|Season on the Brink Already?|
|Written by Chris Diionno|
|Tuesday, 06 December 2005 04:07|
Sometimes a player will make a routine cut on the court and his knee will give out and he’ll be done for the rest of the season. Don’t think that can’t happen to a team as well. As Chris DiIonno notes, Monday’s 78-70 loss to George Washington could very well be a season ending knee injury for the Maryland basketball team.
Well at least they took the suspense out of it.
Yeah, I know a lot of you are going to say, “Chris, don’t you think you’re being a little hasty, saying that Maryland’s season is over already?”
No, I don’t. They stink. See, I’ve been blessed/cursed with this ability to know how their season is going to turn out after only the first couple weeks. It’ll take a few more high profile losses (I think one buzzer-beater and two blowouts sounds about right) and then every other Maryland fan will eventually come to the same conclusion I have:
It’s going to be a long year.
(To quote Darth Vader, “Search your feelings, you know it to be true.”)
How can I tell? Well, I’m going to try not to focus too much on the embarrassing 78-70 loss to George Washington on Monday night for fear that if I do, I’ll probably say some things about GW that I don’t mean (Now that I think about it, it’s a good thing that Georgetown doesn’t get invited to the BB&T Classic, because GW already fills the “thug” team position. Ok, I promise that was it.) and others that I do but it’ll come out much uglier then that. But there were a couple things in this game that might as well signal the apocalypse for any Maryland fan.
Where to start? Well how about…
…With the free throws. If I was a cop, and I wanted to get information out of a criminal, I’d make him play Russian Roulette only with Maryland’s free throw shooting instead of a gun. Wouldn’t that be the most terrifying thing ever? Can’t you imagine the famous “Do ya feel lucky” scene from Dirty Harry only applied to Maryland basketball:
“I know what you’re thinking. "Did Garrison miss six shots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this losing I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .500 ACC team, the most unstable basketball team in the world, you've got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”
The Terrapins free throw shooting was so bad last year, I was sure that it was one thing that would have to improve. Wrong. It doesn’t even matter who Maryland puts at the line anymore, everyone’s a coin flip, except for Ekene Ibekwe he’s always guaranteed 0-2, and at least one catapult into the bleachers. (You know how during TV timeouts sometimes a bunch of cheerleaders get up and shoot t-shirts into the stands? Instead of using an oversized slingshot, why don’t they just bring Ibekwe off the bench, put the shirt in his hands and tell him to shoot a free throw? Wouldn’t that be much more enjoyable? Heck we could even credit Ibekwe with an assist.)
Maryland went 18-30 against GW on Monday, which translates, to 60% from the line. In order to be academically eligible, you have to have at least a 2.0 GPA. Well from now on what Gary Williams should do is say, “if you guys don’t shoot at least 75% from the line, you’re not playing.” What’s it going to take for Maryland to realize that when they shoot well from the line, they win, and when they don’t they lose? They missed 12 potential points, and they lost by eight. That’s pretty simple math. Normally steady free throw shooter Travis Garrison was 4-7 and even the sure thing Chris McCray missed two. Did everyone forget to practice over the summer? As Vince Lombardi would say, “What the hell is going on out there?!”
Of course, I shouldn’t be complaining about the free throw shooting. I mean Maryland had a chance to win didn’t they? They trailed throughout most of the game, but they were never getting blown out. And hey, when your team turns the ball over 25 times, and only loses by eight, that should be cause for optimism.
Well after all, ‘tis the season for giving right? So Merry Christmas GW, here’s 25 turnovers and a win over a nationally ranked team. I just hope that Maryland won’t be this thoughtful after the New Year.
Yes, the Colonials defense caused a majority of those turnovers, but after this game, do you think Maryland is ever going to face a team who doesn’t pressure the ball for 94 feet? There was no penetrate and kick out, no working the ball around the perimeter, and no one driving into the lane when seemingly every GW player had four fouls.
Wasn’t Maryland supposed to be better without John Gilchrist? That’s what everyone told me, that he was a disruptive influence on the team, and now that he was gone, Maryland would be tighter than a lid on a pickle jar. Well, what good is team chemistry without someone feeding you the ball? Isn’t this like trying to build a house with a bunch of nails and no hammer?
Seriously though, why doesn’t Maryland have a functional point guard? We have five rotational players at the guard spot and not one of them can play the 1? D.J. Strawberry (who I love and will probably defend to the death) should be the 6th man coming in off the bench as a defensive stopper, not a starter. Mike Jones and McCray should rotate at the 2 (or Jones should start stealing some of Caner-Medley’s minutes) and then Parrish Brown should be starting at point guard.
Here’s my question: what’s the difference between Strawberry turning the ball over 25 times and Brown turning it over 25 times? Brown is a junior college transfer so it’s not like Maryland can spend four years developing the guy because they only have two. And they wouldn’t have recruited him if they didn’t think he was going to be able to make a major difference in the team, after all, he was supposed to be one of the prized ju-co transfers in the country. I know that schools like Illinois were interested in him so why not let him get some minutes now? Throw him to the wolves right away; he can only improve right? This much is certain: if Maryland doesn’t get some stability at the point guard position, they will finish no higher then 6th in the ACC this year.
I partially blame myself for all of this. After all, I was the one that got plenty excited before the season started using the logic that everyone else in the ACC lost key players, and Maryland was bringing everyone back therefore we should be better then we were last year. So maybe they’re not underachieving, they’re just playing up to their level, but I thought their level would be higher then this.
They might win some games they shouldn’t this year, but don’t let that fool you. There is a central problem with this team that obviously didn’t leave with Gilchrist. By now I’m afraid that it’s the mindset of the players: maybe they just know that they’re all under achievers.
I hope that isn’t the case, because that’d be a lot of wasted talent. But so far, this season has the feeling of being a very disappointing one.
Oh well, there’s always next year.