Thoughts on Duke-Maryland, Coach K, and football recruiting targets for 2015
Feb 14, 2014 | 10:06 AM
Baltimore Sun reporters Don Markus and Jeff Barker and producer-editor Jonas Shaffer weigh in on three topics from the past week in Maryland sports.
How much influence did Mike Krzyzewski have in Maryland not getting a return game from Duke this season?
Don Markus: As much as Terp fans love to blame Coach K for everything – the 10-point lead that disappeared at Cole Field House in January 2001 and the 22-point lead that evaporated at the Metrodome in Minneapolis later that season in the NCAA semifinals as well as for a handful of of other games when the Blue Devils got their share of calls – this was one controversy that was easy to Krzyzewski to avoid.
From the moment the lawsuits started flying back and forth between Maryland and the ACC over the $52 million exit fee the league is trying to extract for the school's departure to the Big Ten, the ACC has done its best to make life miserable for the Terps and their fans.
I think ACC commissioner John Swofford could have been a little more believable that it was simply the vagaries of a computer scheduling program, as he claimed on media day in Charlotte last fall, had one of the three schools from what used to be called Tobacco Road would have been scheduled to play in College Park this season for men's and women's basketball.
It's been pretty obvious since Maryland women's coach Brenda Frese got T'd up twice and tossed last season at Duke that this was going to be an uncomfortable lame-duck situation for the Terps. I'm not blaming the mediocre season the men's team is having on officiating, but you suspect something's up when the league's most accomplished ref, Karl Hess, gets so many Terps games.
That's not to say the Terps would have beaten Duke or North Carolina at home this season. But you know the fans would have been more fired up that they get for Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
As for Krzyzewski, he could stay clear of this one. He has kept a pretty low profile this week, declining interviews with several Baltimore and Washington media outlets (including The Sun) to talk about what could be the last meeting. With Swofford doing the dirty work, even diehard Maryland fans can't blame Coach K for this one.
But here's hoping that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who knows a little bit about marketing his league, has the foresight to put a little muscle on ESPN in the next couple of years to get a Duke-Maryland game in College Park for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. He might have to wait for Krzyzewski to retire or for the Terps to prove worthy of such a matchup.
What are your thoughts on the end of the Duke-Maryland series?
Jeff Barker: There is plenty of nostalgia. I guess the Maryland community always knew that Terps-Blue Devils would be the hardest piece of the ACC years to let go of. And that's the way it feels. There's a sense of being cut loose from your moorings.
"It's so funny talking about [Ohio State's] Aaron Craft going against [Michigan State's] Keith Appling,' former Duke guard Jay Williams said.
Funny because a dozen years ago, it was Williams, Steve Blake and Juan Dixon playing the role of the uber-competitive, dueling guards. Those three can be so intense. Blake's personal trainer once described the point guard as having an "invincible soul." I can still see him colliding violently with Chris Duhon and tumbling to the floor.
Rivalries are ignited by familiarity -- by shared history. The Terps and Blue Devils met so frequently that there was plenty of that.
I had forgotten the extent to which Duke dominated the series at times. There was a string of 15 straight Duke wins ending in 1994. The Blue Devils had taken 12 of 13 until the Terps won two last season.
For Maryland and it's backers, the long droughts made the victories even sweeter As a fan, you need a selective memory.
Maryland filled two "need" positions in its 2014 recruiting class with a big haul of offensive and defensive linemen. Where will the Terps concentrate their efforts in 2015? Jonas Shaffer: The Terps got a good quarterback in Shane Cockerille (Gilman) in the class of 2013, but the mandate in College Park, in case you hadn't heard, is to go from good to great.
Since national signing day, the Terps have carpet-bombed the country with offers to available quarterbacks, looking as close as Washington (Nick Johns) and as out of the away as Albuquerque, N.M. (Zach Gentry)
When C.J. Brown graduates next year, the Terps could have as few as two quarterbacks on scholarship. Cockerille will be a redshirt sophomore. It would be a surprise to see both Caleb Rowe and Perry Hills return next season. Ricardo Young will have already graduated. Will Ulmer might already be practicing with the wide receivers. The Terps will need new blood under center, whether it's a dual-threat option like Kai Locksley (Gilman) or a more pro-style prospect.
Defensively, cornerback figures to be the priority. Local star Jalen Tabor appeared set to be that instant-impact guy ... until he committed to Arizona ... and then Florida. The Terps snagged Daniel Ezeagwu, but he's raw enough that it would be unwise to count on him to contribute immediately anywhere but on special teams.
There's defensive back talent in the area, but the Terps for the time being seem either uninterested or uninvolved. Damascus' Jalen Christian appears likely Virginia Tech-bound. Calvert Hall's Dionte Austin was only just offered. Washington's Marcus Lewis is back on the market, but only after decommitting from the Hokies. There should be more movement soon. Few teams in the country, I imagine, are as acutely aware of the importance of cornerback depth as Maryland, which lost its two starters there for much of the 2013 season.
With a bigger class than this year's likely, Maryland should have the flexibility to add to both positions. If they don't, the Maryland injury bug won't be any easier to fight off.