Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Silver lining in McCray's loss?

Well, the Maryland Terrapins basketball team and its fans received some tough news yesterday - leading scorer and guard Chris McCray seems to be finished as a Terrapin, after he was ruled academically ineligible because he was unable to maintain the required 2.0 GPA.

So long, Chris.

This is a big blow for the team - before he inexplicably fell victim to Senioritis, McCray was its most consistent scorer and was a good defender. But before we start waving the black flags and shoveling dirt on this Terrapins basketball season, might I suggest that this could actually benefit the Terps.

Hear me out. I'm not going all Skip Bayless on you, just being contrarian for no good reason. But lots of people - including myself - have been lobbying for more
Mike Jones minutes for quite a while now. This should accomplish that. Jones is a dynamic scorer, and seems to play with more fire than McCray.

See, McCray's best and worst quality was his numbing consistency.
Playing Chaminade? 17 points, two assists, three steals. Playing Boston College? 16 points, five assists, one steal. Playing Duke? 12 points, one assist, one steal.

My point here is that McCray - despite arguably being Maryland's best player - just didn't have that big-game gene. He played his minutes, he got his stats, he went home. It was almost like he was oblivious to the different implications of each game and game situation. I could never see him exhorting teammates to get him the ball in the clutch. And this season, the Terps need a spark like that. And I can see Mike Jones providing that spark. Either way, it's safe to say Jones' play will largely affect the rest of the season. There will probably also be more minutes for Sterling Ledbetter and Parrish Brown - gulp - but in a nutshell, it all comes down to Jones.

Step up, Mike.

Also, I can see this having positive team effects, as the Terps a) circle the wagons and "do it for Chris" for the rest of the season, and b) stop taking teams lightly, now that they're short-handed. And people are nervous about the defensive drop-off, but I've never seen Mike Jones suck on D, and didn't he shut down LeBron James in some of those 2003 high school all-star games?

Added bonus: Is it just me, or does Mike Jones bear a resemblance to Wilco lead singer Jeff Tweedy?

So there you have it. Here's hoping the team can move on from this. It will be EXTREMELY interesting to see how the Terps respond tomorrow night at Georgia Tech - all of a sudden a serious fulcrum game for the Terps. If the team doesn't make some positive adjustments, it could be a looong season. Not much one can do but bid a fond farewell to Chris McCray, with best wishes for his present and future, and hope for the best in the Mike Jones era in College Park. Goterps.


Train Wreck said...

Dude couldn't maintain a 2.0? Why do they even allow him to attend college? UMD spends so much money on these athletes, including providing private tutoring sessions all the time (oh, Hawley, remember the days of giving Lonnie game day advice?). It almost seems like it'd be harder to fail than pass, given these resources. He'd have to ACTIVELY try to fuck up. It makes me sick that the school could afford a decrease in tuition prices but pisses it away helping out people who have no business attending an educational institution. I know that people will argue "sports are an important part of a university" - and I agree whole-heartedly. But the MOST important part of a school is....you know...school. Without that, it's just a farm team.

MSH said...

Apparently, he just didn't go to class. McCray's mom suggested a previous assistant coach, Dave Dickerson (now head coach, or attempting to act as some semblance of a coach, at the ravaged Tulane campus), was in charge of ensuring players performed academically. Looks like they need to re-assign that role. Although, of course, at the end of day, the true responsibility falls on the student. And McCray seems to have given the same effort in class that he was on the court - good, but ultimately uninspired.

Town E. Dispatch said...

good writing there harris. i didn't know who that skip bayless character was, but then i read his article, and i find out he doesn't know shit about shit!

thanks for not writing like that guy! and gooooooooo terps.

if only i could've molded McCray into the complete student athelete like i did with Baxter. I'll never forget that magical postseason run where Billy Packer kept commenting on Baxter's complete game and overall grasp of the sociology of gender!

Town E. Dispatch said...

PS- In regards to the Mike Jones/Wilco connection. It's just you Harris, it's just you.

Train Wreck said...

I love it when parents sluff of the responsibility for their kids on someone else. The responsibility falls first with the kid and then with the parent. If parents are in tune with what their kids are doing, this kind of thing doesn't happen. There are plenty of warning signs that a kid isn't going to class - like when you ask "hey, what did you learn in school today" and the kid says "ummm.....I played playstation." That's a good clue that it's time to take an active approach. Goterps.

MSH said...

Town: Are you sure it's just me? I definitely see a nose resemblance...

Wreck: I agree that a lot of it falls on the parent, but I would bet my car (if I had one) that the coaches spoke with and saw McCray waaaaay more frequently than his mother did during his college days. I'm not absolving her of responsibility - nor am I suggesting her finger-pointing is well-founded, although I am willing to excuse it since she was clearly upset during the interview because the reporter doing the story was the one who broke the news to her. But that said, part of a college coach's job is to make sure the players are going to class, and are getting help if they need it, and they should absolutely be actively keeping parents in the loop as a part of this. It feels like all the assistants (most, if not all, of whom are new to the staff) just figured someone else was "in charge" of the players' schoolwork, and as a result, McCray unfortunately fell through the cracks.

But most of all, I definitely blame McCray. Screw academics - his last year of eligibility wasn't important enough to him from an athletics perspective (and his potential future getting paid to play basketball, most likely overseas) for him to keep a 2.0? That's the dumbest thing of all. He mortgaged his entire future in basketball because he couldn't shake his ass to class. But that's just speculation. I definitely feel for him, and hope he can recover and learn from this.