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Maryland Defeats Georgetown: 10 Terps Things and Takeaways

awesome picture c/o Tommy Gilligan of USA Today Sports

awesome picture c/o Tommy Gilligan of USA Today Sports

The ice frozen between both programs melted on Tuesday night and the Maryland Terrapins defended home court up to the very end, edging Georgetown 75-71 and handing the Hoyas their second loss of the season.

The hype surrounding this No. 3-ranked Terps squad is warranted — they have a handful of potential NBA draft picks for next summer — but the season is still very young. Here are 10 things and takeaways from the game, whether they be premature or not.


1. Buy Michal Cekovsky Stock

The seven-foot Slovakian sophomore is trending hard in the right direction, and his play on Tuesday night was exciting. Not only can he run the floor, but Cekovsky has active hands on defense and he looks more assertive with a year of big time play under his belt. His footwork has also improved and this should be a sizable leap year for him.


2. Frontcourt Depth

Diamond Stone, Michal Cekovsky, Damonte Dodd, Robert Carter Jr. All 6’9″ and up; all capable of holding their own down low (we think); all athletic enough to run the floor and score in transition. It’s a really nice insurance policy to have and one that’ll come in handy come tournament time.


3. The X-Box Crowd

Not that anyone should ever doubt how rabid a fan base can be at the Xfinity Center in College Park, but they sounded especially good on Tuesday night. Surely the longtime rivalry and discussion added fuel to the fire, but the students and those in attendance didn’t disappoint. Loud, raucous, effective. “Now I’m on this side I can officially say it,” Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon said after the game. “They’re the best fans in the world.”


4. From Most Hated to Most Cherished

There’s a little bit of hyperbole splattered on that statement — Rasheed Sulaimon was probably never the most hated guy on those Duke teams, and it’s doubtful that any player on this Terps roster pulls at your heart strings more than hometown stud Melo Trimble — but the Duke transfer looked awesome in his first big game donning his new and improved Maryland colors.

Just to come out and make an early prediction, here’t is: After never really living up to the hype under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke before ultimately being dismissed from the program last season, Rasheed Sulaimon will resurrect his career in College Park and be a first-round draft pick next summer. Boom.

He might be Maryland’s best on-ball defender (although he needs to become more efficient on those under/over pick decisions), he’s extremely fast up and down the court, he’s a seasoned senior with plenty of experience in big spots, and he’ll be a huge part of Maryland’s success this season alongside Melo Trimble.

It was hard to ignore the spark and flare Sulaimon played with on Tuesday night on his way to 10 points, seven assists, two boards, and a steal. He had tons of energy whenever he brought the ball up court, he made wise decisions against the zone (his drive and dish to Ceko with the shot clock winding down rings a bell), and he even made big shots late in the game when the Terps desperately needed them (hello, three-ball from way downtown).

Rooting for Sulaimon will probably still take some getting used to after cursing him so often during his three years at Duke, but it shouldn’t take long. He’s an exciting part of this team.


5. We Heard A Lot About Him, Now Robert Carter Jr. Is Finally Here

Following his transfer from Georgia Tech, Robert Carter Jr. was forced to sit out last season in accordance to NCAA rules. Terps fans heard all about how impressive he looked in practice and how he just had to be the best redshirt player in the country.

On Tuesday night, we finally got to see RCJ1 in action2 and he looked awesome with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting and eight rebounds. Although not spectacular on the defensive end Tuesday night, he’s strong inside with a massive wingspan and soft shooting touch, and he’s perfect for this Maryland offense.


6. How Does Maryland’s Frontcourt Compare

Just before Maryland’s tip with Georgetown, Kentucky happened to be on television and thankfully took it to Duke, winning 74-63. One easy observation of the Wildcats was how athletic their big men are and how threatening they can be in transition.

While it’s probably not fair to put the Terps big men in the same category of ‘athletically freakish’ as guys like Skal Labissiere, Marcus Lee, and Alex Poythress, Maryland shouldn’t be ignored. Good footwork inside and the ability for each of them to create down low goes a long way.


7. Sharp Diamond, Rough Stone

…please excuse me while I see myself out for writing arguably the lamest headline you’ll see all season…

Freshman Diamond Stone is just a baby, but his aggression and toughness is apparent, which is a great sign this early in the season. He doesn’t shy away from contact, he’s a willing shot blocker, and he’s a guy whose motor won’t quit.

Stone finished Tuesday with just five points, a rebound, and a block in 31 minutes, but then again this was just his second collegiate game, and first big time action. There’s no worries with this guy moving forward and Maryland fans should probably cherish the time they do have with Stone, who could likely make the one-and-done leap to the NBA following this season if all goes well.


8. Beyond the Arc

You’ll definitely get production from point guard Melo Trimble from three-point land, but senior Jake Layman and sophomore Jared Nickens are the shooting strokes Maryland will need to rely on most this season.


9. The Legends Returned

And the pictures and tweets were so beautiful.

Maryland all day..

A photo posted by #TeamVasquez (@greivisvasquez) on


9.5 Early or Not, Tuesday Serves as Huge Win

If you threw everything into bowl and mixed it all up, Tuesday night was huge. Not only was the game long-awaited, but long-discussed; the Hoyas were hungry after dropping their season opener to Radford; pressure was on Maryland to not only defend homecourt, but defend their No. 3 ranking against their first true test of the season, in a game of this magnitude with tons of alumni and old-timers looking on and praying the Terps prevail. Add on top of that the fact that Maryland had to maintain their composure and play disciplined basketball at the end of a close game to ultimately pull out the win and it was just…a lot.

The massive exhale and sigh of relief from Mark Turgeon following the end of the game was revealing. It was simple, yet expressive of what this game meant, both before the opening tip and after the final whistle.

Also, this Maryland/Georgetown thing should happen every year. Fantastic stuff.


10. Does Maryland Look Like a No. 3?

I’m throwing this out there because it came up in casual chit chat at the coffee machine Wednesday morning. Is Maryland really the third-best team in the nation?

In simplest form, I’d answer by saying it’s way too early to tell.

Do the Terps have as much highlight potential and four-letter network showcase pizzazz as a team like a Kentucky? Probably not. But they’re a very solid team with good foundation, strong guard play, adequate depth, and valuable experience, all of which makes them an undoubted top-10 team in the nation.

With a freshman in Stone, a new(ish) guy like Carter3, and a transfer in Sulaimon all a part of the starting lineup, surely some gelling will need to develop and grow moving forward in order for Maryland to meet their true potential, but that potential is very real.

As it is with many teams (think of John Calipari and his rotating door of one-and-done’s), time and experience and playing alongside one another is what takes a group of talented basketball players and morphs them into a team, and that’s exactly what Mark Turgeon has in College Park. It might take a little bit, but the Terps are legit.


Basketball is Back! Wizards Win, Wall’s Historical Night, and Butt Grabs

john wall

We’ll start with the easy stuff: it took every bit of regulation time to get it done, but with 12.7 seconds left, John Wall drove the paint and knocked down a floating jumper over Orlando center Nikola Vucevic to seal the Wizards’ win over the Magic, 88-87.

The Wizards looked alright, but the new offense should take a little longer before it really clicks. That said, this offense has lots of potential once the proverbial gelling takes place.

As for the random butt grabs, well, they just happen I guess. It’s what retirees do in central Florida. They purchase courtside seats to basketball games and wait for leaping ball players to fall into their laps and then they squeeze the player’s glutes a few times, then tap it a few times, then peel off a creepy grin. Take a look for yourself.

And while Ramon Sessions was getting lucky with Big Phil on the sidelines, John Wall was putting up historical numbers with a finishing stat line of 22 points, seven rebounds, six assists, five blocks, and three steals. You can read more about it over at numberFire, detailing the elite company he joined. But in short, he’s only the ninth player in NBA history, and the first guard EVER to record a 4-by-5 in a season opening game. Only one player has ever recorded a 5×5 in a season-opener (Hakeem Olajuwon in ’93) and Wall was just two steals shy of joining The Dream.

It was an awesome night all around. Not just for Ramon Sessions, but for the Wizards to dig deep and get a win on the road to start the season; for John Wall and his sweet statistical feat; for Otto Porter and his new-look no-goggles gritty on-court demeanor; for Brad Beal’s new headband and his hustle; for Randy Wittman to earn a win on his birthday; for Kris Humphries and his first made three-point attempt in over a decade; for Nene coming off the bench; for Wall’s new temp and part shape-up; for Gary Neal and the professional legitimacy he provides coming off the bench; it was all just really fun, guys.

Basketball is back!

All Aboard the #KD2DC Hype Train (Some More)

Looking for some feel-good news in the midst of rumors and nonsense that the head coach of your favorite football team is trying to secretly kill the starting quarterback of your favorite football team?

Look no further, friend! Thanks to @WizardsLegion, this photo of Wizards point guard John Wall and hometown gawd/hero/potential savior Kevin Durant should do the trick.

c/o Wizards Legion

c/o Wizards Legion

Although Wizards Legion clearly states these are pictures from a charity football game in Los Angeles that each of the NBA surperstars attended, we can’t help but notice how close the two are to actually interlocking fingers, holding hands, and frolicking throughout the fields.


Don’t Live in Fear: Kelly Oubre is a Good Thing for the Wizards

kelly oubre

When it was all said and done, the Wizards would’ve likely had their pick of the prospects most rumored and mocked to be heading their way at No. 19 — Bobby Portis, Jerian Grant, Delon Wright, Justin Anderson, Kevon Looney. But with a slight slip for one guy, and a surprising trade (kind of) by Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld, Washington ended up landing a potential lottery talent in Kansas freshman Kelly Oubre.

As the Atlanta Hawks took the clock and made the 15th-overall pick, Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski dropped one his ten million #WojBombs for the night, stating Washington had traded for the 15th-overall pick and would select Oubre. But on the television broadcast (who was slowly drudging through Woj’s dust all night), the Hawks were making their pick and there was no mention of a trade.

Ultimately it was a deal in which the Hawks selected for the Wiz and vice versa. In exchange for Oubre, Washington swapped first-round picks with them((The Wizards selected Jerian Grant at No. 19 for the Hawks)) and sent two future second-round picks((The Hawks then turned around and traded Jerian Grant to the Knicks in exchange for Tim Hardaway Jr., which leaves Atlanta fans like, “Wait, wait, wait…where is Danny Ferry?”)).

A few things as part of the initial reaction, at least on my end:

  • “Whoa. Cool. The Wizards just scored some serious talent.”
  • “Given how Ernie uses his second-round picks((Very limited value placed on those bad boys. Like, either sell ’em for cash or draft’n stash. That’s it.)), this is actually a solid haul for the front office.”
  • “Wait, this guy’s gonna need to develop. Can Washington do that?”

But I’ve had time now. I’ve slept on it. I’ve thought about it (some more), and here’t goes.

  • Kelly Oubre isn’t ready to contribute right now, and while the selfish fan in me wants to be frustrated, I’m very much okay with tapping into some patience and waiting this one out…mainly because I believe Oubre can be really, really good.
  • It’s not a straight comparison, but watching Oubre reminds me a little bit of Trevor Ariza, mainly based on two attributes: his ability to disrupt passing lanes with his length and quickness, and his ability to knock down both spot-up threes and trailing threes.
  • When people refer to a prospect as being “raw”, a guy like Oubre is who they’re talking about. You can see the potential when you watch him play — the size, the slashing ability, the splashy long-range shots, the above-the-rim throwdowns — but none of that translates right away. There’s required time for development in which he works on what he knows and learns what he doesn’t.
  • That said, working and practicing alongside young stars like John Wall and Bradley Beal should be good for Oubre’s development. Not only from an on-court perspective in which playing with a guy like Wall helps your own game, but also from an off-the-court standpoint in which Oubre can see how the young stars operate (working out, responsibilities, life off the court, etc.).
  • And while on the topic of teammates who can assist in grooming a young wing, who better than Paul Pierce? The veteran was a massive plus in the leadership department last season, helping the likes of Wall and Beal, and here’s to hoping the Wiz can lure him back, if not for the sole purpose of beating up on Oubre and shooting UNBELIEVABLE SHOTS come playoff time. Wine and dine that man, Ernie. WINE AND DINE HIM!
  • Ultimately, Kelly Oubre can be a stud. As fans, we have to put all faith in the coaching staff and the players currently on the roster, as well as pray that Randy Wittman doesn’t destroy the young man in a fun-loving bare-knuckles boxing match after a random Wednesday practice.
  • I can’t remember where I heard it (somewhere on draft night), but they described Oubre’s potential as, “a guy who could win both the dunk contest and the three-point contest.” That’s pretty solid.
  • There are odd (and totally frickin’ rad) connections popping up all over the interwebs about the friendship (or maybe even mentorship-ish) between Oubre and the gawd Kevin Durant. Read into that if you want. Or don’t. I KNOW I AM. #KD2DC, ya’ll.
  • Read things, watch things, listen to things, the consensus on Oubre seems to echo three main notes: good character, lots of potential, final product will require some patience. I’m not calling him bust-proof, but none of those are bad things.

Moving on to what I don’t like about Oubre when I watch him, ALL OF WHICH ARE CORRECTABLE, GUYS, so no worries.

  • Inconsistent effort on defense — and it’s probably atop the list. Because we’ve seen Oubre be a lockdown defender, because there’s no doubting his length, and because we know he has the quickness to stay in front of (arguably) three positions, we know this whole effort thing is curable. But geez, when you see it, it’s the most frustrating thing.
  • Oubre isn’t a great ball handler at this stage in his career, so there’s plenty left to be desired in that department. However, playground-legend handles aren’t exactly required (see: Arizaisms) for what I think I imagine him being as a player.((That was a confusing sentence.))
  • Everything about him matches the description of a guy who can brush off a screen and knockdown a jumper, but that’s not necessarily the case. He can spot, he can trail, but bring him off a screen and Oubre isn’t nearly as efficient. Need those, bro.
  • What I’m about to say is so, so wrong, but it’s honest. As the story goes (according to Ernie and Randy), the Wizards didn’t bring in Oubre for a workout simply because they didn’t think he’d be available. They thought he was a possible lottery pick. But then, once Oubre became attainable, it was a “no-brainer” pick. This very much scares me a whole bunch, and it’s not because of Kelly Oubre the player. It’s because of Ernie Grunfeld.

Grunfeld’s track record when it comes to the draft is far from solid, and therefore we all have a right to be at least a little scared. But overall, this feels good. This feels like the Wizards worked efficiently, landed some really good potential, and they have trust in their team and staff to groom Kelly Oubre into something great. And until that plan fails miserably, I refuse to live in fear. I liked Oubre before the draft and I like him even more now that he’s in Washington.

Happy Draft Season!


Nene’s Rebound Attempt in the Closing Seconds of Game 5

Nene’s failed rebound attempt at the final horn wasn’t the only reason the Wizards lost Game 5 to the Hawks on Wednesday night. Shooting just 37 percent from the field and failing to capitalize on their opponent’s 23 turnovers; knocking down only four shots from long range; getting minimal production from their bench — those are all contributors too. But for the sake of argument, here’s Nene’s attempted rebound under a microscope.

Setting the Scene

With just eight seconds left in the game and trailing 80-78, the Wizards set up an awesome play to get Paul Pierce open in the corner and the Truth knocks down a three to give Washington the lead. Atlanta calls timeout. During the timeout, Nene comes in for Marcin Gortat.

The Hawks come out of the timeout, and with just under four seconds to go, point guard Dennis Schroder drives the lane to attempt a layup, a shot attempt in which John Wall blocks. The ball goes awry off the backboard and toward the waiting hands of one Nene Hilario.

A charging Al Horford enters the lane and snatches the rebound, Nene falls and clears out two teammates in the process, and Horford converts an easy layup with one second left. The Wizards lose.

Possible Gripe(s)

Being upset with Nene as an initial reaction is understandable. I’m guilty of it too. But the frustration doesn’t begin and end with this specific play. His underwhelming performance throughout these entire playoffs has bugged fans and this final play of a losing effort was enough to make the weak sauce boil over.

Still shots also give you the impression that Nene had the ball in his hands. I’m again willing to put my emotions aside and recognize that 1) because you’re touching the ball doesn’t mean you’re securing possesssion and 2) watching the clip at full/live speed is really the only way to judge how much control Nene had of the ball.

But while on the topic of stills…

Nene Rebound 1

Nene Rebound 2

Nene Rebound 3

Again, the frustration with Nene doesn’t begin and end with this play. It was just the cherry on top. The Wizards dropped a winnable game for lots of reasons and they wasted feel-good moments like Pierce’s dagger three-pointer and John Wall’s heroics in the process. It all just really really stings.

NBA Playoffs Numbers and Notes: Wizards Sweep Raptors

Wall and Beal

In light of the Wizards’ unexpected sweep over the surprisingly submissive Toronto Raptors, here’s a few notes and numbers from Washington’s four games in Round 1.

* Remember Otto Porter? After playing just six total minutes in last year’s playoffs, Porter logged 32 minutes per in the four games against the Toronto Drakes, averaging nearly 10 points and better than seven boards per game. He finished the series with a net rating of +29 (128/99), while shooting 55-percent from the floor and 50-percent from long range.

It’s probably a little too early to definitively claim Porter’s professional emergence, but there’s no arguing his immense role in the Wizards’ sweeping effort en route to the second round. It’s the game’s biggest path to the game’s biggest stage and Otto Porter chose just the right time (for both team and fans) to remind us he’s still around and only 21 years old.

Here’s some more about Otto, written by yours truly.

* John Wall was soooo Optimus Dime in this series, averaging better than 17 points and 12.5 assists per game. Yowza!

* Say whatever you want about Paul Pierce during the regular season; the way he played in this series (and hopefully throughout the rest of the playoffs) is the reason he’s here. His 15.5 points per game and 58-percent shooting from deep are awesome numbers, but they still don’t represent the timing in which he twisted the dagger in Toronto’s side. So, so brilliant. And that’s why they refer to these old guys as “savvy vets”, and why they refer to Pierce as The Truth.

* Speaking of The Truth, how about that new stretch-four position, huh? Fortunately for Wizards fans (the same fans who have screamed for more Pierce at power forward for the last few months), head coach Randy Wittman finally decided to take a gander at the comments section and realized, “HEY! That does sound like a great idea!”

No, Randy. Your excuse of well we wanted to save him for the playoffs doesn’t work.

* Playoff Bradley Beal is a bad man. Check out this piece by Brett Oswalt at numberFire.

* Yes, even Razor Ramon Sessions deserve praise. He averaged 14 points, four boards and three assists per 36 minutes throughout the series and hit close to 56 percent from downtown. Similar to the Pierce acquisition (but on a different relative scale, of course), this series alone proved Sessions’ value((The Wiz traded away Andre Miller to Sacramento just before the trade deadline to acquire Sessions)).

Razor Ramon Sessions

* Drew Gooden was called on to help the Wizards’ spacing and add a (possible) threat from the three-point line. It worked. Gooden averaged 3.5 shots from deep per game and connected on half of them. Thanks, Big Drizzle.

* And it’s impossible to forget Marcin Gortat, who went from a Polish Machine to a Double-Double Machine by way of great footwork, awesome PnR, and veteran angles. For the series, Gortat averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks per game. This was the kind of line the Wizards FO envisioned when they forked over all that money last summer.

* Moving forward, all Wizards fans should take a rooting interest in the Brooklyn Nets. Somehow they’ve tied their series with Atlanta at two a piece and one could argue they even have some momentum after coming from behind two down. It’s not that either team is necessarily lethal right now, but it feels like the safer bet to draw the ghost of Deron Williams and Brook Lopez than to pray for Kyle Korver and Hotlanta to remain cold.

Happy Playoff Basketball!

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