Like me, Terps get failing grades in chemistry

January 15, 2006|By MARK KELLER

I'm thoroughly convinced that my high school chemistry teacher, Mr. Busey, is now a professor at the University of Maryland.

I'm equally convinced that every member of the Maryland men's basketball team is in Mr. Busey's class.

Because when it comes to chemistry, the Terrapins - like me 20 years ago - just don't get it.

In fact, aside from their unlikely run to win the ACC Tournament in 2004, the Terps have shown little in the way of chemistry since winning the national title in 2002.

There is no leader like a Juan Dixon or Lonny Baxter. There are no role players like Drew Nicholas or Byron Mouton.

This is a team desperate for chemistry, but none of the Terrapins' starting five - D.J. Strawberry, Nik Caner-Medley, Chris McCray, Ekene Ibekwe or Travis Garrison - have the ability to strap the team on his back and demand team play the way Dixon or Joe Smith or Len Bias was able to.


Until such a leader emerges - and until the Terps start defending against the 3-pointer - Maryland will continue to lose to elite teams like Duke and struggle to get by second-tier teams like Miami.

My guess is the Terps this year will extend their streak of seasons without an NCAA berth instead of beginning a new string of consecutive NCAA Tournamment appearances.

Continuing their constant efforts to fill a perceived hole at the first base position, the Baltimore Orioles signed first baseman Kevin Millar on Thursday.

The Orioles front office had to be happy when they heard Millar say during the press conference announcing his signing, "I'm not a very good player."

General manager Mike Flanagan said guys like Millar and Jeff Conine are great in the clubhouse, a necessity given the divisiveness that prevailed in the second half of last season following Rafael Palmeiro's steroid suspension.

That makes some sense, but how upbeat is the clubhouse going to be when the team is floundering in fourth place - or worse, fifth place - because the pitching staff isn't holding up again?

Nine players saw action at first base for the Orioles in 2005. Three are on the roster this season - Jay Gibbons, Javy Lopez and Chris Gomez. Add Conine and Millar and Baltimore has the highest population of first basemen per capita in the United States.

The joke in the office this week was that the O's need to bring in an outfielder/pitcher.

On Thursday, they did just that. They signed Brooks Kieschnick, an outfielder/pitcher.

But at least they'll have a strong clubhouse.

Mark Keller is sports editor of the Herald-Mail. His column appears on Sundays. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at

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