By Steve Yanda
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The expectations surrounding a Maryland squad that advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament last season and returned all but one starter this year were high in the weeks leading up to Tuesday night's exhibition game against Indiana (Pa.). A development that surfaced half an hour prior to tip-off, however, may lower the Terrapins' prospects for the upcoming regular season.
Junior forward Dino Gregory was not present at Comcast Center on Tuesday night, the result of a suspension for a violation of team rules, according to a news release issued by the school minutes before the exhibition game began. Maryland defeated IUP, 75-54, but the potential loss of Gregory -- who was expected to start and assume a critical role in the Terrapins' frontcourt -- carried far more weight.
The nature of the rules violation was not explained, and the release stated that because of federal regulations protecting the privacy of student records, no further comment would be forthcoming. However, Gregory acknowledged this summer that his eligibility for the upcoming season was in question because of a charge of academic dishonesty.
Following a late-August workout in his hometown of Baltimore, Gregory appeared optimistic that his academic misconduct case would be resolved favorably.
"Things will work out for itself," Gregory said at the time. "I think everything should be all right."
Gregory also said in August that he had found out about the charge "a while ago," but said he had been told by Maryland Coach Gary Williams not to discuss the matter publicly and declined to answer further questions other than to say: "I think I'm going to be all right. I'll be all right."
Whether that matter was resolved remains unclear. In recent weeks, Maryland athletics department officials repeatedly declined to clarify Gregory's eligibility for the upcoming season, stating they will not comment on the eligibility of any student-athlete. Voice mails left in recent weeks seeking comment on the matter on the respective cellphones of Williams and Gregory's father, Dino Sr., were not returned.
Whether the academic dishonesty charge and the rules violation that forced Gregory to sit out Tuesday's exhibition are related could not be determined.
Listed at 6 feet 7 and 230 pounds, Gregory was expected to start this season after serving a vital reserve role during Maryland's stretch run last year. The Terrapins lacked depth in the frontcourt last season, but with Gregory joining starter Landon Milbourne as well as incoming freshmen Jordan Williams and James Padgett in the post this year, Maryland appeared set to offer a more balanced lineup.
Williams repeatedly commended Gregory in recent weeks for the manner in which he has tutored Williams and Padgett, and if Gregory is lost for any extended amount of time, the freshmen big men will face significantly more pressure to make immediate impacts. Sophomore reserve forward Steve Goins also sat out last night's game with a knee injury that has lingered since he underwent surgery over the summer in his hometown of Chicago.
Padgett started in place of Gregory on Tuesday night and recorded eight points and four rebounds. Williams tallied seven points and six rebounds and sophomore Sean Mosley scored 14 points. The Terrapins were out-rebounded by IUP, 36-35.
"Well, I mean, you just needed all your players to be your best team," Williams said. "You know, those things happen during the season, where you sprain an ankle and a guy can't play and that can happen the day of a game, so we're fine, you know, and we'll be fine."