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Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

April 7, 2003 The PooP

What we wrote in this space three years ago couldn't have been more true at the time and remains perfectly applicable in the wake of last season's historic run and this year's Sweet 16 performance: "After (now 14) years on the job, during which he has lifted Maryland out of the ashes of the Bob Wade disaster and into the Top 25 on a regular basis, Gary Williams finally has the Terps peaking. By retaining much of his long-held and successful philosophy (press, run, play with passion) while tweaking a few other key components (halfcourt offense, recruiting), he finally has the perfect blueprint." Simply put, this program has never been better.

Done For Me Lately

Year ACC Overall Postseason
1994 8-8 (4) 18-12 NCAA Sweet 16
1995 12-4 (1) 26-8 NCAA Sweet 16
1996 8-8 (4) 17-13 NCAA 1st Round
1997 9-7 (4) 21-11 NCAA 1st Round
1998 10-6 (3) 21-11 NCAA Sweet 16
1999 13-3 (2) 28-6 NCAA Sweet 16
2000 11-5 (2) 25-10 NCAA 2nd Round
2001 10-6 (3) 25-11 NCAA Final Four
2002 15-1 (1) 32-4 NCAA Champions
2003 11-5 (2) 21-10 NCAA Sweet 16

x—won ACC title
ACC: 107-53 (.669); No. 2 in ACC
Overall: 234-96 (.709); No. 2 in ACC

Projected 2003-04 Roster

Player Ht. Pos. Class
Jamar Smith 6-9 BF Sr.
Andre Collins 5-9 PG Jr.
Mike Grinnon 6-6 WF Jr.
Nik Caner-Medley 6-8 WF So.
Travis Garrison 6-8 BF So.
John Gilchrist 6-1 PG So.
Chris McCray 6-4 WG So.
Will Bowers 6-11 C Fr.
Hassan Fofana 6-10 C Fr.
Ekene Ibekwe 6-9 BF Fr.
Michael Jones 6-5 WG Fr.
D.J. Strawberry 6-4 WG Fr.

NOTE: Scholarship/rotation players only.

The Good News

Every successful college basketball team needs mentally tough players who are committed to individual and team improvement, and Maryland has been a magnet for such players in recent years. Among the youngsters, Caner-Medley and Gilchrist seem to fit this mold. The staff (with help from those dedicated players) has been doing a better job of developing talent than most in the nation, and last season they finally earned the ultimate award to show for it.

The Bad News

As much as Juan Dixon's story was and remains worthy of celebration, there are only so many unheralded prep prospects who go on to become prep All-Americans and rank among the best players in school history. History suggests that sprinkling a few big-time prep and juco signees into the mix every year maximizes a program's chances of sustained success. Williams has helped himself with players such as Steve Francis, Chris Wilcox, Gilchrist and now Jones, but a few more blue-chippers wouldn't hurt.

The Outlook

With great stability at the head coaching spot, the invaluable exposure of the last three seasons and the presence of several tough-as-nails personalities on the roster, Maryland mounted the greatest streak of success in the history of the program. On the other hand, most of those tough guys are gone, and the Terps' recruiting prowess remains a notch below that of Duke and even UNC. Unless/until that changes, it's hard to imagine a long-term leap into the world of ACC and NCAA titles.