Monday, January 23, 2006

McCray ineligible

Senior captain Chris McCray has been ruled academically ineligible for the spring semester which starts Wednesday. McCray will miss the rest of the season including the Georgia Tech game on Wednesday night. McCray apologized for letting down his teammates and coaches. This effectively ends Chris McCray's career at Maryland. Junior Mike Jones will have to take over the bulk of the duties at the shooting guard position. Expect Gary Williams to spread the load over the entire backcourt with Parrish Brown, Sterling Ledbetter and DJ Strawberry also shifting between the point guard and shooting guard positions. Over the next two games Williams will be experimenting with lineups to see what works. I don't think Maryland will miss McCray as much as some fear they will. Nik Caner-Medley is actually the team's leading scorer in ACC games. The depth of the team will be effected certainly but in ACC games McCray was shooting 38% from the floor and only 36% from 3-point range. From a scoring perspective Mike Jones is an upgrade shooting a crisp 47% from the field and from 3-point range. McCray's biggest contributions were on the defensive end and in passing on the half court. These will both be missed and the replacements won't be able to make up the difference. Gary will have to get even more creative in using his personnel.

This group has seemed to be in a malaise the last two years and in some strange way I could see this galvanizing them to play at a higher level the rest of the year. It could force the players to rally around each other. On the other hand they could use this as an excuse to go through the motions the rest of the year as the season spirals down the drain. I doubt Gary Williams would allow that to happen but either way I feel like we may know the answer on Wednesday night.

I find it hard to believe that a senior captain could let his teammates and coaches down in this manner. I used to believe that McCray was one of the better kids on the team, but you can't ignore something like this that speaks to a man's character. He's made a mistake he will regret for the rest of his life. I hope he learns this painful lesson well and finishes his degree. This has to reflect on both the program and on the University. You have to think that the sleazy coaches that Maryland battles in recruiting will be trying to use this against Gary. Some of the '06 & '07 recruits seem to indicate that the coaching staff realizes they need to get a different kind of player in at Maryland. Kids like Landon Milbourne, Jerome Burney, Eric Hayes and Greivis Vasquez are purported to be good students. Let's hope that Gary Williams will commit to reorganizing the way the program runs its off the court affairs.

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