Posts Tagged ‘Jin Soo Choi


Unstoppable Starts Here! Dino Gregory Could Be Latest Ineligible Terp


Listening to the Terps’ 75-54 exhibition win last night over the mighty Crimson Hawks of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, you never would have guessed that Maryland had, or ever had, anyone on their roster named Dino Gregory.  And that’s noteworthy why, you ask?  Quit bothering you with this stupid exhibition bullcrap, you say? Well, hold on to your hats; this is curious because the Terps do have someone who goes by that name. Look, here he is. And what’s more, he was supposedly the team’s fifth starter entering the season.

So why did Gregory not only not play, but have his very existence expunged from the broadcast as if he were a “Fire Snyder” sign at a Redskins tailgate? Well, now we have our answer. Actually, some people were informed minutes before the game. But I was not. For I have no access, you see.

But now that I’m informed and fully awake, I’m going to be serious for a second here.  Gregory was suspended and barred from Comcast Center last night because of some previous team violations (alleged to be academic misconduct) that have yet to be resolved. The school isn’t commenting, citing privacy rules. This is not boding well. This could mean significant lost time for Dino.

If Gregory does miss real games, it would not be the first time for a Maryland athlete. Maryland QB Josh Portis was caught cheating, had to sit out the 2007 season, and never recovered. He transferred. And of course, in January 2006, Maryland guard Chris McCray was deemed ineligible for the rest of his senior season. This wasn’t some reserve who dropped off the radar; this was a big gaffe. He was the team’s leading scorer and they ended up missing the tournament. Earlier this year, the artist formerly known as Jin Soo Kim was declared academically ineligible before being reinstated a few days later.

This is to say nothing of the Tyree Evans or Gus Gilchrist eligibility fiascoes.

McCray, Kim/Choi, Evans, Gilchrist, Portis, and maybe Gregory. That’s a decent team right there.

I never had the feeling Maryland players and programs weren’t taking school seriously. (Although graduation stats are pretty poor, they’re improving and potentially misleading. But that’s another post.) But it seems fair to ask whether there is a disconnect somewhere. Isn’t someone accountable for making sure players know the rules and get their butts to class? It seems like someone keeps dropping the ball when it comes to making sure players understand expectations (and consequences). And it seems like this stuff happens at Maryland more than other schools. Is that just me? Either way, how many more times do players need to lose eligibility because of some ultimately silly mistake before we stop shooting ourselves in the foot?


Know your rotation guys: Jin Soo Choi

(The series continues. Read the previous installment here.)


By now, many fans know the legend of Korean Jin Soon Choi.  Unless, of course, you live in North Korea. Or inside a burlap sack.  A  beautiful, glorious burlap sack.  Either way.

He is the artist formerly known as Jin Soo Kim.  He is the first Korean to play in Division I and in the NCAA tournament.  And he is probably the most celebrated and enigmatic non-Vasquez personality on the Maryland basketball team.

The 6’8″ Choi, who spent some of the offseason playing for Korea in the FIBA Asia championship (they finished seventh), committed to Maryland in 2007 after Gary Williams watched one workout and made him an offer on the spot. Choi once allegedly hit 17 of 20 threes in a workout, and has drawn comparisions to Reggie Miller and Dirk Nowitzki (the latter from Williams himself).  He’s quick for his size and has good handle, but his big weapon is that long-distance stroke. The Terps haven’t had a money-in-the-bank perimeter shooter since Drew Nicholas (or maybe Mike Jones, if you’re feeling charitable), and this squad, so heavy on penetrators, could use a sniper to loosen up opposing defenses.

Jin Soo has basically been a folk hero at Maryland since he first set foot on the court. The big blue ox he rides around the campus also helps, as does his willingness to challenge any machine who would seek to supplant the works of man. Whenever Choi got into a game last season, the crowd went wild.  He blocked a shot once and I thought Comcast Center was going to shoot into orbit.  Unfortunately, though, his stats aren’t quite as eye-catching as his back story; in 6.5 mpg last year, Choi shot 24 percent from three and 29 percent overall.  This year, in the team’s second scrimmage, he netted two boards and zero points on 0-6 shooting in 32 minutes, prompting Gary Williams to opine thusly:

It’s got to be more than a jump shot…it’s got to be a complete game. You have to bust your butt on the defensive end of the court. You have to be a good passer at that three position that he’s playing right now.


So basically, the guy camps out behind the three-point line and that’s about it.  With so many guys having a legit shot at PT this year, especially in the wing spots, that’s just not gonna get er done.  He did a little better in the first scrimmage — 3-10 for 10 points, five boards, two steals — but still not setting the world on fire.

Now, clearly, Choi’s case is more complicated than others.  He moved to the U.S. when he was 14, and has a lot to overcome. His English remains limited, and he calls academics his biggest challenge so far in the states.  He does have family nearby, including a brother who graduated from Maryland in 1999, but I can only imagine that this continues to be a huge transition, on and off the court. Off the court is self-explanatory. On the court, he simply seems uncomfortable against D-1’s stronger, tougher players, none of whom look like, act like, or, uh, share any discernible cultural attributes with him. 


This adjustment could take years, if it ever happens. Fortunately, on the court, there may be a relatively easy solution. Choi needs to bulk up.  A lot.  He needs to be, like, frying Snicker’s bars in bacon grease.  Gary should hire a nagging Jewish mother to follow him around:  “Jin Soo, eat something!  Why don’t you take a little bread with that?  You’re skin and bones!”   A little more mass would give him confidence and reduce his getting-pushed-around quotient.  Choi apparently has added muscle and is up into the 200 lb. range, but he’s gotta keep it up.  No one expects Charles Barkley, but when you’re 6’8″ and you’re gonna play the three, you can’t be all reedy like that.

I think coaching also plays a large role for Choi.  Hopefully they’re helping him with more than just learning the offense or explaining the definition of “pick and roll.” There’s psychology at work here.  Hopefully they’re helping Choi feel more included and comfortable around his teammates, which ultimately translates into more confidence in the face of his opponents.  It’s not that Choi plays scared.  It’s just that when you grew up on the other side of the world, anything that can help you feel more at home is gonna be welcome.  I know I’m not saying anything the coaching staff doesn’t already know.

Bottom line:  if we can develop him in a meaningful way, we’ve got a player. Otherwise, he’s in danger of becoming a sideline novelty.

(Photo credit:


New name added to Terps’ basketball roster

Don't call him Kim

Don't call him Kim

New name, yes. New player, no. Forward Jin Soo Kim has changed his name to Jin Soo Choi to honor the stepfather who raised him. Possibly also because Kim is, like, a girly name for girls.

Either way, it looks like I fooled you with my clever headline. Heh. Although I think that depleted all of my Monday energy. I’m going home to take a soak. goterps.

(Photo credit: The Baltimore Sun)


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