward, Caner-Medley at power forward and Ibekwe at center. Your thoughts?
Heather A. Dinich: Well, I don't think you can fault Gary for not changing his starting lineup -- he HAD to after McCray left. Heading into the Virginia game, he had already changed it three times in four games. He's used at least five this season. To answer your question, though, I like Sterling at point (he seems more in control than Parrish at this point), but agree with the rest of it. I actually think Gary is doing a pretty good job with what he has left to work with. He said earlier that the opponent determines much of what he decides to do with his lineup.
Josh, Harrisburg, Pa.: If Maryland misses the NCAAs for the second year in a row and suffers their third straight losing season in the ACC, plus a 1-3 record against the A-10 over the past two years -- not to mention players failing off the team their senior season and players getting arrested for fights in College Park -- are we finally going to discuss the end of Gary Williams' coaching career?
Heather A. Dinich: Not a chance. He just got a $300,000 raise this year.
Martin, Charleston, S.C.: Why does the Terps basketball team insist on doubling up on the opposing center and ignoring the easy 3-ponters? You'd think they would have learned by now. Also, why don't they know the fundamentals of blocking out instead of trying to outjump the opposing rebounders?
Heather A. Dinich: I'll let Gary answer that one. He said this before the Terps' home game against Georgia Tech:
"Perimeter defense a lot of times is, it's not like inside where you can double down in the post. That's pretty easy to do, really if you practice it. Perimeter, it's you against the other guy a lot of times. If he can get the shot off and he can make it, and you're giving your toughest defense, then that's the way it is. There's not a lot you can do. It's difficult to double on the perimeter."
As for the rebounding, the Terps are actually outrebounding their opponents by an average of 3.8 this season. You're right, though, they've been beat on the boards in four of their past six games, and a 20-14 difference in the first half at Florida State really hurt them.
John, Harrisburg, Pa.: You recently responded to Bill from Hanover, Pa. regarding regional TV broadcast of Terps games. What about radio? Penn State games can be heard in Maryland, New Jersey and New York. This MUST have an impact on their recruiting. In 2001-02 it seems we could hear all the basketball games? What's up? LOVE YOUR Q&A!!!!
Heather A. Dinich: Thanks John! Here's the deal with radio, according to my man Chris Knoche, the color analyst for the Terps. Their flagship stations are now 105.7 (WHFS) and ESPN Radio 1300 AM (WJFK). The Terps' broadcast rights recently expired with WBAL, a station that can be heard all the way up the New Jersey turnpike, and this time WBAL didn't win the bid. Here's the tradeoff: more games can be broadcast on more stations than ever -- including more women's games, lacrosse and other sports -- but without the range they always had.
Brian, College Park: With no new opportunity in line, it seems like an odd time for [former Maryland offensive coordinator] Charlie Taaffe to decide he wants a break. Could this mean that the decision was brought on by the other side? Also, is there anyone in line to replace him?
Heather A. Dinich: From what sources indicated, there might have been a little more to it, but Taaffe never returned a message I left on his cell phone, so it wouldn't be fair for me to speculate on anything I can't confirm. Last I heard, Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who was a recruiting coordinator with the Terps for five years, was in the running.
Jesse, York, Pa.: Is there any talk of the Terps considering Penn State recruiting guru Larry Johnson as their new offensive coordinator? Coach Friedgen has recently stated that the he will take recruiting into consideration when hiring a new coordinator. Coach Johnson snagged a lot of Maryland talent this year and could be just what the Terps need to take their game to the next level. Thanks Heather!
Heather A. Dinich: Hi Jesse. No, Larry's forte is defense. He spent the past five seasons coaching PSU's defensive line, and has coached defensive ends and special teams. He was a linebacker when he played. I'm sure recruiting is a big reason why Ralph was/is interested in Locksley, though.