Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Comedy of Errors

Step away from the ledge, put down your bullhorn and "Free Mike Jones" sign, use your hanky to wipe the poison spittle that collected at the corners of your mouth as you cursed every member of this team and calm the fuck down.

One game in December Terps fans, that's all it was. They certainly looked terrible at times and would cause anyone to wonder if this team would ever act like a bunch of seniors and juniors, however if you keep opening the oven every five minutes to check on it this cake is never going to rise. I'm not wavering from my feeling that this is a good team with a chance to be very good if they can mature through the season. I'm not going to make some silly statement like Mike Wise did in the Post about how GW was ready to take off as a program but they have enough talent to be one of the better teams in the ACC if they played there. Not top 3 but in the top half. It wasn't a bad loss like the bunch that happened the last week to Indiana, Iowa, Stanford and other top teams.

A few thoughts on some of the "conventional wisdom" that has come out of Monday's game. First is that DJ Strawberry can't play point guard again. Interesting that a kid who still averages more steals per game than turnovers can't play point guard because he had a rough night and turned the ball over 7 times. It was his worst game of the year, that is obvious, but to portray DJ as the reason Maryland struggled with turnovers is unfair and plain wrong. The other guys on the team committed 18 turnovers, which is usually bad enough to lose a close game by itself. Not one person on the team had more assists than turnovers and only McCray had an equal number of each. I suppose it is easier to single out Strawberry than to mention that every player on the team had at least one turnover and that 7 other players besides DJ had at least 2 turnovers. It's easy for the Post's beat reporter to mention that last season under Gilchrist Maryland never turned the ball over 25 times without mentioning that in last year's GW game Gilchrist had 5 turnovers himself and in the BB&T game against West Virginia the year before he had 8 turnovers. Unless Ledbetter or Parish Brown take point guard growth hormone they are not going to replace DJ, nor is Chris McCray.

Second, that GW's press caused the large number of Maryland turnovers. Couldn't be more ridiculous. Most of the turnovers by Maryland occurred in the half court, not in the open court on a press. The press did give Maryland some trouble, but resulted in only a few turnovers. For every turnover in the press GW probably committed two fouls, which isn't a good trade off. The Colonoscopies only scored 6 points off turnovers in the 2nd half compared to 9 points by Maryland. Only 7 of the 25 turnovers by Maryland were off steals. Their half court pressure did give Maryland fits. They succeeded in getting Maryland to play a sloppy and impatient style of offense that resulted in poor shots and few offensive rebounds. How many unforced turnovers were the result of traveling, offensive fouls and passes that just sailed out of bounds? More accurately, Maryland gave away too many possessions to win in a close game. A great defense doesn't give up 45% shooting from the floor which is what Maryland shot against GW. Their defense is even less impressive when you consider that they let Boston University shoot 56% the previous game. So let's not yap about GW's stifling defense, okay?

I'm sure at halftime Gary was wondering if he had left Mike Jones and Chris McCray back in College Park. The tandem totaled 2 shots in the entire opening 20 minutes. Two shots in a combined 25 minutes of play! I realize Gary's plan was to pound the ball inside to Gist and Ibekwe and early foul trouble by Jones and Ibekwe may have contributed, but that isn't a formula the Terps can live with this year. If I had said before the game that the SGs would have a combined 3 points would you have thought Maryland would be winning?

I love Chris McCray as a player. He's solid in almost every facet of the game and is a nice kid. Unfortunately, even as a senior, he isn't a leader. He just doesn't have it in him. It's not his fault, that's just the way he is. DJ may be the emotional leader of the team but McCray has to realize when the team needs him to step up. He did that in the 2nd half but he can't wait to do that in ACC play. The outcome would have been different if he hadn't been a non-factor in the 1st half.

The frontcourt play was very disappointing. Maryland should have had a huge advantage there. Gist never seemed the same after that collision around the basket and only had 1 point and 2 rebounds after the half. Ibekwe got himself into early foul trouble and wasn't a big factor on the boards, though he did come up with 7 points in the 2nd half. Free throw shooting by the group was abysmal as Ekene and Travis Garrison combined to go 7-13 from the line. Totally unacceptable, especially for Garrison who is a good shooter.

One positive note is that even though Maryland gave up 18 offensive rebounds they limited GW to 38% shooting for the game including 26% from 3-point range. The defense isn't perfect but it is improving.

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