Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Feel the love

Yup, it's time for another Duke versus Maryland game on ESPN. A breathless and hyperventilating Dick Vitale, fawning camera shots of the most overrated fans in all of sports, endless montages of JJ Redick scoring at will against UNC Greensboro, the only team in the country that sends its assistant coaches out for halftime interviews with the ESPN courtside eye candy, you'll get all that and more tomorrow with the Terp's annual trip to Durham.

What you'll get once the game starts is anyone's guess. I certainly have no idea. I know that Maryland's players will be more intense for this game than they were for a six loss Miami squad. Maryland is in the midst of a three game winning streak against the Blue Devils, which is something no one has done in the ACC in almost 10 years. The odds don't seem to be good for that to continue. Freshmen Greg Paulus and Josh McRoberts are getting more comfortable with their roles on this team. Paulus dislocated his finger the other night against Wake Forest but it appears he will play against Maryland. Look for DJ Strawberry to be even more tenacious while guarding the frosh point. DeMarcus Nelson was expected to be out for another few weeks while recovering from his broken ankle but he played against Wake on Sunday and would appear likely to see action tomorrow.

It must be somewhat comforting to Duke that Sheldon Williams spent much of the Wake game on the bench with foul trouble and they still blew Wake out of their own gym. In spite of an influx of young players Duke still isn't much deeper than they were last year, especially in the frontcourt. Patrick Johnson, he of the Gladiator shoulder brace, even made an appearance for a few minutes in the Wake game. Gary Williams will send his quartet of low post players at McRoberts and Williams trying to wear them down by attrition. I doubt it will work like it did in last seasons second victory at Comcast Center.

This is the difficult stretch of Maryland's season and things are likely to get worse before they get better.

Around the ACC

Two good games on tap tonight. NC State has to travel to Chestnut Hill where Boston College is staring at the possibility of going 0-3 in league play. This is one of those "sense of urgency" cliche games. The Eagles should be able to exploit NC State's low post players, but if BC's perimeter defense doesn't improve the Wolfpack could bury them with a barrage of 3's. This could be a competitive but very ugly game. I'll go with the Eagles to win in their first ACC home game.

North Carolina's scrappy youngsters face their first road game in ACC play. Coming off a big win over a hot NC State team you would think that they should handle a vulnerable Hokie team that has been riddled with inconsistency and injuries. With young teams you never know how they'll handle success and it will be interesting to see if they can match the emotion of a desperate Virginia Tech squad. With two ACC losses already and road games at Maryland and Wake Forest between a home game at Duke, this could be an early elimination game for Seth Greenburg's bunch. UNC is playing solid defense and getting nice production from Noel and Hansbrough, that should be enough in a close contest.

Hokie forward Wynton Witherspoon has decided to play through his foot injury instead of sitting out the year. He scored 19 points against Florida State over the weekend but with his injury you never know how he'll play on any given night. It's unlikely Witherspoon make it through the season but Greenberg knows he'll need some luck to survive the next five games and keep a chance at an NCAA bid alive.

Coming off a big win over Boston College on Sunday Georgia Tech found out that senior Theodis Tarver has become academically ineligible and will not return to the team. It's a tough blow for a young team without much inside help for Ra'Sean Dickey.

Farewell New Mexico

Marcus Vick certainly went out in a blaze of glory this week. It was discovered that he was ticketed on December 17th of last year for speeding on a suspended license. Vick told head coach Frank Beamer and director of football operations John Ballein of the ticket for driving on a suspended license two days later. Neither Beamer nor Ballein thought it was worth informing the athletic director or university president that Vick had been charged, even though it was clear that Vick was on a "zero tolerance" policy in regards to infractions. Vick played in the Gator Bowl anyway, where he proceeded to embarrass the Virginia Tech program again by stomping on the leg of a Louisville player. Clearly the coaches at Virginia Tech knew about this latest infraction before the bowl game and let Marcus Vick play anyway.

Beamer claims that he was on his way to tell Vick he was suspended for two games in the 2006 season for "the stomp" when they found out Vick was also cited for speeding and it was only then that Virginia Tech decided to kick Marcus off the team. I don't understand the distinction between going 15 mph over the speed limit being unacceptable while driving on a suspended license is honkey dory. Well, that is their story anyway.

A few days later Vick was arrested in Suffolk for brandishing a firearm at some teenagers who were taunting him in the parking lot of a McDonalds. It was the end to one of the most ignominious careers for an ACC football player in recent memory.

Before Hokie fans start patting themselves on the back that the president of the university stepped in to end Marcus Vick's career at their school let's review some of the facts. The governor-elect of Virginia Tim Kaine had said publicly that he expected Virginia Tech to discipline Vick for his egregious behavior at the Gator Bowl. When the soon-to-be governor of your state says something like that you'd better listen if you are a university president. The head coach knew of Vick's driving violation weeks before the team's bowl game and never informed the athletic director or university president. Only after the citation became public did the university take disciplinary action against Vick. Let's not pretend that this episode makes Frank Beamer or Virginia Tech out to be paragons of virtue. Vick's actions and the fact that his recent driving citations were made public were the only things that forced Virginia Tech to take live up to their promise that Vick would only get one more chance.

No comments: