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Terps, Hoyas, and Wizards

Category Archives: Weekender

By: Willis

Well, it’s not the worst thing that could happen.

According to The Washington Post, the Wizards have decided to retain Randy Wittman as their head coach through at least the 2012-2013 season.

And again, it’s not the worst thing that could happen. Randy Wittman joined the Wizards after former head coach Flip Saunders “guided” the team to two wins over their first seventeen games. Clearly, there was a disjointed relationship between the players and the play caller. Two of the three most talented players on the roster, Swaggy P and Pierre (JaVale McGee and Nick Young) were running amok in the locker room chowing down on cinnamon. John Wall was playing some pretty underwhelming basketball (16.2 PPG/7.47 APG/4.4 TO), and it appeared that the whole squad was taking a step backward. When you’re in year two of a rebuild, that’s not exactly what you want. In fact it’s what gets a coach fired. Which is exactly what happened.

Enter Randy Wittman: the guy who didn’t want the job in the first place. Who would? The talent was there, but there were knuckleheads and underachievers (or both) on the court who could make Phil Jackson look bad. Randy Wittman, however, actually coaxed some effort out of the Wizards and righted the ship. And by righting the ship I mean turning the Wizards from the Bobcats of 2012 into the Wizards of 2011; a team with promise and a brighter future that was simply too young to win.

Sure, Wittman’s coaching credentials up until last season had interim-who-gets-thrown-under-the-bus written all over it. During his two previous stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Minnesota Timberwolves, he accrued an atrocious 100-201 record over five seasons. That’s not head coaching material, to say the least. But in fairness to him, he was coaching some epically bad players. That’s the problem with Randy; he never gets a fair enough shake to truly judge his capabilities as a coach. Trying to convince a 315 lb. Shawn Kemp, Bob Sura, an old Danny Ferry, and Mark Bryant (who?) to win more than 32 games is like asking Rajon Rondo to win the 3-pt. contest.

It wasn’t just Cleveland where his teams were remiss of talent, it happened in Minnesota as well. Wittman failed to succeed with Al Jefferson, Rashad McCants (out of the NBA), Craig Smith (out of the NBA), Marko Jaric (out of the NBA), Sebastian Telfair (out of the NBA), and Ryan Gomes (soon to be out of the NBA). In 2007-2008, they won 22 games total and were a laughingstock. The next season, after somewhat ironically going 4-15 through 17 games, he was fired. The team didn’t get any better, and you get the point: Wittman is constantly asked to do a lot with rosters bereft of talent.

But with the Wizards, the guy might actually have a chance. Being able to work in conjunction with Ernie Grunfeld to assemble a compatible, young, (potentially) championship-caliber squad is something he has never experienced. The Wizards aren’t the most talented team right now, no; they do have John Wall, however. Throw in the third pick in an absolutely stacked draft, and the upside is there. The future looks good for Washington, and having some stability at the coaching position with a guy whom the players (by all accounts) like is important for young teams. Randy may not be the most qualified coach, but he does deserve a shot.

There is another point to this if we look at the business aspect of things. Wittman’s second year is going to be very cheap, and if he turns out to be an awful fit for the Wizards then severing ties with him won’t set the franchise back financially. I think Ted Leonsis is acknowledging that year three of the “rebuild” may not be as pretty as he had originally envisioned. To me, this move screams: “If we become a competitive and successful team, great. If not, we’re going to get another high draft pick in 2013 and may be able to woo a better coach.” There really aren’t any downsides to the move, except that attendance and therefore revenue may plummet if the Wizards get any worse.

In the end, I think fans should embrace Randy Wittman and give the guy a chance. He guided the team to a 6-game win streak to finish the season, and had Washington playing competitive basketball. In their last 16 games, Washington went 9-7 which is above .500 mediocre basketball. But at least it’s better than what Flip was getting out of the team!

So welcome back, Coach Wittman, we’re counting on you to make us good.

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Terps Weekender – The Sean Mosley Edition

Sunday, March 4th

@ 2PM EST – UVA at Maryland

Better times...

Starting Lineup

G: Terrell Stoglin v. Jontel Evans

G: Sean Mosley v. Joe Harris

F: Nick Faust v. Sammy Zeglinski

F: James Padgett v. Mike Scott

C: Alex Len v. Assane Sene

Why you should watch: Sugar Sean Mosley’s last game

Terrapin fans can see Sean Mosley, yet another disappointment in the long list of 4 and 5-star busts to play for the University. I was at Maryland when Sean came in as a heralded recruit. A local kid out of St. Frances in Baltimore, Maryland who spurned schools like Florida State and Syracuse in exchange for some rare, hometown loyalty. It was exciting to dream about what he and ACC superstar Grievis Vasquez would do to opposing defenses. I was thinking Sweet-16 the entire way. Really, I just should have known better.
I lived through the Travis Garrison debacle, I lived through Mike Jones (who?), I suffered through Hassan Fofana, Jamar Smith, Ekene Ibekwe, James Gist, Eric Hayes, Cliff Tucker, and finally, Mr. Sean Mosley. Each one of these 4-to-5 star players were a part of the unsustainable expectations decade that followed the 2002 National Championship squad. Mosley played on some competitive teams, and was oftentimes more of the solution than the problem. Still, for leaving high school as Maryland’s second all-time leading scorer, Terps fans expected real, sugary-sweet butter; what they got was margarine with some Sweet-n-Low sprinkled in. So he goes out a great guy, but a very big disappointment who peaked entirely too early. Let’s hope he goes out with a W. RIP Sean Mosley the Terp — we hardly knew ye.

Underlying story: It’s UVA. They’re a rival.
Believe it or not, this is technically supposed to be a rivalry. But if one goes by the results of last game, then the Terps are going to get stomped out. The senior for the other team (who somehow managed to sap 5 years out of that program), Mike Scott, absolutely torched Maryland the last time out. Certainly, he’s got some incentive to go out and do it again; UVA stands poised to return to the tournament for the first time since 2007. That being said, the Terps could snag a win to finish off the season on a good note, as UVA has lost 4 of their last 6.

Prediction: Sean Mosley and the Terps can’t get it done again against a UVA squad that is desperately hoping to keep their tournament berth intact.

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