Monday, December 12, 2005

Holiday Cheer

I guess you could indulge in all the cliches about "gritty" play and "gutting out" a win to describe the game last night. It was a fairly well played game for both sides in what seemed like an atmosphere more often seen in late January. Both of these teams are loaded with upperclassmen and it was the kind of game you would expect to see given that, except for the last 10 seconds which was a bizarre series of errors and mental mistakes by both teams.

Ekene Ibekwe again showed flashes of the type of player Terp fans hoped he would mature into last year. He finished with 21 points and 9 rebounds against a very good BC frontcourt. His baseline pivot moves are really turning into a fantastic weapon for him. If the other team gives him a little space and his teammates clear the lane with some good spacing on offense he can be deadly. He stayed out of foul trouble and sunk enough of his freethrows, while playing a career high 34 minutes.

Chris McCray came back in a big way from that sprained ankle scoring 16 points on 4-8 shooting along with 5 assists and 5 rebounds. McCray was a tad shaky in the 2nd half and had a team high 5 turnovers for the game, but he sunk his free throws when it mattered.

Strawberry got into trouble and only played 9 minutes in the first half after picking up two early fouls. In his place Parrish Brown and Sterling Ledbetter did a nice job in keeping the offense moving. Neither had a turnover in a combined 13 minutes in the 1st half, but they only played a total of one minute after halftime between them. Clearly Gary will still stick with DJ when the game is tight. Still it was valuable experience for both of them. The Boston College backcourt isn't going to scare anyone in the ACC but they held their own.

Nik Caner-Medley had a very nice game that was quietly effective. He grabbed 7 rebounds in the 2nd half and scored 9 points but rarely threw up a bad shot. His defense on Jared Dudley was more than acceptable. I think Nik was pressing a little in some of the early games, possibly feeling he needed to impress the NBA scouts in Maui, but has settled down recently. Through 9 games last season Nik had attempted 35 3-point shots and so far this season he's only jacked 13 attempts from beyond the arch. Improved shot selection has helped Caner-Medley and the Maryland offense.

Gary Williams started Travis Garrison again tonight. Partly due to James Gist's struggles and off of Garrison's big game against Western Carolina. He rewarded the honor by going scoreless and committing two fouls in only 8 minutes. He came out better in the 2nd half and scored 8 points while grabbing 3 rebounds. If you've read my blog you know I'm not Travis' biggest fan. I think he's much better suited as a bench player, given that he's a notorious slow starter. If Maryland is going to reach it's full potential this year James Gist must be more of a factor than Garrison, who is a fairly limited player by comparison.

Craig Smith earned the preseason All-ACC accolades he received. He is very similar to Maryland's Lonny Baxter. He is crafty around the basket and has great hands with a soft shooting touch. He can score against much more athletic big men. There is not a more technically solid low post player in the ACC. Lucky for Maryland he was limited by foul trouble, though he did play 37 minutes.

Jared Dudley is a great player but struggled last night. He only shot 6-15 from the floor and missed all four foul shots. He doesn't have much range and makes his living around the basket. Maryland prevented him from getting too many second chance points which he lives off. He's a nice player but he probably is the biggest mouth in the ACC, though teammate Sean Marshall also made a solid case. He taunted the Maryland students throughout the game and had been on record as relishing the opportunity to show up the obnoxious student section. If he hadn't been so focused on his gamesmanship he may have led his team to a victory.

Let's be honest, if BC had not shot a dreadful 33% from the free throw line they'd probably have won. To Maryland's credit they forced the deliberate BC offense into 18 turnovers but also got outrebounded 36-31 and allowed 52% shooting. There are things to work on.

Still, it was a great win for the team going into a nice break for exams. Maryland won't play again until the 23rd and ACC play doesn't start up till January 7th. Maryland should be 11-2 heading into road games with Miami and Duke.

Other Notes

How do some of these people get their jobs? Columnist Rick Maese wrote about DJ Strawberry's transition to PG this year and said this:

Strawberry finished last night with four points, four assists and three turnovers. He's tied for the Atlantic Coast Conference lead in turnovers.

If you're going to make a factual statement like that at least look up the numbers to make sure you're correct. I guess Maese has never heard of any of these guys:

Zam Fredrick 25
Justin Gray 38
Greg Paulus 24

Those numbers are their turnovers for the year. DJ has 23 for the season to go along with 44 assists. Get a new fact checker, please.


Moe Greene said...

I haven't done the research either, but maybe Maese was talking about turnovers per game?

I don't know...

Keep up the posting, though. I look forward to reading your blogs...

Esquire said...

Thanks for the reading.

In turnovers per game Strawberry is not even in the bottom 15 (or top 15 if that was a good thing). Here is a list of just the point guards in the ACC who have worse numbers:

Sean Singletary
Zam Fredrick
Louis Hinnant
Greg Paulus
Bobby Frasor
Denis Clemente
Zabian Dowdell
Vernon Hamilton

It's annoying when lazy sports writers just parrot what everyone else is saying. Strawberry is one of the better points in the ACC regardless of a few games where he struggled. Somehow in the media he became the main problem holding Maryland back, which doesn't have a shred of truth.