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Terps, Hoyas, and Wizards

Monthly Archives: March 2012

My colleague Mr. Bohlin and I will be in attendance for today’s game against the City of Bro Love, so expect a running, profanity-laced, diatribe from the two of us.

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By: Willis

Thursday, March 29
@ 7:00 pm Washington Wizards (11-38) vs Indiana Pacers (29-20)

Starting Lineup

PG: John Wall vs Darren Collison

SG: Jordan Crawford vs Paul George

SF: Chris Singleton vs Danny Granger

PF: Kevin Seraphin vs David West

C: Nene vs Roy Hibbert

Why you should watch: The Pacers are a beatable team

Anyone who saw the last game against the Pacers can agree with me that the 85-83 loss was a load of malarkey. The game featured the Wizards losing a 22 point advantage in the fourth, and essentially doing an Undertaker Choke Slam on themselves. The entire game was a testament to how much length can kill in the NBA. The Pacers two forwards, Danny Granger and David West, each went for 16 and 13 points, respectively. Roy Hibbert, their 7’2 centerpiece, managed to stay on the court and drop 19 and 9 rebounds on the Wizards. They clogged the paint up in the fourth quarter, and since jump shooting isn’t the Wizards forte, the lead was gone.

I don’t expect that to happen again, and it’s because I like to look at the positives. The Wizards held Indiana to 41% shooting overall, and 22% from beyond the arc. Anytime the Wizards play that staunch of defense, it’s clear that they have a chance to win the game. If Washington can remain feisty on defense as they have shown the past 4 games (despite all losses), this game is going to be decided in the final possessions. As long as Jordan Crawford can manage to keep his hotness going, and not get frustrated by Paul George’s length, I look for him to carry the backcourt. Wall hasn’t been playing well lately, and he isn’t going to get much room to drive to the rack. If he can force Hibbert into early foul trouble, the Wizards may have a much better success rate.

Underlying Storyline: Finishing the Game

If you think Miami and LeBron James struggle during last second situations, you should see the charade the Wizards have put on the last few games. It’s incredibly how sloppy things become during the final possessions of the game. First it was against Indiana where Wall managed to dribble out the clock en route to making a game winning bucket, then it was a 3-point loss to Atlanta, and don’t get me started on the Detroit Pistons loss. Washington, by all accounts, should be 3 wins richer right now. Instead, a series of miscues has led the Wizards into a 4 game losing streak and likely down in spirit. It’s inexcusable, and tonight would be a lovely night to start a different trend instead of late faltering.

Someone has to step up and make the stop, or a play needs to be drawn to ensure that the Wizards don’t get DAGGERRRRRED. The last seconds shots have to be made; it’s what players dream of making their entire lives but when the chance arises, they flounder. The onus falls on the superstar in Wall, and Randy Wittman for his lack of design. It’s as simple as that.

Prediction: It’s a home game for the Wizards, coming off of 3 days rest. Washington is exactly one game better at home than away, which isn’t something to be proud of, honestly. But it also means they can lose or win anywhere regardless of venue. The Pacers will still be reeling off a loss against a blowout loss to New Jersey last night 100-84. Wizards pick up a close win 99-97

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By:Bohlin

Otto Porter was one of 16 Freshman named to the Kyle Macy Freshman All-American Team today. The Big East is well represented on this list with three members named to the Freshman All-American Team. What makes me curious is to how Porter could be named a Freshman All-American but not named to the Big East All-Freshman Team? However, this is not the place for sour grapes. Congratulations to Otto on the much deserved award as had a fantastic Freshman campaign for your Hoyas.

The entire team is listed as follows:

Brad Beal  6-3 G Florida

Trey Burke 5-11 G Michigan

Anthony Collins 6-1 G South Florida

Anthony Davis 6-10 F Kentucky

Moe Harkless 6-8 F St. John’s

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 6-7 F Kentucky

Damion Lee 6-6 G Drexel

Tony Mitchell 6-8 F North Texas

Kevin Pangos 6-1 G Gonzaga

Otto Porter 6-8 F Georgetown

Austin Rivers 6-4 G Duke

Jarnell Stokes 6-8 F Tennessee

Ricky Tarrant 6-1 G Tulane

Aaron White 6-8 F Iowa

Tony Wroten 6-5 G Washington

Cody Zeller 6-11 F Indiana

You can read the full release regarding the announcement of the Kyle Macy Freshman All-American Team here:

http://www.kylemacyaward.com/

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The Washington Wizards just issued a press release concerning the signing of Cartier Martin to a 10-Day contract. This will be a return trip to the Wiz Kids for the guard out of Kansas State as he has played a total of 60 games with the franchise.

Update: As part of this move the Edwin Ubiles experiment has unfortunately come to an end. This ride may have only lasted a week and a half Edwin, but you’ll forever be one of my favorite Wiz Kids.

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What I took away from attending last nights Capitals-Sabres game.

By: Bohlin

I have made my triumphant return to The Dime ladies and gentlemen and I am doing it in the form of a rant so sit back and enjoy (Or don’t, and you can be that guy). I know this is a basketball blog but while I was sitting in Verizon Center during the shellacking that was tonight’s Washington Capitals versus Buffalo Sabres game something hit me. It wasn’t food, or beer from the distraught fans sitting behind me. It was the realization that “The Plan” Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld keep referring to might not work.

Ted Leonsis, our Internet savvy, hyphen-loving owner, was the big cheese with the Washington Capitals before taking over our beloved Wizards. Most DC sports fans are aware of this I would think. The Caps are Ted’s cash cow right now when it comes to the franchises he owns; there is no question about that. After coming in and trying to buy wins (Jaromir Jagr) to absolutely no avail he blew the Caps up and started over from the bottom floor.

After some hard times “The Plan” seemed to be paying off, the Caps have been playoff regulars for the last half of a decade. They re-energized a fan base that was diminutive at best and have become one of the hottest tickets in town over that time. It’s not surprising that Ted would want to embrace this same type of strategy with his the current dumpster fire he owns, the Wizards.

The fear that I have though is that “The Plan” isn’t going to take us any further than we’ve already gone. Hear me out people. The Capitals, in their best year, made it to only the second round of the playoffs. Their star, Alex Ovechkin, is thought much more highly of than our star, John Wall, but they have yet to win anything and quite honestly seem to be regressing. While I love having my teams make the playoffs, as any fan would, it is hard for me to get excited about something I have already seen.

The Capitals, as they are formed right now in this stage of Ted’s plan, are the Wizards circa the Big Three days. The similarities are uncanny. Both teams were faced with a nemesis they could not get past in the playoffs (LeBron James and Sidney Crosby).  Both teams could not get past the hump that is the second round of their respective postseasons. Both teams were even led charismatic stars that were embraced by the masses in Ovechkin and Gilbert Arenas. This season may mark the first time the Capitals miss the playoffs since 2008 ending a four-year run. Interestingly enough, 2008 was also the last time Agent Zero and his Wizards made the playoffs ending their four-year run of delivering the District quality basketball.

If this is what “The Plan” is going to bring my Wizards, being competitive enough to make the playoffs but not ultimately win anything, then I am being extremely nice when I say I am skeptical. While it would be great for Ted to make a bunch of money off of a packed arena and revitalized merchandise sales for the Wizards, I would really like to know that “The Plan” we are following is going to take us beyond where we have been. The Capitals haven’t exactly shown us that it will and as much as I have great memories of beating the Bulls in the playoffs that one time and cursing all things LeBron James (Still do) for the majority of the rest of the Wizards flame outs as a fan I need at least the promise for more.

Although, even as I write this I know I will be first in line for Wizards first round playoff tickets this time come 2013…I mean it only took Ovechkin three years to get there right?

Georgetown Hoyas Junior Hollis Thompson announced that he will forego his Senior season to enter the NBA Draft. Thompson, who declared last summer before ultimately returning to school, has hired an agent and is therefore locked in. The California native has been an intricate part of the Hoyas offense since arriving on campus. It was a stretch thinking Thompson would return for his last year of eligibility but until they sign on the dotted line with an agent you hold out hope. I would expect him to be selected in this June’s NBA Draft located in beautiful Newark, NJ.

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By Willis

Too often in college basketball, and for that matter sports in general, the women’s game goes overlooked. Despite playing a sport that is probably tougher physically than what the majority of sports fans have even tried their hand at, the overall product is demeaned and rendered irrelevant simply because the people playing it are of a different gender. Take the University of Maryland’s Lady Terrapins basketball team, for example. Even the name implies that they’re not regular Terrapins. And in that regard, they’re kind of correct.

Over the past decade, it’s hard to argue that head coach Brenda Frese hasn’t meant more to Maryland than any one male coach. By the books: 8 NCAA Tournament appearances that include 4 Second Round showings, 2 Elite Eight’s, 1 Final Four (Ongoing), and 1 NCAA Championship in 2006. Along the way, she’s racked up 252 wins to only 84 losses, with her only season under .500 coming in her first. Since then, Brenda Frese has managed to turn the Lady Terrapins into perennial postseason power players. Frese is the Terrapins version of superstar Tennessee coach Pat Summit. She brings in blue chip player after blue chip player, and it still goes under the radar. Her ability as a motivator can’t be overstated; not to mention her ability to recruit is unparalleled.

It’s not just success on the court that has the Lady Terrapins in an admirable territory, it’s their merits off the court as well. Twenty seniors have played under Frese, and all twenty of them have graduated from the college. Overall, they post an 81% graduation rate, according to a 4-year study done by the NCAA in 2011. That type of accomplishment is unheard of at the men’s level in just about any sport. Coach Frese has these Lady’s succeeding in all aspects of life, and it’s something that needs to be lauded moreso than it is.

Not to mention the players success at the professional level is amazing as well. Crystal Langhorne, Laura Harper, Marissa Coleman, and Kristi Toliver are among some of the stars at the WNBA-level who have played under Frese during this historic run. Not to mention the countless players who have gone overseas to have success as professionals. The Lady Terps have earned respect, and it’s through them that men can appreciate greatness at the women’s level.

Tonight, they go on to play #1 Notre Dame, and they may just lose. But the reality is that it doesn’t matter. Brenda Frese and these Lady Terrapins are a success no matter what happens, and for that they deserve recognition and acclaim.

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By Willis

It’s been no secret that over the past 4 games, coinciding with the introduction of Nene to center, John Wall’s play has been flat out sub-par. Both aesthetically and by the numbers, Wall has not performed like the #1 pick. During the four-game stretch he’s shot a woeful 28.4% from the field, and made only 15 of 51 shots. On the outside, that’s really not a good sign about his cohesion with Nene since three of the four games were with him on the court. Nonetheless, perhaps there is a reason deeper than the standard “Wall and Nene don’t work that well with one another,” response that is guaranteed to come up in a bar.

The first thing I usually prescribe for a problem is looking at things logically; that unfortunately involves numbers and rational thinking, which doesn’t always get applied to sports. And I get it; people don’t get “Wale Ovechkin” tattooed onto their thighs (true story) without some sort of vested emotional interest in Washington D.C. sports. Naturally, people are going to have a hard time separating fact from emotion, but let’s try to do that anyway. So without further ado, here’s the first thing that jumps out at me in trying to solve this problem: Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, and the Atlanta Hawks.

All three of these squads were playoff teams last year, and all three are going to occupy a slot this year as well. Boston has three Hall of Fame players who, while older than dirt, could still take it to the Wizards if they were wearing Orthopedics and had a walking cane. Indiana is a match up nightmare, with size at every position as well as skill. As for Atlanta, I’m pretty sure they’re Lord Voldemort to Wizards because they’ve beaten us 14 times in a row and show no signs of letting up. The reality is that when teams like Washington go up against playoff caliber opponents, no matter how well we play it probably won’t be enough. John Wall is simply a piece of the 12 man puzzle, not responsible for shouldering the load.

Another factor? His unfamiliarity with the rotation. Throwing Nene into a lineup mid season certainly has helped the Wizards, as we’ve been far more competitive with him on the court; there is still an adjustment period. Wall has the ball in his hands on just about every play, so it’s his job to become comfortable with all the players around him so he can find them when they’re hot, and conversely avoid them when they”re not. Nene has been on and off, and part of that is probably because Wall hasn’t fully meshed with him on the court yet. His turnover to assist ratio has actually gotten a lot better: for the 11 turnovers Wall has, he’s also got 29 assists. He’s calmed down quite a bit from the days of running with JaVale.

Keep in mind that with Nene on the Wiz, the floor has opened up for everyone. He’s a steady presence down low and while he doesn’t command a double team, he does require help defense, which leaves a man open a lot. Unfortunately, if that’s Wall he’s probably going to miss the shot because he’s an awful shooter. It’s actually one of the main noticeable differences in his game lately. In fact, in the 10 games before Nene came on the team Wall only shot one three pointer. With Nene? He’s already taken 4. That may not seem that much, but Wall has only taken 27 three pointers all year. Call in the Baby Effect, whatever. The fact is that Wall has taken more long two’s and three’s than previously.

Which brings me to the potentially scary part: What if John Wall is shooting badly because Nene and Kevin Seraphin clog the lane in which he is so good at driving towards? Despite not rebounding too well for his size, one thing Nene succeeds at is offensive rebounding. Seraphin is the same way, as evidenced by the 7 offensive boards he grabbed against the Celtics. Seraphin and Nene are not stretch 4′s or 5′s, they’re quick moving ogres. JaVale tended to lag behind and wait for the oop, and Andray, well, literally never stayed in the paint. Even Trevor Booker extends out to the top of the key. Perhaps it’s a bit more difficult for Wall to find open lanes (as weird as that may sound for a speedster like Wall) because of the added paint presence. That’s all I’m saying.

Do I think it’s going to be a major problem? Not really; Wall isn’t the best shooter in the first place, and if he wants to start shooting more he’s going to suffer for it statistically. The Wizards have been far more competitive lately, and everyone has played better (look at Jordan Crawford!). It may just take Wall a little longer to adjust his game accordingly. He’s a very good player, and very good players figure out how to work with other very good players. The Great Wall of Chinatown is unselfish enough for things to work out just fine.

 

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By: Willis

Tim Mahoney/AP

Saturday, March 24
@ 7:00 pm Washington Wizards (11-35) vs Atlanta Hawks (28-20)

Starting Lineup

PG: John Wall vs Jeff Teague

SG: Jordan Crawford vs Kirk Hinrich

SF: Chris Singleton vs Joe Johnson

PF: Trevor Booker vs Josh Smith

C: Nene vs Jason Collins

Why you should watch: Nene faces the Hawks again

The last time I wrote a preview for this game, I assumed Nene would be playing. He didn’t, and that fact (much to my chagrin) rendered my entire piece moot. That being said, this time around Nene will definitely play, and I’m absolutely confident that he’s going to play well.

Against the Pacers front line of big men, Nene faced a bit of a regression. Roy Hibbert and David West caused him some serious trouble, and he finished the game with 6 points, five rebounds, and three turnovers. Whether it was their height or just an off night, Nene was unable to save the Wizards from giving up a 20 point lead they had at halftime. The Hawks front has two guys, Josh Smith and Zaza Pachulia, who aren’t nearly as talented. Josh Smith is a freak athlete who has a propensity to shoot one too many jumpers that never go in, and Zaza is a chippy Georgian (the country, not the state) that relies on craftiness and gritty play to disrupt his opponent.

For his career, Nene has played the Hawks 10 times and averages 12.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest. That’s not exactly All-Star caliber play, but hear me out. Most of those games Nene was playing against Al Horford, Atlanta’s currently injured star center. Zaza is, to be blunt, not even remotely close to the same caliber of defender as Horford. Nene is going to chew him up down low, as he happens to have a significant athletic advantage over him. One thing to look out for, however, is if the Hawks decide to try Josh Smith out in defending Nene. If that’s the case, it’s not going to be good for the Wizards; a knock on Nene is his unwillingness to establish his presence in the post, and Josh Smith is powerful enough to deny him quality position altogether.

Underlying Storyline: John Wall and the Wizards Redemption

We all saw John Wall dribble out the clock against the Pacers, and effectively lose the game for the Wizards. He probably grimaced over that for the past two days and is brewing a stew of aggression. I’m assuming Wall is going to be absolutely en fuego against Jeff Teague and Kirk Hinrich, who aren’t much more than traffic cones for him to weave in and out of. Despite averaging about 18 points and 8 assists against the Hawks in six previous meetings, all those meetings have ended in one thing: a loss. In fact, in 14 of the last 15 meetings, the end result has been a loss. I think Wall is going to change that trend tonight, and break through the barrier.

Prediction: Atlanta is pretty darn good, but the Wizards have been playing better and there is no way they lose 14 straight against the Hawks. The bench is going to play a key role in helping the Wizards to a big victory 100-97

Update: Want to thank one of our readers for bringing to our attention that Zaza Pachulia is out of tonight’s game. Jason Collins will presumably be starting in his place. Certainly helps the Wiz Kids chances at a victory against a division foe tonight.

Second Update: Zaza Pachulia is playing but the Wiz Kids are still primed for a victory in this bloggers opinion. Bohlin’s prediction; Wizards: 103 Hawks: 95.

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By: Willis

Thursday, March 22
@ 7:00 pm Washington Wizards (26-18) vs Indiana Pacers (11-34)

Starting Lineup

PG: John Wall vs Darren Collison

SG: Jordan Crawford vs Paul George

SF: Chris Singleton vs Danny Granger

PF: Trevor Booker vs David West

C: Nene Hilario vs Roy Hibbert

Why you should watch: (Ne)new look Wizards against a playoff team

The Wizards looked downright dominant against the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday with Nene leading the charge, giving the Wizards a reason to be happy. The Indiana Pacers, however, are nothing like the Nets. They’re a sleeper team in the East; chocked full of talent, waiting to explode on a playoff team. They haven’t really played that well during the month of March, having won only 4 of the 10 games they’ve played this month. But don’t be fooled; the Pacers are still a major force in the Eastern Conference. Four of the six games they’ve lost this month have come against teams with winning records (the other being back to back losses against the Knicks).

The Pacers feature three All-Star caliber players in center Roy Hibbert (Hoyas what up!), small forward Danny Granger, and power forward David West. They also recently acquired a fantastic sixth man from Toronto in Leandro Barbosa. In Hibbert, they have a legitimate 7’2 giant who takes up space and plays effectively on offense while not shooting too much. Nene is going to have his hands full, as Hibbert and David West combine to form a formidable front-line. He already played the Pacers with the Nuggets earlier this season, and the results weren’t encouraging; West and Hibbert combined for 34 points. Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker, assuming they match up with West, are going to have to play staunch defense and ensure he doesn’t establish himself down low. At the same time, West has a deadly K.G.-esque shot from the top of the key, so he’s a tough guy to cover.

That’s saying nothing about Danny Granger. Although his numbers are definitely down this year (not even shooting 40% from the field), Granger is still more than capable of dropping a 25-point or 30-point game any time. He’s not the most athletic player ever, but he’s crafty and knows how to read the defense well.

Underlying Storyline: Two wins in a row!

Nothing would signal a new era like a two game winning streak that can be directly attributable to Nene. The Pacers are the only team in the NBA the Wizards haven’t played yet, so there’s no comparable reason to assume they can’t beat the Pacers. The Wizards have held their opponents to under 100 points in 4 of the past 5 games, and their losses haven’t been terrible. Even Jeff Van Gundy mentioned during the Lakers-Dallas game that the Wizards national television ban had been revoked! I look to JVG for sanity amongst the masses, so I’d encourage you to do the same. The Wizards are becoming known not because of JaVale highlights, but because of better basketball (there IS a difference between good and bad publicity). Here’s to hoping that they can manage to continue that.

Prediction: The Pacers looked good against Nick Young and the Clippers, beating them soundly Tuesday night 102-89. The Wizards are going to play their hearts out, but I’m not sure it’s going to be enough to beat a team this good. 105-95 Pacers

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