Archive for September, 2009


Juan Dixon is Homeless

You know you want to sign him.

You know you want to sign him.

Juan Dixon, who averaged 5.2 points and 2.4 assists per game last season with the Washington Wizards, is still an unsigned free agent as NBA training camps get underway. He’s in Atlanta now and is apparently a long shot to make the team. I hate to say it, but this could be the end of the NBA line for the greatest player in Maryland basketball history.

Juan’s numbers were down last year from his career averages, mainly due to nagging injuries, the coaches’ insistence on playing him at the one, and the general sucking tar pit that was the 2008-2009 Washington Wizards. I think he could still provide instant offense off the bench for a good team, but he’s no spring chicken any more (31 in October, Jesus, I’m old) and I’m not sure if he’ll get that shot. We’ll keep an eye on this and see if anything materializes. Best of luck to him.

(Image credit:


Jordan Williams Was Just Breaking up A Cat Fight


I didn’t really want to blog about this, because I really don’t think it’s a big deal, but whatever here goes. As most hardcore fans already know, Jordan Williams — only our freshman center and kinda the linchpin of the team’s hopes this year — was charged with misdemeanor assault following an “incident” Aug. 8. Ah, the good old “incident.”

As of yesterday, we have more information on the “incident,” and it does indeed seem to be much ado about nothing. So here’s what — allegedly — took place on that not-really-very-fateful night. There was a girl fight outside a mall. Meow! Jordan tried to break it up. Some other guys who were there wanted to see said girl fight, so they “took issue” with Jordan’s attempt to stop it. (I love that phrase — “took issue” — like they retired to the drawing room for Brandy Sidecars and a spirited debate on the merits — nay, the very historicity — of the girl fight. Jolly good, Governor!)  Then the guys mixed it up a little bit.

That’s it. Of course, this is all according to Jordan’s attorney, so take it with a grain of salt. He technically faces jail time, but given that he’s never been in trouble before, plus the circumstances of the case, and I’ve got a car in my driveway that says he starts and plays the season without interruption. His court date is Monday. So we’ll see.

Don’t forget to vote for Shell Games for Best Terps Blog in the Mobbie Awards! This means you, guy just looking for a Kate Gosselin picture.

(Photo credit: The Baltimore Sun)


Shaun Hill’s Still Got The Skills…And His Rhymes Is Ill…and He Writes With Quills…


As you probably know, former Terp Shaun Hill, who led us to the Orange Bowl in 2001, is the starting QB for the 49ers.  Last Sunday, he stood toe to toe with Brett Favre until Favre apparently threw some kind of game-winning touchdown. Maybe you caught the highlight somewhere. In any case, interesting parallels between these two guys, as Hill holds his own in an unlikely NFL career.

Favre also won the statistical battle Sunday (24-for-46, 301 yds, 2 TDs, 1 pick), but Hill was more economical, going 15-25 for 195 and the same 2 and 1.  In their own respective ways, both these guys have become folk heroes to fans and writers. Every Favre story begins with something like “The Ol’ Gunslinger is still just a kid out there,” followed by some reference to his trimming hedges in Mississippi like he’s Forrest Gump.  It’s actually a national law now that Favre stories include all this — go ahead, look it up.  Meanwhile, there’s a similar common narrative on Hill now, along the lines of, “He’s not flashy, he’s just a journeyman farm boy from Kansas, but you know what he wins ball games OMG he’s like Everyman,” and so on.  I’m not comparing them skill-wise…just riffing is all.

On the season, Hill currently ranks 26th in passing yards, but he’s 11th in quarterback rating — above Ben Roethlisberger, Mark Sanchez, and Philip Rivers, among others — and only has one INT.  And of course, his team is 2-1 and atop their division. 

As a final Terps note, Hill’s two TDs went to another Terp standout, Vernon “Duke” Davis, who’s averaging 56 receiving yards a game and is enjoying a bit of a resurgence.  Nice.

Don’t forget to vote Shell Games for Best Terps Blog!  We may not be the biggest blog on the block, but we’re proud, we’re scrappy…and we want that Cinderella slipper.  Thanks a million!

(Photo credit:


big wins for maryland soccer and field hockey

Feeling down?  Kevin Tangney has one word for you: GOOOOOOAL!

Feeling down? Kevin Tangney has one word for you: GOOOOOOAL!

Are you feeling a little down because Maryland football sucks this year?

Do you miss the thrill of basketball season?

Does the Fall remind you of all the promises you made but never kept?

Well I say, fret no more, friend!  There is more to life than football, basketball, and lamenting.   There is soccer and field hockey!  Maryland had a weekend of victory in these venerable Fall sports.

On Friday, in front of the biggest crowd ever to fill Ludwig Field, the #4 ranked and defending NCAA Champion Maryland Terrapins men’s soccer team upset #2 UNC.  Terrapin captain Kevin Tangney booted in a desperation shot in the 88th minute to propel the Terps to the win.  With the win, Maryland will likely secure the #1 spot in tomorrow’s rankings.

If that wasn’t enough excitement for one weekend, the #1 ranked defending NCAA Champion Maryland Terrapins field hockey team dismantled #3 ranked Wake Forest this Saturday.  Four different Terps scored in the 4-1 victory.  I tuned into the Game Tracker and saw the score was 1-1 at halftime.  The Terps poured on three goals in a nine minute span during the second half to beat their ACC rivals.

There are many reasons to be proud to be a Terp these days.  These two first class athletic programs are near the top of the list.


Vote for Shell Games!


So Shell Games is up for a Mobbie Award…woo-hoo! It’s an award the Baltimore Sun gives each year to the best blogs in Maryland. Shell Games is in the Best Terps Blog category (duh).  We’re definitely the underdog, but we really want to win.  Reader votes determine it…so we’re asking for yours. If we’ve ever made you laugh, or even informed you in some way, we’d love to get your vote. And if not, perhaps I can appeal to your pity. That is not something I am above. Doesn’t a well-rounded person…like you…want to help out…a pathetic blogger…like me?  Come on.  The Terps stink right now.  I have so little.  And if I win, we’re all going to Sizzler!*  I’ll even make it rain on the sneeze guard.**  

To vote, click on the link above or the Mobbies widget to the right.  Thank you so very much.


* — I may not be able to pay for you. Actually, maybe you could spot me, bro? I’ll get you back I swear.

** — May not rain dollars.


Punter Travis Baltz injured, Turner to just throw long interceptions on fourth down


Adding injury to insult, punter Travis Baltz is out at least two weeks after a late hit during Saturday’s loss to Rutgers. The best player on our special teams is said to have a “very swollen” ankle.

Great. Thanks so much for that, Rutgers special teams player Steve Beauharnais. Nice surname.  What is that, some kind of foo foo breakfast sauce?  Guess who’s getting a flaming bag of dog poop punted against his dorm room window this week.  If you said “Steve Beauharnais,” you are correct.

But on the field, where do we go from here?  If Baltz misses extended time, what chance will he have of meeting Ray Guy?  How will the offense function without its safety net?  They can’t fumble on EVERY possession. For those times when a turnover didn’t happen, backup Ted Townsley and place kicker Nick Ferrara combined for a 32-yard average and one bobbled snap. Powerhouse.  By comparison, Baltz was averaging about 40 yards and — if you can believe it — has ZERO turnovers on the season. Not exactly filling the shoes there, backups. What would Ray Guy think?  We need to get you all one of those inspirational message bracelets.  WWRGT.  So that you may never forget.

With the Terps needing to reassess the goals of their season, Baltz and his run for the Ray Guy Award could have taken on a role similar to that of Zach Greinke and his bid for the Cy Young Award, which is currently the only thing keeping Kansas City Royals players and fans coming to the ballpark. Baltz ranks 63rd in the nation in punting and fifth out of nine guys on the watch list. Perhaps not Ray Guy material, but he could have rebounded. We could start taking a knee for the first three downs. Heck, punt on first down. Would it change things THAT much? See, this is outside-the-box thinking. Are you reading, Fridge? You can’t put a price on this stuff.

(Photo credit: Some woman named Anne)


After 1-3 start, time to move the goalposts

Let me just state the obvious.  Forget about contending.  Forget about a bowl game.  Forget about respectability. After a 34-13 drubbing at home to Rutgers, maybe the Terps need some new, slightly more modest goals.  How about mediocrity?

But before that, the game. At this point, it’s clear this is not a good team.  I know, I know…this limb’s gonna snap!!!   But seriously, their problems seem more intractable each week.  Saying this team would be good “if they just stopped committing turnovers” is like saying the alcoholic would get better if he just stopped drinking; it’s obvious there are deeper demons after five more giveaways yesterday.  Da’Rel Scott, for whatever reason, suddenly can’t hold on to the football.  Chris Turner made some horrific decisions.  And of course, there’s the pitiful O-line, which caused the almost comically awful play in the Terp end zone when Turner tried to throw it away to avoid a safety but instead just dribbled it onto the turf.  Touchdown Rutgers.

The defense just plain sucks right now.  Alex Wujciak, the unit’s leader, got 17 tackles and played well, but made no tackles for loss and forced no turnovers.  That sums up the unit:  they just don’t make plays.  Just the opposite, in fact; they’re extraordinarily susceptible to big plays, as evidenced by Joe Martinek’s late TD runs of 29 and 61 yards to ice the game.

Torrey “Darrius Heyward-Bey” Smith continued his great but baffling play, finishing with 237 total yards but fading out of the offense in the second half.   They’ve gotta get him the ball.  I repeat: they have got to get him the ball.  Don’t overthink it.  Ride him into the ground.

I’ll stop there with the criticisms.  Now, back to the goals.  Since, for all intents and purposes, we’re playing for pride now, let’s do just that.  Here’s a bold new goal:  let’s try to not be the ACC’s worst team.  The conference is weak.  Duke and UVA should be Ws, right?  Right?  Bueller? 

Final thought:  it looks bleak, but I’m not taking up the torch and pitchfork yet.  We’ve still got some eminently beatable teams on the schedule, and in the weak-as-my-grandmama ACC, much is possible.  If the Terps, knowing they’re not gonna contend, can just keep their heads up and claw their way back to the pack, it won’t be a lost season.  If nothing else, they’ve gotta beat Duke.  It’s so important to have goals!  Even if  you have to change them all the time.


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September 2009