Thursday, January 31, 2008


My affinity for Big East basketball began in Madison Square Garden. As a student at New York University, the only times I ever made it into MSG were for the horse show and St. John's games. Between 1998 and 2000, the games were electric. When Villanova travelled to New York, much of Philadelphia appeared to travel with them, and the stadium rocked to the partisan cheering. One Villanova-St. John's matchup was followed by a Fordham-George Washington match where we were invited down from our seats in the rafters to seats on the floor, but spent the second game too freaked out by the eerie silence to enjoy the better vantage point of the A-10 matchup.

Thus, I'm of a mixed mind about the Hoyas handing St. John's its worst Big East conference loss tonight. St. John's descent into the bowels of the Big East has been ignoble. Mike Jarvis' legacy has culminated in a team that looks as if it will struggle to keep pace with the horrid bulls of the University of South Florida.

Nevertheless, at the same time, Georgetown continues to impress. Vernon Macklin had a career game and promises to be an important part of the squad as the Hoyas roll through their tough Big East schedule. Ever since Macklin withered in the Memphis game after horribly missing free throws, we've paid special attention to his game and have only seen tantalizing flashes of his promise. It will be interesting to see if Macklin can build on this performance when Georgetown meets a Seton Hall team that has chalked off five straight conference wins (beating South Florida, Louisville, Providence, Cincinatti, and Rutgers).

Of other interest to me tonight are the widespread reports that Roy Keane has offered Charlton 4 million pounds for Andy Reid's services. With the notable exception of the New York Addick, most of what I have read from the Addick faithful seems aghast at the prospect of Reidy leaving. I, frankly, can't understand the sentiment. The captain certainly is a quality player, but he managed only 17 matches in a Charlton shirt in 2006-2007 and 23 this season before his latest injury that has sidelined him since December 15th. The prospect of turning Reid into 4 million quid seems to have far more utility to the team than the rather fleeting prospect that he'll be able to stay healthy in the squad's quest for automatic promotion. I doubt that anything will come of these reports, but should bags be packed, it'll not diminish the enthusiasm engendered in me by the result against the Potters.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Goff has done a phenomenal job keeping DC United supporters informed about player developments with the team. Now I've got my new season tickets, got my new flag, and while I'm sad to see Nicholas Adderly and Bobby Boswell leave the team, I'm very eager for the CONCACAF Champions Cup to finds its way to RFK on March 18th. DC United today formally introduced two more new signings: GK Jose Carvallo of Lima's Universitario (I'll have an excuse to roll out the Cremas jersey this summer); and D Gonzalo Peralta of Argentina's Club Almirante Brown. Peralta and Carvallo join DCU's first designated player signing, Marcelo Gallardo, formerly of Paris-Saint Germain (I don't think I'll roll out the PSG gear however); D Gonzalo Martinez of Colombia's Milonarios; and F Franco Niell of Argentinos Junior.

After a great season last year, I'm thrilled that DCU's management has chosen to aggressively pursue new blood, even if others withhold plaudits for the time being.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

ZZ & Roy . . . Roy, Roy, Roy ... Roy, Roy, Roy

Great day for two athletes that I've come to very much enjoy watching: the incomparable Zheng Zhi and Roy Hibbert. ZZ netted two more goals for Charlton at the Valley against the Tangerines, bringing his season total to nine as an Addick (7 in the fizzy pop, one in the Carling Cup, and one in the FA Cup). ZZ's got many detractors in SE7, but I was thrilled when Charlton was able to pick him up regardless. At the one match I've been able to attend this season, I spent much of the second half of the match with Scunthorpe trying to decide whether to approach ZZ and thank him for signing up for another go around. I chickened out and contented myself with taking snaps instead:

I am even happier for Roy Hibbert. At the beginning of the second half in the Hoya's blowout of Fordham on New Year's eve, Roy launched a cheeky shot from behind the three point arc, thus connecting on the first and only tres of his collegiate career. Hibbert hit another shot from inside the three point line during the game, seemingly showing off range that he has not previously demonstrated for Georgetown.

Fast forward to Gtown's Big East home opener against UConn. Verizon Center is packed. Students are in the rafters. Consecutive three point shots by the freshman Austin Freeman and the junior Jessie Sapp close a six point lead that the Huskies posted late on the Hoyas. With 32 seconds left in the game, JTIII subbed in DaJuan Summers, who had been benched in favor of Ewing Jr. for most of the Hoya's comeback, and put the game in his hands. Whatever Summers' deficiencies on defense, he makes good decisions on offense and, after nothing opened up for anyone with the clock winding down and UConn's very good shot blockers ensconced below the basket (Thabeet had five blocks for the game), Summers put the ball in Hibbert's hands to shoot an open three at the top of the arc with no defender in sight. Pandemonium. As surprising as the shot was, it shouldn't have been. Roy has clearly been working on his outside shot. We got to the game twenty minutes later and I snapped off some photos of Hibbert, most of which were, like the one below, of Roy taking outside shots:

Hibbert even took a long range two point shot to start the game (that he missed). It will be interesting to see over the next few weeks whether this part of his game is further integrated into the Hoyas' offense, as his shots from the perimeter certainly look good.

Friday, January 11, 2008


This year I've gone to all of Georgetown's home games, watched the Illini fall to the Terps at Comcast, and attended two other area college basketball games that I had no rooting interest in: American University visiting the University of Maryland on December 22nd and the Rick Majerus-led St. Louis Billikens traveling to Foggy Bottom last night. Both of the latter games marked historic feats. American's win over the Terps was the school's first victory over Maryland since 1926 - 1927. And it was not a fluke win for American -- Terps fans had so little faith in their squad that people began filing out of Comcast with 3:30 left and Maryland ten points down.

I assumed that the American-Maryland game was going to be the most bizarre college hoops match I witnessed this year. American after all had been drilled by the University of Maryland at Baltimore County (and started this month off by losing to Brown . . . although I did not think that they kept score at Brown sporting events) before handily beating the University of Maryland at College Park. Now, however, I think I need to make a little more time to take in the college game at area schools.

A colleague invited me to watch a George Washington game largely to try and understand what Rick Majerus was thinking when he came out of retirement to take the reins of the Billikens. Neither George Washington nor St. Louis seemed to be very good -- GW had already, like American, been fallen by the mighty UMBC Retrievers (the current home of Crystal Palace FC USA, leading me to become a Charlton supporter and Crystal Palace season ticket holder), while St. Louis had managed to beat a weakened Southern Illinois but got doubled up by Kent State.

Nevertheless, watching a team score seven points in a twenty minute half is, well, a thoroughly confusing experience. It would be nearly impossible to replicate how bad the basketball played in the first half of that game was. The refereeing of the game was horrid: players were routinely hammered after often openly traveling on their way to the basket, but the refs ate their whistles. The Billikens scored their first point, on a free throw, after 5 minutes and 45 seconds had elapsed. St. Louis closed out the first half by not scoring for 8 minutes and 30 seconds. There were two three minute stretches in that half where neither team scored: GW's Wilmore hit a three with 17:36 left and no one scored until St. Louis scored its first point with 14:16 on the clock; GW's Green hit a three with 7:55 to go in the half and the scoreboard didn't move again until Diggs scored with 4:03 in the half. The game was so bad that even though St. Louis had only scored seven points in the first half, they still had a reasonable chance to win. That is, of course, until the Billikens followed up their futility in the first half with an almost nine minute stretch where they failed to score anything in the second half.

Unfortunately, not many GW students saw the spectacle. The Smith Center was fairly empty for the historic occasion -- the lowest point total scored by a D1 team since the imposition of the shot clock. Steven Goff, my favorite DC sports reporter, was, however, amongst the few people with me at the game and his article for the Washington Post (registration required) accurately captures the atmosphere. Nevertheless, what goes unmentioned in Goff's piece is that the surreal night got even more absurd when one of the scores of St. Louis fans in the stands stood up around the 15 minute mark of the second half to berate the kids on the court, pleading that they "wake up" and begging that the Billikens "do something." His screaming seemed to unnerve some of the St. Louis players and was certainly unexpected, given how horrible the game had been going for a solid twenty-five minutes at that point. The preppie GW alums around us tried to shout down the fan, but eventually (correctly) decided that it was best to let him vent in peace.

Outside of the entertainment value of the two hours (which was virtually nil, despite the rarity of the event), I left the Smith Center with an even greater appreciation for what JTIII has done with Georgetown and look forward to a much more entertaining Hoyas-Huskies matchup this afternoon.