Maryland Signs JUCO Big Man

May 14, 2010

Maryland is working hard to bring in a recruiting class that will help them continue to compete.

Yesterday, news broke that they have added another big man to their roster for next season with Berend Weijs (C, 6’10”, 2010), a Dutch player who this season played for junior college Harcum College.

According to this report on the Harcum website:

“Harcum College sophomore center Berend Weijs has signed a national letter of intent to play to at the University of Maryland in the ACC. Weijs becomes the fifth Harcum sophomore to sign with an NCAA Division I program this year, joining teammates Antonio Bumpus (Utah St.), Wilbur O’Neal (Robert Morris), Diyaaldin Kelley (Maryland-Eastern Shore), and Jeremiah Bowman (Longwood). The 6’10” Weijs set school record by blocking 119 shots this season.”

This means that Maryland is bringing in a total of six new players for next season, where Weijs will join Mychal Parker, Terrell Stoglin, Pe’Shon Howard, Ashton Pankey and Haukur Palsson from the 2010 class.

Read more about the incoming big man here.

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Dino Gaudio…Gone

April 9, 2010

Three coaches have already exited the ACC following the NCAA season, the latest of which being Wake Forest parting ways with Dino Gaudio. Many in Winston-Salem, NC, were left a little perplexed as to why, after making the NCAA tournament and beating Texas in the first round, and after bringing in several highly touted recruits, was Gaudio let go?

The reasons given for Gaudio’s dismissal were the late season collapses during Gaudio’s tenure and inability to win in the postseason. If true, this should serve as a shot-across-the-bow to all of those coaches who think that expanding the NCAA tournament will somehow guarantee more coach’s jobs in the future, where Gaudio’s appearance in the tournament and last year’s number one ranking weren’t enough. In the ACC, Athletic Directors want to compete with Duke and UNC, and often just being a solid program isn’t enough.

This doesn’t mean that schools don’t often make mistakes. NC State became a mainstay in the NCAA tournament under Herb Sendek, but while his Wolfpack teams were solid and putting players consistently into the NBA, the Pack faithful soon tired of finishing behind the Blue Devils and Tar Heels and Sendek finally resigned and took a position at Arizona State. The Pack have been pretty much cellar dwellers ever since. While the NC State fans may be glad Sendek is gone, the case of Sendek, Gaudio and several other coaches serve as a legacy of impatience.

It’s not clear what, exactly, Wake Forest expected from their team and coach this season that would have saved Gaudio’s job. To be fair, last season was a bitter disappointment, given that the 2008-09 Demon Deacons had three future NBA players in Jeff Teague, Al-Farouq Aminu and Jeff Johnson, and a strong supporting cast in Ish Smith, L.D. Williams and Chas McFarland. By all rights, it was a team that should have made the Final Four. Ranked number one in February, they eventually limped into the tournament and were quickly bounced.

But this year’s team only has one lock for the NBA in Aminu, although Smith, Williams and McFarland all returned, and promising underclassmen were contributing. Looking at the talent level of the ACC, the Deacons would have been considered overachieving if they’d finished any higher than they did, and considering that many ACC schools got an unexpected bonus when UNC fell apart this season, Wake’s late season losses wouldn’t be enough to lose a coach his job in most cases after only three years.

It could have been last year’s flop or this season’s late loss to the flailing UNC that did Gaudio in. It could also be noted that while Gaudio was bringing in solid players, he wasn’t bringing in the type of players that his predecessor, Skip Prosser was. Prosser landed Aminu, Teague and Johnson prior to his untimely death and Gaudio had yet to bring in a single player of that hype. This isn’t to say Wake Forest doesn’t have NBA talent on it’s roster, but Johnson, Teague and Aminu were early-exit type players before they ever landed on campus. It’s possible that Ron Wellman, the Wake Forest AD, saw the lack of star power coming in, combined it with the late season underachieving and decided to make a change. It’s also a highly pressurized situation in the ACC. UNC had a horrible year by Tar Heel standards, but they are likely a possible favorite to compete again for the NCAA title as quickly as next season. No doubt Wellman considered that as well. However, his statements that Gaudio was fired because of the late season losing is insight into the fact that many ADs are too quick to pull the trigger, despite claiming otherwise, and this firing seems more the result of an irrational expectation of the current team. Unless Wake Forest is willing to take the risks that Kentucky is taking (everyone around the nation is wondering how fast the NCAA is going to show up in Lexington), the concept that they can bring in another coach who can immediately build a national power is a pipe dream. Even Prosser, by all rights a solid coach and recruiter, hadn’t really been able to prove he was the long term solution in the ACC. In the year of his death, he’d finally put together a team that had the talent to compete, but he still needed that major season to really show he was a coach to be reckoned with in the ACC, a league where you need a national title to be considered one of the big boys.

Was this firing the right move, or was it another case of a school being too impatient, giving up consistency in hopes of getting a big time winner? Only time will tell. Consider that Kentucky’s John Calipari had enough talent to win the NCAA and should have been a lock for the Final Four, but his job isn’t in jeopardy because he already has been to a title game, he’s got a reputation and he’s in his first year at UK. The margin between winning ‘enough’ and ‘not enough’ can be thin, and Gaudio had much less leeway.


The Harrison Barnes Odyssey

March 29, 2010

Jeff Reiners, a blogger who lives in Iowa and writes The Pete Myers Rules (a blog that often waxes poetic about days gone by in the NBA, such as when Charles Barkley was known as a stud power forward and not for being a complete buffoon), has written an extensive post about his journey to see Ames, Iowa high school basketball star Harrison Barnes (SF, 6’7″, 2010), a UNC commit and possibly the #1 pick in the 2011 draft.

Harrison Barnes

The journey to see Barnes in person is detailed, down to the stumbling up the stairs to the top of the Wells Fargo arena in a slightly inebriated state, the sets that the Ames High School team employs and how Barnes is used. It makes a strong visual, particularly if you’ve seen Ames play this season:

They basically try to bait teams into throwing lazy passes to the middle of the floor where Barnes lurks. Barnes’ job is to play the passing lanes and use his amazing quickness to pick off passes and head the other way for dunks.

Barnes effect on the games this season has been to pull the focus of the defense on him and free up several other Ames players, and Ames is not a one man show. Souix City East, Ames’ opponent, finally tried to slow down the Ames offense by taking the air out of the ball:

Sioux City East really jammed on the brakes in the 2nd quarter as the pace slowed to a crawl. It worked in that it prevented Ames from going on a huge run (they only scored 7 points) but they also stopped themselves from scoring (East totaled 2 points the entire 2nd quarter).

But even without a shot clock and perched high in the rafters, finally everyone got what they wanted to see from Barnes:

He caught an outlet pass at half court with a defender right in his path. He dribbled hard from half court all the way to the right side of the lane. Once there he planted, crossed over to his left leaving his defender in the dust, took off about a step inside the free throw line, hung for that extra half second and finished over the rim with one hand. Very rare to see a high schooler that can sky like that.

Barnes’ run is described here are length, but it’s only a snippet of the phenom he has become and the attention he’s brought to Iowa.


Wake Forest Recruiting: Tony Chennault

March 28, 2010

Wake Forest’s loss in the NCAA Tournament this season wasn’t just the end of the season for the Deacs, it also marked the end of Ish Smith’s career for the black and gold. Since his freshman season, Ish has been the dominant ballhandler for the Demon Deacons and now they will have to find someone who can step up and run the offense. While C.J. Harris is a competent, smart guard, he isn’t the pure point guard that Smith was, and it’s probably going to fall on the shoulders of Tony Chennault (PG, 6’2″, 2010) to organize the offense.

Chennault isn’t the blistering speedster that Wake fans are used to from Ish Smith, but he brings toughness and scoring that will likely fit in well with the style the Deacs play. Wake fans will love Chennault’s toughness as he moves to the hoop, it’s a bit like watching a gifted running back tear through gaps in a defensive line. He also is an excellent passer and can finish in the lane or with running floaters. Double teaming Chennault is a dangerous ploy, because his court vision is strong enough for him to quickly find the open man.

With Harris returning the SG spot, the Deacons should benefit from smart, competitive basketball from the backcourt.


UNC Recruit Reggie Bullock Wins AP POY

March 27, 2010

Reggie Bullock (SF, 6’6″, 2010) capped his senior session at Kinston High School with another state title, and in the process landed the 2009-2010 AP Player of the Year award for the state. Bullock’s been a UNC commit for some time now, and had current UNC players like John Henson rooting him on as his team played the championship in Chapel Hill.

“I just stayed humble with it,” Bullock said. “I didn’t want to try to let it get too overwhelming and be like, ‘Yeah, I’m that dude.’ I tried to stay low-profile when I walked in the gym.”

Bullock is a big, smooth small forward with a lot of shooting guard skills and potential. He can shoot from deep and that opens up for opportunities to slash to the hoop. He also is effective in transition because of his poise and size, making him difficult to guard. If he could develop a mid range floater, he’d be a deadly offensive player and definitely has a lot of potential.


UNC Recruit Harrison Barnes is POY

March 21, 2010

North Carolina Tar Heel basketball recruit Harrison Barnes (SF, 6’8″, 2010) has been named the Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year for the second straight season. Considered by many to be both the top high school player in the nation for the class of 2010 and also a candidate to only play one year in college, Barnes is racking up the awards and will soon be playing in the McDonald’s All American game and Jordan Brand Classic.

Barnes is also the choice for the Iowa Newspaper Association’s “Mr. Basketball” in the state of Iowa:

The INA also named Ames senior Harrison Barnes as its “Mr. Basketball” choice for 2010.
Barnes, a 6-8 forward who finished his high school career as Ames’ leading scorer with 1,787 points, will play college basketball for Roy Williams at the University of North Carolina.


Maryland Basketball Recruiting: Haukur Palsson Commits

March 20, 2010

Maryland is bringing in several players for the 2010 class, the most recent of which is Haukur Palsson (SF, 6’6″,2010). Palsson is the Terps’ fifth recruit in the class.

Palsson is a native of Iceland, although this season he’s playing his high school basketball in Florida. Known mostly as a forward, Palsson is multipositional, a character that head coach Gary Williams often looks for. He will likely play at the SF spot or even move to the SG at times. Palsson is also a buy-in defender and will add to the style of pressure that Maryland employs.

Here’s some very brief video of Palsson:

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