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.