Archive for November, 2008

Telltale Sunday
November 20, 2008

Old home week for John Harbaugh comes at kind of an awkward time.  At least on the surface.  He’d like nothing better than to share stories of how much he admires his mentor Andy Reid, then hopefully show him the pupil has passed the teacher.

But this week has become the tipping point for the Eagles, and Harbaugh may prove responsible in sending Reid over the irreparable edge. 

The Eagles hard to believe tie game with Cincy, and the subsequent backlash about Donovan McNabb now knowing games ended in ties has stretched Reid and McNabb’s credibility to the brink in Philly.  So they arrive in Baltimore this week, probably needing to win five of their final six games for any hopes of a playoff berth. 

At this point, all the frustration and not yet met expectations will either galvanize the Eagles or tear them apart.  A lot of which will depend on the pressure applied from Baltimore.  If the Ravens return to their impressive ways and send the Eagles packing, it may prove the dawn of a new era in Philadelphia.

Great Hoops Tonight
November 17, 2008

While there is still no local tournament for the six division one teams not named Maryland on this side of the bay, many play each other this time of the year and it’s fun.

Mt. St. Mary’s knocked off Loyola in Baltimore on Friday.  Likewise for Towson over Navy.  Then tonight we have two very good teams heading in similar directions squaring off.  Morgan State continues a total rebirth with Todd Bozeman at the helm.  The reigning MEAC Champs host UMBC at Hill Field House.  UMBC won the regular season and conference tourney titles of America East last season.  They were the first such titles in school history.

Considering how the Baltimore area went about a decade without any real excitement for men’s college hoops, we should all take advantage of it now.  Good teams in abundance giving us choices for a quality game almost any night of the week.  Go check it out for yourself tonight at Morgan State.

Tough act to follow
November 13, 2008

The 2007-2008 men’s local basketball season (Maryland excluded) served up a big ole sandwich of fun.  UMBC, Coppin State, and Mt. St. Mary’s reached the big dance.  Morgan State went to then NIT.  Navy and Loyola nearly won their conference tourneys.  We enjoyed a collective level of excellence rarely seen in Baltimore area college hoops.

And the sequel may prove just as entertaining. 

Morgan State returns seven from last year’s regular season MEAC champs including Marquise Kately (13.1 ppg).  The Bears are preseason favorites to repeat.  Also in the MEAC Tywain McKie, the reigning conference player of the year is back to defend that title. 

Mt. St. Mary’s is picked by almost everyone to win the NEC.  Towson can only get better and brings in a kid so quick he makes light look slow.  Troy Franklin is worth the price of admission at the Towson Center.

Loyola lost it’s scoring punch from Gerald Brown and is picked 5th in the MAAC, but Jimmy Patsos now has the power to reload instead of rebuild.  He won’t coach at Reitz Arena for much longer.

UMBC may fall the farthest, then again when you’re on top there’s only one way to go.  After winning the regular season and tourney titles of the AEC, the Retrievers lose a lot of scoring.  But Jay Greene still runs the point and defines “in the gym” range.

Back to Maryland now, and again the Terps look set for hard times.  No inside presence and giant holes in their scoring punch leave you wondering how they’ll compete in the ACC.   This however is when Gary Williams is at his best.  He loves the under dog and now 20 years in at Maryland, that kind of challenge rejuvenates the future hall of famer. 

He also has Sean Mosely. 

I asked the Terps freshman last spring when he knew he could really play the game.  He shared a story from the summer going into his sophomore year at St. Frances Academy in which during a pick up game he dunked over Terrence Morris.  That’s 6’8″ former Terp star and European professional Terrence Morris.  As a sophomore.  You don’t have to be a psychic to read those tea leaves.

Almost there…
November 10, 2008

I have tried to contain optimism for the Ravens playoff possibilities.  I didn’t even think they’d win Sunday in Houston.  4th out of five on the road left me thinking they would finally have that hiccup.

But again, against a not so great team, the Ravens proved impressive.  Allright, better than impressive.  They so thoroughly crushed Sage Rosenfels confidence, he may never throw a touchdown pass again.  And once more, Joe Flacco goes 60 minutes without an interception.  That’s four straight games for the rookie without tossing a pick.

I still though can’t commit to the credibility of this team.  My eyes tell me they’re good but just one of their victories has come against a winning team (Miami, 5-4). 

To make the playoffs they will likely need four victories in their last seven games.  Those games come against the Giants (8-1), Eagles (5-4), Bengals (1-8), Redskins (6-3),  Steelers (6-3), Cowboys (5-4),and Jaguars (4-5).  

If the Ravens don’t prove ready for the post season.  If Joe Flacco starts acting his age, likewise Ray Lewis, and Baltimore ends at 8-8 that’s okay.  A culture change has engulfed the Castle.  If not now, then soon the Ravens will return to the elite and it’s a good bet they’ll stay there for a while.

Who are these guys?
November 3, 2008

Left a little loopy from the Ravens recent run of offensive excellence?  Or dumbfounded?  Or stuck with a politician’s perma-grin? 

Hard not to be left in wonder as a team with such a rich tradition of the three yard pass on 3rd and five rides a three game stretch in which they’re averaging 31 points per game. 

Adding to the confusion is the collection of guys tearing it up for the purple and black.  Joe Flacco, a rookie from 1-AA football, Ray Rice from Rutgers (you know that powerhouse in Jersey), and LeRon McClain whom no coach before Cam Cameron thought worthy of regularly carrying the ball.

Who could have seen this coming?  I predicted five wins for the season for the precise reason that these were the guys upon which the Ravens might be forced to rely!  Now they sit in 2nd place, on the verge of first with five wins in the first half of the season.

The growth and excitement from these guys is great and sets the foundation for a serious run of fun.  But before playoff tickets are purchased, take a close look at the schedule.   Four games against the NFC East remain, another date with Pittsburgh, and at Houston this week.  John Harbaugh said today all they’ve guaranteed is a 5-11 record.  He offers the reality check that nothing has really yet been accomplished.  So sure, you can’t earn a spot in the playoffs after eight games,  but you can absolutely lose one.  Thus far, they’re well in the hunt.  What a pleasant surprise.