Phoenix has a DJ

With the penultimate pick in the 2007 NBA draft, the Phoenix Suns selected DJ Strawberry.  I think it is a perfect situation for DJ.  He won’t have to score (which is good, because he won’t be able to), and he will be called on to stop the likes of Kobe Bryant and Lebron James.  Given his athleticism, I think DJ could become an effective defensive stopper in the league.  Regardless, the kid earned it.  Straw garnered much criticism for his poor decision making, but no one ever questioned his effort.  I like to see kids who try hard get rewarded.  Now, if DJ could just learn the difference between a good shot and a bad shot.  There is no one better than Mike D’Antoni to teach him.

I also wanted to mention that MVN has added a chat feature to the blog.  I think it is going to be great during the football and basketball seasons.  Loyal readers will recall that during games, many readers would make comments during the game.  This feature will allow those comments to be actual conversations.  It should be pretty cool.   I’m testing it out now.

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58 Comments

  1. Great post Jeremy and thanks for your efforts to
    improve the site. Looks like I’m the first to comment on this posting. That’s always a challenge so here goes.This next BB season should be a notch or two above last year although am sure you would agree that team exceeded our expectations in ACC wins and overall record. Mid-season was looking real dismal and the losses to Miami and BC were depressing.

    Your comments on DJ were appropriate and generous. His assets slighly outweigh his liabilities. Your comments about his shot selection
    left an opening thought. Wouldn’t you hazard a guess that more than half of his shots (thus points)
    came from layups and free throws? He was probably average or better in that category. That leaves his J’s and Three’s . In fairness to DJ, many times he made the ones we didn’t think he should take (and he made a bunch of those) then he missed the ones he shouldn’t have taken and those are the ones most people remember. However, I remember the ones when I yelled “Oh no, he’s shooting a three” and damn if he didn’t make it.

    Bowers however, would shoot and we knew he was going to miss and he didn’t disappoint us.

    Not sure of the relevance of all this- a little nostalgic maybe.

    2007/08 Terps should be in top 15. It may take a while for them to get there but feel certain they will.

    Let the good times roll.

    There’s much to be optimistic about this year.

  2. Congrats to DJ. Let’s see if he can be more effective in the NBA than Terrence Morris.

    With NHL Free Agency being typically irritating, and nothing else going on in the world of sports, this does heighten my anticipation of the upcoming college basketball season. Thanks for keeping us up to date Jeremy!

  3. Top 15? I haven’t seen Maryland on any top 25 lists. Hopefully they’ll overachieve (yet again).

  4. DJ should take a close look at Bruce Bowen’s game. Bowen might be slightly taller than DJ, but DJ certainly has his athleticism. DJ’s attitude is the only unknown.

  5. Not only should DJ look at B. Bowen’s game, he also needs to understand B. Bowen’s career.

    If DJ makes the NBA next year, it will be a surprise (not a shock, but a surprise). I think he’s got 2 or 3 years in Europe to look forward to before he’s ready.

  6. I think best case scenario, DJ could end up having a similar type career to Desmond Mason. Uber athletic, a great defender, can’t shoot to save his life, but still scores 12 a night on an array of short jumpers, hustle put backs, and breakaway steals leading to layups.

    Everyone’s certainly right though, if DJ’s gonna make the Suns this year. It’ll be because they see him as a defensive stopper they can use to come in and slow somebody down. Phoenix has to know they could use an extra PG, while Steve Nash is a beast, he takes a beating (just look at his nose through out the Spurs series), and they can definitely use some defense off the bench.

  7. DJ will be in Europe. How could he walk away without a degree. Him and Mike Jones. That is going to kill 2 scholarships. I guess the 4 years Maryland gave them was not enough for a little return. But anyway good late round call he could stick or become a journeyman or a dope fiend like pops. I will hold off on what.

  8. Straw will NOT follow in Pop’s “dope fiend” footsteps!

    First, as you may know from previous posts, I’m not one of those who thinks the degree is the only measure of success.

    Second, and more important, I’ve got nothing but respect for what Straw did for the B-ball program. I think he’s proven that he has the character to be a success (whether in sports or elsewhere). He’s a hard-working kid and he came back from a tough injury. He lived through three years of basketball purgatory and, along with the rest of the team, willed UM back to the dance when lots of folks had written them off. He works hard every game and handled the preassure of having a famous father as well as anyone. I give the kid some credit.

    MJ is ok, too. He doesn’t have the same cred as Straw because he’s not as good of a B-ball player. But he’ll wind-up as a highschool coach somewhere….not as glamorous as the NBA, but respectable.

    Question – Do we really lose 2 scholorships because these guys didn’t graduate on time?

  9. According to what I have read the answer is yes. It is caused by them two and last years crops of disappointments leaving early as well. I am only going off reports in the BMore Sun. It is a college that has sports programs. Not the other way around. It is a shame that kids don’t take advantage of this opportunity. A degree matters my friend more than I can explain. And if MJ is a coach somewhere then he will be a baby daddy to a HS girl again. Should have got the degree.

  10. ….that would suck if we lost scholorships. Can anyone else confirm?

    Regarding thegraduation issue, it’s something that I’ve thought through and I don’t follow the conventional wisdom 100%.

    A degree is good (I have one or two myself). We agree there. But it’s not the only measure of a person’s maturity. (Steve Jobs and Bill Gates – to take 2 high-profile examples – have no degrees between them). I meet respectable people every day with no degree. They are good people and I respect many of them. I also meet degreed people who are dishonest, greedy, glutunous, slothful, etc. I do not respect them.

    I also agree that the university has the b-ball program and it’s important that while the b-ball kids participate in the the scholastic side. (McCray’s penalty from a couple years back was totally justified and a credit to the university that they enforced the rule.)

    Where we disagree, my firend, is in the principal that says your kids must graduate or the program and university are at fault. I’m not saying that graduating is unimportant, just that it is not the only (or even the best) measure.

    It would be a crime, IMO, if a university rubber-stamped academic achivement and degrees for their atheletes. This happens….if I remember correctly, Dexter Manley had a degree….at a minimum he spent 4 years at OKC….and he couldn’t read. That’s a pile of junk.

    As far as MJ goes, my only point about him being a HS coach was that it is honorable employment (and I don’t think he is NBA material). Let’s give him a chance to see what he makes of himself before we go too far in judging him.

  11. Stevend….I like your commitment to excellence and not just academics. Gates and Jobs are two noteworthy upper end examples. There’s a plethora
    of other non-degree successes throughout society and seemingly not alot of crying from their Alma Mater’s. Those schools are grateful for those that came, put their name and school on the map, however briefly.

    That DJ and MJ attended school, classes, curriculum for 3.5 plus years is more than most. Perhaps we should go to the Ohio State, Texas, Puke, and NC websites and peruse the outcry over Durant and Oden’s (and other’s) early departures respectively. And, how about LaBron James not even going to college? He’s only co-hosting the ESPY’s this year. The measure of a man (and woman) is more about their inside qualities than outside qualities.

    I am sure Al Vincent means well but he and other’s should learn from the following:

    ” The greatest risk in life is that times change and things change. When times change and things change and you don’t, then you become a victim.” By the way, I’m staking claim to being the author of this.

    This fits college basketball very well. Times and things are changing. The NBA is expanding and changing. The early departures will increase. The NCAA will need to stick to their guns or swallow their rules and adapt. They would do well to create a “win/win” situation for all rather than persist on academics over excellence. Labron James is not stupid. There may be others that have more “book smarts” but that’s where many of their lives end and others begin.

    Chances are you’re not going to see athlete’s crying about our involvement in Iraq, worrying about what’s politically correct, or demanding universal health care and other “entitlements”. That stuff is left for those unfortunate few who are like kids crying in a candy store.

    If a person wants to be a Doctor, Lawyer, scientist,
    et al, then hit the books and get your degree. Let’s not demonize (no reference to the Dukies) others who go to college for a year or more many of whom become role models to our kids.

    I never formally attended college (so now you know) nor do I have a degree. I did however, manage to work my way to a GS-13 at the NSA in Maryland, after 12 years there. That’s also an era where I became a Terp lifetime fan. I then left and went (cold turkey) into the financial services industry starting out as a sales rep (humbling and nauseating work) but 10 years later became a National Sales Director with a Wall Streeet DJ 30 company and now a totally financially independent member of society. Please don’t take these comments as self-agrandizing but in support of Stevend’s position.

    Winners win and Losers lose.

    Thanks all for your patience and letting me get this out.

    As always, please take it in the spirit it is intended.

  12. I think the whole degree/non-degree issue relative to student athletes boils down to two factors: 1) Very few college athletes earn professional livings playing their sports after college, and 2) The NCAA and college presidents are huge hypocrites.

    The first point ties into simple statistics. There are 300 some odd D1 hoops teams, at 15 scholarships apiece…let’s see, carry the 1…that’s 4500 scholarship basketball players each year. There are what, 30 or so NBA teams with 12 players each? Given that all foreign leagues limit “import” players, there simply aren’t a lot of hoops players earning a living at it (hence, SteveD’s suggestion that MJ earn a living as a coach). Unfortunately, how many of the former players end up doing nothing with their lives when they fail to catch on with a professional team? They all can’t be rappers (see Shaq, Ron Artest, and others). More likely, they end up like Boobie Miles from Friday Night Lights or Al Bundy from Married with Children. It’s also true that for every degree you earn above a HS degree, on AVERAGE you will earn about $15K per year more per degree. Over a 35 year professional life, that’s a lot of career earnings left on the table if you don’t pursue a free educational opportunity. Again, averages…not Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Gerry is probably the exception not the rule, and he’s earned that so hats off to him (seriously).

    The second point about the NCAA and college presidents is about money. They’re pimps, that’s all. If they really wanted to correct the non-graduation issue, they could. Make scholarship athletes sign a contract with the school that includes repayment for breach of contract if a student bails. Let the pro leagues deal with the flood of high school players trying to sue their way into their leagues. We cheer for our schools, that wouldn’t change. College athletics would still be compelling, as we’ve seen without LeBron James playing a minute at UNC. They ought to be ashamed for defiling the institutions they purport to represent. Never give $ to an athletic program or even to a general fund, from which universities notoriously raid to bail out red-lined athletic departments. Give $ to specific scholarship or endowment funds. That way the college presidents can’t raid Al Gore’s social security “lock box.”

  13. Atta go Wheels: You’re all over it. There are so many who ….just don’t get it. Your’re right . The college presidents are just hypocrites they really are pimps and the student athletes we admire and cheer on are …..for hire….maybe not for salary but for “gratuities” in one form or another.

    I really don[‘t think I am the exception. There are thousands….not hundreds …..that travel on my trail.

    How do I know? If you are a college basketball player and you are on a winning team….and those number in the thousands…. then once you get a tast of winning you can’t tolerate losing. Winners can’t stand losing. They find a way to win. After college ….that’s called the entrepreneurial spirit. It is alive and well and it is what propels this current economy.

    Maybe we are slightly off the track here…..maybe not. We are all seekng relevance in a world of chaos (and hyprocrisy) . And, in a small way college basketball, for one example, brings us back to reality. Winning and losing is “real”.

    All of us, Terps fans as well, are living (part of) our lives (precariously or not) alongside the players on the court we cheer. When they win we (feel as though) we win. When they lose, we lose, or so it
    seems. .

    So, we are back to square one. Times are changing and things are changing. The message to all is “let’s get serious. This is not time to be calling audibles.

    More to follow.

    Gerry

  14. Maybe it’s hypocritical, but I do look at the issue differently depending on whether I am dealing with an individual vs. considering the right macro policy for college hoops.

    When I am dealing with individuals, I tend to see things like Wheels does. The value of a degree is HUGE (way more than $15k a year quoted above). See this link:

    http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/censusandstatistics/a/collegepays.htm

    The folks like Jobs, Gates, Lebron and Gerry who do well financially w/o a degree are exceptions.

    I stress the importance of a degree to any young adult who will listen to me. Depending on how their lives unfold from here, it may make sense for DJ and – especially – MJ to get their degrees, too.

    When I look at the “Macro” level of what’s right for college hoops, however, I see the issue differently.

    First a confession – I think the college men’s game – in its current form – is the most entertaining game there is. If I was just following the university, I suppose I would still follow the team if the quality of the game declined, but I doubt it. For example, I could not care less about how the women’s hoops team does. I tried to watch the women’s game. I even tried to like the women’s game. But I could not do it. I apologize if that offends the basketball pusists out there, but the women’s game is just too slow. So, maybe my judgement is swayed in that I do not want to destroy the game I love.

    Now my thoughts on the topic is that many of the kids who attend university on a b-ball scholarship would not go to college at all if were not for basketball. In my opinion, giving them the opportunity – and forcing them to some minimal level of scholastic achievement – is the right balance for all sides: (1) it gives us an exciting game to watch, (2) it brings the Uni money, (3) it shows that the uni is striving for excellence, and (4) it gives the kid an opportunity that they would not otherwise had.

    If you want to “fix” college athletics, IMO, the cure is simple: get rid of athletic scholorships altogether.

    Several problems with that cure: (1) The game will become less entertaining and you would lose spectators and interest, (2) You are eliminating an opportunity for kids to go to school free, (3) you reduce the striving for excellence that the university academic programs represent.

  15. STEVEND- Just a few comments. I tend to agree with you on many issues. However , in your last paragraphs I would offer the following:

    1. Maybe the early exits of athletes aka 1 and done is making the term athletic scholarships oxi-moronic. Why not contain “scholarships” to students seeking higher education, that’s that they are there to do. Athletes are not always there for “higher education”. College sports is the “minor leaues” for the NBA….few would disagree. Instead have “athletic grants” to athletes…..no strings attached. These athletes create a win/win situation for all concerned and it still nurtures “free college” for deserving athletes. Those that graduate …that’s a plus for any program. However, to penalize, intimidate, or otherwise make condescending remarks or inuendo about those athletes that do stay in college for 1,2,3, or even 4 years but do not graduate is a bus to nowhere. The athlete’s are not deserving of this. Consider the exceptional but impoverished kid (s) that would receive a “athletic grant” and remains academically eligible for 1,2,3 or 4 years and then either declares for the NBA or gets drafted……..Hooray!!!!

    Who loses in that scenario.? He did more than play
    sports; he still got educated and who’s to say he/she doesn’t complete their degree work later on.
    Or, if they get $1,2,5 or 10 million per year ….so what. They are not stupid. It is what it is.

    I also don’t believe that making these adjustments
    would ” reduce the striving for excellence that the university academic programs represent”. There are hundreds….no hundreds of thousands of non athlete students that received “scholarships” over the years …..and also departed early. That didn’t alter the pursuit of excellence 1 gram.

    I could go on and perhaps you could too. I really believe these discussions are every bit as important and germane as, for example, “My Evening with Dukies or Butler did it…We didn’t”

    We should all, as contributors to this site, pursue excellence by way of these discussions. You never really know who your audience is on this site. It may even be some college hierarchy that sees the merit if our insight and pursue a parallel course.

    Bring it on.

  16. All my point was is that it is a shame that kids who attend a college on a athletic scholarship screw the kids who need that same scholarship down the road by not trying to graduate. It is bigger than them and they do not seem to care. A kid who is one and done and remains eligible hurts less that a kid who goes 4 years and walks away with nothing. It is sad that you would want to pay a kid to attend school. Why not pay a kid to earn a medical engineering or some relevant degree. No pay and athlete and excuse them when they fold. Like the football player who was ruled ineligible. Terps have programs in place to help these kids so there is no excuse whatsoever to no be on track. I want a quality program that attracts the top student athletes and has almost no off court problems(these are kids after all). I don’t hink you should look at UNC and Puke and unobtainable plateaus because that is just quitting. MJ and DJ screwed the program and the school for years by walking away. That is all I was trying to say and if basketball is not part of their future they screwed themselves as well.

  17. Al…I understand your position but don’t believe you
    fully understand (or accept) others.
    Change may be necessary. We are close to a “paradigm” here. You are “still” putting students and student athletes under the same umbrella. Whether we like it or not, there will continue to be thousands, not hundreds, entering college ….one way or another. Many athletes are really “athletic entrepreneurs”. In the case of basketball, few will become doctors, lawyers, engineers etc. Basketball is their “business” and the NBA is their marketplace. They need not be scorned for their vocation nor characterized as “screwing” the kids
    that need that scholarship down the road. Tom McMillen was an exception. He actually was a Rhodes Scholar, using basketball (in part) to establish and promote his vocation….politics.He was good or better than good at both. Isn’t that ok?

    Against this backdrop, recharacterizing (or creating)
    two tiers at the college entry level, one being scholarship and the other “athletic grant” seems both workable and necessary.

    You can’t push a rope. If the majority of college basketball players e.g, want to be “athletic entrepreneurs” colleges should be eager to accommodate them. Include their vocation in the curriculum. It creates at win/win situation.

    Your position seems to see it (this issue) as Win (athlete) Lose (students/university). Your notion that scholarships “pay” athletes and not students is convoluted. When you need the services of your doctor, lawyer or accountant …..you will pay and he will be paid too. Payday for all of us is really down the road isn’t it?

    Steve Francis came to Md to “grease the skids” for his entry to the NBA. Md won, Steve won, the fans won, the basketeball program won (attracted others for the same objective).

    The players are “on track”. They don’t need programs to “rehab” their thinking. They know exactly want they want (NBA) and colleges should accommodate them. DJ & MJ and the thousands of other players didn’t screw the university. They didn’t walk away. They got what they wanted and so did we. Except you, you want to mandate that they get a degree in order to play ball at our esteemed university. Change the paradigm.

    I realize this is perhaps 21st century “thinking” but we’re in the 21st Century.

    Remember my earlier post. When times change and things change (that includes people) and you don’t then you become a “victim”.

    Let’s not victimize the players we cheer for and watch (and pray) they get to the dance. Why shouldn’t we admire and encourage them while in college because, down the road, we are going to be doing the same thing as we watch them in the NBA, if they are good enough. How many times will you be re-arranging your schedule or channel surfing for Phoenix Suns games, to see if DJ falls on his face or is a survivor in his chosen vocation?

    As I said earlier, this is good and necessary discussion and I encourage other’s to “chime in”.

    Should be interesting.

  18. Sorry I will not change my thought process. Kids need to get an education at college. Not a free ride. Don’t give me this BS that they are poor black kids and can’t pass the grade so thats enough just to have them attend. Don’t give me the BS that they require too much time to study basketball. It is college and the kids should be held to the responsibility that they signed up for when they accepted that scholarship. I don’t care what you say but if you sign a contract and don’t live up to it then you get sued, fired, screwed you choose the word. I just want these kids to get a business degree so they don’t burden society when they blow all their money in 5 years. Omeka Okafor did it in 3 years. Is he special? This is an institution of higher learning not a place for dumb uncaring athletes to use for a year or 3.5 and not care enough to give back what the school needs to be successful. What is this Tarkaneien School of thought. Or is this Cincinnati Bob Huggins thugs and drugs school. BS this is a reputable school that should expect a kid to leave the school in the same or better shape than when they arrived. Change is coming my friend and it should be for the better. Being more complacent is not a change. Bring in decent kids and get them educated so they can prosper and make them leave the program in the same or better condition.

  19. Wow….someone tatooed you earlier in life and it sounds to me like you want to get even.

    Why do you choose to ignore the facts i.e., the “students” want the degree so they can get into a profession. The athlete’s see the “process” of college as a means to enter in their profession, which in this case is Basketball.

    You almost sound racist. You say ” don’t give he all the BS they are all poor black kids”. Why are you inserting “race” into this discussion?

    If it’s a scholarship that is accepted for a student then you’re right. However, athlete’s are “recruited” and “enticed” to sign on with the college. In return, under the current NCAA rules, all they can receive is a “scholarship”. That doesn’t mean they want it.
    Some do. That is just the current system.

    Do athlete’s really “sign scholarship” or do they merely sign a letter saying they promise to attend that college and promise to go to class for so long as they are enrolled? You are tryinig to implant some “broader implication” that is not necessarily embodied in the understanding between recipient, coach and college. Yes, while they are attending that college, they must maintain acceptable grades.
    Those that do, continue to play. Those that don’t , don’t play. What’s wrong with that?

    Are you trying to imply that an athlete that attends college for 1,2,3 or 4 years, plays ball and then leaves before receiving a degree, is not educated?

    It is what it is. The athlete’s contract with the college is tantamount to this:

    ” Yes I will come to your school, attend classes, strive to maintain the required grade point average, be a player or your team and, conduct myself according to your expectations, for a few. However,
    should I decide to leave after 1,2,3 or 4 years you don’t owe me anything and I only owe you my appreciation for your belief in me to attend school and perform to the best of my abililties”.

    This is not complacency. It’s reality. This is the way it’s been for the 25 years or more, the way it is now and it’s only going to change more down the road. The aim of this discussion is to simply see college athletics as it is…..”a business”. and a means to an end…for all parties invovled.

    This is not just about higher education.

    Sure would lilke some others to chime in and opine as well.

  20. I’ve chimed in on this before. The only way to harmonize books and balls in an environment that is increasingly–and inexorably–commercial is to decriminalize capitalism and adopt some variant of play-for-pay. Franchise the business to the alums, who run the show anyway. In addition to salaries, award players educational vouchers with stipends that they can use after their eligibility is finished (and they are mature and rested enough to be students). In other words, if it’s a business, let’s treat it as a business. But this won’t happen unless fans bring political pressure on boards and legislatures. Sure, presidents are hypocrites; they’re also pitchmen and civic boosters who don’t have a lot of say in these matters. Many of them would probably leap at the chance not to have to deal with athletic issues (and medical schools, which are even less manageable than ADs). The real resistance will come from the coaches and the athletic departments. They are rolling in obscene amounts of cash, despite the fact most athletic departments hemorrhage red ink. And you thought defense contractors were the only entities enjoying the benefits of cost-plus capitalism!

    Will there be a tectonic shift in the landscape of big-time college sports? I’m not holding my breath. But it is worth noting that the model I’m suggesting was already emerging at the dawn of college athletics. Students and alums then ran the show. They hired ringers. And then the faculty stepped in, demanding that college athletics return to the “amateur” model. What these well-meaning professors got was a wolf by the ears, and a reminder to watch out for what you wish for.

    Gerry, a Horatio Alger model that depends on Bill Gates isn’t very convincing. Gates’s father, if memory serves, was a successful lawyer, and Gates dropped out of Harvard. This is hardly rags-to-riches. Maybe rich-to-richest? In any event, any exception you dredge up usually proves the rule, your open biopic to the contrary notwithstanding.

  21. Careless haste again, the bane of this hot medium. Instead of “your open biopic,” I meant to say “your own biopic.”

  22. Fellas…whoa! Let’s hyper-down here. I like FF’s idea of paying athletes and giving them vouchers that can be used later in life (or even passed down to dependents). I do, however, disagree that college presidents are powerless to stop the madness. Who do you think runs the NCAA? Who made Miles Brand the president of the NCAA? The college presidents did. Your argument seems to say that Debbie Yow runs the University of MD. (“Many of them would probably leap at the chance not to have to deal with athletic issues (and medical schools, which are even less manageable than ADs). The real resistance will come from the coaches and the athletic departments. They are rolling in obscene amounts of cash, despite the fact most athletic departments hemorrhage red ink”). Hhhhmmmm.

    If the college presidents want to avoid anything, it’s having to bail out debt-ridden athletic departments. I think Sporting News did a study (or reported a study) last year on athletic department financials, and only like 25% of all D1 football schools earned profit. Why do college presidents bail them out? Because of us. Because of boosters. Because we all want to root for our winner of a school.

    Vanderbilt University blew up its athletic department a few years back and hoped that others would follow suit. It hasn’t happened, but Vandy does it the right way…in the toughest league in the country for all sports. Florida’s AD pulled the biggest “I’m a Coward and a Hypocrite” twofer that I’ve seen in recent years. He had the temerity to publicly say that college football needed a playoff. Then he went to the SEC annual meetings and got an ear full from the other SEC presidents. Next thing you know, he’s out in front of a microphone saying that the BCS is just dandy.

    The confluence of money, athletics, and higher education is pretty unseemly. Has anyone noticed the facilities arms race that has spread across D1 schools over the past 10 years? It’s a vicious cycle between the presidents, the boosters, the business communities, the fans, the professors, and the athletes. The college presidents (or congress) can stop it, but none of them wants to kill the goose. The insanity of the system has become sane to those within it.

    I work at a small university that had its men’s hoops team make the Sweet 16 for the first time in 50 years. Their appearance coincided with a capital fundraising campaign on campus. Wouldn’t you know that alumni and corporate giving increased immediately after their appearance? What does that mean for me? I get to work in a better building (someday), have more funding available (immediately), and better quality students (immediately). Win-win-win for me. So what if Patrick O’Bryant left my university early and shuffles between Golden State and their D-league affiliate? He signed a multi-million dollar deal with guaranteed money but will be lucky to play a minute of NBA ball. It’s such a mess…but you can’t expect the stakeholders to act in a way that is against their self-interests (like shopping at Walmart).

    The solution to the problem…if people think there is a problem (and I do)…has to come from on high. That means college presidents or congress. Good luck with any of that.

  23. I could be wrong, but I think O’Bryant was a stud at Bradley. Although he may be the next Adonal Foyle for the GSW.

  24. Thanks Guys… I am not trying to demonize Al. V but FF and Wheels’ comments appear more germane, realistic and purposeful. It seems as though we are getting to the epi-center and that is – that college sports is about “business” and scholarships are about higher education. If that is so, let’s not conjoin them as though they are one in the same or even treat them equally. They both have merit.

    The challenge is to “illuminate” the issue and cause the “powers to be” to address “change”.

    What should be avoided is what I have said (ad nauseum) i.e.,”if you don’t change you become the victim”.

    In its present state, it’s confusing. There are those that want the athletes to appear as the “bad guys”
    and the students as the “good guys”. When in fact,
    they are all good guys.

    Are the college presidents actually running colleges or are these (more akin to) “corporations” aka big business?

    This is good stuff. Keep it going.

    I am not a college president, in disguise.

  25. Wheels, do you really believe college presidents run the show? They like to think they do. Sure, they hire and fire the Myles Brands of the world, bloviate about reform when a new scandal breaks (usually traceable to the tension between commerce and amateurism), and enact technical rule changes that end up changing very little. But they’re agents, not principals in this enterprise; ditto with ADs like Yow. Monied boosters and successful coaches rule the big-time college athletic roost. If the presidents are so powerful, why do they continue to bail out financially-strapped ADs? The only president of recent memory who may had the independence to impose his will was probably Father Ted Hesburgh at Notre Dame and his second-in-command, Father Ned Joyce; and I’m unsure about their independence. (It helps to have an athletic department that has historically generated gobs of money.) The Vandy president (under fire for financial extravagance) only eliminated the middleman layer; he didn’t shake the underlying foundation. I’m unfamiliar with the financial situation at Vandy; I suspect the university’s losses from athletics are probably bearable, partly thanks to the indemnification payments Vanderbilt receives in the way of shared bowl and tournament revenues for usually being the SEC’s doormat. Where we agree is that the problem is political, and that it won’t be solved unless and until congress steps in–or the federal courts.

  26. FF:

    I guess technically a college or university’s board of regents run the show, as they hire/fire college presidents (much like what happens in corporate America with a board of directors). Many of the people who sit on boards are also pretty much unaffiliated with the college or university (e.g., not alums). In many cases, people on these boards are also high profile athletic boosters. Talk about a conflict of interest!

    Truth be told, as I said previously, we (fans and alumni) are just as responsible for this issue as anyone. Why do college presidents bail out athletic departments? Because we like our athletic teams. They represent us in a highly visible way. Athletic departments earn $ for themselves not the universities, as athletic departments have fiscal independence. Talk about an Enron-type accounting gimmick.

    The ADs and coaches do not run universities and the presidents. Who fires ADs and coaches? Who fired Bobby Knight at IU? A college president. The buck has to stop somewhere, but the college presidents are trapped by the system they created.

    As a college professor, I can tell you that two things terrify colleges (not counting students): 1) The abolition of tenure, and 2) The loss of tax exempt status for educational institutions. They both relate to financial security. Imagine if MD’s athletic department had to pay taxes on its profits. Imagine if Harvard had to pay taxes the interest from its multi-billion $ endowment.

    College presidents are simply protecting the university from a financial catastrophe. The high times of the mid-1990s are over. State budgets represent typically less than 30% of university funding nowadays, which is substantially down from the last decade. Universities have been privatized. Alumni and corporate giving sustain universities through endowments. Why do you think MD just kicked off a $1 billion capital fundraising campaign? Financial independence from state lawmakers and financial security. At 6% rate of return, that’s a lot of money generated yearly from a $1 B endowment.

    Cal Berkeley did a study on the top ways to generate $ aside from state financing and found 4: 1) Alumni giving, 2) Corporate giving, 3) Athletics, and 4) MBA programs. The first two are tied to the success of the second two. Presidents know where their bread is buttered.

    Sorry to write so much. I need an editor.

  27. You didn’t write too much, and you don’t need an editor. You need a publisher. We’re probably splitting hairs, but I never suggested ADs and coaches run the university, merely that they have a great deal of autonomy in their own bailiwicks–or at least successful Div. 1 revenue-sports coaches do. ADs aren’t all that powerful, excepting the Bo Schembechlers and Skip Bertmans, who got their power from being successful coaches. Bobby Knight got fired because he went so far over the line he practically compelled his own cashiering. Besides, his teams had long ago lost their Big Ten dominance. I’ll have to read the Cal Berkeley study. But I’m assuming the tie between athletics and alumni giving is has only one strand, and that thread is to the athletic departments alone.

    BTW, what’s your discipline? Economics? You seem to know a lot about this stuff.

  28. Sorry you thought my comments were racist but that option was posed to me when i broached the subject with some people. I just believe it is a travesty that a kid is in school and does not do the minimum to ensure that the program that invited him/her to display their talents on a national level to help with that multi million dollar future does not respect the opportunity nor the university that needs those scholarships to put a competitive program on the floor. DJ and MJ were there for 4 years and walked away. According to the rules they just had to be in line for a degree with normal progress. I find it sad that the AD and the program failed to ensure its future by not ensuring these young men were on track and encouraged to stay to complete that obligation. They do not need compensation for their audition for the future. Thousands of kids make this happen every year and it is sad when a high profile University in the ACC gets crapped on by uncaring athletes. I do not care if the kids leave early but dammit leave the program in the same or better condition on your way out. Give a shit like most of us do or there will be nothing to care about.

  29. I agree with Al V on this one, although I would extend the criticism to GW. You can’t blame DJ and MJ’s academic truancy and indifference on disadvantaged backgrounds. They could have found a course of study at at multiversity like UM suited to their interests and talents. Instead they treated it like some developmental league, with hot chicks. They’re prima donnas, MJ especially. GW must have realized this two days after they set foot on campus. And he should have been monitoring their academic progress with the eagle eye of a parole officer. I don’t think he takes the academic side of college athletics very seriously, though I’m sure he once did. He was a pretty fair student at MD, and many of his teammates were outstanding ones–doctors, dentists, lawyers, maybe even a candlestick maker or two. But his pooh-poohing of graduation rates betrays a subtle indifference to the academic project, born of the realization (perhaps unarticulated) that college athletics at the level he operates has metamorphosed into a business first and foremost. Well, let’s treat it as such, is all I’ve been saying.

  30. RE E$’s post (#23) – O’Bryant is a perfect example of the pay-me-now mentality of many top flight college players in any sport where the kids can make a professional living (we’re even seeing it with two of MD’s top soccer players leaving after 1 or 2 years for the MLS).

    Patrick O’Bryant is a legit 7 footer with Tim Duncan’s “Big Fundamental” game. He grew up in Minnesota and didn’t play much streetball. Although Bradley U listed him at 265 lbs, he weighed probably closer to 235 lbs during his soph season. He was a consistent 15 pt – 10 rb player in the MVC and was on the radar for most NBA teams. He then played 2 outstanding games in the 2006 NCAA tournament against KU and Pitt and become a Top 12 prospect. Never mind that Joey “Thug Life” Dorsey from Memphis physically dominated him in the Sweet 16.

    I saw Tim Duncan play at Wake. Imagine Tim Duncan leaving Wake after 2 seasons. That’s Patrick O’Bryant. If he had stayed 2 more years, he would have gone in the Top 5. Instead, he was talked into leaving early and was sent to Golden State’s D-league team within the 1st week of the NBA season. So…he got a great signing bonus ($2-3 M), which is the kind of $ we’ll never see in our lives; but he cost himself long term. If he had come out after next year, he would have earned more in his initial contract and would have been a more polished player with a better chance of actually playing in the NBA. Then he could have signed one of those max deals that players sign after their first rookie deal expires. He probably left $80 million on the table by leaving early.

    Of course, he could have hurt himself and never played again. Or he could have been exposed as a weak player during his final 2 years at BU. More likely, though, BU would have ramped up their non-conf schedule for a few high profile games, and he would have dominated the Media Darling MVC for 2 more years. He would have 2 more years of development in college rather than in the D-league, eating up most of his initial contract. Even if he comes out gang busters in his 3rd year, who will give him a max deal after that? Not likely.

    There’s an economic principal that says that money is always worth more now than it is later (mostly due to inflation). $5k is worth more today than $5k is a year from today. However, I think $5 M in two years is still worth more than $2 M now. For Patrick O’Bryant, I think taking the short-term $ hurt him not only financially but also professionally in the long term. Can he really become a big time NBA player in the D-league?

    Also…I am a human resource management professor…econ is too esoteric for me!

  31. Lots of great stuff, but this quote from wheels was the most thought provoking (maybe it’s obvious, but I needed to be reminded): “The confluence of money, athletics, and higher education is pretty unseemly.”

    All of the ideas that are meant to improve the current system seem wrong to me because they throw the balance between the money/athletics/higher education off kilter. For example, the idea of paying the kids or giving the kids money-vouchers seems like it gives the money too much influence. Likewise, requiring a certain graduation rate gives the higher education too much influence, in my opinion.

    Maybe it points to my lack of imagination, but I think the current system does a good job of mantaining a correct balance between the three. Kids should not be paid or required to graduate, but they must attend class and keep a certain GPA to play. If a kid wastes his opportunity or leaves early, that should not be an official black mark on the uni or the athletic department.

    That said, unis that are not only good b-ball programs but also turn out graduates will naturally get better recruits. If the top recruits see that a particular program is not doing right by the players in the long term, they will not go to that school. To the extent that folks like MJ (or the entire b-ball class of 06) seem to make bad decisions, that makes GW’s recruiting job much more difficult in the following years. To me, that is a powerful market force and for this reason alone – regardles of NCAA sanctions – GW needs to make sure that the kids like MJ and TravGarrison, etc. are not part of the program.

    BTW – I disagree with the comment that DJ and MJ were truants. They played by the rules even if you don’t like the rules. Chris McCray was a truant who did not play by the rules and he got punished.

    BTW #2 – It may be true that 25% of the football programs lose money. (When it comes to football, I prefer the NFL, so I don’t care.) I will guarantee you, however, that the UMd basketball program is very, very, very profitable.

  32. BTW#1–They’re truants figuratively if not literally. My guess is that MJ and DJ weren’t on target to graduate because they cut a lot of classes, and then withdrew just before the drop deadline so as not to jeopardize eligibility. This is a road-tested strategy for student-athletes resorted to by nearly every big-time program in the land. Wheels might call this Human Resource Management for Jocks, 101.

    BTW#2–If the MD BB program is “very, very, very profitable,” which I don’t doubt it is, isn’t that another reason to share the bounty with the players?

    And, finally, if the confluence of money, athletics, and higher ed is already “unseemly” and things are distinctly “out of kilter,” why should anyone accept the reek of the current status quo? I think I know the answer. Wheels has provided it already: because we’re fans in the root sense of the word (fan is shorthand for fanatic, BTW)–and I don’t except myself from the characterization.

  33. Lots of great comments and insight, Good diversity of opinion although I still think Al V. is stubbornly clinging to a benign expectation about atlhete’s not graduating and screwing things up for the scholars.

    At the risk of being redundant, the majority of spirited comments from on this site, all have acknowledge there are two classes in the fold here.

    There are the scholastic mind students seeking higher educations and using their “scholarship’s in pursuit of a vocation..

    Then, there are the athletes seeking an areana in which to display their talent in pursuit of and NBA, NFL or MLB etc profession. The “scholarship” the receive is only (peripherally) (sp?) part of the the equation.

    I don’t agree with the notion they should be paid but in a sense, the sholarship is the only legal tool in which to compensate them. However, if we could simply call it a “grant” that would “tell it like it is”. Too many of you still want to tag them “student-athlete’s”. Change the paradigm .

    Lots of crap thrown at DJ and MJ . However, Steve Francis entered Md as a Jr. and left same.

    Certainly, no one believes GW was “shocked” when Steve opted for the NBA. He didn’t come to MD because we had a better curriculum. He came for the visibility and the national exposure. Right?

    I also agree with Stevend, “kids should not paid be or forced to graduate but keep an acceptable GPA in order to play.

    The athlete’s have bought into that system already. If the majority of us can also (including Al V.) we can get back to prognositing the 07/08 Terp B-ball season.

    In truth, I have enjoyed the diversified exchanges. They have been tantamount to “postscripts” after a win of Duke or NC.

    Perhaps the next best thing would be for someone to take the best and the worst of the comments we have thrown at these issues and let us feast on them for another round. But first need to separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff.

    Hope someone takes the torch on this one. Wheels, Stevend and FF seem like a good team…..for openers.

  34. Fine GERRY lets get to the upcoming ACC basketball season since no one cares about the fools ball season. I will not let go my insistence that these kids that come to the program leave it in the same or better shape than when they got there. Thats all I ask. No more black eyes from bar fights, to academic suspension, to sexual harassment, to anything not normal academic progress and beating Duke 2 out of 3. Oh an if the school did not put out such a good product there would be no money for the athletes anyway so they should be happy that they get to audition against the best talent in the country called the ACC. I will take football comments as part of the conversation as well. No QB mean long season. Nuff said.

  35. FF –

    You missed my point. I agree that the confluence of money, athletics, and higher ed is “unseemly.”

    However, my point is that the current method is the best balance. All of the ideas to make things better actually make things worse.

    BTW#1 – DJ/MJ needed to go to classes and pass classes to play. That’s the rule and based on the McCray episode, Md follows the rules. I’m guessing that they carried 12 credit hours a semester because that was the minimum that they were required to do. Hence, they are proabaly 20-30 hours short of a degree.

    BTW#2 – Paying the players would make them professionals to a much higher degree (bad pun) and would destroy any modicum of emphasis on education.

    Why? Because people cheat. Even with the current ‘easy’ rules, people cheat. Bobby Higgins and the thugs & drugs of Cincinatti is a prime example. And if they cheat with the current rules, the cheating would be even more egregious with a rules change that allowed paying the players. I don’t want to go that direction because the backlash would wind-up destroying the game, IMO.

  36. STEVEND that is why I believe these coaches caught cheating, paying, bending rules, NCAA violation unreported and any other negative activity against college kids should be banned for life in the NCAA. Bob Huggins, Bob Wade, Sutton, others, and yes Lefty should all be banned. Lefty did try to hide evidence to cover up Len’s drug use on campus. While I understand it is still wrong and he screwed himself with that deal. IMHO. So there is another thought for you to ponder folks. If the punishment landed on the coach then maybe some of these kids would be more motivated to do whats right instead of screwing up Cincinnati, then KSU, to be given a shot at WVU. What is that the Army with the Eff Up Move Up principal?

  37. Stevend—First, I didn’t miss your point. I simply took issue with your willingness to accept the “unseemly” status quo. Second, you are correct that MJ and DJ “played by the rules,” else they wouldn’t have maintained eligibility for four years. But the two Js were clearly truant about making academic progress toward a degree, as distinct from gaming the academic system. It happens all the time.

    Probably a lot of people on this blog will say, so what? Players come to MD to hone and showcase their BB skills preparatory to moving on to the next level, even if the odds of their succeeding as pros are fairly remote. The “so what” challenge of the pragmatists (or is it cynics?) is hard, maybe impossible, to answer, because their viewpoint reflects stubborn reality. In our heart of hearts we know they are right.

    So, where do we go from here? I think a more realistic accommodation to reality is the most sensible direction in which to reset the course of big-time college athletics. Okay, maybe we shouldn’t pay players. Maybe we should award them “grants” instead, to preserve the mystique that our team is still made up of “amateurs.” Mystique, like perception, is often nine parts of reality. But players should be compensated and released from the unrealistic expectation that they carry on as full-time students and three-quarter time semi-pro athletes without pay. You worry that even this modest concession to the marketplace might open up a Pandora’s box of yet more cheating. Maybe, but I can’t see the cheating becoming much worse than it already is.

    The way to cut the Gordian knot might be to franchise athletic departments, or at least their revenue-sports components, to the monied boosters and sports-oriented alumni associations, and make them the fiduciaries. If they want to risk audits and financial penalties incurred from cheating, then they should be made to feel the pinch on their pocket nerve, not the universities. Recasting college athletics along these lines might even bring about a more vigilant policing of the recruitment underground economy, to hold down costs—and cost control, as anyone who has ever had to meet a payroll will tell you, is frequently the sine qua non of solvency.

  38. FF –
    I apreciate that you sincerely want to improve the system. IMHO, however, all of the ideas would negatively impact the game, either by corrupting the amature nature of the sport or by reducing the quality of the game itself.

    A Gordian knot! You are an optimist! There is no answer. I say trying to improve the current system is more like a Sisyphean challenge. ;-)

    AL V.
    Theoretically – enforcement might be stricter. But the different ways a program might bend the rules are too hard to monitor. The bureaucracy would be unbearable. I’ve already pointed out that Dexter Manley was illiterate even after 4 years at OSU. Was it the program that cheated or just Dexter? I don’t know. Another example, closer to home, how in the world does Shane Clark get rejected by UMd for academics, but still have the credentials to get into Villinova? Something smells fishy to me, but could anyone ever prove “cheating” for something like that? No. Unfortunately, the Bobby Higgins of the world are – for lack of a better term – an evil that has to be tolerated. I will argue with my last breath, however, that GW runs an honest program and even the kids that do not graduate are better-off for the experience.

    …..and don’t get me going on the lynch mob that crucified Lefty (the same ilk that convicted the puke lacross team of rape without a trial). It was harsh enough that we lost Len.

  39. re: Stevend

    “A Gordian knot! You are an optimist! There is no answer. I say trying to improve the current system is more like a Sisyphean challenge.”

    Sisyphus and his boulder? A piece of cake. Try pushing cooked spaghetti uphill; that’s what meaningful reform would feel like.

  40. I don’t mean to be harsh on Al V. but he consistently presents a one-sided perspective.
    He laments that some of the terps b-ball players were in bar fights, sexual harassment and poor academics. We all know who those three (3) were.

    Surely those examples are but a microcosm of the behavior throughout colleges . Every college town has these i.e barfigts, sexual harassment et al. Why suggest it’s only the athletes? Very weak argument…..again.

    Everyone has shown some intellectual mettle regards the crisis (?) in college sports. There really dichotomy here. No one picked up on the Steve Francis point I made. Again, his journey to/from Maryland says it all. He didn’t come for the curriculum and neither do (perhaps) 75% of the rest of the athletes. There’s no point in continually denigrated them because the are taking “full advantage” of the system that is enthusiastically offered to them to accommodate their professional pursuit. They don’t need to be “paid” for the scholarship is their only legal compensation. A case could be made that college “athletes” organize themselves to pursue some sort of quid pro quo. The universities are raking in hundreds of millions of dollar off their presence at their university and the talent and efforts the dispaly on the playing field (s). That’s hundreds of millions of dollars folks. Between b-ball (mens and womens) and football alone, UMD has annual ticket sales in the hundrededs of thousands. They could not do that without the “althletes”. Sorry AL V. the “student scholars” in this scenario don’t make a dime for the university.

    It is what it is……and everyone involved needs to
    “let the sun shine in” on the reality we recognize but the powers to be want to (obviously) avoid.

    It’s the status quo that is the silent killer here.

    FF made some very worthwhile suggestions.

  41. Gerry this is the Terps Blog not the NCAA one so that is why I point out misguided Terps. If you talk of Shane Clark he was ineligible the first semester and Villanova made him pay the first semester and become academically eligible to play after that semester. What smells fishy is Gary W. and UMd gave up on the kid who hid nothing. The struggles were documented on the recruiting boards. So either leave him alone or help him like Villanova did is all I am saying. If you want fishy then how about the kid JamesOn Curry getting busted for drug dealing and dropped by UNC for ethical reasons but picked up by OK State. Zero integrity with that family. I still will always argue that these kids can graduate with a degree is Business or Finance if they want to. If they have no direction then get them a big buddy. Omeka Okafor graduated in 3 years with an accounting degree. So did Jayson Williams from Duke. Now are they that smart or motivated. You chose but they did it. You hear about the UNC players going back for graduation. I am tired of negative Terp news. Does anybody know what the deal with Burney was or is. This Terps squad has potential to compete if the puzzle is put together well. basically if they play their role. Vasquez has to stay reigned in and Gist has to play with some fortitude and the rest have to play the support role and be okay with that and they will compete in the ACC top 5. If not then the selection Sunday will be a nail biter again. Just to add some basketball to all the finance and knots..

  42. When do they release the schedule for next year?
    If it’s been released, who do we play outside the conf.?

  43. Good sign for James Gist’s upcoming season:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/15/AR2007071500955.html

    Good for his confidence, good for his game. He’s going to play at a high level this year. After almost 5 years, MD will finally have a very good inside-out offense again.

  44. DJ led the Las Vegas summer league in assists.

    http://www.nba.com/summerleague2007/statistics/index.jsp

  45. 15.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 6.4 APG, 1.4 SPG.

    Granted he only shot 41% from the field (The Suns didn’t draft him to shoot the ball), but overall, I’d say a really good summer league for DJ. Of the 286 players in the summer league, he’s in the top 25 statistically. Gotta bode well for his chances of making the Suns roster later this year.

  46. Congrats to Mr. Gist!

    And not that he needs any more confidence, but Vaz will be on the Venezualan team.

    http://umterps.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/spec-rel/071207aaa.html

    I remember Steve Blake played on one of these International tourneys and it really helped his game, too.

  47. Did they make it official? Gist was selected as part of the Pan-Am team?

  48. Yes Gist is on the team and DJ looks close to making the roster as a defensive minded point guard. Hopefully with all those shooters he can flourish like Blake with the pass first mentality. Just because I do harp he can now relax and come back and finish up his last semester. LOL I could not resist dreaming.

  49. Besides Gist, any word on what our other Md boys are doing this summer to improve their games?

  50. JouhnE, I”ve seen where Vaz is on the Venezualan PanAm team. I imagine the others are also on misc. summer league team with the exception of Boom, who is rebuilding the transmission on his ’73 Cadilac and ex-Terp Lonny B., who is attending the Michael Vick school for firearm safety.

  51. FYI – USA plays Uruguay on July 25, Panama on July 26 and Argintina on July 27.

    http://usabasketball.com/men/2007/07_mpag_results.html

  52. I was positive that Lonny Baxter and Marcus Vick were instructors at the school. I’ll have to check.

  53. E$…you’re right. Marcus taught Mike how to shoot guns, and Mike shot them at dogs. Michael Vick ought to die of gonorrhea and rot in hell.

  54. Have you guys heard the buzz about this Terrence Jennings guy Chuck D appears to be closing in on? He’s a JUCO guy I beleive. Some say his game reminds them of Chris Wilcox.

  55. Sounds like a stud kid who could be a phenom on the court and a dufus in the classroom. Original class of 2006 and a Mount Zion Academy so not a JuCo just a dumb O. Good pick up so he can walk away after the first semester and cause more NCAA pain. It is all int the report on him. Scary move if you ask me. Talk about one and done, here would be the guy.

  56. Jucos are riskier almost by definition. Every now and then you get one like Boom, who fit in so well I think of him as always being here.

    With the exception of Steve Francis, GW seems to always get two years out of the Jucos.

    Also with the exception of Steve Francis, GW & Co. have a much better track record with Juco forwards instead of Juco guards.

  57. Al – You have the most miserable outlook on MD hoops I have ever witnessed. I have followed the board for about a year now and have exchanged with you on this topic before. While I have given you the benefit of the doubt in the past on certain issues, I am now absolutely convinced that your primary goal here is to rip on the Terps.

    You may have gone to MD and followed the Terps for several decades, but are you really a fan? Should fans be able to bitch when things are going poorly – sure. Should they always parrot what the coach says – no way. However, any way you slice it, if a person who finds a way to spin EVERY single piece of news about the team into a negative then they just aren’t a fan.

    Cheer up friend this is good news, how about a pat on the back for Gary and his boys!!!

  58. andrea bowen gallery…

    Man i just love your blog, keep the cool posts comin…..


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