Terps Q&A with Heather A. Dinich

Q AND A WITH...Heather A. Dinich

Sun reporter discusses Maryland basketball

college basketball

March 21, 2006|By BALTIMORESUN.COM STAFF

Dan, Bowie: Hello Heather! I agree with all of your responses regarding recruiting. The senior and junior classes have been two of best classes "on paper" in the Gary Williams era. The problem I see is that these players are not developing over the years. Mike Jones still has the same problems he had as a freshman - the inability to put the ball on the floor and take it to the basket when defenders are taking away his jump shot, looseness with the ball when making passes, lack of lateral quickness on defense and the inability to move without the ball on offense. Does the coaching staff provide these players with off-season goals and are they allowed to monitor their progress? Thanks.

Heather A. Dinich:Because it was my first season covering the team, it's hard for me to gauge the improvement these guys have made, but there was a block Mike Jones made this season - I'm almost positive it was against Virginia - and Gary said it was a move Jones wouldn't have been able to make three weeks ago. This was really Mike's first true opportunity in the starting lineup, and the first year he got the green light from Gary to shoot at will. Gary recently said Mike is real close to being a great player. So if we don't see that leap next season, then I think it will be fair to question the development. Gary will meet with each player individually this spring, and yes, they set off-season goals.

Rick, Vero Beach, Fla.: Instead of asking the obvious as to why Gary couldn't get a better recruiting class after the National Championship, I want to state the fact that we were more competitive and won the championship without the storied recruiting class! At that point, Gary was said to be a great coach because he could win without the blue chips, he made them blue chips. That being the case, why can't he motivate these guys? Or can he go back to other underrated athelete like the old days and make him great?

Heather A. Dinich: He can make a player great, but first he has to recruit the diamond in the rough. And at what point can a coach say, "OK, I've done all I can to get you ready to play Manhattan in the NIT. Now you have to go out and do it?" Don't the players have to accept some responsibility for their own motivation? You're right - it was definitely part of the problem. At some point, though, people need to accept the fact that maybe this team just wasn't that good.

James, Prince Frederick: The current Terp basketball team does not have the talent to execute Gary's "Flex Offense" and win. It would appear that the only hope of winning with this lot would be to change offenses; try to work some screens to get Mike Jones the ball for a barrage of threes. Why don't they try something like this when it is obvious that they can't match up with good teams playing as they do?

Heather A. Dinich: Everybody is hung up on this whole flex offense thing not fitting this team, and I think it's bunk. Good players can adapt to any system, especially at the Division I level, and if somebody is teaching it as thoroughly as Gary does. I was talking to Chris Knoche about it and he brought up a good point - The flex is a get-the-ball-inside-first kind of offense. Do you think that was suited for Juan Dixon? I've got a video on it I'm going to watch, and I'm getting another from Gary so I have a better understanding of it. To answer your question, though, they DO set screens for Mike, they're just not very good at it, and Mike isn't always good at picking them up. Even though he's labeled with it, Gary probably runs about 15 plays outside of the flex offense.

Joe, Tacoma, Wash.: Scout.com rates UNC, GT, Duke, WF, FSU, and N.C. State's 2006 recruiting classes in the Top 25. Why should Terp fans hope for things to get better anytime soon? When do you think Coach Williams will get serious about recruiting?

Heather A. Dinich: I saw that, but if you look at Rivals.com, they have Maryland's class ranked No. 18. That just goes to show you how the opinions differ. I'm not saying one is better than the other. Anyway, Maryland's incoming class is expected to be good, and just as important, the Terps got what they NEED in guards. To answer your question, Gary is serious about winning, and after 17 years, you'd think he'd know it goes hand-in-hand with recruiting.

James, Ellicott City: Can you summarize the changes in Gary Williams' coaching staff since the NCAA championship? What has been the impact on the players and recruiting?

Heather A. Dinich: Since then, the Terps have lost Jimmy Patsos, Dave Dickerson and Billy Hahn. Gary has hired Rob Moxley (1998-2005 UNC-Charlotte assistant coach), Keith Booth and Michael Adams (2004, head coach Washington Mystics). Obviously when you lose guys who spent a combined 34 seasons with Williams, it is going to have an effect. That being said, Gary added guys who are locals, which should positively impact recruiting.

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