Buck sent us these notes from College Park. Thanks
Even though I had 2 tickets to Duke's midnight practice, I couldn't
swing the trip down from Baltimore, so went to University of Maryland's
Midnight Madness Friday night. My impressions:
The event: About as gaudy as could be imagined - fireworks, fog
machines, a Gymkana troop flying through hoops of fire, and an acrobat
family from Australia previously featured on Letterman...or yeah, the
men scrimmaged for a 20 minute minute running half.
The fan support: Pretty impressive - by Midnight, Cole was probably 75%
full, which I think would put attendance at about 9,000 or so.
The players (at least what my impressions from what amounted to one
pickup game with little defense):
- Steve Blake - Not what I expected. He's very skinny, but very
quick. He tried nearly every possession to make the flashy
dribble, pass, or shot - with little success, though there's huge
potential here. He carries the ball mercilessly, but it looks to me
like he'll be able to penetrate at this level. Unfortunately, his
judgement with the ball didn't impress me; I'm sure he'll improve, but
it won't be immediately based on what I saw.
- Taj Holden - This is a very big kid. He's got below average hands and
no real shot at this point, but will probably corral his share of
rebounds in most games he gets into before fouling out.
- Juan Dixon - Uh-oh ACC, this guy looks ready go. The 3 is effortless
and, at least in this game, he was fearless on the penetration, scoring
and dishing. He's going to very hard to contain.
- Mike Mardesich - Simply incapable of improving on last year's
mediocre performance. The guy just cannot think like a 7-footer.
Anybody with his size who gets the ball 6 feet out with space between
him and the defender, yet constantly insists on trying to thread the
needle to a cutting teammate needs to find another niche.
Unfortunately, I think for the most part, his niche probably will be
cheering the other guys on this year.
- Danny Miller - Very solid and very smart, he definitely does those
little things that won't show up in the box score, even in a pickup
game. He looked to drive more than last year, but then again, he was
driving on Mardesich...
- Lonny Baxter - Reminding me more and more of Charles Barkley's inside
game every time I see him, Baxter is going to hurt some people on both
ends. He's a deceptively quick leaper who knows where he belongs, and
stays there (ok, he took one three-pointer). He'll be a tough matchup
at his position because he's so strong, but quick at just 6'8".
- Byron Mouton - next to Morris, he was the most impressive player on
the court. A transfer from Tulane who led that squad in scoring last
year, I assume he can only practice with the team this season. Good for
the ACC, because he'd make this team very dangerous as it looks like he
could make a big impact at 2-guard/wing or small forward.
- Terence Morris - Just on a whole different level than anyone on that
court. Sure, it's basically pickup, but Morris was doing the right
thing in the right place every time: a couple blocks, a couple steals,
a few assists, one touch-pass for a score off a rebound, and the
3-pointer's going in like a layup.
I think the DBR analysis of the Terps was mostly right on. My feeling
after seeing them last night was Blake is the indeed the key. Someone
will need to give direction soon that his job is to distribute first,
and score later. And despite what I heard about his defensive ability,
I also think he'll have a pretty hard time keeping up with Cota and
Williams, and a few other points as well.
I came away feeling like their starting five (probably Blake, Dixon,
Miller, Morris, and Baxter) will be as good as any but Carolina's, but
they will not be deep at all. Mardesich and Holden are a big dropoff
from the starters, and I just didn't see anyone else who will be able to
come in and contribute much. The depth at guard will be a particular
concern I think.
But I think the single biggest key is whether Morris will contract
Pippenitis as "the man". I think he'll be player of the year, and
predict this team third in the ACC, going no further than sweet 16,
unless Morris turns Danny Manning on us.
I love you guys! Keep up the great work. Buck in Baltimore.