In what amounted to a tune up Maryland blew away Western Carolina last night 87-57. In customary fashion they only led 39-35 at the half and I'm coming to the sobering conclusion that this team isn't going to blow the doors off any opponent in the first 20 minutes this year. Western Carolina is coached by a Herb Sendeck disciple and they play the same kind Princeton style offense. Perhaps it indicates that this team will again struggle with guarding NC State's perimeter shooters down the road.
The absence of SG Chris McCray and PF James Gist may have contributed to the offensive lethargy in this game. McCray was nursing a sore ankle that he injured in Maui and Gist was still feeling the effects of the rugby scrum that was the game on Monday. He played only 10 minutes before leaving the game with back spasms. Travis Garrison replaced him in the starting lineup and put up a career day with 23 points and 14 rebounds. It's always the same with Garrison, tantalizing ability that shows itself in flashes and then fizzles. This was only the seventh double-double of the former McDonald's All-American's career. Looking closer it's easy to see why Garrison was able to grab 14 rebounds against a team that was taunted with chants of "Frodo", as in the Hobbit, and score 12 points on put backs after rebounds. It was a nice game for Travis but don't expect some sort of revelation for this inconsistent senior. He leads the team in rebounding now, which isn't a fantastic achievement in that his fellow frontcourt teammates are great athletes but only mediocre rebounders. I have a feeling he'll be going back to the bench once James Gist is completely healed.
Both Gist and McCray should be ready for the Boston College game on Sunday.
Last night was also a small dose of reality for those who see Mike Jones as the panacea for all that ails this club. In 33 minutes he had 6 points, 1 rebound and 3 assists on 2-7 shooting. Not all that impressive. His defense is better but still a work in progress. I think Jones will have a nice senior year in 2006 but it isn't Gary Williams that is keeping Jones from being a superstar.
I'd like to forget the 2005 football season but first let's give credit to LB D'Qwell Jackson and TE Vernon Davis who both became the first All-Americans since EJ Henderson in 2002. Word has Vernon Davis declaring for the NFL draft as a junior, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Davis is a likely mid-first round pick in the spring, while Jackson is likely a 2nd or 3rd round selection.