Mark Turgeon wants out of this car crash of a tournament Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

BB&T Classic Favors George Mason Over Maryland


 

Let’s face it: the BB&T Classic is a joke.

Charitable intentions be damned, with the news that George Mason will draw the Oklahoma Sooners in the once-popular Washington, D.C. tournament, Maryland should spurn this dog and pony show sooner rather than later. There is just no point anymore in reserving a schedule spot for a tournament with such lackluster opponents.

Here’s a list, since 2005, of Maryland Terrapins opponents in the BB&T Classic:

2005: George Washington

2006: Notre Dame

2007: Virginia Commonwealth University

2008: George Washington

2009: Villanova

2010: Temple

2011: Notre Dame

2012: George Mason

2013: George Washington

For a one-day event, that lineup is a crapshoot and clear evidence that this “tournament” has completely lost its luster. When you draw a quality-ish opponent once every three years, it’s just time to cut your losses and look for other charitable events. Especially when fan attendance is dwindling and the other major school in the area (Georgetown) wouldn’t poke this Classic with a ten-foot retractable pole.

It’s hard not to feel slighted by this John Feinstein-led maneuver (though I’m not advocating any Duke alumni conspiracies). Maryland is a respectable brand, and now they’re fighting to be the headliner in a tournament that features George Washington and George Mason? Thanks, but no thanks.

Maryland can find much better opponents further away from the region; just look at the sellout in Brooklyn last year against Kentucky. If they have to travel a few (or more than a few) country miles to get there, then so be it. Maryland has the potential to draw in a national television audience even after not making the tournament, and right now the Terps are just limiting their potential being associated with this mess.

What does Maryland gain from this? A non-factor RPI win over George Washington or an RPI bunker-buster with a loss to the aforementioned team. Mark Turgeon was right when he said he wanted schedule flexibility to be able to play with some other headliner. Maybe replace BB&T with, and forgive me because this is just off the top of my head, a game against Georgetown.

No brainer here, folks.

 

Tags: Bb&T Classic George Mason Maryland Basketball Maryland Terrapins

  • John Feinstein

    Mr. Willis–I have a couple of questions for you. Before writing a post with the

    headline, ‘BB+T Classic FAVORS George Mason over Maryland,’ did you call Mark Turgeon to ask him why his team is playing George Washington this coming season? Or you could have called me–I’m not hard to find–and I could have told you: GW is exactly who Mark wanted to play. He did not want to play a team like Oklahoma because he didn’t want to add another difficult game to his schedule and because scheduling a team of that calibre requires a return game of some kind: Mason will be returning the game to Norman next season. Mark had no interest in doing that with ANY team. Don’t believe me, ask him.

    ‘The BB+T is a joke?’ Really. An event that has raised close to $10 million for kids at risk in this area is a joke? Oh wait, ‘charitable intentions be damned.’ I’m guessing you’ve never had to worry about where your next meal was coming from or if you had shelter or if you had warm clothing for the winter. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you don’t have children and further that you’ve NEVER been anywhere close to the places these charities work from to see the work they do or the kids they try to help. You call an event a ‘joke,’ because you aren’t happy with Maryland’s opponents? Did you check out Maryland’s non-conference home schedule last season. When Gary Williams was Maryland’s coach we brought in highly-ranked teams to play Maryland almost every year–because Gary was willing to play them. What do you think, I don’t WANT to schedule high quality teams to play Maryland? You think I WANT to sell fewer tickets? By the way, Virginia Commonwealth had just beaten Duke in the NCAA Tournament when it came here in 2007; Villanova was ranked No. 3 in the country and coming off a Final Four appearance when it came here in 2009 and Temple was ranked No. 15 in the country when it came here in 2010. Oh, and they all BEAT Maryland. When Mark took the job he told me straight up he didn’t want to return games and was, in fact, unhappy he had to go to the Palestra to play Temple that season–something Gary had agreed to do to get a quality opponent to come to DC. Notre Dame was acceptable two years ago because GEORGE WASHINGTON played a return game in Maryland’s place, something Mike Brey agreed to because he is a GW grad.

    Gary Williams understood why the BB+T was good for Maryland: It allowed the school to give something back to the community (unlike Georgetown which is only interested in giving back to itself); it got him at least one quality non-conference game a year OFF his home court which means more to the NCAA committee than a home court win and, at times, it means he got to play a quality opponent without returning the game because a handful of coaches–like Gary–are willing to put aside their self-interest a little bit to help out a charity. Brey’s done it; Tom Izzo did it; Roy Williams did it; Jim Calhoun did it.

    A lot of people–Gary among them–have sweated blood for 20 years to make this event successful both for the charity and to bring some very good basketball to D.C. For you to write that post without checking any of the backgrounds or the facts was completely unfair to all those people; unfair to the kids who are dependent on the money The Children’s Charities Foundation raises every year and unfair to your readers who were left with the notion that we somehow “decided,” to pair Oklahoma with Maryland. Like I said, if you want to question anything I’ve written here check with Mark; check with Gary; check with me. THEN you can apologize.

    –John Feinstein

    • TerrapinStationMD

      Mr. Feinstein,

      First let me apologize for not getting back to you right away, I didn’t notice you commented so I was a little late getting around to it. I’ll just go down the list of things you said, and attempt to explain/rebut some of your arguments, since you did make some valid points.

      “GW is exactly who Mark wanted to play. He did not want to play a team like Oklahoma because he didn’t want to add another difficult game to his schedule and because scheduling a team of that calibre requires a return game of some kind: Mason will be returning the game to Norman next season. Mark had no interest in doing that with ANY team. Don’t believe me, ask him”

      In this regard, you’re probably correct. You and Mark Turgeon stay in touch, I’d assume, since you run a tournament which involves one of the games on his schedule. For lowly guys like me, however, who don’t have a hard line connected to Mark Turgeon’s ear, we have to go with what we know. What I did know at the time, was that Maryland was playing George Washington, and Mason getting Oklahoma. Fault me all you want for not doing investigative journalism (this is a blog, and this was/is a reactionary piece), I’m OK with that. Next time I’ll do my due diligence. I appreciate in the meantime that you clarified why the scheduling ended up the way that it did.

      “‘The BB+T is a joke?’ Really. An event that has raised close to $10 million for kids at risk in this area is a joke? Oh wait, ‘charitable intentions be damned.’ I’m guessing you’ve never had to worry about where your next meal was coming from or if you had shelter or if you had warm clothing for the winter. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you don’t have children and further that you’ve NEVER been anywhere close to the places these charities work from to see the work they do or the kids they try to help.’The BB+T is a joke?’ Really. An event that has raised close to $10 million for kids at risk in this area is a joke? Oh wait, ‘charitable intentions be damned.’ I’m guessing you’ve never had to worry about where your next meal was coming from or if you had shelter or if you had warm clothing for the winter. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you don’t have children and further that you’ve NEVER been anywhere close to the places these charities work from to see the work they do or the kids they try to help.”

      This is where your argument starts to cave on itself. Just as I presumed to know things I didn’t, you went ahead and presumed a shit ton about me that was completely incorrect. In particular, the notion that I’m out of touch with those the charity helps. I went to an elementary school that didn’t have walls, I’m about two miles away from Anacostia, D.C., somewhere I’m sure you don’t affiliate with much (or maybe you do).
      Judging from my last name, since you’re so in tune in the charitable acts department, you no doubt have heard of the ALIVE! Food Drive in Alexandria, Virginia and my families involvement in it. You know, the one that has been helping provide books, backpacks, coats, meals, and anything else needed to children and families in the area who are VERY poor, since 1969. The same one that has, on a completely voluntary founding, donated ~$400,000 in emergency assistance to families in need over the past two years. The same place I help out at all the time. Or heck, maybe you can ask the staff at the Carpenter’s Shelter if the Willis family helps out there at all, serves food to the homeless on weekends, and tutors the kids who don’t have parents capable of helping them out. Don’t believe me, ask them. And be sure to do it in a condescending tone because you run a mediocre basketball tournament that does great things in the community, they’ll love that.

      “Gary Williams understood why the BB+T was good for Maryland: It allowed the school to give something back to the community (unlike Georgetown which is only interested in giving back to itself)”

      Just so we’re clear, you realize that you’re attacking a JESUIT SCHOOL, right? I don’t even like Georgetown and realize how ridiculous a comment that is. The same Georgetown that, through their For Generations to Come campaign, has already raised ONE BILLION DOLLARS to support athletics. That’s just on the athletics side, because their alumni happen to be some of the most active philanthropic individuals in the country.

      That’s not to sell Maryland short, because we already DO give back to the community. The amount that the University of Maryland and its alumni donate to public causes (like public health, renewable energy) and the tech sector (GOOGLE) may not seem as personal as what the Children’s Charitable Foundations does, but it’s just as impacting, with or without your BB&T tournament. Call Larry Page and Sergey Brin, tell them they don’t give back to the community enough already.

      No, what this comes down to, and the point I was trying to make, was that the BB&T is no longer a good basketball tournament, and it’s why I left charities out of it. Your tournament does amazing things in the community, but since going to its one day format, hasn’t had a sellout game, and most of the time those reported numbers (10K last year) fall woefully short of the eye test. George Mason vs Maryland might be great for you, but it was a terrible showing by the fans and a mediocre game.

      Your tournament is going to have mediocre basketball again, as I’m fairly confident that the Oklahoma Sooners alumni in the area (there aren’t many) won’t be out in full force to watch George Mason play hoops. And if you think Terps fans are going to want to see George Washington get beaten, well, you’ll see. I’ll probably still go, because I love the team. For most fans, the good cause aspect is entirely secondary. Most just want to see good basketball, which has been inconsistent at the BB&T since 2005.

      You say that Mark Turgeon didn’t want to play tough teams and Gary did, and then go on to say our non-conference home schedule is a joke. That’s true, and Mark Turgeon said it himself in a few interviews and elaborated as to WHY he wasn’t trying to schedule very tough opponents straight away: the team was rebuilding, there was no point in getting smashed by really challenging opponents, we had no Dez Wells, no Chuck or Shaq. As the team progresses, the games get better on the schedule. That’s the reality of Maryland right now.

      Turgeon wants flexibility in his schedule, don’t suggest that the guy is a jerk becuse he’s ditching your tournament that allows less flexibility. In the 27 game schedule, 18 of those have to be conference games and you have to have home non-conference games as well, which leaves very little wiggle room for playing quality, neutral site opponents. If your tournament can’t offer that every single time, then why would Mark Turgeon continue to stay in? If our few opportunities to schedule challenging opponents gives us, at best Oklahoma and/or George Washington, there is no point in staying.

      I value your opinion and even though you (I presume sarcastically) said you hate everything about Maryland athletics, would love to continue this conversation elsewhere. Please email me [email protected] and we can really get into this further. I do apologize for insulting your tournament, but I still have my opinion.

  • Joe

    Seems to me that both Turgeon and Feinstein are heavily dissing GW here. I recall GW BEATING MD in the BBT a couple of times. We’ll see, but Turgeon may not be as smart as he thinks he is. As for GW, not sure they need this BBT stuff either.

  • John Feinstein

    I would also like to announce that I hate everything about Maryland athletics, except Gary Williams. Man do I love me some Gary. How have the Wizards not hired him yet?

    • TerrapinStationMD

      Mr. Feinstein,

      First let me apologize for not getting back to you right away, I didn’t notice you commented so I was a little late getting around to it. I’ll just go down the list of things you said, and attempt to explain/rebut some of your arguments, since you did make some valid points.

      “GW is exactly who Mark wanted to play. He did not want to play a team like Oklahoma because he didn’t want to add another difficult game to his schedule and because scheduling a team of that calibre requires a return game of some kind: Mason will be returning the game to Norman next season. Mark had no interest in doing that with ANY team. Don’t believe me, ask him”

      In this regard, you’re probably correct. You and Mark Turgeon stay in touch, I’d assume, since you run a tournament which involves one of the games on his schedule. For lowly guys like me, however, who don’t have a hard line connected to Mark Turgeon’s ear, we have to go with what we know. What I did know at the time, was that Maryland was playing George Washington, and Mason getting Oklahoma. Fault me all you want for not doing investigative journalism (this is a blog, and this was/is a reactionary piece), I’m OK with that. Next time I’ll do my due diligence. I appreciate in the meantime that you clarified why the scheduling ended up the way that it did.

      “‘The BB+T is a joke?’ Really. An event that has raised close to $10 million for kids at risk in this area is a joke? Oh wait, ‘charitable intentions be damned.’ I’m guessing you’ve never had to worry about where your next meal was coming from or if you had shelter or if you had warm clothing for the winter. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you don’t have children and further that you’ve NEVER been anywhere close to the places these charities work from to see the work they do or the kids they try to help.’The BB+T is a joke?’ Really. An event that has raised close to $10 million for kids at risk in this area is a joke? Oh wait, ‘charitable intentions be damned.’ I’m guessing you’ve never had to worry about where your next meal was coming from or if you had shelter or if you had warm clothing for the winter. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you don’t have children and further that you’ve NEVER been anywhere close to the places these charities work from to see the work they do or the kids they try to help.”

      This is where your argument starts to cave on itself. Just as I presumed to know things I didn’t, you went ahead and presumed a shit ton about me that was completely incorrect. In particular, the notion that I’m out of touch with those the charity helps. I went to an elementary school that didn’t have walls, I’m about two miles away from Anacostia, D.C., somewhere I’m sure you don’t affiliate with much (or maybe you do).
      Judging from my last name, since you’re so in tune in the charitable acts department, you no doubt have heard of the ALIVE! Food Drive in Alexandria, Virginia and my families involvement in it. You know, the one that has been helping provide books, backpacks, coats, meals, and anything else needed to children and families in the area who are VERY poor, since 1969. The same one that has, on a completely voluntary founding, donated ~$400,000 in emergency assistance to families in need over the past two years. The same place I help out at all the time. Or heck, maybe you can ask the staff at the Carpenter’s Shelter if the Willis family helps out there at all, serves food to the homeless on weekends, and tutors the kids who don’t have parents capable of helping them out. Don’t believe me, ask them. And be sure to do it in a condescending tone because you run a mediocre basketball tournament that does great things in the community, they’ll love that.

      “Gary Williams understood why the BB+T was good for Maryland: It allowed the school to give something back to the community (unlike Georgetown which is only interested in giving back to itself)”

      Just so we’re clear, you realize that you’re attacking a JESUIT SCHOOL, right? I don’t even like Georgetown and realize how ridiculous a comment that is. The same Georgetown that, through their For Generations to Come campaign, has already raised ONE BILLION DOLLARS to support athletics. That’s just on the athletics side, because their alumni happen to be some of the most active philanthropic individuals in the country.

      That’s not to sell Maryland short, because we already DO give back to the community. The amount that the University of Maryland and its alumni donate to public causes (like public health, renewable energy) and the tech sector (GOOGLE) may not seem as personal as what the Children’s Charitable Foundations does, but it’s just as impacting, with or without your BB&T tournament. Call Larry Page and Sergey Brin, tell them they don’t give back to the community enough already.

      No, what this comes down to, and the point I was trying to make, was that the BB&T is no longer a good basketball tournament, and it’s why I left charities out of it. Your tournament does amazing things in the community, but since going to its one day format, hasn’t had a sellout game, and most of the time those reported numbers (10K last year) fall woefully short of the eye test. George Mason vs Maryland might be great for you, but it was a terrible showing by the fans and a mediocre game.

      Your tournament is going to have mediocre basketball again, as I’m fairly confident that the Oklahoma Sooners alumni in the area (there aren’t many) won’t be out in full force to watch George Mason play hoops. And if you think Terps fans are going to want to see George Washington get beaten, well, you’ll see. I’ll probably still go, because I love the team. For most fans, the good cause aspect is entirely secondary. Most just want to see good basketball, which has been inconsistent at the BB&T since 2005.

      You say that Mark Turgeon didn’t want to play tough teams and Gary did, and then go on to say our non-conference home schedule is a joke. That’s true, and Mark Turgeon said it himself in a few interviews and elaborated as to WHY he wasn’t trying to schedule very tough opponents straight away: the team was rebuilding, there was no point in getting smashed by really challenging opponents, we had no Dez Wells, no Chuck or Shaq. As the team progresses, the games get better on the schedule. That’s the reality of Maryland right now.

      Turgeon wants flexibility in his schedule, don’t suggest that the guy is a jerk becuse he’s ditching your tournament that allows less flexibility. In the 27 game schedule, 18 of those have to be conference games and you have to have home non-conference games as well, which leaves very little wiggle room for playing quality, neutral site opponents. If your tournament can’t offer that every single time, then why would Mark Turgeon continue to stay in? If our few opportunities to schedule challenging opponents gives us, at best Oklahoma and/or George Washington, there is no point in staying.

      I value your opinion and even though you (I presume sarcastically) said you hate everything about Maryland athletics, would love to continue this conversation elsewhere. Please email me [email protected] and we can really get into this further. I do apologize for insulting your tournament, but I still have my opinion.

      • John Feinstein

        I don’t have time to read that. DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? Buy my books.

        • quinnster

          Stop your egotistical brain and for one second think from the other side of the fence. Do you know who I am? Isn’t that what famous people say when they are getting arrested. Give me a break. And as much as you love Gary, in his last years, he scheduled weak non conference schedule, that is one of the reasons we did not get in March Madness. As fpr the tournament, from a fan’s perspective, it has not been significant in years. If you want a real tournament, get Georgetown, Maryland, GW, George Mason to play every year, sorta of like the Philly five used to do. Then people would come, every year the stadium is empty, how do you raise the money with no fans attending. Just curious.

          • quinnster

            Oh, and the best game ever in this tournament was when Maryland beat Georgetown to start the run into an era with Sweet Sixteen appearances and a championship. And, by the way since this is for charity, not that I know if you do not do this, since you have so many empty seats, why not give tickets to the underprivledged who have never been to a game so that they may enjoy it and fill the seats. Also, go back to it being a tournament, not a one game day. It was more exciting that way. I sure you have your reasons but from the fan’s point of view, it was better that way. Maryland should leave the game unless it is more exciting, when we move to the B12, perhaps, we could have Maryland, Duke, Georgetown, Syracuse, now that would be a good weekend.

  • Z. Parks

    Good back and forth from Feinstein and Willis. As a big Maryland basketball fan for a long time I have to agree with M. W. about the BB + T’s decline. This tournament needs a big-time opponent for Maryland each and every year. I get that Turgeon is afraid to take another pre-conference loss but the super-soft scheduling hasn’t exactly worked out has it? Hope he will quit making excuses and try to toughen up his team earlier in future years. The BB + T would be a good place to start.

    • Terps84

      Come on, that’s not Feinstein writing that. I have met him several times (retired reporter here) and that’s not his style. Do you know who I am read my book, blah blah blah. Don’t be fooled.

  • bignasty96

    This post is even funnier to read today. GW is waaaaay better than Maryland this year.

    • Michael Willis

      While I think you’re wrong and we’ll certainly revisit this comment in a few weeks, you are right that GW is solid this year. Can never go wrong with a bunch of Montrose/Montverde kids (or Oak Hill, see: South Carolina basketball) on your roster. Got to watch Cartagena play personally in the HS championships and at the Kenner League — he’ll be good for you guys. Throw in an Indiana transfer and you’re looking at a potential tourney run.

      What’s unfortunate is that your team hasn’t played anyone outside of Manhattan, and my post still holds true. GW hasn’t fielded a truly competitive, enticing team since 2007 when you had Rice and Elliot (if I remember correctly) patrolling the court before getting smashed by Vandy in the first round of they NCAA tourney. The one year you guys actually produce a solid team doesn’t give you carte blanche to bash any team. It’s still a bad tournament that takes up games on the schedule that could be occupied by very solid opponents.

      All that said, I’m excited for the game and wish the best of luck to your team!