Thursday, July 23, 2009

Top 20 Players of the Gary Williams Era

Last month in the Washington Times D1SCOURSE blog, Patrick Stevens ranked the top 20 players of the Gary Williams era based on their college careers, counting down to number 1: Juan Dixon. You can read his full top 20 at the bottom of the post.

Here is my own Top 10, based solely on post-college professional success. Feel free to debate in the comments section!

#11) Keith Booth: 2 NBA seasons, where he got an NBA Championship ring with the Bulls (albeit at the end of the bench). Post-NBA, he has developed into a good assistant coach, and could move up on this list before his coaching career is over. Keith was originally my #10, but at the last minute before posting, I remembered someone else who had to be on the list, so I'm keeping Keith Booth here as an honorable mention. (NBA.com Profile, Wikipedia)

#10) Juan Dixon: 7 NBA seasons and counting as a good role player off the bench, but he may have peaked in 2005-06 with Portland (the only year he was consistently a starter). (NBA.com Profile, Wikipedia)

#9) Terence Morris: Played a few years off the bench in the NBA, then went to Europe where he became a highly-respected starter. Made it to the Euroleague Finals twice, but lost twice. All-Euroleague team in 2008. (NBA.com Profile, Wikipedia)

#8) Chris Wilcox: 7 NBA seasons and counting, but may have peaked in 2005-07 with Seattle when he was one of the team's star players. Recently joined the Pistons, where he could rejuvenate his career and move up on the list. (NBA.com Profile, Wikipedia)

#7) Steve Blake: 6 NBA seasons and still improving. Blossomed into a starting point guard in the league in Denver and Portland. Could move up on this list before his career is over. (NBA.com Profile, Wikipedia)

#6) Drew Nicholas: The NBA thought he was too small, so he went and became a star sharp-shooter in Europe, winning a Euroleague championship this spring. Italian league scoring champ in 2005, Euroleague scoring champ in 2006. (Wikipedia)

#5) Tony Massenburg: Played for 12 NBA teams in 13 seasons plus some great seasons Europe, winning an NBA Championship with the Spurs in 2005 and a Spanish League Championship with Barcelona in 1994. Started 233 career NBA games. (NBA.com Profile, Wikipedia)

#4) Walt Williams: 11 seasons in the NBA with 6 teams. 409 career starts, but only played in 35 post-season games, since he was on a lot of bad teams. (NBA.com Profile, Wikipedia)

#3) Joe Smith: #1 draft pick and 14 seasons (and counting) in the NBA. His career got off to a slow start, but he has turned into a consistent role player that contending teams covet. (NBA.com Profile, Wikipedia)

#2) Steve Francis: 9 NBA seasons, #2 draft pick, Co-Rookie-of-the-Year, 3-time All-Star. Could have become a Hall of Fame Player if his career hadn't been plagued by injuries and playing for the Knicks. (NBA.com Profile, Wikipedia)

#1) Sarunas Jasikevicius: His NBA run fizzled, but the guy is a genuine STAR on and off the court in Europe, with four Euroleage championships with three different teams. Led Lithuania to the 2003 FIBA European Championship. All Euroleague Team in 2004 and 2005, Euroleague Final Four MVP in 2005, FIBA European Championship MVP in 2003. Won national league championships in Slovenia, twice in Spain, twice in Israel, and twice in Greece. Sarunas has NOT won a league championship in only 4 of his 11 pro seasons, including his two years in the NBA. (Wikipedia)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Chris Wilcox Signs with the Detroit Pistons

Chris Wilcox (2000-02) has signed as a free agent with the Detroit Pistons. His new deal is worth $6 million for 2 years. The Detroit Free Press says:
One the major weaknesses of last season's 39-43 squad was a lack of athleticism; other teams were quicker and played above the rim against the Pistons.

Wilcox addresses that -- the 6-foot-10, 235-pounder can pull off some highlight-reel dunks.


The Piston's team blog says that while many people in the league have written Wilcox off, GM Joe Dumars believes that with a fresh start with a young team, he can blossom:
Wilcox carries something of an underachiever label with him to Detroit, which explains why he was still available more than two weeks into free agency and why the Pistons got him for $6 million over two years [...]

But like so many of the players Joe D has picked up in the past and watched thrive in the environment he’s painstakingly created with the Pistons, Wilcox has been mired in situations that would have had to improve by half to be considered mediocre. Consider this: In seven seasons in the NBA, he’s yet to finish one of them with a winning team. The Clippers won 27, 28 and 37 games in his first three seasons, then traded him midway through the next year to Seattle, which won 35, 31 and 20 in his three seasons there. Last season was split between the relocated Thunder and the woebegone Knicks, both of them speeding toward the lottery.

Not only has Wilcox never appeared in a playoff game, he’s never been on a team that threw it up on opening night dreaming the playoffs were a possibility.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Terps in the NBA Summer League

Three former Terps are playing this summer in the 2009 NBA Summer League: James Gist, Ekene Ibekwe, and Nik Caner-Medley.

James Gist (2004-08) is back in the US after his year in Italy and playing for the Spurs. (Summer League Stats)

In a post on the Diamondback's Terrapin Trail blog last month, James Gist, while attending Ty Lawson's draft party, said he intends to play for the Spurs this year:
Gist, drafted last year by the San Antonio Spurs No. 57 overall, has played basketball with Lawson since the two were in elementary school. Last year the Terp didn’t make the Spurs roster and played with Pallacanestro Biella in the Italian professional leagues. But Gist said this year he’s determined to have a reunion with his longtime friend.

“Sunday I’m going down to San Antonio to start working out,” he said. “Hopefully I get to play against Ty again. I’m going to play for the Spurs this year.”


Ekene Ibekwe (2003-07) is doing OK now following a scary injury during a Toronto Raptors game. (Summer League Stats)
Toronto's Ekene Ibekwe was hurt making a game-saving block during the Raptors' 74-73 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Phoenix's Goran Dragic drove in the final seconds and his layup attempt was blocked by Ibekwe, who was undercut by Dragic. Ibekwe's chin crashed to the floor. Ibekwe was immobilized and taken off the court in a stretcher and rushed to a UMC Medical Center. He did not sustain any serious injuries, but it is uncertain if he will play in the remaining game for the Raptors.


Nik Caner-Medley (2002-06), after spending the season in Spain's top pro league, is playing for the Los Angeles Clippers, and is impressing the team. (Summer League Stats)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

2008-09 Overseas League Wrap-Up

Here is a wrap-up of how all of our former Terps fared playing overseas last season. Stats are from EuroBasket.com; click on the player names for their EuroBasket profiles.

Lonny Baxter played for Panionios ON Telecoms in Athens, Greece. In Greek League games, he scored 12.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game (21 games). The team finished 6th in the league, and lost in the first round of the playoffs. Panionios also played in the Euroleague tournament, but did not advance past the opening round. Lonny scored 11.0 points, 5.8 rebounds per game (8 games) in Euroleague games.

Parrish Brown's team, Portos, finished in last place in Mexico's LNBP North Division. (No stats available)

Nik Caner-Medley played for Cajasol Sevilla of Spain's ACB League. In ACB games, he scored 10.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game (20 games). Cajasol finished in 14th place (out of 17) in the league and missed the playoffs. Cajasol also played in the EuroChallenge tournament, where they advanced to the Top 16 round-robin stage. Nik scored 10.5 points, 5.6 rebounds per game (10 games) in the tournament.

Andre Collins played for Carife Ferrara of Italy's SerieA. Ferrara finished in 10th place and did not make the playoffs. Collins had probably the best stat line of any former Terp this season, scoring 17.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, and 3.0 steals per game (30 games).

Rodney Elliott played for Paris-Levallois which finished first in the French ProB League regular season, but lost in the semifinals of the league tournament. He scored 12.4 points and 5.8 rebounds (39 games).

Travis Garrison's team, Dalaman A.S. Pamukkale Univ., finished in 6th place in their division in Turkey's TB2L (2nd division). (No stats available)

James Gist played his first pro season for Angelica Biella of Italy. He scored 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game (34 games). Angelica finished in 7th place in Italy's SerieA regular season but lost in the semifinals of the league tournament.

Ekene Ibekwe played for Mutlu Aku Selcuk Universitesi Konya of Turkey this season. Selcuk finished in 15th place (next to last) in the Turkey's TBL (1st division). He scored 18.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game (28 games). Following the Turkish season, he joined Gigantes de Carolina of Puerto Rico's BSN league, which is currently playing games in the summer.

Sarunas Jasikevicius won both the Euroleague Championship and the Greek League Championship (they finished 2nd in the regular season) with his team Panathinaikos, and his teammate, Drew Nicholas. In Greek League games, he scored 11.4 points and 2.7 assists per game (29 games), and in the Euroleague, he scored 9.4 points and 3.4 assists per game (18 games).

Mike Jonesand his team CSU Asesoft Ploesti won the Romanian League Championship (they also finished 1st in the regular season). He scored 13.5 points and 2.5 rebounds per game (37 games). Ploesti also played in the EuroChallenge tournament, but did not get past the opening round. Mike scored 8.8 points per game (4 games) in that tournament.

Chris McCray played for Italy's Lega2 (2nd division) Basket Rimini Crabs, which finished in a 5-way tie for 6th place in the regular season, but lost in the quarterfinals of the league tournament (they lost to Jamar Smith's team). He scored 13.5 points, 4.6 rebounds per game (32 games).

Terence Morris and CSKA Moscow had a great season, reaching the championship game of the Euroleague tournament (losing to Jasikevicius and Nicholas's PAO team). Morris scored 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game (20 games) in the tournament. Due to limitations on foreign players on rosters in the Russian Superleague, Terence only played in only a few Russian league games very early in the season, where he scored 8.4 points and 5.2 rebounds (5 games). CSKA won the Russian Superleague Championship, but Morris was not on the court.

Drew Nicholas also played for Panathinaikos, helping PAO win both the Euroleague Championship and the Greek League Championship with teammate Sarunas Jasikevicius. Nicholas scored 7.3 points per game in the Greek League (33 games) and 8.3 points per game in Euroleague games (22 games).

Bambale Osby played for Univ Mobitelco Cluj Napoca of the Romanian League, finishing in 5th place in the regular season and losing in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. He scored 10.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game (31 games). Cluj also played in the opening round of the EuroChallenge tournament, but did not advance. Osby scored 13.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in their 2 tournament games.

Ryan Randle played for Saint-Etienne B.C. of the French ProB league. Saint-Etienne finished in 8th place in the regular season and lost in the quarterfinals of the playoffs to Rodney Elliott's Levallois team. Ryan scored 8.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game (14 games).

Jamar Smith played for Fastweb Junior Casale Monferrato of Italy's Lega2. The team finished in 4th place in the regular season and lost in the semifinals of the league tournament. He scored 12.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game (37 games).

DJ Strawberry played for GMAC Real Estate Bologna, which finished in 15th place (next to last) in Italy's SerieA. Bologna also played in the Eurocup regular season, but did not advance to the Top 16. DJ scored 11.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game (19 games) in Italian league play. In their Eurocup games, he scored 14.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.2 steals (6 games).

Sunday, July 12, 2009

2008-09 NBA Season Wrap-Up

Here's how Maryland's Alumni fared in the 2007-08 NBA regular season. Click on the names for expanded stats from NBA.com.

TeamGGSMinPPGRPGAPG
Steve BlakePOR696931.711.02.55.0
Juan DixonWAS50616.35.21.32.4
Joe Smith-- 57319.36.64.60.7
OKC 36319.26.64.50.7
CLE 21019.66.54.80.8
Chris Wilcox--- 62616.97.24.50.8
OKC 37619.48.45.30.9
NYK 25013.25.43.30.6


In the playoffs, Joe Smith and Cleveland made it to the Eastern Conference finals, losing to Orlando. Smith scored 5.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 0.2 assists in 16.8 minutes per game over 13 games. Steve Blake and Portland lost in the first round to the Houston Rockets. Blake scored 9.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 6.2 assists in 38.5 minutes per game over 6 games. Steve Francis sat out the entire season injured (after only playing in 10 games in 2007-08). He was traded from Houston to Memphis during the season, but his contract is expiring and Memphis does not plan to resign him

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Terence Morris Signs with Efes Pilsen

Terence Morris (1997-2001) has signed a new deal (translation) to play for Efes Pilsen in Turkey next season. Efes is fresh off winning the Turkish league championship this season. Morris also drew interest (translation) from top European teams Real Madrid and Spanish champion Barcelona.

Two seasons ago, Morris led his team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, to the Euroleague championship game, but finished as runners-up to champion CSKA Moscow. This season, he came off the bench as his team, CSKA Moscow, made it to the Euroleage championship game again, only to finish as runners-up to Panathinaikos. Next year, Morris will play for Efes Pilsen, which used to have ex-Terp Drew Nicholas on their team from 2006 to 2008. Laron Profit also briefly played for Efes during the 2006-07 season. The last two times Efes made it to the Euroleague quarterfinals, they lost to Panathinaikos in 2005 and CSKA in 2006, so there are team connections all around.