It took me 30 minutes to come up with that headline.
Anyway, I’ve said before that the basketball team’s season will come down to Vasquez. And I still believe that. He’s the emotional center of the team and its best overall player (warts and all), and his development as a true two instead of a combo point guard, his mentoring of the young guys, and the keeping down of his own mistakes are crucial to their success.
However, that was probably slightly facile on my part. That’s what comes from drinking paint — the paint is so smooth going down, and the vomiting is visually sublime, but don’t let anyone tell you there isn’t a downside. In any case, everyone knows that the season also hinges on the bigs and their progress. So far, they’ve been underwhelming. We have a slimmed-down Braxton Dupree, but through the first two games he is averaging just 5.5 boards. The Terps were outrebounded by 11 — ELEVEN — by freaking Youngstown State, and only outrebounded Bucknell by three. Holy Jesus.
I know he’s young, and it’s very early in the season and all, but at this very second, if you squint really hard at the words “Braxton Dupree,” they look a lot more like the words “Travis Garrison” than the words “Lonny Baxter.” Here’s hoping Braxton can find the intestinal fortitude to capitalize on his talent.
But in the meantime, where does that leave us? Well, how about the bench? In the first two games, Coach Williams seems reluctant to go there: Dupree is averaging 18.5 minutes a game, while sophomore Jerome Burney averages 7.5 and 6’10” freshman Steve Goins averages 4. I know Burney isn’t Shaq, but he has real athleticism and showed some flashes last year. And Burney doesn’t have to run the triangle offense anyway. Just put him in there and tell him to jump every time he sees a basketball. This great game, it is not rocket science. Burney’s player bio bills him as a “solid shot-blocker and an aggressive rebounder.” Doesn’t that sound like just what the doctor ordered?
As for Goins, frankly, I have no idea, other than the words “sleeper” and “late bloomer” keep getting thrown around in discussions about him, and rebounding apparently is not an inherent strength.
But why not give both of these guys, especially Burney, more of a look? Isn’t this what the creampuff portion of the schedule is for?
(Photo credits: The Daily Item, The Baltimore Sun)