Sunday, December 21, 2008

The week that was...

It is difficult for me to imagine how bad things are going for Charlton at the moment. It is even more difficult to imagine how things are going to be turned around at The Valley this season. The current tailspin is not what I anticipated, but it must be a hell of a lot worse for people who have spent a lot more time invested in the team than I. For the first time, I am embarrassed to call myself a supporter, not because the team is no good, but because I have no reason to lay claim to the agony that this must be causing most "real" supporters.

In any event, I was able to listen to the first half of Saturday's match before having to leave for Georgetown's game against Mount St. Mary's. I was unprepared for the sour reports awaiting me of another disappointing day for the Addicks.

The Hoyas were not impressive in their matchup against Mt. St. Mary's, but they ultimately escaped unscathed. It is still difficult to predict how this particular squad will fare in Big East play, but they have performed much better than I had anticipated when the season began. JTIII appears to have settled on an eight-man rotation, with freshman Jason Clark one of the first off the bench, followed by Julian Vaughn and Omar Wattad (leading to unfortunate chants of "Let's Get Wattaded" from the bored preppies in our section). Henry Sims and Nikita Mescheriakov saw some playing time in Saturday's game, but neither improved on one of two of Georgetown's glaring flaws: free throw shooting and defensive rebounding. The most troubling aspect of the last game was how much the Hoyas big men got moved around by a clearly inferior team in the post. Also troubling is how the free throw shooting appears to be deteriorating further rather than improving. DaJuan Summers had the worst game that I've ever seen him play in a Georgetown uniform. One more tune-up before conference play: Tuesday night versus Florida International Union.

Goff carried two interesting notes on his blog recently. First, after the Terps wrapped up their second national championship in four years with a win over North Carolina in an ugly game in a sparsely attended stadium in Frisco, Texas, three of Maryland's underclassmen announced they were leaving the school. The first two (Jeremy Hall and Omar Gonzalez) were not entirely surprising as both Hall and Gonzalez appear to have done everything that they could have in the college game and they should both be able to make an immediate impact professionally, given the right circumstances. The loss of Rodney Wallace, however, is unexpected. Wallace never seemed to enjoy taking on his role as left back and dropping back from midfield. Maryland frequently looked like a team with two left wingers, with Hall and Wallace playing on top of each other, rather than a 4-4-2. And Wallace never seemed to fully commit himself to defending, perhaps based on a conclusion that his career would be in the midfield or on the front line. Wallace was the reason we started going to watch the Terps and picked up season tickets this year, so we're not thrilled to see him go. We hope that he has made his decision based on good counsel and not based on any frustation with his role on the team this year. Whatever else might be said about Rodney, he played hard in every game we attended and he always presented a dynamic offensive threat off the backline for Maryland.

Goff also noted that Stephen Appiah was interested in coming to play in the United States, potentially with DC United. Appiah is a former Accra footballer from Hearts of Oak. We visited the club's training ground when in Ghana and were impressed by how much Appiah overshadows Chelsea's Michael Essien in Ghana's capital. Appiah will not, however, be finding his way to our fair shores. That DC United will not be pursuing Appiah is less disappointing than Charlton's decision to shop fledgling Ghanaian international Chris Dickson without ever having given him an extended shot in the starting XI. I have no idea what goes on at the training ground, but given how poorly Charlton's strikers have performed all season, Dickson's inability to get an extended look is incomprehensible.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Centennial II

After missing Georgetown's game against American on Saturday (and Maryland's win over Creighton in the quarterfinal match of the NCAA Soccer Tournament at the same time), I was pumped about tonight's game against Savannah State, even if I could not convince my family to join me. But even heading over to the Verizon Center with this enthusiasm, I was not prepared for how much I would enjoy the 62-point drubbing of a decent (although not good) Tigers team.

Georgetown may get thrashed Saturday by Memphis and they might not yet be ready to run with the big dogs when the conference season begins on December 29 with a visit to Hartford, but this is a fun team to watch grow. People much smarter than me note that the Princeton offense can be run at any speed and JTII has a very young team running that offense at mach speed.

With only three upper classmen -- Jansen, Sapp (seniors), and Summers (junior) -- it is difficult to tell what the team's ceiling is, but it has got to be pretty high. Greg Monroe, Chris Wright, Austin Freeman, Jason Clark, Henry Sims, Julian Vaughn, Omar Wattad, and Nikita Mescheriakov are certainly improving as the young season has progressed. Tonight they decimated a team that was simply outclassed, but any pity that one might have for Hoya alum Horace Broadnax's Tigers gave way to awe at the precision of the offense run by JTIII's players and their disciplined defense.