March 2
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point, counter-point

Pick your side and go with it.

For every point, there's a counter-point. In sports, one person can watch the game and see the exact opposite of what someone else saw...even though both people watched the same game.

Point: Maryland is really good. -- Despite Saturday night's home loss to Michigan State, the Terps are still one of the ten best teams in college basketball. They have a dominant player (Jalen Smith) and a point guard who can take over the game and hit the big shot when necessary (Anthony Cowan). They also have a lengthy record of success in the final five minutes of games under Mark Turgeon. And if you believe in fate and "sometimes it's just your turn", the Terps' chances improve even more. This Maryland team could be very dangerous in the NCAA tournament.

Counter-point: Maryland is a paper tiger. -- After a bunch of lucky wins, the Cleat of Reality finally paid a visit to the Terps on Saturday night in the loss to Michigan State. People forget that Maryland was fortunate to win a couple of December non-conference games when they fell behind inferior teams before rallying to win. And then, in recent weeks, the Terps pulled off miracle wins at Michigan State and Minnesota. The Terps have very little depth, a coach with no real track record in the NCAA tournament, and once they get away from the friendly confines of the XFINITY Center, it's a total coin flip in terms of what kind of quality Maryland will present. This Terps team will be extremely fortunate to win two games in the tournament.

Could Tiger earn a 6th Masters title this April?

Point: Tiger's back stiffness will impact him in the Masters. -- Tiger Woods will not play in this week's PGA Tour event at Bay Hill GC in Orlando, citing a stiff-back in last week's press release after he failing to meet the sign-up deadline. Woods last played three weeks ago at the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles, then skipped the WGC event in Mexico and this past week's Honda Classic near his home in South Florida. This past Friday, his agent distributed a note to the media simply saying that Woods continues to battle a "stiff back". The Masters is six weeks away, now. Woods will likely only have one or two events prior to the trip to Augusta National to prepare for defense of his 2019 title. Tiger might play the Players Championship and the Match Play Championship, but that's it. With only those two tournaments (if he even plays those), how is he going to test that stiff back and get it ready for the grueling week at Augusta? Tiger fans should be prepared: He's not winning the Masters again this year. Not with a bad back he's not.

Counter-point: It's Augusta, Tiger can win there anytime. -- Can a 44-year old guy with a bad back win at Augusta National? Well, a 43-year old guy did just that last April, so why not again this April? Look, it's very obvious that Woods isn't what he once was. He's simply not able to compete physically on the same level as he could 15 years ago when he beat everyone like a drum. But Augusta National and the Masters...that's a different story. As he showed last April when he won his 15th career major, Tiger can always cobble together a decent round or two at Augusta and put himself in the hunt. Bad back and all, he can make birdie on the four par 5 holes. A couple of more birdies and the obligatory bogey or three and there's an under-par round right there. Don't forget, Tiger didn't play Bay Hill last year, either. He didn't play the Honda last year as well. All he needed as a ramp-up session to winning at Augusta was to compete at The Players and the Match Play Championship. All he needs this year is some warm Augusta weather in early April and he's good to go. Bad back and all, Woods will be there on always.

Point: LeBron James might be the best ever. -- 35 years old and still roaring along, LeBron went toe-to-toe with NBA hotshot Zion Williamson last night in New Orleans...and scored 34 points in 36 minutes on a 14-for-21 shooting night. At this point, unless you're just a contrarian, there's no doubt James is the best player of his generation. Now, though, some NBA experts are starting to wonder if LeBron might be the best player ever. No one has dominated the game in the way he has, particularly in the last five years, when he still gets the best of the game's top stars on an almost nightly basis.

Counter-point: LeBron James doesn't make others better. -- Sure, LeBron is a great player, but would you really want him on your team? Name the last player or two that LeBron made better in Cleveland, Miami, Cleveland (again) or Los Angeles. Go ahead. It's tough to do, right? That's because LeBron doesn't make players better around him. He doesn't even try to do that, in fact. For all of the talk about his position as one of the game's top players, James is a one-man show. He's just there for himself. No one else around him benefits.

Point: The Ravens should draft an outside linebacker in the 1st round in April. -- The last time the Ravens chose a rush end/outside linebacker in the first round was when? Come on, don't go rushing off to Google. If you guessed "Terrell Suggs", you're right. The Ravens haven't selected an outside linebacker in the first round since 2003. And now, after another season of just-OK linebacker play, the Ravens are faced with the potential of having upwards of three high quality linebackers to consider in next month's draft. Simmons, Murray and Queen are just three of the names linked to the Ravens, with others obviously available outside the first round. But after a season of little quarterback pressure from its linebacking corps, is it time for the Ravens to cash in their first round pick on an outside linebacker? The answer is "yes".

Counter-point: Get Lamar Jackson some more wide receiver help in the 1st round. -- Linebackers? They don't score points and help the quarterback. The Ravens are "this close" (fingers held narrowly apart) to breaking open the entire league with Lamar Jackson and his band of offensive talent. With their first pick next month, the Ravens should be adding another wide receiver to Jackson's stable. Imagine another speedster alongside Hollywood Brown. Scary, right? And if Miles Boykin comes along and improves in year two, the Ravens will have a 3-receiver group to match any young assembly in the league. Remember that home playoff game in January when the Ravens offense fizzled? Don't let that happen again. Get. Another. First. Round. Receiver!

In my ongoing "40 Friends in 40 Days" Lenten celebration here at #DMD (day 6 today), I'm going to share with you one of the best 18 minutes of "life" you'll ever hear. I've shared this here before, but it's worth doing so again. It's a sermon from Dr. S.M. Lockridge, a former San Diego area minister, and it's appropriately titled "The Greatest Sermon Ever Preached".

I know you have 18 minutes to spare today, at some point. Please spend those spare 18 minutes listening to this.

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.

consider this...

Every Maryland fan wanted the day to end on Saturday in the way it began, with a late-night celebration of a big win in the same vein as the televised morning celebration of a great season.

In that way, the 78-66 loss to Michigan State was a terrible disappointment. Even worse, the game was over pretty early. The way the Spartans were playing, that comeback we’ve seen from the Terps a few times wasn’t happening, home crowd or not.

In reality, it’s important to look at the big picture too. It was a season split with Spartans, with a win on the road, which in some ways is better for both teams than the more typical home-and-home split. The Terps need to win only one of their last two games to earn a share of the Big Ten regular-season title, and could still win it outright with only one win.

Maryland has hit a bit of a wall, it seems. If it wasn’t for a small miracle from Darryl Morsell in Minneapolis, this would be a three-game losing streak and a real crisis of confidence. Mark Turgeon’s team has made its name on defense this season, but that hasn’t been the case in the last seven days.

And the final road game comes at Rutgers — which has lost just once at home, is desperate after a three-game losing skid and hasn’t played since last Wednesday.

The biggest issue when it comes to the Terps’ lack of depth isn’t foul trouble or fatigue; it’s that Maryland tends to go as their “sixth starter” Aaron Wiggins goes. When he hits a few shots early, or even makes an athletic play on the fast break, it always seems to energize Turgeon’s team. If it isn’t his night, this year’s version of Eric Ayala isn’t enough to make up for it.

Saturday night’s game was highly-anticipated, and the home team’s performance didn’t match the buzz. But when the final buzzer sounded, it was the same as any other loss.

The Terps are still relative neophytes in the conference, in their sixth season as members, and I was thinking the other day about the best Big 10 basketball road trips to make if you’re interested.

I’d first tell you to go to Rutgers, for the purposes of both convenience and atmosphere. You can get there from Baltimore in about three hours, and it’s a quick jaunt off the New Jersey Turnpike. As for the arena itself, the “RAC” is loud, outdated, crowded and uncomfortable…which is great. Someday Rutgers will fundraise for and build (not necessarily in that order) a new place on the wide expanse of New Jersey land the school owns, and it’ll be a sad if necessary day.

As for the other “close’ trip, to State College, Pa., I wouldn’t go out of my way. The only time the cavernous Bryce Jordan Center gets crowded is for something the students call “THON,” where undergrads spend two days dancing while raising money for childhood cancer research. This is a beautiful event, and you should check it out instead of a basketball game.

When it comes to farther-flung places in the league, head first to the amazing Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota. On television, you can see the raised floor, probably two feet above the bench level. What you can’t see is the rest of a building that was originally constructed in the 1920s and sounds like it. Bonus—Minneapolis is a true big city, unlike most of the conference towns. Not a bonus—you’ll be going there in January or February.

The arenas at Purdue, Iowa and Illinois are remarkably similar, though I wouldn’t necessarily say the same about the small-ish cities in which they reside. The arena at Ohio State is just another version of Xfinity Center, in the same way the school is just another version of Maryland, just with a good football team.

Wherever you’re going, bring a heavy jacket or two. You’re unlikely to get a North Carolina “winter” day in Madison or Ann Arbor.

Maryland senior guard Anthony Cowan is one of just two players in program history to score 1,800 points and hand out 550 assists; the other is Greivis Vásquez, who amazingly has been gone from campus for 10 years now. You can be a great point guard at 6-foot-6 or less than six feet, and maybe both will lead their teams to regular-season conference titles as seniors.

Cowan is an interesting player, as was Vásquez, in a different way. The Bowie native is going to be a three-time all-conference pick, ranks high on the Maryland lists in points and minutes and has started every game of his career. Like his one-year backcourt mate Melo Trimble, he’s become a player who makes clutch shots at important times.

Yet somehow, as happens in college basketball these days, some of that gets used against him. If he was a great player, he would have left early, and not just declared for early NBA entry before deciding to return for his senior year. When he doesn’t play well, his size is the issue. When he does play well, he shoots too much and doesn’t play the role of point guard well enough.

I tend to harp on something Cowan said when he decided to return to Maryland for his senior year, which (by the way) came after he had already graduated last May. “As a kid that was born down the street who has always been a Maryland fan,” he said, “I just want to leave my legacy here. I believe I have more to give Maryland.”

This year’s Maryland team is fun in that way, with Cowan playing alongside Baltimore natives and Mt. St. Joe grads Jalen Smith and Morsell. We often hear about the quality of prep basketball in this area, and it’s always great to see when than translates to College Park as opposed to out-of-state.

In any case—and call me old-fashioned—I’ll always be a fan of a player who grew up wanting to play for a team and made his dream come true.

Have you read about this minor “feud” between Turgeon and Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann? It began last Sunday after the Buckeyes beat the Terps in Columbus, when Turgeon said that OSU’s Kaleb Wesson “was allowed to be the bully offensively” during the game.

Holtmann was told about those comments, and he didn’t say much, but Turgeon brought it up again in the following days, and the Ohio State coach was kind of annoyed. On Wednesday, unprompted in an off-day press conference, he said that he continued to take issue with Turgeon’s characterization.

And then there was some great trolling. Later on Wednesday, Turgeon decided to use his celebratory postgame interview to complain about the 9 p.m. ET tip time in Minneapolis. The following night, OSU played a 9 p.m. ET game in Lincoln, Neb., and after the game Holtmann began his press conference by saying that “it was great having a 9 p.m. tip. We could get in here early.”

It’s still too early to call, but it would be great fun if the Terps get the No. 1 seed and end up playing Ohio State in their first Big 10 tournament game. That game would take place at 12:30 p.m. on a Friday in Indianapolis. Too early, Mark?

In all seriousness, I kind of like the feisty Mark Turgeon.

You may remember that the previous Maryland coach was sorta feisty about these type of things. He liked to complain about the ACC tournament taking place in North Carolina 35 of the last 40 years (or something like that) and never quite gave up the underdog role, even though his team spent many years outside that lane.

Maybe Turgeon is just annoyed at the continued sniping at him while his team is having a great season. Or maybe he just had a week where his usually private thoughts, for some reason, came out of his mouth while microphones were stuck in front of it.

Whatever it is, it can be a lot of fun when a couple of adults start sniping at each other in support of their teams.


st. frances wins 3rd straight catholic league crown

Before he became widely known as “Ace,” Adrian Baldwin scored on a put-back at the buzzer, giving St. Frances Academy’s boys basketball team an improbable come-from-behind victory over Chicago powerhouse Morgan Park at a mixer at Poly in January 2017. Baldwin, a freshman guard, was carried off the floor by his teammates.

Even back then, Baldwin had an innate flair for the dramatic. Sunday, he capped his memorable varsity career in style.

No. 2 St. Frances defeated top-ranked Mount St. Joseph, 81-65, in the 49th Baltimore Catholic League Tournament championship game in front of nearly 2,000 at Loyola University’s Reitz Arena. Baldwin posted a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds, in his final area match for the Panthers (38-4 overall).

Ace Baldwin won his 3rd straight Baltimore Catholic League tournament MVP award as St. Frances beat Mount Saint Joseph, 81-65.

The East Baltimore school started fast and finished strong against the Gaels (29-6), who denied the Panthers in the MIAA A Conference final last weekend at Harford Community College.

Sunday, St. Frances completed the fifth 3-peat in BCL Tourney history, and Baldwin became the first player to win three straight tourney MVP honors since former Panther and BCL Hall of Famer Mark Karcher in the late 1990s.

Karcher, who coached St. Frances to the 2009 BCL tourney title (last before 3-peat run), is considered one of the best in the storied history of Baltimore prep hoops.

Baldwin, who will play for Virginia Commonwealth University next season, solidified his spot Sunday.

“Three BCL MVPs, four championships in four years, he’s got to be one of the best players to come out of St. Frances and one of the best to come out of Baltimore,” said St. Frances coach Nick Myles. “His will to win, the drive to want to win every game, every second.”

For the first time this season, Baldwin and the Panthers put together a 32-minute effort against Mount St. Joseph, which defeated them in two of three prior meetings to Sunday. It would’ve been three-for-three if not Baldwin’s heroics in the final five minutes on Valentine’s Night as St. Frances rallied from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit.

“It was a great environment, and everybody came to play,” said Baldwin. “We really wanted this one after losing to them last Sunday.”

Myles said Mount St. Joseph’s MIAA A title celebration on social media struck a chord.

“We were focused, prepared and locked in today,” said Myles.

It started with Khyrie Staten, intercepting a St. Joe’s pass under the basket and scoring the game’s first basket. Baldwin drained the first of his five 3-pointers, giving the Panthers a 9-0 lead.

Mount St. Joseph drew to 21-17 after a basket from Jason Edokpayi, but a Baldwin 3-pointer – sandwiched between four Jamal West’s free throws – pushed St. Frances’ advantage to 28-17.

The lead was 41-28 at halftime and the rout was on.

“Everybody had to buy in,” said West. “When everybody buys in and play their role, everybody wins. We got off to a fast start and kept it going.”

This is a partial reproduction of the game story originally published by our friends at Varsity Sports Network, Maryland's top provider of high school athletics news and information. The full recap of Sunday's Catholic League title game can be found at

I Am Catholic

March 1
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sunday stuff

Dale Williams will handle all of the heavy lifting in his Maryland-Michigan State review below. I don't have anything specific to say about how Maryland got blown out at home.

Other than this...

I wonder if the school has ever had two more widely anticipated games bellyflop in front of them like this season's home football loss to Penn State (59-0) and last night's 78-66 defeat to the Spartans?

Mark Turgeon and the Terps dropped the most anticipated Big Ten home game ever last night, 78-66, to Michigan State.

I don't know the answer, by the way. That's why I wrote, "I wonder" to start the previous paragraph.

Maryland football got off to a great start last season. They were -- keep your giggles to yourself, please -- ranked 25th in the country after blowing out Howard and Syracuse to start the campaign. Then, after a narrow loss to a decent Temple team, the Terps hosted Penn State on a Friday night at College Park.

Did they or didn't they cancel classes on that Friday when Penn State came to town? I seem to remember that story floating around on social media but I'm not sure it was legit or urban legend.

Classes or not, that Friday night showdown with Penn State was wildly anticipated. It was going to be the moment where Mike Locksley and the Terps showed everyone they were on their way back...

And........they lost 59-0.

Now, last night's loss to Michigan State was different in that people really care about Maryland basketball. The ESPN GameDay crew was in College Park on Saturday and this was the marquee college hoops game in the entire country yesterday.

The atmosphere was beyond electric. Even Tom Izzo complimented the packed area in his post-game comments.

But the home team again fizzled, losing by 12 points.

If you're wondering how I'm going to somehow tie all of this into a bow and make a point of some kind -- I'm not.

I'd just like to know if there have ever been two more "crushing" home losses in one season of Maryland sports?

There is a great golf tournament being held this weekend at The Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

It's so good that 5-under par is the leading score (Tommy Fleetwood) through three rounds at PGA National. That's not 5-under after 18 holes. That's 5-under......for.......54 holes.

Lee Westwood (-3) is two shots behind third round leader Tommy Fleetwood at The Honda Classic.

For all the recent talk about how length off the tee is hurting the game of golf and more specifically, the PGA Tour, the short 7100 yard layout at PGA National is giving the field all they can handle and then some.

Why is it playing so hard?

The greens are very difficult to putt. There's water on virtually every hole. The chipping areas around the greens are tight and unforgiving. If you miss a green, bogey or double bogey is a near certainty.

Interestingly, the rough isn't all that terrible. Sure, it's a par 70 layout, which inherently lends itself to a lower scoring total over 4 days, but there just aren't that many easy holes on the course.

The place is so good and so hard that they held a PGA Championship there in 1987. Larry Nelson beat Lanny Wadkins in a playoff after the two players finished at just 1-under par over 72 holes.

It's a shame the TOUR can't play regular events at distinguished older courses who can still hold their own the way PGA National is doing this week. This has been three days of really good golf, with birdies and bogeys alike and no fewer than a dozen players who could leapfrog over Fleetwood and win this afternoon.

And it's also a shame that golf course builders still think a layout has to be in the 7700 yard range to challenge elite golfers. PGA National is proof that 7100 yards is more than enough if the holes themselves are punshing if not played correctly.

Chris Davis is off to a great start in spring training. You might have heard about it. He hit his third home run of the month yesterday as the Birds won their 4th straight game, 12-6 over the Marlins.

Davis is hitting .714 so far in 2020 spring training.

Are you excited? It's OK if you are. No harm in unbridled enthusiasm, even for a guy who has been as ineffective as Davis has been for the last three years.

I'm not excited, honestly.

I've learned something along the way over the course of my 57 years.

How you play in spring training has almost zero connection to how you're going to do in April (or, late March) when the games really count.

Just like pre-season football doesn't matter, neither does spring training baseball. Not one iota, in fact.

How you play a practice round the day before the golf tournament begins has no bearing at all on how you're going to play the following day when your swing has to hold up under the gun.

Practice, scrimmage, exhibition, etc. None of them matter. I mean, playing well in those events and games is better than not playing well, but it's not very smart to put any stock in how you perform in games that don't matter.

Like a lot of people, I'd love to see Chris Davis have an excellent season in 2020. He deserves it after the three years of misery he's had to endure.

But I'm not getting excited at all by what he's done over the last week. I'd love to see him do it in April and May, though. At that point, it would matter.

In my "40 Friends in 40 Days" Lenten celebration here at #DMD, today's entry (#5) is the first person I didn't know or meet. But just because I didn't meet Harvey Penick doesn't mean he didn't influence me, which is why he's on my list.

Penick was an Austin, Texas golf instructor who taught the likes of major champions like Tom Kite and Davis Love III. He was well known for his easy-going, no-pressure style. Kite was one of the game's top amateur players under Penick and later went on to win the 1992 U.S. Open. Love III won the '97 PGA at Winged Foot. Both of them prospered greatly under Penick's tutelage.

Penick's famous book, "Harvey Penick's Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings From A Lifetime in Golf", came out in 1992 and I tore through that thing like President Trump attacks Twitter every morning. It contained some of the greatest golf wisdom of all time, which is why most PGA Tour players believe it's the best golf book of its kind, ever.

Back then, remember, there was no internet. You couldn't go to YouTube and watch a bunch of golf swing videos in slow motion with hours of research and data backing up whatever it was that the instructor was teaching.

In 1992, a "book" was about the best golf instruction you could get from a well known source like Penick.

There are far too many lessons and teachings that I learned then that I still use today, but one of them still sticks out, nearly 30 years later.

Looking up is the biggest alibi ever invented to explain a terrible shot. By the time you look up, you've already made the mistake. - Penick.

In my opnion, this remains one of the great misnomers in the history of golf instruction. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone I was playing with hit a bad shot and immediately said, "I lifted my head up in the downswing." David Duval, Annika Sorenstam and Jim Furyk -- just to name three -- have made a gazillion dollars and won a bunch of golf tournaments by "looking up" in their downswing.

Even now, with my high school players, they'll hit a bad shot and say, "I looked up." To which I say, "Well, I hope you did. How else would you rotate through the ball and see where it was going once you hit it?"

For players that "lift up" in the downswing, what's really happening is that their body is actually extending toward the golf ball in the downswing, a terribly damaging move that most golf instructors call, simply, "early extension". From there, a player loses his angles and his ability to drive hard and fast through the impact area and the head and upper body naturally "come out of the shot". Keeping your head down on the downswing isn't a "bad" thought, but it requires a number of other things to go right in sequence in order to make the ball go where you want intend it to go.

"The Little Red Book" had a profound impact on my love for the game of golf and my ability to play at a modestly decent competitive level over the last 20 years or so.

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DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.

outclassed terps fall at home to sparty

Maryland picked a poor time to play their worst defensive game of the year last night at the XFINITY Center.

Not only did the Terps give up way too many easy buckets, but Michigan State lit it up from outside, and seemingly corralled all of their misses to get second chance points. Add in a 7-minute Maryland scoring lapse starting midway through the first half and it all added up to a humbling 78-66 defeat.

It was a brutally physical game, but typical of coach Tom Izzo’s, teams. The bigger the game, the more rugged his Spartan’s play. Maryland couldn’t answer and, in the meantime, lost for the first time at home all season.

The Terps regressed to having one of the same poor starts that highlighted their play earlier in the season. After scoring the game’s first 9 points, it took the Spartans less than 4 minutes to obtain a double-digit lead, 14-2.

By the 14:47 mark, the Terps were down 17-5. Michigan State was on fire from the floor, hitting 7 of their first 8 shots including a perfect 3 for 3 from the three-point line. The first 6 rebounds of the game all went to MSU. It was a rough start to say the least.

Maybe “uninspired” more aptly described the Maryland effort in the opening 7 minutes.

When the Spartan shots started to dry up and the Terps shots started to fall, Maryland was able to pull even at 23-23. It would be the last time the game would be tied.

Michigan State’s board work started to pay dividends and they ran off 7 straight points, with 5 coming off of second chance buckets. At the same time, Maryland was in the midst of a 7-minute scoring draught and found themselves down 7, 32-25, at the under 4-minute TV Timeout.

When Cassius Winston hit a three-quarter court heave at the halftime buzzer, (uncontested) MSU went into the locker room with a 40-29 lead.

In the opening 20 minutes, the visitors hit 7 threes compared to Maryland’s 3. That 12-point differential accounted for the entire Michigan State lead.

Maryland only posted 6 points in the final 10 minutes of the half. Even worse, in those final 10 minutes, the Terps turned it over six times, went 2 for 8 from the field, and missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Those were 10 bad minutes for Maryland and the amped up crowd was silenced. That stretch determined the game.

The second half started with Michigan State scoring 9 points in the first 2:45. Most of the points came in the paint as the Terp defense looked sluggish and disinterested.

The MSU lead was now 16, 49-33. The game was over.

The Terps had put themselves into a hole that was too deep to overcome against a motivated Michigan State team. Winston was killing Anthony Cowan, and the Terps, with his 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting in just 24 minutes of action.

The Terp defense was sieve-like, allowing MSU to hit their first 7 shots of the second half, and when the Spartans finally missed a shot, they were able to capture the offensive rebound and drain a three. It took a charging foul for Michigan State to finally have a dry possession.

The lead grew to 18, 61-43. The Michigan State starters had hit 21 of 33 shots. Ballgame. There can’t be a comeback when you fail to get stops.

Maryland’s guards were woefully outplayed last night.

Cowan failed to hit a three, and committed 4 turnovers. Aaron Wiggins made only one of seven shots and Eric Ayala missed all 4 of his attempts. In contrast, the combo of Winston and Rocket Watts pumped in 33 points for Michigan State.

The three-point shot was also critical last night, but that’s no surprise in college basketball. It’s virtually impossible to win a game when one team outscores the other by 18 points from behind the line. That’s what happened last night when MSU knocked down 12 triples compared to Maryland’s 6.

Here's the 3-word summary from last night's big showdown at College Park: Maryland got steamrolled.

For the Terps, it's on to Rutgers for a 7pm game on Tuesday night at the RAC in New Jersey.


February 29
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40 Friends in 40 Days

a lenten celebration of influential people in drew's life

Brought to you by the Archdiocese of Baltimore

day 4: scott manning

In my 17 seasons with the Blast organization, I created friendships with a lot of people. Some were in the front office, some were players on the field. As I go through my "40 Friends in 40 Days" Lenten celebration here at #DMD, it's inevitable you'll see other Blast-related names pop up.

One of those, Scott Manning, is appropriate to bring up today.

Tonight, the Blast will induct three new members into the franchise's Hall of Fame. One of them, former athletic trainer, Marty McGinty, is a friend of mine. Marty and I were roommates on the road with the Blast from 1988 through 1992, in fact. Marty is a good, good man. And he was a terrific trainer, too. He still is, in fact, although he now works at Curley High School instead of with the Blast.

The other two inductees going in tonight are David Bascome and Lee Tschantret. Both were players for the team in the late '90s, early '00s. I know each of them, but they both arrived on the scene after I departed in 1998. David and Lee were outstanding players, for sure.

Scott Manning was the MVP of the 1983-84 MISL Championship Series when the Blast defeated the St. Louis Steamers, 4-games-to-1 and Manning was the winning GK in games 2, 3 and 4 of that series.

I first met Scott Manning in 1982. He came to the Blast that season after a short stint in Buffalo. In short time, Scott not only became one of the best Blast players in history, but he finished his indoor career as one of the top 10 goalkeepers in the history of the "old MISL". Some lists -- like mine, for instance -- might even have him in the top 5. He was, by anyone's account, a great goalkeeper.

Scott Manning is not in the Blast Hall of Fame.

Because some of you might not be overly familiar with the Blast, circa 1985, and the quality of Manning's performance in particular, I'll paint this picture for you. Most people would agree in the history of Ravens football that the team's top three players were Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Jon Ogden. In Orioles history, it might go Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray and Jim Palmer.

In Blast history, any historian of the franchise would tell you the best three players were Stan Stamenkovic, Mike Stankovic and Scott Manning.

Not having Scott Manning in the team's Hall of Fame is akin to Jon Ogden or Jim Palmer not being in the Ravens Ring of Honor or Orioles Hall of Fame.

So, yes, this is a significant void. There is not a debate about the quality of Scott Manning's play as a member of the Blast, in the same way there's no debate about the quality of Ogden or Palmer. Scott Manning is a Hall of Famer, period.

But he's not in.

And I'm not blowing hot hair about this because Manning is still in town, belongs to the same golf club as me, and remains one of my friends from my 17 years in the soccer business. I'd be saying this every February if, say, Joey Fink wasn't in the Hall of Fame and I no longer spoke with him on a regular basis.

What's right is right and what's wrong is wrong and Manning not being in the Hall of Fame is wrong.

He's not in the Hall of Fame because the team's owner hasn't allowed him in. I don't really know all of the details, honestly, although a decade or so ago I heard "a story". Let's just leave it at that.

For a long time after my departure in 1998, the Blast gave me a vote on the team's Hall of Fame class. After a few years of not seeing Manning go in, I started to inquire with the team's front office about the former goalkeeper's exclusion from the Hall. One year, I hand wrote his name in with a small note scribbed next to it. I was told that didn't go over well. I did the same thing again the following year.

I was told by someone in the organization "Scott's never getting in". That seemed a little too definite for me. "Never?" "Ever?" That's a long time to punish someone.

At one point in the mid 2000's, bored for sports talk fodder in February, I suppose, I went on the radio and barked about the injustice of Manning not being in the Hall of Fame.

I no longer received a Hall of Fame vote after that on-air session where I questioned the legitimacy of a Blast Hall of Fame without Scott Manning's name on the banner.

So, I made my point but lost my Hall of Fame vote. I wasn't trying to stir the pot. Rather, I was trying to speak for Manning when he apparently wasn't able to speak for himself. I remain a fan of the organization and the team to this day and have been to several home games this season. I can proudly say that I've seen at least one home game of the Baltimore Blast for 40 straight years.

Scott Manning was a great goalkeeper and a terrific representative of the Blast franchise during his tenure with the franchise (1982-1991). He was one of the organization's most visible players in the community and loved Baltimore so much he stayed here when his playing days were complete.

I'm heading out to the Hall of Fame game and induction ceremony tonight. I'll see a lot of old, familiar faces, many of whom I grew to know on a deeply personal level over the years. I might even bump into Ed Hale, the current Blast owner whom I worked for from 1988 through 1992. Ed's a good man who has invested nearly 30 years into the game of indoor soccer in Baltimore. He, too, is a Blast Hall of Famer.

But good men can make mistakes, too. And we all make them. Not having Scott Manning in the Blast Hall of Fame is a mistake. Every name on the banner is watered down just a smidgen because Manning's name isn't up there.

In this Lenten season of celebration, I can only hope that somehow, tonight, Ed sees that the time has come to put Scott in. Whatever happened between those two can't possibly be bad enough to not having Scott Manning's name rightfully placed in the team's Hall of Fame.

Either way, though, I'm happy to call Scott Manning a friend.

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terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.

unbeaten home season on the line tonight

There were so many games-within-the-game when Michigan State played Maryland in East Lansing just two weeks ago, that it’s hard to figure out which one is repeatable.

Are we likely to see the Maryland team that raced out to a 39-24 lead with just 3:00 minutes left in the first half, or the one the Spartans outscored by 21 points over the next 20 minutes? Maybe we’ll get the Terp team that won the final 3:25, 14-0 (I doubt that).

One thing we can count on: This will be a raucous environment starting at 8pm. If you’re not lucky enough to view the game in person, you can catch the action on ESPN. The network has set up their “Game Day” shop in College Park. This is the premiere home game for Maryland, and I’m hoping the students have a flash mob performance awaiting the attendees and TV viewers.

I’ll start out my evaluation of tonight’s game by sharing some concerns.

Can Maryland complete the regular season sweep of Tom Izzo and Michigan State tonight in College Park?

I’m concerned that Michigan State will make a higher percentage of threes in the XFINITY Center than the 21% they hit at home.

I’m concerned that Rocket Watts will far outperform his 5-point game that he had two weeks ago.

Also, I’m concerned about Anthony Cowan’s ability to replicate his 5 for 9 three-point shooting. Three of his triples came in succession during the game winning stretch in the final three minutes of that 67-60 win.

On the plus side for Maryland, outside of Cowan’s 9-9 from the foul line, the Terps tallied only 3 points shooting free throws. Tonight, that will surely change for the better. On that same note, Cowan went 5-9 shooting threes, his teammates went 4-16. He’s bound to get more help in this rematch with the Spartans.

I recognize the level of defense that these two teams can play, and that tenacity surely played a role in the final score of the February 15th game, but the 127 total points (67-60) of the first game will be blown away in tonight’s contest. Both teams, and coaches, know the value of easy buckets in the transition game and they’ll run when they can.

The pace of play will be much different this time around. 67 points won’t win this game, as I anticipate both teams to score over 70.

Maryland will continue to get Jalen Smith heavily involved in the offense. He led his team with 14 shot attempts in the first game, and he’ll get something close to that tonight.

One person that didn’t get involved offensively when these teams clashed 2 weeks ago was Darryl Morsell. The Terp hero against Minnesota failed to make a field goal against the Spartans. He’ll be key tonight in the Terps fast break offense and will post double digit points.

Overall, I’d rate Maryland as the better defensive team, but Michigan State as the superior offensive team. In an attempt to predict the outcome, I’ll assume that neither squad goes nuts from behind the three-point line. If that holds true, then Maryland should win this game.

Transition defense and rebounding are the keys tonight. If Maryland can hold their own in those two departments, then they’ll clinch no worse than a regular season first place tie. They will do just that, in a hotly contested game, that ends in the home team’s favor, 76-72. For you short term investors, the early line has the Terps favored by 2.5 points.

February 28
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bregman, brooks and brady

There was an interview with Alex Bregman a couple of years ago where the Astros third baseman said this: "One of the best things about baseball is that we police ourselves. Call them unwritten rules if you want, but when you get to the majors, you find out real quick what they are and that you're supposed to abide by them. I love that we keep order in our own game."

Bregman is a lucky man. "Lucky" because he's now getting a first-hand glimpse into how many of his major league brethren also believe in baseball's unwritten rules...just like him.

More home runs...or hit by 2020?

In their first three games of spring training, Bregman and his Astros teammates were hit with 7 pitches. Bregman himself got plunked in the back against the Cardinals a couple of days. Credit to him, Bregman just strolled down to first base.

If the Astros can put aside this upcoming six month torture tour and win the American League West again, it would be, in my opinion, one of the best stories and best accomplishments in the history of the sport. Part of the charm of the arduous 162-game baseball schedule is that half of that slate is spent on the road, where you typically get to toil in anonymity, whether it's walking in a visiting city at lunch time or playing the game in an "away" venue. When you're on the road, the focus is typically on the home team. The road team is just another visiting squad with different uniforms.

The Astros will get no such treatment this season. In every city, every game, and every inning, they'll have a bullseye on their backs. Everywhere. If they can rise above all of that and win 95 games again, they deserve any accolades they earn, as long as they're no longer cheating, obviously.

Bregman loves baseball's unwritten rules. That's good. So, too, do the other 29 teams and their players. Bregman will find that out this season.

Earlier this week, a portion of a GQ feature on PGA Tour player Brooks Koepka was leaked to the media to generate interest in the upcoming March issue. Koepka is one of golf's rising stars, with four recent major championships and a position as one of golf's most outspoken people.

In the article, Koepka spoke out against golf's "stuffiness", criticizing things like men removing their hats indoors, the need for having their shirt tucked in, and the "no cell phone" policy that many private clubs enforce these days.

“One thing I'd change is maybe the stuffiness," Koepka told the magazine. "Golf has always had this persona of the triple-pleated khaki pants, the button-up shirt, very country club atmosphere, where it doesn't always have to be that way. That's part of the problem. Everybody always says, ‘You need to grow the game.’ Well, why do you need to be so buttoned-up? ‘You have to take your hat off when you get in here.’ ‘You're not allowed in here unless you're a member—or unless the member's here.’ Really? I just never really liked the country club atmosphere. I know that drives a lot of people away from liking me. But just 'cause this golf club has such prestige and the members are all famous and have a lot of money…like, why can't I show up and just go play the golf course? Why do I have to sit in my car and wait for the member?"

One of the pictures in question from next month's GQ feature on Brooks Koepka.

Opinions. Everyone has them. Private clubs have rules. Not just private golf clubs, but all private clubs. Businesses have "rules" too. Koepka, of course, runs his own business, so it's not all that surprising that he doesn't understand the need for common, basic rules that corporate folks need to follow as best they can.

But that's not the issue here.

In the aftermath of the story, another "issue" surfaced.

Koepka got blasted by readers and "influencers" who criticized his attire and one of the scenes -- at least -- where he was photographed.

"Dude's crying about golf being stuffy and he's wearing a $900 Louis Vutton shirt," someone wrote on the GQ forum. "Nothing stuffy about that."

"So wait, he doesn't like the country club lifestyle but he's racing around Florida in his $200,000 boat?" another guy (Mick) wrote.

"A stuffy golfer blasting other stuffy golfers for being stuffy," Melissa said. "Nothing to see here."

And on it went. Everyone had an opinion on Koepka. Not on his "opinion", which might have merit or might not. Golf most certainly has had a long set of rules and standards that have been slow to change. A couple of years ago at a friend's member-guest, I was admonished for playing music during our round. "Can you turn that off?" a competitor asked me. "We don't play music on the course." At my club in Baltimore, I'd say at least 50% of the groups on the course have music playing.

But anyway...Koepka wasn't criticized for his opinions. He was criticized for -- wait for it -- what he was a fashion magazine.

Are people really that eager to blast someone? Just because Koepka did his interview on a $200,000 boat, his words don't have value? What, he was supposed to do the interview in a dark alley in New York somewhere?

People, man...

There's talk around football that Tom Brady is prepared to enter free agency this off-season and, potentially, end his 2-decade run with the New England Patriots.

There are a lot of teams who could use Brady, still. There are a few hammerhead goofs in the national media who think Brady is "done". He's about as "done" as Chris Davis is "back" after hitting two spring training home runs.

New England? Or elswhere?

Tom Brady is like most quarterbacks who have been around for 20 years. He needs more help the older he gets, not less. Ten years ago, he could get by with three scrubs and Randy Moss at wide receiver. He and the New England offense could survive with Corey Dillon as their running back. But in 2020, Tom can't do it by himself. So, he's not "done". He just needs help.

Now, the question is: Are the Patriots done with Brady? They might be. It would be a very Belichick'ian thing to do to send Brady off into the sunset somewhere, just to prove that every player has a finish line that they eventually cross over.

But Belichick isn't beating anyone next year without Tom Brady behind center.

A Brady-less New England squad would be hard pressed to go 8-8 in 2020.

8-8 could win the AFC East, by the way...

Brady would help the likes of Indianapolis or the LA Chargers or, perhaps, even someone like Carolina or Tampa Bay, both of whom have veteran returning quarterbacks that have been inconsistent over the last couple of years. John Elway might even sniff around in Denver.

My guess is Brady winds up right back in New England, but it sure would be interesting to see what the Pats would do if Belichick gives TB12 the heave-ho and goes with another quarterback.

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40 Friends in 40 Days

a lenten celebration of influential people in drew's life

Brought to you by the Archdiocese of Baltimore

"94 million people..."

It's rare that you meet someone who immediately impacts you.

Most times, it will take multiple encounters before a new person in your life creates an impression.

I only met Tim Tebow one time.

But that was enough.

Day 3 of my "40 Friends in 40 Days" Lenten celebration is an awesome story about my chance meeting with the former Heisman Trophy winner.

Tebow came into the Super Bowl media center when the big game was played in New York. I don't remember the day, but I think it was early in the week, like Tuesday or maybe Wednesday. He was brought to our table by a PR handler. I don't even remember what he was hawking that day. Soup, maybe? Or a sports drink? I don't recall.

Anyway, Tebow sat down at the table. I introduced myself. Glenn Clark was there as well. While on a commercial break, Clark and I were talking about going to dinner somewhere in New York.

"What kind of food do you guys like?" Tebow asked.

Most guests who come up to the table use idle time to go through their phone or talk to their handler(s). It's rare that a guest in front of you actually talks off air.

We chatted with Tebow about restaurants and food. I wanted steak that night. Clark was harping about fish or something else, I think. Tebow rattled off the names of steak places in the area. He mentioned one of them and said, "They have an unreal vegetable medley there. Be sure and get that if you go."

A few seconds later, I noticed Tebow scribbing something on a small piece of paper. As we got back on the air, he slid it over to me. It had the address of the steak place he was glowing about earlier. Tebow also wrote: The owner's name is Marcus. If he's there, tell him Tim sent you.

We completed the interview and off Tebow went. "Friendly guy," I said to Clark. And that was it. Other guests came and went that day and I frankly didn't think much more about the encounter with Tebow.

The next morning, just before 9 am, I darted off the set to use the bathroom. Before getting back to the table, I stopped for another coffee refill.

A voice to my right said, "So, Drew, did you and Glenn choose steak or fish last night?"

It was Tim Tebow.

He was swirling some lemon and honey in a styrofoam cup of hot tea.

"Steak or fish?" he asked again.

We chatted for a minute about our dining event from the night before. "I had some great fish at (I don't remember where)" he said.

"Well, Drew, nice seeing you again," Tebow said with his hand out. "Hope you have a good rest of the week. Thanks for having me on yesterday."

I have no idea how many people Tim Tebow met during his two or three day trip to New York. He's Tim Tebow. He must have met hundreds of people. Hundreds...

But 24 hours after meeting two goofs from a Baltimore radio station, Tebow not only remembered my name but seemingly wanted to have an earnest discussion about our restaurant choice from the night before.

"Remember their name" is something Tebow taught me that day.

It's not always easy, of course. But remembering someone's name and calling them by their name is the hallmark of a quality leader. Tim Tebow wasn't the greatest NFL quarterback, of course, but he sure was a great leader when he was at Florida.

Tebow is also a remarkable public speaker. If you have six minutes to spare today, please watch the video below. It includes something great that happened in Tebow's life. He beat the Steelers in the playoffs. We can all get behind that, right?

I Am Catholic
February 27
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an unforgettable lesson

I don't remember the exact day but I can narrow it down to sometime in the summer of 1986.

I probably hadn't ever posted a complete 18-hole round of golf with a score under 90 by that point.

I picked up the sport at a late age, in my early 20's as it were, mostly because then Blast coach Kenny Cooper wanted me to be able to play with media members in town like Vince Bagli, Jack Dawson and Jim West.

So, through a very loose agreement with the fine people at Rolling Road, Cooper and I would occasionally tee it up at the outstanding course on Wilkens Avenue near UMBC. It was there, on that 99-acre facility, that I got my first-ever formal golf lesson.

I don't remember the date, as I noted above, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

On Day 2 of my "40 Friends in 40 Days" Lenten celebration, today I say thank you to the great Bill Bassler, Sr., of Rolling Road Golf Club. He passed away 15 years ago but his words have never left me.

Bill saw me hacking away at a wedge on the short 9th hole at Rolling Road one summer day and pulled his cart up next to me.

"You need help," he said.

As I grew to know Bill Bassler, Sr., I learned that was a strength of his. Direction communication, with no wasted words.

Bill threw a ball down. "Hit that one," he growled. Bill had a distinct voice. Think Bruce Springsteen and you're close to what he sounded like.

My wedge shot careened off the club dead right and missed the green by 10 yards short and 20 yards wide.

"Put your stuff in the cart and come with me," he said. Later, I'd learn he probably did this because I was backing up the whole course. But in the meantime, I was about to get the first lesson of my life.

We drove over to the 13th hole at Rolling Road.

"Get out your 7 iron," Bill said.

He threw a few more balls down that had been discarded in the back basket of the cart.

"Golf is very simple," he said.

"It's a hands game."

Bassler nudged one of the balls close to him.

To this day, I can still remember what he was wearing. A neatly pressed white golf shirt, perfectly pleated long beige pants, and brown golf shoes, untied.

He certainly looked like a guy who knew what he was doing.

"The rest of your life," Bassler sneered, "you're going to hear people tell you about the shoulder turn, the hip turn, where your feet should be, keep your head down and a bunch of other bulls**t that doesn't really matter."

"Here's what matters..." he said.

And with that, he hit a piercing shot down the fairway at #13 at Rolling Road, with my clubs, no less. And no practice swings or warm-up.

"It's a hands game."

"The clubhead is all that matters. It's at the end of the shaft. You hold the club with your hands. Not with your shoulders or feet or hips. With......your.......hands." And just as he said that, he drilled another shot down the fairway.

Armed with that thought, I was ready to start really learning golf.

Believe it or not, just three years later, in the spring of 1989, I was the low amateur in a season-opening Middle Atlantic PGA pro-am event that was held at Rolling Road, of all places. My round of 70 was the best score of the roughly 50 amateurs who were in the field.

Later that week, I bounced into the pro shop at Rolling Road and there was Bassler behind the counter, reading the newspaper. There were several other older men in the shop shooting the breeze with Bill Sr.

"You won the pro-am," he barked, a twinkle in his eye. "You must think you're really good now." The others in the room giggled.

"You think you're good?" Bill asked.

Before I could say anything, he handed me the paper. "If you think you're good, pick out the winners of the 7th, 8th and 9th at Laurel tomorrow. That's more important than being good at golf."

I got pretty decent at golf, but was never very good at horse handicapping. I wish Bill would have given me a lesson in that endeavor, too.

Bill's son, Billy, became a close friend of mine. He, too, was a longtime golf professional at Rolling Road and an outstanding player himself.

Even now, when I struggle with my game for a round or three, I'll always remember those words from Bill Bassler Sr. Golf instruction has changed dramatically over the last ten years, let alone the last 35 or 40, but I can still hear the words.

"It's a hands game."

Thank you, Bill.

40 Friends in 40 Days

a lenten celebration of influential people in drew's life

Brought to you by the Archdiocese of Baltimore

"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.

sacrifice, just a simple word

First, a story about Lent. I had been working at what was then Loyola College for about six weeks in February 1998 when I parked my car and headed toward my office in the student center. As I walked by one student after another, I noticed something strange. Almost everyone had what appeared to me to be dirt all over their heads. When I reached the office, I asked a co-worker what was happening, and he looked at me quite odd.

“It’s Ash Wednesday. On Ash Wednesday, Catholics put ashes on their foreheads.”

I was 24 years old, having gone away to college and even traveled the country a bit. And I swear I’d never seen anyone place ashes on his or her forehead. So don’t assume everybody knows about that, just like I don’t assume anyone knows about the meaning and traditions of Jewish holidays.

Second, a story about Lent that’s sports-related. Back then, the Loyola women’s lacrosse team played in the Colonial Athletic Association and often traveled south to Virginia on Friday afternoons. The team was usually accompanied by the athletic department chaplain, who had one role more important than any other.

As the team bus parked near Potomac Mills, the site of several chain-type restaurants, Father Mac stood up at the front. He said a prayer and then gave the players a “special dispensation” to eat meat on Fridays, seeing how the team had a game the next day and the food options were somewhat limited.

I always appreciated the prayer, even if I didn’t need the dispensation. Being on the road wasn’t as glamorous as you might think, so I was glad someone may have been looking out for me.

Dianne Geppi Aikens.

Finally, a story about sacrifice, which is what many of us think about when Lent comes up. You know…giving something up for a time, whether it’s chocolate or booze or social media. This was a much bigger sacrifice, it’s related to the second story, and I was just reminded of it the other day when I saw John Geppi.

John Geppi was, and still is to a certain group of people, “Pops.” He was the “Pop” to Diane Geppi-Aikens, the coach of the Loyola women’s lacrosse team. He was more than that, as anyone around those teams would remember. He was the team’s biggest supporter, win or lose, and he was a semi-surrogate father to 25 or 30 young women every season.

Then, in 2003, he became much more. He took on the responsibility of taking care of his daughter who was about to die in a way that few fathers would. In a specially-designed van, he drove her to every game, and almost every practice, and everywhere else. She could no longer do it herself, and some parents would have told her she was crazy for doing it at all. She had brain cancer, was no longer able to walk and was being kept alive by drugs that sapped most of her energy and changed her appearance into something unrecognizable.

Pops never questioned his role in all this. The only game Diane missed all season was a game at Stanford, because she was no longer able to fly; I often wondered if he’d volunteered to drive her across country and back before he realized the folly in that.

This was all very sad then, and it remains sad 17 years later. But something happened that season, and I honestly believe it came because of Pops’ sacrifice.

The Greyhounds won, and they kept winning. They beat Princeton, the No. 1-ranked team and the defending national champions, in overtime in Game 3. They traveled to James Madison, ranked in the top five, and beat the Dukes by 12 goals. At home against Penn State, they won by a goal even though their best player had been given two yellow cards and couldn’t play in the second half. After 14 wins, they finally lost, by one goal to Virginia, only to return to the field four days later and beat Maryland in College Park.

All of this, you may remember, was helping make Diane famous. She was terminal and coaching from a wheelchair and her team was undefeated and ranked No. 1. They were “playing for their coach” in a way that no team ever had, and even the opposing teams were playing for her. Sports Illustrated was the first to make her story national, and back then SI still meant something. That one article, which the reporter smartly wrote from Diane’s first-person perspective, started a month-long media barrage.

It was hard to take joy in all that, the way a small college ought to take joy when a lacrosse team gets the front page in large metropolitan newspapers and ends up on GMA, CBS This Morning and Today. Yet Diane seemed to be enjoying it; in a way, she was sacrificing some of the few days she had left so that others could get the attention she surely thought they deserved.

John’s final trip with Diane to a game ended in a loss, a national semifinal game played at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse against the same Princeton squad her team had beaten earlier in the season. The final score of that game was 5-3, and it was as difficult a game as that score sounds. There was such dynamic play all year, and none of it was on display that night.

The next day, John drove Diane home to Baltimore. For the next six weeks or so, he and the rest of his family took care of her 24 hours a day, just as they had for many months before. In those six weeks, she made it to her son’s high school graduation, the only goal she really had when she’d received her diagnosis. On June 29, Diane died. She was only 40 years old.

Like I said before, the sadness remains. There is no greater sadness, of course, than being a parent who loses a child, and John and his wife have now lost two of them — Diane’s sister Patti died of cancer in 2016.

When I look back on that time in 2003—much of which happened during Lent—which I don’t truly understand, I have such beautiful memories of true sacrifice.

John did what any parent would do, I suppose, but he went past the ordinary. He wasn’t just keeping his daughter alive, he was keeping her spirit alive. He was allowing her to be who she’d been her whole life even though that was physically impossible for her. He never scored a goal or won a draw or made a save or called a play, but he made a great season possible. His sacrifice made everyone else in his orbit want to do the same in their own ways.

There are different religious symbols for all of us, depending on our faith, and some of us don’t believe in any of them. People places ashes on their heads or they don’t, and life goes on either way.

All of us have been the grateful recipients of the sacrifices of others, however, so we should always think of our sacrifices as something we’re giving as opposed to something being taken away.

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terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.

another road miracle for maryland

As Mark Turgeon said last night, “Everything went wrong”, yet the Maryland Terrapins came away with an unlikely 1-point victory at Minnesota, 74-73.

It was a Darryl Morsell deep (very deep) three-pointer with 1.9 seconds left that provided the winning margin in a game where the winners led for just 20 seconds and trailed by as much as 17 points. These Terps have heart.

Maryland won despite Jalen Smith picking up three fouls in the first half, and playing only 4 of the first 20 minutes. They won even though they had another horrendous shooting night (39% from the floor and 21% from the three-point line) which included 2-15 from Anthony Cowan. They won even with Minnesota knocking down 6 of their first 7 threes, including three in a row from a guy who had only made 7 all season.

You can point to several keys reasons why Maryland was able to pull off this comeback. Changes in offensive and defensive philosophy, an amazing night on the offensive glass (20), and some key misses by the Golden Gophers from the foul line, headlined the turnaround.

Darryl Morsell's 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left last night lifted Maryland to an improbable win at Minnesota.

Things in the first half changed quickly for Maryland when, at 16:02, Jalen Smith picked up his second foul while attempting to grab an offensive rebound. With Smith on the bench and Minnesota on fire from behind the three-point line, the Golden Gophers raced out to an 18-6 lead.

You know things are bad when a guy who had made only 7 threes all season, Isaiah Ihnen, makes three in a row in the first half. Meanwhile, the Terps missed their first 7 threes, started out 3-15 from the floor, and trailed 23-12 with just a bit more than 9 minutes left in the half.

Eric Ayala finally made a three, a shot that was so far off line that it banked in, but it was one of the few shots Maryland would make in the first half. They were down 33-19, and shooting just 21% of field, when Smith picked up his third foul (on another horrible call).

The half ended with Minnesota leading 47-31. We said yesterday that the keys for Maryland were to limit Oturu and guard the three-point line. The Terps did neither in the first half. Oturu put up 15 points and the Golden Gophers hit 7 threes in the first 20 minutes.

The Terps made a couple of runs in the second half. On the first run, they had cut a 16-point deficit to 59-50 before Marcus Carr scored in lane and a Daniel Oturu block of a Smith shot, followed by his own made three pointer, quickly pushed the lead back to 14.

Maryland came right back again, and made an even stronger run this time, cutting the lead to just 4 points. They had several tries to cut the lead to just one possession until a Carr basket in the lane and a Gabe Kalscheur long two made the gap 7 points.

Maryland never quit though. They kept chipping away until a turnover by Minnesota with 43.5 seconds left gave the Terps the ball, behind just 3, 72-69. A set play off of the inbounds pass left Smith with a quality look at a game-tying three-pointer. The shot was off the mark and Maryland was forced to foul Kalscheur. This is where the Golden Gopher fortunes turned.

Kalscheur, shooting one-and-one, missed the second foul shot after making the first. It was 73-69 with 40 seconds remaining. Cowan had a contested layup blocked, and the Terps fouled Marcus Carr. Carr missed the front end and Maryland still had a tiny bit of life.

With 18 seconds left to go and the Terps still down by 4 points, Cowan missed a three. The rebound came to Smith who caught it and slammed it home. There were 15 seconds left and now Maryland was down by just 2 points. After Minnesota got the ball inbounded to Kalscheur, he was immediately fouled and went to the line with a chance to make two shots and seal the win.

Like Carr before him, Kalscheur missed the front end and the rebound came to Aaron Wiggins, setting up the final Terp points. The play was set up for Cowan, but he was perfectly defended by Oturu on the left side and down to the left corner. The ball swung to Morsell, who was way behind the three-point line at the top of the key. He let loose the game winner which rattled home crushing the home fans.

Minnesota had one more chance to win the game. After a timeout, a long pass from under the basket made its way to Oturu. Looking to add to his 28 points, Oturu caught the long pass on the right wing and fired an airball. The shot shouldn’t have counted because he clearly traveled before he shot, but it didn’t matter. The Terps celebrated the wild comeback win.

It’s interesting to note that, much like the Michigan game that Maryland lost on a last second basket, Mark Turgeon elected not to defend the inbound passer. This time it worked.

With Maryland trailing by 16, Mark Turgeon started the second half with his team playing a zone defense. Minnesota continued to make shots, so the Terps went back to man, and they defended with energy, contesting everything. They came up with defensive stops and some key steals that they converted into points.

Offensively, Turgeon decided to play Smith on the low post instead of facing the basket, and Smith responded with a big half.

The Terp changes surely helped Maryland, but so did Minnesota. They turned the ball over, missed foul shots, and forgot the put a body on Maryland rebounders. They gave Maryland a chance, and to their credit, the Terps took it.

Smith and Wiggins led the Terps with 16 points each. Morsell had 13 points and 9 rebounds. Donta Scott had 11 very timely points to go along with his 7 rebounds.

Maryland returns home to face Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans this Saturday night at 8 pm.

February 26
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40 friends in 40 days

Today is the first day of the Lenten celebration, a 40-day period of reflection and selflessness that starts on Ash Wednesday (today) and generally ends the day before Easter Sunday (Holy Saturday). Some religions tweak the end day of Lent to serve their own particular needs, but in general it's 40 days from today thru Holy Saturday.

Most of you know the general premise of Lent so I don't think there's a need for a full report here, but the basic concept is this: Lent is a 40-day period that offers us an opportunity to come to terms with the human condition we may spend the rest of the year running from and it brings our need for a Savior to the forefront. Like Advent, Lent is a time to open the doors of our hearts a little wider and understand our Lord a little deeper, so that when Good Friday and eventually Easter comes, it is not just another day at church but an opportunity to receive the overflowing of graces God has to offer.

A common thought about Lent is that you "sacrifice" or give up something you like or enjoy during the 40-day season as a way of not only purifying yourself and your mind, but showing that you appreciate the grace and good will of God.

In recent years, Lent has also changed in that Christian followers are developing new ways of fulfilling their Lenten obligations. Rather than the traditional "I'll give up chocolate for Lent", people are instead proactively making a positive change in their life or creating a daily challenge they'll meet.

I have two personal Lenten obligations I'm undertaking. Rather than "give up" something, I'm adding the popular 40 gallons in 40 days idea to my daily regiment. Over the next 40 days, I'll drink one gallon of water per-day, mixing in two apples along the way throughout the day (a nutritionist's suggestion). My bathroom trips might increase, but my health and well being will improve even more.

I can still have a cup of coffee in the morning, too. I started the "gallon per day challenge" last Sunday, actually, just to get myself used to it, but today officially kicks off the 40 gallons in 40 days quest.

Next, over the 40-day Lenten period, I'm going to take a moment each morning here at #DMD to highlight a friend or influencer in my life/lifetime. Some of these people you'll know. Some will be local names, some will be national names. Some will be people of prominence in our society, others will simply be friends. For simplicity sake, I will not list my three greatest friends and influencers, namely, my wife and two children. They are at top of the list and don't need to be singled out.

In general, I'm taking time over each of the next 40 days to highlight people and say "thank you". Simple enough. Some I've probably thanked before, others I haven't. Over the next 40 days, though, I will.

I've spent a lot of time over the last week or so thinking -- in preparation for Lent -- about the people who have helped me over the last 57 years. "It takes a village" they say, and I've needed those villagers a lot in my 57 years.

The order of inclusion in my "40 Friends" celebration is 100% random. There's nothing to the order of people as they're presented. I have a list, currently, of 34 people, and another list of 15 that I'm narrowing down to the final 6 who "make the cut" for lack of a better term. I'll simply bring them up in whatever order they come to mind between now and Holy Saturday.

In the meantime, please consider doing something similar during Lent. Call one old friend every day for the next 40 days. Buy a coffee for the person behind you in line. You'll figure something out, I'm sure.

I'll kick off my 40 Friends idea this morning.

Terry Ford was the first person I worked with when my radio career formally started in 2002. They brought me in and introduced me to this tall, skinny guy who I thought looked a lot like Geddy Lee of Rush. Maybe that's why I liked Terry so much. I was (and still am) a huge fan of Geddy Lee. (True story: I once brought up the name "Geddy" when my wife and I were discussing names for our son. She liked it, actually. "Where did you get that from?" she asked. When I told her Geddy Lee of Rush, she said, "Come up with something else." So, we settled on Ethan.)

Anyway, Terry and I worked together for the better part of five years. I learned more from Terry, I'd say, than anyone else I worked with. He was a radio "professional" who had spent time in lots of other cities besides Baltimore (his hometown). I was just a guy who liked sports and the owner of the station said to me one day, "You should do radio". Terry actually worked in radio and knew the ins and outs of it. I had hosted my own golf talk show on Monday nights at the station for a couple of years and had done lots of radio play-by-play and color commentary during the Blast days, but hosting your own talk show is different than any of that stuff.

Terry knew things about sports that boggled my mind. We'd be talking to a guest about a Maryland-North Carolina State football game and Terry would say to the guy, "Well, North Carolina State isn't going to run all over Maryland this Saturday. Not with that run game they have now. It's not like back in 1988 when Schmedley Warehouse ran for 204 yards in that game where North Carolina State scored twice in the 4th quarter to win 17-10."

And he was doing that ALL off the top of his head, by the way. No computer in front of him. No notes. I would sit there and look at him with amazement. I didn't know one football player that ever played for North Carolina State and Terry knew some running back from 15 years ago in a game no one cared about in the middle of November.

A little known fact about Terry: He's a good basketball player.

I enjoyed my time with him, a lot. I learned from Terry. We still occasionally exchange a random text message or two, particularly when April 1st rolls around and we remember our April Fools joke that we played on the city of Baltimore, and the Ravens, concerning a trade for Cleveland Browns quarterback Tim Couch.

Terry is still on the air these days at the FM station in town and remains one of their best hosts.

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terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.

terps look to rebound at minnesota tonight

Maryland travels to Minnesota to do battle tonight with the Golden Gophers and that means they will be doing battle with Daniel Oturu, one of the Big Ten’s best players.

Luka Garza might win Big Ten Player of the Year, but it’s Oturu that could be the more effective player at the next level. has the sophomore as the seventh pick in the NBA draft and the first Big Ten player taken in the draft.

The best way to describe Oturo’s game to a Maryland fan might be to say that he does everything that the Terps Jalen Smith does, but Oturu does most of them just a tiny bit better. We’ll give Smith the nod when shooting from longer distances.

Minnesota's Daniel Oturu figures to give Maryland some problems tonight.

The Minnesota sophomore is a slightly better rebounder than Smith because he jumps much better and has better hands. Oturu also has better control of the ball when he puts it on the floor, and with the little extra bulk he possesses, he’s tougher inside.

Oturu is going to be trouble tonight. He’s going to corral some balls that look to be destined for other hands. He’ll make a few shots that look like he should never have attempted. He’s really good when he wants to be.

The Terps will also have to deal with point guard Marcus Carr and his almost 15.4 points per game. Carr is very athletic, but his shooting stats (just 37% from the floor) are far from stellar. At 6’2”, he is Minnesota’s smallest of their three starting guards, and would seem a natural matchup for Maryland’s Anthony Cowan. However, I think Maryland would be better served to let Darryl Morsell hound Carr all night.

Morsell’s longer reach and taller frame will make it harder for Carr to get off his quick-trigger threes and it also would force Carr to be much less liberal with his passes to Oturu. Carr gets close to 7 assists per game and Oturu is the recipient of the bulk of those.

Getting Cowan off of Carr could work because the other Golden Gopher guards, Gabe Kalscheur and Payton Willis, won’t create mismatches with their size. With both guards standing at 6’4”, Cowan wouldn’t be giving up too much size and Eric Ayaya would have a slight advantage against either one. I think Willis vs. Cowan, and Ayala vs. Kalscheur makes the most sense for Maryland.

The last head to head matchup should be dominated by Maryland. Minnesota small forward Alihan Demir has been unable to score in double figures in 9 straight games. He can grab rebounds when he establishes position, but he’s not real mobile and should struggle mightily with any Terp that he tries to guard. Donta Scott, and his increasingly confident offensive play, should find success against Demir unless Oturu helps out. The “4” position should be a big advantage for Maryland.

Getting back to Smith and Oturu, just because Oturu is extremely talented doesn’t necessarily mean he outplays Smith tonight. Smith plays smarter and with more sustained energy that does his Minnesota counterpart. Getting back on defense is not Oturu’s strong suit and Smith loves to run out in front of the break. Look for Smith to get down court for fast break points as much as the situation allows.

Maryland’s chances of pulling off the upset tonight (yes, they are 1-point underdogs) will be greatly enhanced if they can guard the three-point line and keep the Golden Gophers off of the offensive boards. The Terps gave up 13 offensive rebounds to Ohio State on Sunday and a repeat of that will spell doom for Maryland.

I expect very little help to come from the Minnesota bench. Jarvis Omersa can grab a rebound or two, but bench points should be rare for Richard Pitino’s team.

In addition to doing strong board work, the Terps also must limit Oturu’s offensive output. He can get 20, but if he gets anywhere near 30 points, Maryland won’t win.

This is a big game for Minnesota. With road games coming up against Wisconsin and Indiana, they can’t afford a home loss tonight. KenPom has them ranked 31st, but should they lose at home to Maryland and then lose two road games, they will most likely be on the outside looking in come tournament time.

Here’s what happens tonight: This Terp team is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to erase the sting from the OSU loss. Smith and Cowan both looked week against the Buckeyes, and I see a big bounce-back game for both of them. Smith knows that scouts are eager to see how he fares against Oturu. He’ll be ready tonight.

Propelled by fast-break points, strong games from both Cowan and Smith, plus a solid showing from Scott, Maryland holds off the Golden Gophers 67-61 before heading home to face Michigan State on Saturday.

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February 25
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"tell me what they've done"

I have a friend who is an Orioles fan.

You probably do, too. There are still Orioles fans out there...

My friend -- I think he'll be OK with me using his first name, Chris -- caught up with me yesterday for a non-Orioles related discussion but it eventually shifted to baseball.

"You renewing your tickets this year?" he asked me.

"I'm not really sure," I said. "I haven't yet. But it's not because I'm mad at the team or anything like that. It's just that I'm not really under any pressure to buy seats ahead of why do it?"

The 2020 Orioles have Trey Mancini...and they have...Trey Mancini...and, well, there's Trey Mancini, at least.

Chris gave me a weird look. "But you're going to go out there this summer and watch that garbage product they're putting out?" he asked.

"Sure," I replied. "I like going out there with my kids on a nice summer night. I'm not going out there in April when it's 44 degrees at first pitch, but I love going out there when it's 90 and sweltering at 7:37 pm."

"You're nuts," Chris said, emphasizing the word nuts. "Why would you spend money on that product?"

"Well, I still think they --" I didn't get to finish before he cut me off.

"Tell me what they've done," Chris said. His voice was demanding. He was getting a little too worked up about a casual conversation, I thought.

"Well, they haven't done anything, yet. Really," I said.

"EXACTLY! But they have suckers like you that will go out there 10 times a year to watch them finish last," Chris barked.

"But if you'll let me finish..." I said, knowing I probably wasn't going to get the chance to finish. "Just because they haven't done anything yet doesn't mean the groundwork they're laying right now won't work out down the road."

"Who do they have now that's any good at all, besides Mancini?" Chris asked. We weren't really discussing "good players", of course, but that's a "gotcha-moment" waiting to happen and I, stupidly, dove right in.

"I'm not sure that's the point," I countered. "I don't think they're trying to put good players out there right now. Where would -- "

"BINGO!" Chris said. "You said it yourself. They've made the whole season meaningless because they won't put a real team on the field."

"Where would they get a good player right now?" I asked. "No good free agent would come to Baltimore even if the Orioles waved a bunch of money at them. That's not the plan. They literally can't get good players in 2020. Come on now, you're not paying attention to how this works."

"So..." Chris began, given himself a second to catch his breath. "They don't have any good players and they're not going to try and get any and you're still going out there? You're such a sucker."

Realizing at that point that the conversation was going nowhere and whatever friendship we had might be starting to wane, I tried turning the conversation to golf.

"Hey, my Calvert Hall team is practicing on Thursday after school. Wanna come out and join us for 9 holes?" I asked.

"I can't. I'm heading to Sarasota on Thursday morning for the weekend," Chris said as he sipped some water and, I thought, warmed up his pipes for another round of shouting.

"Sarasota? For what?" I asked.

"Spring training. Me and some buddies from work go down for a long weekend every March," Chris stated.

I couldn't make this up if I tried, right?

The Orioles "doubter"...heading to Sarasota for spring training, which, if regular season baseball in Baltimore is meaningless and no good players play, what on earth does that make games that don't count with 60% of the players who won't be in Baltimore on opening day?

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12 prediction "guarantees" for O's 2020

I'm going 12 for 12 on these.

Cut this out, post it on your refrigerator, and bring it back around in late September so you can bow down, publicly, to my 12-for-12 accomplishment.

1. On Opening Day, someone will be in the O's lineup that you'd never heard of until they were introduced before the first pitch. You'll actually say, "Who? Never heard of him before..."

2. There will be a point in April sometime when you say "You know what, this Orioles team might not be all that bad after all. We might have something here."

7 home runs before the end of April for Chris Davis? That's an official #DMD prediction!

3. There will be a point in July when the O's are 22 games under .500 and they've just lost 6 of 7 when you'll say, "These guys are worse than I thought they'd be. Man, they're terrible."

4. Chris Davis will have 7 home runs by the end of April. You heard it here first. He'll only be hitting .220, mind you, but he WILL have 7 home runs at least. Baby steps, folks. Baby steps...

5. None of the starting pitchers will be any good. I mean, we already know that, but I'm "guaranteeing" it.

6. The Orioles will win, at some point, four straight games...but they'll do that only one time during the season.

7. The Orioles will have losing streaks of 5, 6, 7 and 8 games during the season. I know, I'm going out on a limb, right?

8. Opposing teams will put up a 22 run total, an 18 run total and a 16 run total against the Birds in 2020.

9. Trey Mancini's totals before gets traded on August 12. He'll be hitting .288 with 24 HR's and 68 RBI. Wait, I'm not guaranteeing the "traded" part. Just the average, HR and RBI totals. Those are guaranteed.

10. Hanser Alberto (wait, is that right? or is it Alberto Hanser? Seriously, I forget) will fall back to earth in 2020, hitting just .251 with 10 HR's. Oh, and I was's Hanser Alberto. I checked, though, to be sure.

11. The Orioles will get no-hit before the All-Star break.

12. OK, without giving away my final season wins total, let me say this: The Birds will win more games this season than they did a year ago. Yep, you heard it here from "Mr. Optimist". More than 54 wins. Let's go O's!!

If you have any "refrigerator door guarantees", please add them in the comments section below and we'll have them for safe keeping and a September review.

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February 24
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golf's new villain emerges

Golf really hasn't ever had a true villain.

You could say professional wrestling mastered the art of creating a "heel", to use their term, but mainstream "real" sports have had a long list of villains over the years.

Ravens fans would spend more energy booing Hines Ward than cheering their own players 15 years ago. Baker Mayfield might get that same treatment here in Charm City for a while, or at least until he fizzles out and gets replaced by Cleveland's 1st pick in the 2023 draft.

The famous basketball tactic is to boo the villain every time he or she touches the ball. That's always fun, especially if the booing obviously rattles the intended target.

Golf being what it is and all -- a bunch of guys walking in a field and chasing a white ball and occasionally hitting it -- there's never really been a villain or, frankly, even the need for one.

One of the purest axioms in competitive golf is to never root against your opponent. It's a no-no to watch your opponent stand over a 15-foot putt to put you 3 down with 4 to play and say to yourself, "Miss it, please." People certainly do it, but you're taught from a young age to never want your opponent to fail. have Patrick Reed.

The times, they are a changin'.

Detractors? What detractors? Patrick Reed ignored the noise on Sunday and posted his 8th career win with a 1-shot triumph in Mexico.

Because of his own actions and, if we're being honest, some good old fashioned media piling on, Reed has become the PGA Tour's bad boy. He is, for sure, officially a "villain". There's never really been one of those, at least not from the viewpoint of the people who consume the TOUR on TV and at the various venues where the tournaments are held.

Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia have been ridiculed and harrassed over the years, but they've never really been "villains". They're both just hot heads with rabbit ears who let American fans get under their skin. For the most part, people in the U.S. didn't (don't) care for those two, but in Europe, they're both essentially golf royalty.

It's different with Reed. No one, anywhere, really cares for him.

He did that to himself, most would contest, and that's about 80% true. Reed has a history of nefarious behavior, going back to his days in college at Georgia (charges, of course, that he denies) and extending to the PGA Tour, where he's had as many whispers of cheating allegations as he has TOUR wins...which now stands at 8 after yesterday's victory in Mexico.

Say what you will about Reed, but this much is for certain: He has an amazing ability to block out the hate, the media witch hunt, the rest of his fellow PGA Tour players and everyone else that's rooting for him to fail. In no way would I condone what he's done and I doubt very seriously I'd want him on my team, but I also wouldn't want to see him on the other team, either. He's an out-of-this-world competitor.

Reed's win yesterday was the 8th of his career. Here's the key takeaway from that victory: Reed doesn't just win, but he rises to the occasion in big events against the best fields in golf. Of his eight wins, one is a major ('18 Masters), two are World Golf Championships events, one is the season opening Tournament of Champions and two have been FedEx Cup playoff events.

And yesterday's win in Mexico might have been the most impressive of his career. Against the backdrop of Brooks Koepka calling him a cheater this week and Peter Kostis grilling him on a national podcast about cheating that he witnessed (but didn't report until two years later) during his days as a TV golf analyst, Reed somehow shoved all of that to the side and beat the best players in the world with a come-from-behind win.

Afterwards, Reed's post-tournament press conference was better than his golf.

When asked about the week's media coverage of his "situation" (no one in the media wants to actually call it "cheating" so they call it his "situation"), Reed didn't take the bait.

"I don't read the internet or anything media wise," Reed said. "My team does all of that. They read what's on the web and they handle it. I'll check out the PGA Tour app occasionally to see how I'm doing on the points list and stuff, but I don't read the internet to see what people are saying. If I do that, I'm not focusing on my golf game."

Finding someone who doesn't read the internet in 2020 is like finding a Flyers fan who gives up his parking spot for the old lady at the supermarket. They just don't exist.

But Reed apparently doesn't do it. And even though he knows what Koepka and Kostis said about him ("I heard some stories", he said yesterday), the amazing thing is the continued piling on, two months after the incident in the Bahamas, hasn't impacted his golf at all. In fact, if this is even possible, it might be making him play better golf.

Make no mistake about it, golf has a villain. You'd have to look far and wide to find people who actually like Reed and want him to do well. You'd have much more luck finding people -- mostly everyone -- who want to see him fail.

Reed's detractors are going to get lots of chances to see him fail over the next eight months. He's obviously fully exempt for all of the majors. He has a decent chance of snagging one of the four American Olympic spots. And he's now nearly a lock for the Ryder Cup team in September.

If you're a Patrick Reed detractor, you have a summer of rooting against him coming up.

Good luck with all of that. Reed likes proving you wrong, apparently.

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"The Keen Eye" of
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DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.

consider this

The Orioles announced their 2020 broadcast team this past week; it must have taken the intern quite a while to make the Twitter infographic with all 18 names on it.

Before you make fun of an 18-person radio/tv lineup (two for every person in the actual lineup?), remember that Major League teams are running full-time content operations now. It’s not about your transistor radio or Magnavox; it’s about literally everything that MASN or the radio network does, or even what individuals do on their own social media pages.

Or, as the team said in its press release, it’s about a “multi-platform approach delivering news, insights, analysis and creative storytelling directly to our fans.” Fine. That’s 2020 for you.

Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer will again be a TV partnership in 2020, but the Orioles announced big changes to the rest of their "media lineup" last week.

Still, there was some news. Both Jim Hunter, around since the 1990s, and Tom Davis, around since the beginning of time, are “transitioning” to new roles as on-air personalities. One has to wonder if the Orioles are simply trying to get younger on their broadcasts, but Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer will still be around, so maybe not. Plus, Scott Garceau will be back as an Orioles’ broadcaster, something he did very well on broadcast television when us middle-age guys were young.

There is somewhat of a youth movement. Geoff Arnold, who worked in Frederick for five years, will now be calling Major League games for the organization. The Orioles also have gone for a little publicity by hiring Melanie Newman, who made history as part of baseball’s first all-female broadcast team last year. Before you go crazy, I’m quite sure that Newman is qualified to do the job, as are many minor league announcers who just need a chance at higher levels.

Taking all of this into consideration, just remember one thing: the more the Orioles (or any team) create a comprehensive content team like this, the less good information you actually get. Every piece of it comes through a certain lens. The front office can say that it’s going directly to the fans, but sometimes the fans deserve more than that.

What do I think of the proposed NFL schedule and playoff changes? What does it matter what I think? The owners and players aren’t going to do what the fans want, and you could argue that what the fans want is more “meaningful” football, which I suppose a 17th regular-season game and extra playoff games would offer.

Think about this, though, if you’re looking forward to that extra team in the playoffs: Sunday, December 29, another rainy and mild day in Baltimore, and the Pittsburgh Steelers were in town. Pittsburgh had to win to have a chance at the playoffs, against a Ravens’ team that was resting its best players, including the eventual league Most Valuable Player. You’ll remember that Pittsburgh’s season mercifully ended that day, and just how bad “Duck” Hodges really is.

Yet the Steelers would have been the No. 7 seed in the AFC playoffs last season. Is that a team that anybody wanted in the playoffs? More seriously, over time, would having those teams in the playoffs make a big competitive difference?

I know what you’re saying…this past season, the AFC’s No. 6 seed went into the No. 1 seed’s stadium and blew the non-existent roof off the place. Surely a No. 7 seed could do the same to a No. 2 seed, and you’d be right about that. But more often than not, a pretty bad team would be playing in the game.

Then there’s the 17-game issue. In pro sports scheduling, there’s often a call for shorter seasons, whether it’s about weather (see what I did there) or load management or just the overall fan interest over five or six months. But there’s never been a call for the simple unfairness of having an unequal number of home and road games.

The owners don’t care about that. In the seasons in which they’d have only eight games, they’d have two preseason games. In the seasons they have nine, one preseason game. 10=10. The tickets have been purchased, the money is the same. As a fan, however, I’d have a bigger problem with it. But it doesn’t matter what I think…

In response to this past week’s post about the BMW tournament coming to Caves Valley, a commenter talked about the many tournaments he’d attended, and the ways he enjoyed following the golf at them. I suppose this was almost urging fans locally to attend the event, which is a great one—a short (70-person) field featuring the best players of the year.

I really admire this commenter, and others like him. Because as much as I like golf, and play golf, and read about golf and watch (some) golf, I really don’t like trying to watch the pros play onsite. I think it’s difficult, and I don’t think it’s a lot of fun.

At the Masters in 2018, like anyone going for the first time, I couldn’t wait to see the course. I walked it entirely over the course of a few hours. I stopped often to watch shots being hit, and all I could think about was how difficult it was to follow the ball, how little I cared about engaging with the players and how boring it is to watch people putt, no matter whether it’s my Sunday partner at Pine Ridge or Jordan Spieth.

Seeing a course like the Augusta National was wonderful, as I’m sure is the case with many other courses that aren’t as famous. As for the golf itself, I had a better time watching the players at the driving range than on the course.

I’ve always thought it would be fun to play a large PGA Tour event or a major without spectators at all…without hospitality tents and concession stands and having to move 200 people out of the way when Tiger hits it left and has to hook it out of the trees. I would allow for television towers, but that’s it. No grandstands. You know…the way the golf course is the other 51 weeks a year, the way a golf course is supposed to be.

Since that won’t happen, maybe I’ll try to enjoy the experience more the next time I go, which might even be next summer at Caves Valley.

Had Maryland defeated Ohio State yesterday, you probably would have seen the Terps as a No. 1 seed in somebody’s bracketology this morning. Not that it would have really mattered, especially on February 24, but it would have been cool nonetheless.

As it is, Maryland won nine games in a row before losing in Columbus, so the loss didn’t hurt much. All five of the Terps’ losses this year have come to very good teams on the road, so none of them have hurt much in the RPI-and-other-metric sense either.

Mark Turgeon’s team has four games remaining. I think his team is better than all four of those teams, especially with the Michigan State rematch on Saturday taking place in College Park. Still, there are no guarantees. Minnesota is desperate, Rutgers just lost its first home game of the year and Michigan was the team that won that game in New Jersey.

Ohio State played an almost perfect game on Sunday for about 25 minutes. They are an excellent three-point shooting team, especially at home, but they aren’t that good usually. Luther Muhammad, who averages about six points per game, had four of those three-pointers, scored 22 points and seemed like the best player on the floor. OSU’s defense was excellent—I looked up with seven minutes left in the second half and the Buckeyes had only committed two team fouls, and it didn’t seem like an officiating problem.

Maryland played poorly for a few minutes, and they didn’t have Jalen Smith when the Buckeyes pulled ahead by halftime. In general, the Buckeyes did a nice job defensively on Smith, and the Terps aren’t winning against a good team on the road if Smith isn’t a star that night.

As for the Anthony Cowan situation with four minutes left, that was unfortunate, and it was judged poorly by the officials, but that’s not why Maryland lost.

It’s easy to say that Sunday’s game was more important for Ohio State, a team that has eight conference losses as opposed to four for Maryland. And maybe that was true. Anyway, on to Minnesota.


dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.

hot shooting buckeyes beat terps

Yesterday’s Maryland basketball game at Ohio State was a perfect example of why it’s so hard to beat good teams on their home court. The Buckeyes used some hot early shooting, an incredible streak at the foul line, and received the lion’s share of close calls to beat the Terps, 79-72.

Please don’t misinterpret me, I’m in no way implying that the officiating caused Maryland to go down in defeat, but the home team gets the benefit of the doubt in NCAA conference games. It’s always been like that and it always will be. It’s expected. Yesterday the Buckeyes surely were on the receiving end of some “gifts” from the men with the whistles, but they outplayed Maryland throughout the game.

With Jalen Smith getting limited time in the first half once he picked up his second foul, and then returning to the bench after picking up foul number 3 in the second half, Maryland had little chance to beat the Buckeyes, even with Smith’s sub-par performance where he looked very fatigued.

Anthony Cowan fouled out of Sunday's game vs. Ohio State and the Buckeyes took full advantage to beat the Terps, 79-72.

When Anthony Cowan was called for a questionable technical foul, his 5th personal, the automatic ejection with 3:54 left in the game and the Terps down by 5, sealed Maryland’s fate. Two foul shots later the OSU lead was 7 and Maryland never challenged after that. It just wasn’t their day.

The Terps two most potent offensive weapons, Smith and Cowan, combined to hit just 4 field goals. They scored more points from the foul line (10) than from the field (8).

Bolstered by the loud and excited crowd, Ohio State played as if their season depended on this game. They shot the lights out in the first half, knocking down 8 of 16 three-point shots. It took them only 9 tries to make their first 5 three pointers. In the previous matchup between these two ranked teams, Ohio State used 27 attempts to hit 5.

The home court strikes again. Ohio State was just as comfortable from the foul line as they were from the field, hitting 17 of 18 free throws in the second half.

The keys of the first half were the 8 three-pointers made by Ohio State and the bench time for Jalen Smith due to foul trouble. The Buckeyes, in desperate need for a conference win, connected on 50% of their 16 first half three-point tries. With Smith on the pine, Maryland played the last five minutes of the half without making a field goal. Ohio State led at the half, 37-30.

A 7-0 run to start the second half gave OSU their biggest lead, 14 points. To Maryland’s credit, they never quit, and were able to collapse the lead to just 5 points on several occasions. They even got it to 4 with under a minute to play.

Unfortunately for Maryland, Ohio State kept the pressure on by getting timely buckets and knocking down all of their foul shots. Aaron Wiggins supplied most of the fire power that Smith and Cowan couldn’t provide. He had a career high 22 points including making 6 of 13 three-pointers. Eric Ayaka was second in scoring with 16.

Ohio State’s Luther Muhammed did a masterful job on Cowan. He continually cut Cowan off from the lane, and held the Terp point guard to just 4 shot attempts. He gave Cowan immense trouble on the other side of the court also, torching the Terps for 22 points with most of those coming while Cowan was trying to guard him.

With Smith out of the game, or playing with foul trouble, Ohio State dominated the glass. They outrebounded Maryland 36-27. That included 13 offensive rebounds for the Buckeyes.

With Ohio State playing so comfortably and confidently in front of their home fans, it would have taken a superb effort from Maryland to pull out this win. To do so without contributions from Cowan and Smith was impossible. But they stayed in the game and never got blown out.

Maryland definitely received Ohio State’s best shot on Sunday. The Buckeyes deserved the win, no doubt. However, if these two teams happen to meet again on a neutral court in the Big Ten Tournament, the outcome will be very different.

On Wednesday, Maryland will travel to Minnesota to take on the Golden Gophers. The 9p.m. contest will be televised by BTN.

February 23
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that was a wild saturday

It's tough being at the top if you're in college basketball.

Just ask Baylor, Gonzaga and San Diego State.

They were #1, #2 and #4 respectively in the country -- in men's basketball -- before yesterday's slate of games.

They all lost.

Maryland's run toward a #1 seed takes them to Columbus, Ohio today to take on an improving Ohio State team.

The only reason the #3 team, Kansas, didn't lose is because they were the ones who beat the #1 team, Baylor.

San Diego State was 26-0 before yesterday but they fell at home to UNLV, 66-63.

I know what you're thinking...if Maryland beats Ohio State today, maybe they crack the top 5 this week. I don't know, maybe so. It's hard to argue that Maryland isn't a top 5 team if they go to Columbus and win today.

The Terps are comfortably in the 2 seed spot at this point, one would think, but there's a lot of basketball left between now and selection Sunday.

In order for Maryland to secure one of the #1 seeds in the NCAA tournament, they'd likely have to win the rest of their regular season games (not impossible) and advance at least to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament. Even a late slip-up in the Big Ten tourney wouldn't crush them providing that they don't lose between now and then.

The #1 seed is mostly cosmetic, of course. Sure, it affords you an easier ride through the first two games, but really, once you reach the second weekend of the tournament, seedings don't mean all that much in terms of who you get to face next. By the time the Sweet 16 rolls around, just about everyone can beat everyone on any given night. Something named "Loyola of Chicago" made the Final Four a couple of years ago, in case you don't remember.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 700th career goal yesterday in a 3-2 Capitals loss at New Jersey. The malady lingers on for the Caps, who have now dropped 6 of their last 7 games. The only reason they're still tied with the Penguins is because Pittsburgh lost at home to Buffalo yesterday.

There'll be no tie atop the Metropolitan Division standings after today, though. The Penguins are in DC for a 12 noon matchup with the Caps. Winner gets first place -- for now.

Now that he's reached 700 goals, Ovechkin can begin the process of weeding his way through the list of goal scorers ahead of him. There are only seven players in NHL history who have scored more goals than Ovechkin and the next guy on the list is former Caps winger Mike Gartner at 708. Ovi should figure out a way to score 9 more goals in the final 21 games of the regular season, but the 6th place player with 717 goals, Phil Esposito, will have to be caught and passed next season.

Wayne Gretzky's record total of 894 goals isn't really any kind of danger at this point. It seems highly unlikely Ovechkin can score 194 more times. If you're asking for an official guess, you can cut this out and post it on your refrigerator door. When he's skated his last shift, Ovechkin will end up with 829 goals, which will be good for second place on the all-time list.

The Caps, meanwhile, are really circling the drain. The Flyers won yesterday -- those might be the four worst words you can write in sports -- to move up to 77 points. The Caps and Penguins both have 80 points. The Capitals seem like a lock to make the playoffs and all, but let me be the very first one to fire a warning shot. The last wild card team in the Eastern Conference currerntly has 74 points. Columbus is the odd team out at this point, but they too have 74 points, although they've played two more games than have the Capitals.

There is no reason to think the Caps aren't a lock for the post-season......until you realize they could very well continue to lose. And if they were to wind up with something like 92 points, who knows what might happen?

I saw a funny commercial for the PGA Tour yesterday while watching coverage of the WGC event in Mexico, which is currently by Justin Thomas at 15-under par.

In the commercial, a guy -- dressed in Nike golf gear and, I guess, appearing to be Tiger's alter ego or something -- says to Tiger Woods, "How many of your 82 career wins can you name, by either the sponsored title or the tournament itself?"

Tiger pauses.

"Come on," alter ego guy says. "Can you name all 82?"

Erik van Rooyen is one shot behind Justin Thomas in his quest to win his first ever PGA Tour today in Mexico.

Tiger smiles and says "I can name 15 for you right off the bat."

In Mexico, where the six players in the top 5 have a combined 6 major titles (Thomas-1, Reed-1, McIlroy-4), the surprise story is South African Eric van Rooyen, who is looking to make a name for himself with a win today. He's a 30 year old South African with just one win on the European Tour and a T8 at last year's PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.

Don't be fooled by his soft career record or the fact you likely don't know anything about him. van Rooyen is an excellent player and appears to be the next South African to compete for major championships. He follows in an incredibly long line of talented South Africans including Bobby Locke, Gary Player, Nick Price, Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Rory Sabbatini (who now no longer claims South Africa as his residence).

Of those names, only Sabbatini and Grace don't have a major championship to their credit.

Augusta National has always been favorable for South African golfers, for whatever reason. Player, Schwartzel and Immelman have green jackets. Oosthuizen lost in a playoff in 2012, Els had a couple of chances to win but never did. Price held the course record for a while.

If van Rooyen continues to play solid golf and gets in to the Masters (either by winning today or being in the world's top 50 by early April), he'd be someone to consider when it comes to wagering on the event. This week is not a fluke.

I don't follow boxing any longer. I stopped being a boxing fan the night they stole the Hagler-Leonard fight from Marvin Hagler. I don't remember when that was (late 80's?), but boxing hasn't interested me since.


There was apparently a big fight last night and some guy named Fury beat a guy named Wilder.

There's your boxing recap. Oh, and Wilder was upset that his corner threw in the towel.

And the Orioles kicked off their Grapefruit League season in fashion on Saturday, losing 5-0 to the Braves.

You're going to see lots of 5-0 losses this year, I'm afraid.

Well, wait, that seems like a good wagering idea right there.

How many times will the Orioles get shut out this season?

No need for you to hurry over to Google to look it up. I already know what you're thinking. "How many times did the Orioles get shut out last season?" That's what you want to know.

The total was.......8.

So that's what I'd set the betting total at this year, with the half-point hook added on, of course.

This year's total is 8.5.

Would you take the over or the under?

I'll take the over.

I'm saving my official win-loss prediction for closer to the regular season, but if last year's team got blanked 8 times, this year's team is getting shut out at least 9 times.

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terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.

terps face big road test today

The Ohio State team that Maryland plays today is very different from the one they beat on January 7th in the XFINITY Center. Starting guard, DJ Carton, is out indefinitely for personal reasons, and Kyle Young is back from his ankle injury. Additionally, CJ Walker was ineffective in the first game due an illness. Things should be a good bit tougher for the Terps today than they were in the 67-55 Maryland win on the 7th.

OSU is the best three-point shooting team, percentage wise, in the Big Ten. They have multiple players that knock down over 40% of their threes, and when they shoot the deep ball well as a team, they can beat anyone. Against Maryland, they hit just 5 of 27 attempts, good for 18%. The Terps can’t count on that happening again.

#DMD's Dale Williams says today could be a day when Jalen Smith finds foul trouble.

Ohio State was highly ranked until they lost 6 of 7 starting on December 29th. Since that slide, they have won 4 of their last 6 games, and re-entered the top 25 lists. Their current ranking is 25th, but KenPom has them at 13. You can totally dismiss their 7-8 record the Big Ten play. This is a dangerous team.

The Buckeyes don’t do anything fancy on offense. They run the same ball screen sets that many other college teams run. What makes their offense effective is their big man, Kaleb Wesson. Wesson is very adept at scoring on the low blocks and when he steps outside to shoot, he frequently scores. Wesson is one of Ohio State’s 40% three-point shooters.

When one guy is so tough to stop, I’m inclined to think that it’s more important to stop his teammates, because that one special player is going to get his points regardless. In the case of today’s game, stopping Wesson should be the top priority.

I’m not advocating that the Terps should let the other OSU players shoot open shots, I’m saying that everything OSU does offensively starts with Wesson.

Here’s what I think happens today. OSU will make getting the ball inside a much bigger priority. They will play at a faster tempo than they did in the first meeting and they will look to get to the rim as often as possible. They’ll force Jalen Smith to defend, and Smith will do something that the has avoided for most of this season, he’ll get in foul trouble.

Maryland can’t win without Smith on the court.

If you could switch the three-point shooting percentages from the first game, OSU wins in a blowout. Maryland, atypically, shot 44% to OSU’s already mentioned 18%. Those numbers won’t remotely match what we will see this afternoon (4 pm).

Maryland’s chances to win this game rely on Smith staying out of foul trouble, and Maryland hitting some outside shots. Unfortunately, both of those things will be hard to accomplish. The Buckeyes will look to take the ball right to Smith whenever possible, and I see no reason to think that the Terps will improve upon their shooting percentages.

Ohio State is a 2.5 point favorite today. I was expecting something closer to 5. The Terps play great defense and it always keeps them in games, but at some point, they are going to face a team that shoots the ball well. That will be tonight. Smith will have a tough time, Cowan will have the kind of road game -that plagued him earlier in the season, and OSU will win by 5, 70-65.

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February 22
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saturday stuff

In my weekly appearance on Glenn Clark Radio yesterday, the show host asked me about the new slate of NFL changes that appear to be almost in ink, now.

For the most part, I think they're all dumb.

Unless I'm missing something, other than officiating and the replay system, is there anything really wrong with the NFL these days?

The owners are making a gazillion dollars. So, too, are the players. I imagine it's pretty good work to be part of a NFL team's front office these days as well. The money is flowing freely.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL owners are looking to strike while the iron's hot by adding one regular season game and one additional playoff team per conference.

Why tinker with it?

To make more money?

I guess this is why I do what I do in Maryland instead of owning three homes and belonging to Seminole and Shinnecock Hills. I've never quite grasped the concept of greed. They didn't teach that one at Glen Burnie High School.

16 games seems fine to me. Glenn Clark always likes to say, "We want more football, though, not less." And that might be true, in essence, but under that theory, why not just make the NFL regular season 24 games? 28? 30?

16 regular season games seems like a great number. 32 teams. 16 games. 12 playoff teams. It all seems so......even......and perfect.

Under the proposed changes about to be set in place, the season will go to 17 games. Math was never my specialty, but doesn't that mean you'll play either 9 home and 8 away or 8 home and 9 away? And isn't that pretty much unfair if you get the extra road game?

Quick, name another professional sport that plays an "odd" number of games in their regular season. Right..............there isn't one.

College football and basketball don't have "balanced" schedules, but every other real sport does. You play the same number of home games as road games. It has to be that way given the importance of playing at home.

17 regular season games is dumb. Make it 18. Or keep it at 16. I'm a dummy and I can figure that one out.

And this proposed new playoff format where 7 teams in each conference gets in now? Also dumb. Not because "more teams" is dumb, but because adding teams to the playoffs is likely going to mean that more mediocre teams make it into post-season play.

You're not going to see an extra 12-4 team get in (or, in the new format, 12-5). You'll see more 9-8 or 10-7 teams get in. When you go 9-8 or 10-7, you're mediocre. I thought the regular season was supposed to count for something.

Greed is a terrible, terrible thing.

Don't look now, but the Caps are starting to show real signs of a tailspin. Over six months of hockey, every team goes through one of those stretches where they lose 5 out of 10 or 3 in a row on a road trip or something like that.

The Caps haven't been prone to that sort of stuff over the last couple of years. They won the Stanley Cup two years ago and were one of the league's best regular season teams again last season despite an early playoff ouster. Their recent play, though, is very concerning.

The Caps and Penguins are now tied for the Metropolitan Division lead with 80 points. At one point in mid January, Washington owned a 10 point lead on Pittsburgh. One month's gone.

Washington is 7-9 in its last 16 games and have lost three straight. In their last six games, Alex Ovechkin has one goal. Therein lies the issue, on two levels.

Can Braden Holtby lead the Capitals to a late regular season surge and keep it going into the post-season?

When Ovechkin doesn't score, that's one thing. The team's offense sputters, obviously, but there are plenty of other talented players on the offensive roster to pick up the slack.

But when Ovechkin doesn't score and no one else really does, either, that's when trouble hits. The Caps aren't scoring, in general. Their defense isn't all that swift, either, which makes for a troubling situation. It's one thing if they can play lock-down "d" and get great goaltending and win a bunch of 2-1 and 3-2 games. In the last 16 games, they've allowed 4 or more goals on 7 occasions, losing 6 of those 7 games.

A midweek trade for a defenseman (Brenden Dillon, San Jose) was good thinking, but hardly the tonic for what ails the Caps at this point. They need help just about everywhere, actually. Goaltending is fine, with Holtby and Samsonov being adequate enough to get by. If Holtby can up his game a tick heading into the playoffs -- which is quite possible -- the Caps will be fine in goal. But stopping the other team from scoring isn't just about defense. It's a team thing. And the Caps are just not getting it done over the last month to six weeks.

Perhaps this was inevitable. You can't win forever, obviously. Even the New England Patriots are proving that.

This might be the season where the Caps collapse down the stretch, get blasted by Toronto or the Islanders in the first round of the playoffs, and an off-season overhaul is needed. I don't know enough about the Caps salary cap situation to tell you who stays and who goes if they blow it up, but obviously Ovechkin and Backstrom aren't going anywhere. You can start a rebuild around those two, if necessary.

I'm not "down" on the Capitals. I saw them do something two years ago I thought they'd never do. And, despite them winning that Stanley Cup, I still kind of view the Caps the way I've viewed them since the mid 1970's. When push comes to shove, they're always going to let me down. It's just their way of doing things.

I'd like to think the Caps can reverse themselves out of this tailspin and right the ship, but I don't think it's going to happen. They're likely going to have to fight like the devil to hold on to the second spot in the Metropolitan Division. Philadelphia has played one more game than the Caps but they now have 75 points. The Islanders have 74 points. Making up six points in 22 games isn't all that difficult.

No matter what happens between here and the end of the regular season, it's fair to expect very little from the Capitals come April.

A leopard's spots never go away, remember. They just fade a little over time.

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reed answers with a big round

You have to give credit to Patrick Reed.

While the golf world piled on him this week with more discussion about his -- ummmmmm -- flirtation with the rules, Reed has positioned himself nicely near the top of the leaderboard at the World Golf Championships event in Mexico.

Combative as ever, Patrick Reed went 69-63 to start this week's WGC event in Mexico, despite more public discussions about his "playing style".

The 2018 Masters champ put up a second round 63 on Friday to finish the first 36 holes at 10-under par, just one shot behind midway leader Bryson DeChambeau. Say what you will about the cheating stories that are circulating around him constantly, but Reed has an uncanny ability to play great golf while all of that stuff is being said and printed.

Earlier this week, the big bombshell came from former CBS golf analyst Peter Kostis, who claims he saw Reed improve his lie "4 or 5 times" over the years. The internet being undefeated and all, several online snoopers then went back and found several instances where Reed's behavior and use of his club prior to a shot was, let's just say, "curiously interesting".

Brooks Koepka didn't help this week, either, as he essentially called Reed a cheater for the incident in the Bahamas back in December.

I'm not sure why Koepka chose this week to bring that incident up -- again. Perhaps he was asked about it and wanted to give an honest answer. Maybe this was his first public comment about it and it had been brewing inside of him for a while. But it seems a little "old and odd" to bring up Reed's cheating two months later. Unless, of course, you've seen him do something again recently and wanted to send him the message that people are still watching.

Make no mistake about it. Reed is being watched. By every player, every analyst and every TV viewer. It's almost impossible for him to play a shot now without being heavily scrutinized. You'd almost want to say at this point: "If you can cheat now, you deserve to get away with it!"

The crazy thing is that Reed continues to play great golf despite the swirling stories. And, remember, he was labeled a cheater in college and still came out on TOUR and won right away and became a Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup star almost overnight. Then he won the Masters in 2018. All of that stuff was accomplished with the cheater tag already around his neck.

And now, two days after the Kostis bombshell, Reed shoots 63 in Mexico and is poised to perhaps capture one of the biggest non-major events on the TOUR calendar.

Golf hasn't had a polarizing figure of this magnitude in a long, long time. In reality, "polarizing" might be the wrong word, because I'm not sure there are all that many Patrick Reed fans out there. Detractors? Lots and lots and lots of those. Big time supporters? Not very man of them.

Somehow, though, despite the issues he's brought on himself, Reed still plays world class golf. I don't know how.....but he does.

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February 21
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do you remember?

There's a video you'll see below that triggered something in me earlier this week when my friend Mark Suchy sent me the piece you'll read below.

It's a song by the Dave Matthews Band called "Do You Remember?". The video was from a show I actually happened to see live in Camden, New Jersey in 2018. I don't want to spoil the whole thing, but prior to the song, Dave Matthews says to the audience: "I think when we have good times together, those are the things that stay with us."

Well, Pam Bernard, I remember.

Noooooo, it's not what you're thinking. Come on now.

But it does have something to do with Mark's awesome article you'll read today.

Yesterday here at #DMD, I wrote about looking ahead to the 2021 BMW Championship at Caves Valley GC. There's a lot of time between now and then, but the planning is already underway for that event. Baltimore needs to put its best foot forward for that week of festivities. And, well, as we all humbly know these days, "Baltimore" and "best foot forward" don't exactly chime together all that often.

Herb Brooks was the inconic coach who led the U.S. hockey team to the Olympic gold medal in 1980.

But we have 20 months to get it right and I'm cautiously optimistic that Baltimore will showcase itself in a great light next August.

Yesterday we looked ahead. Today, though, we look back.

Tomorrow celebrates the 40-year anniversary of the greatest single sporting "moment" I've ever witnessed.

Where were you on February 22, 1980?

Some of you, perhaps, won't even born yet. If not, Mark Suchy's story below will be a great sports lesson for you.

A lot of you, if our 2017 survey was statistically accurate, were youngsters back then. Like I was. I was an 11th grader at Glen Burnie High School during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY.

Memories being what they are and all, there are occasions along life's journey that stick with you forever. I remember, sadly, exactly where I was when my father delivered the news to me that my mother had passed away in 1987. I recall right where was I standing in the Blast offices on S. Conklin Street when someone called to tell me that a close high school friend -- whom I had just seen two days earlier -- had committed suicide the night before.

I also remember watching Notre Dame break UCLA's 88-game in 1974 from my living room in Glen Burnie and throwing our family's small dog in the air when the final horn sounded. Yes, I caught the dog.

I was pacing my living room floor in the last minute of the Capitals Stanley Cup-winning clincher in June of 2018. My great friend Dale Williams was with me. It was the first night of the Eagle's Nest member guest. We watched the first two periods at Eagle's Nest and then I said to Dale, "I hate to do this, but we need to go. I need to watch this last period privately in the event these guys come back and win. I can't be in public if they win the Stanley Cup."

So, Dale and I retreated to my house and watched the last 15 minutes or so together with my wife and son (who fell asleep) and me pacing the floor saying, "These guys are gonna win the Stanley Cup. These guys are gonna win the Stanley Cup."

He likely won't remember this when he's 57, but I woke my son up with two minutes to go and told him to watch the Capitals win the Stanley Cup because "it might not ever happen again."

If I'm being honest, watching the Ravens win the Super Bowl from the pressbox at the stadium in New Orleans in 2013 wasn't really all that memorable. I mean, I remember being there and all and it won't ever go away, but I was effectively working that night and unable to really enjoy the whole thing the way a lot of you "enjoyed" it. But, still, I'll always remember having the privilege of being in the stadium and watching Josh Bynes tackle Ted Ginn Jr. on that last punt after the Ravens took the safety with a few seconds remaining.

But February 22, 1980.

I remember that night.

I will always remember that night, in fact. I know right where I was when the American hockey team upset the Soviet Union, 4-3.

I was at Pam Bernard's house, in her "TV room", with her father and mother and brother. Her brother, David, was a good soccer player who played with me on the Glen Burnie soccer team. Pam was an outstanding athlete herself, a track star at Glen Burnie. For some bizarre reason back then, she liked this guy (me) who was a hockey player for the Benfield Flames and, thus, demanded everyone gather around the TV to watch the Olympic hockey team play the Soviets.

I didn't win Pam over in the long run. But I won that night.

We watched the game at Pam's house. I'll never forget it.

Funny enough, Pam now lives in Chicago and her teen-age son plays ice hockey. I follow his progress on Facebook. I know God works in mysterious ways, so I've often wondered if Pam's son plays hockey in any small way because of the fact she grew to like the sport while she watched the Olympic victory on February 22, 1980.

For a kid in Glen Burnie who loved ice hockey more than any other sport in 1980, that U.S. Olympic hockey win over the Soviet team was the single greatest sporting event I ever witnessed that didn't involve something I was directly involved in, like the Blast winning the MISL title on June 8, 1984 or my Calvert Hall golf team winning the MIAA title in my first season at the school in 2013.

The Dave Matthews video below has a wonderful minute or so of Dave speaking to the audience before the song.

"I think when we have good times together, those are the things that stay with us."

Sports is amazing that way, isn't it?

Do you remember February 22, 1980?

I sure do.

I'll never forget it, either.

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february 22, 1980

Contributed by Mark Suchy

The most galvanizing sporting moment in American history occurred 40 years ago in Lake Placid, NY in the 1980 Winter Olympics when the United States defeated the Soviet Union (remember them?), 4-3 in medal round play (essentially the tournament semifinals).

To this day I can’t think of another sports related event that brought the country together in such a joyful and unexpected way. While there have certainly been plenty of momentous upsets in sports (Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson, the NY Giants beating the undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, NC State over Houston in the NCAA basketball tournament – to name just a few), nothing will ever compare to the events of those 2 weeks in Lake Placid that the young college players on the US hockey team provided. If you were old enough then to appreciate it, it’s something you will never forget.

Full disclosure here: I never really watched hockey growing up. My sports obsessions were the Baltimore Orioles, the Baltimore Colts and the Maryland Terrapins (primarily the men’s basketball team). I attended a few Baltimore Skipjacks games at the Civic Center and the most memorable thing I can think of was a Saturday night game when the Hershey Bears players attempted to scale the glass to go after the fans who were launching bottles and debris at them during an on-ice brawl. I think the Skipjacks won.

But my awareness of hockey was generally peripheral; I knew it was there but since I didn’t grow up in an environment where it was played, it just didn’t register very deeply with me. That certainly changed in February 1980.

The Americans celebrate a goal in the 4-3 upset over the Soviet Union.

The context of the times is central to the story of the Miracle on Ice.

The world was a very different place as the decade of the 1980’s dawned. The politics behind the story is significant to the narrative. Throughout my youth the underlying tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union always threatened global peace. The idea that something could trigger nuclear war was not far-fetched. The two global superpowers had fought wars in Southeast Asia and through unknown backchannels around the globe.

The Bay of Pigs had nearly launched missiles in 1963. Germany was not united; the Berlin Wall stood as testament to the divisions created in the ruins of World War II 36 years later. 52 American citizens were being held hostage in the American embassy in Tehran, Iran, and it was widely understood that the Soviets supported the new Iranian leaders and their efforts to humiliate America on the world stage. The struggle to impose each’s ideologies on underdeveloped nations was real.

When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in December of 1979, then President Jimmy Carter publicly began floating the idea of boycotting the 1980 Summer Olympics to be held in Moscow. These were also the days of the United States still holding onto the ideals of using amateur athletes in the Olympic Games. The Soviets had long used professional athletes in Olympic competition. Any time the nations met in international competition the ideologies of democracy vs. communism were at stake.

It’s also important to note the ways that news was reported and consumed in February of 1980.

Cable television was still in its relative infancy. Americans relied on the 3 networks to provide nightly news, and local news was central to many peoples’ daily lives. There actually used to be a job called local sportscaster, and the producers would dedicate 3 or sometimes 4 minutes to the sportscast. It seems so quaint now, but some evenings the local news was appointment viewing if you wanted to know what was going on.

And there were actual newspapers, these tangible things you could hold in your hands and read. Some people even subscribed for 2 of them, each day, and they would be left at the doorstop or the end of the driveway. There were no cellular phones, no internet, no laptop computers. If you wanted to know what was happening at a sporting event you either bought a ticket to watch the game or you listened on the radio.

Against this backdrop, the 1980 Winter Olympics opened in Lake Placid, NY.

When the Games began it’s probably fair to say that few Americans gave the men’s hockey team much notice. They were a collection of basically unknown college players who had played 61 exhibition games over the course of five months leading up to the Olympics. Their Head Coach, Herb Brooks, was probably unknown to most Americans outside of college hockey fans (he was the Head Coach at the University of Minnesota).

The team's average age was 21 years old, making them the youngest team to ever suit up for the United States in Olympic hockey, and only one player, Buzz Schneider, had played on the 1976 Olympic team. And heading into the Olympic tournament they had been thoroughly routed by the Soviets, 10-3, in Madison Square Garden in their final exhibition before the Games.

The Soviets, by the way, had gone 5-3-1 in exhibitions against NHL teams prior to the Olympics. They had won 4 consecutive gold medals in hockey going back to the 1964 Olympics, with an overall record of 27-1-1 in Olympic play over that time frame.

There really is no measure of hyperbole great enough to describe what happened that Friday night, February 22, 1980 in the Lake Placid Field House. You’ve probably watched the movie “Miracle”; you’ve doubtless heard the iconic call by Al Michaels thousands of times (Do you believe in miracles? YES!); you’ve seen Mike Eruzione’s game winning goal in highlights of the game; you’ve seen the legendary picture on the cover of Sports Illustrated that had no caption and needed none.

But let me tell you about the feelings and the memories. Because if you’re of a certain age, like me, they never go away.

Just typing that previous paragraph brought the goosebumps again. There are moments in time, and then there are moments in time that are forever etched on our hearts and souls. I will never forget the thread of the story over those two weeks.

This photo, taken after the final horn sounded vs. the Soviet Union, wound up being the cover shot used by Sports Illustrated to celebrate the American hockey gold medal in 1980.

I remember watching a pool play game on a Saturday afternoon while we were staying at the Carousel Hotel in Ocean City, Md. (I think they defeated Norway 5-1). I remember the steady buildup of excitement as they won three consecutive games to advance to the medal round and the matchup against the mighty Soviets. I remember thinking that it had been really fun watching them, learning a little more about the nuances of hockey, and daring to believe that maybe we wouldn’t lose 10-3 this time. Maybe we could keep it a little more respectable.

I was in 8th grade. I was with my school basketball team (Hail Mount Washington!) at a Frostburg State basketball game in Frostburg, Md. Our coach, Doc Edwards, was a Frostburg graduate, and each year we would take a weekend and travel to Cumberland and Frostburg and play 2 or 3 games against their local parish school teams. There are some things I’ll just never forget.

The Bobcats were hosting Mary Washington University. There was a sizable crowd gathered, and while everyone was paying attention to the game it’s certain that everyone in that building was thinking of Lake Placid. The entire country was.

ABC had the contract to cover the Olympics, and they had requested that the game time be moved from its 5:00 p.m. scheduled start to 8:00 p.m. so they could broadcast it live in primetime. The Soviets objected, saying it would make the start 4:00 a.m. local time in Moscow, and the governing body of Olympic hockey agreed. So ABC tape delayed the broadcast. Unless you had family or friends in the arena in Lake Placid you had no idea how the game went.

Sometime late in the second half of the Frostburg – Mary Washington game, during a timeout, the PA announcer opened his microphone. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a final score from Lake Placid. The USSR 3……the United States 4.”

The arena erupted. My teammates and I jumped around as if we had just won our own gold medals. A spontaneous chant of U-S-A!, U-S-A! arose and went on for what seemed like five minutes.

I remember seeing lots of hugging and lots of people wiping their eyes. For one glorious moment everyone was truly united. A bunch of college kids playing hockey had accomplished something no team before or after had ever done: They had brought pride to every American, they had reinforced the notion that dreams really could come true, they had written the most remarkable underdog story in American sports history. They had made us all remember that the American Dream was a real, living, tangible thing and not just some antiquated notion of generations long gone.

No moment in our nation’s history has ever felt so genuine, so joyful, so glorious.

That Sunday afternoon I was back home from our trip to Western Maryland. My family and I watched the United States defeat Finland for the gold medal, 4-2. It was sunny and warm for late February and there was no snow on the ground.

After watching the medal ceremony I went out to the driveway with an old hockey stick from the basement that had belonged to my grandfather. He grew up in New England and he never threw anything away. All his stuff always seemed to wind up in our basement. I took a couple of benches and set them up as a makeshift goal. I took a few rubber balls and for an hour or so I fired them around, imagining I was wearing a white sweater with USA stitched on the front. I scored game winning goals and heard the crowd roar.

Then I started shooting hoops. I still have never learned how to skate.

1980 US MEN’S OLYMPIC ROSTER -- Head Coach: Herb Brooks

30-Jim Craig; 3-Ken Morrow; 5-Mike Ramsey; 10-Mark Johnson; 24-Rob McClanahan; 8-Dave Silk; 6-Bill Baker; 9-Neil Broten; 23-Dave Christian; 11-Steve Christoff; 21-Mike Eruzione; 28-John Harrington; 1-Steve Janaszak; 17-Jack O’Callahan; 16-Mark Pavelich; 25-Buzz Schneider; 19-Eric Strobel; 20-Bob Suter; 27-Phil Verchota; 15-Mark Wells

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February 20
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about that caves valley event...

Baltimore, you might have heard, has recently accepted another sports challenge.

This one won't come around until August of 2021, but Caves Valley Golf Club has been selected to host the 2021 BMW Championship, which is the second of three tournaments in the FedEx Cup, a season-long competition that determines the "champion player" of the season on the PGA Tour.

The best 70 players on the PGA Tour will convene at Caves Valley. It's not just a regular old TOUR event where six big names show up and there's a Monday qualifier and 14 players you've never heard of tee it up because your event is sandwiched in between two or three weeks of other significant tournaments.

The BMW Championship is a huge event on TOUR, with massive implications for all 70 players who make the field. The low 30 players following the Caves event will get to play in the TOUR Championship the following week, which is the only way you can capture the coveted $11 million first place check for winning the FedEx Cup.

So, the event is set. Baltimore's getting a really-close-to-a-major-championship tournament, at one of the eastern seaboard's premier facilities.

But here comes the big question.......

Will people come out to watch it?

The current 9th hole (seen here) at Caves Valley will likely be the 18th hole when the BMW Championship visits Caves Valley in 2021.

The golf is going to be great. We know that already. The star power will be unmatched. When you get Koepka, McIlroy, Thomas, Fowler, Johnson, Rahm, Schauffele, Woods, Rose and the other prominent names who are likely to be in that grouping of top 70, the event becomes "can't miss" in terms of drawing cards.

The question still looms, though: Will people come out to watch it?

They should...but will they?

Other than the Preakness, which itself saw a massive drop off 15 years ago when they wouldn't let you bring your own booze to the track, Baltimore has never been any good at hosting these one-off kind of events. The other exception to that might be the Army/Navy game, but the tradition that accompanies that particular event separates it from, say, an international soccer game, a senior golf tournament, an Indy-style downtown car race and the X-Games fiasco that spent a summer or two in Charm City a few years back before they were forced to go elsewhere.

A lot of those events saw decent-to-good attendance figures and corporate support the first time around. But in years two and three, interest quickly waned. There will be excuses all around, but that's just the reality of how things went. Unless it says "Baltimore" on it, we tend not to buy in over the long haul.

This is not to suggest Baltimore won't support the PGA Tour event at Caves Valley.

This is, though, suggesting that Baltimore has its work cut out for it.

History is not on our side.

In particular, the significant professional golf events that have been held here in the last 20 years have all received luke warm receptions. None were able to stand the test of time. The Senior Tour plopped down at Hayfields for a few years, circa 2000, and by the time that event's run came to an end, the crowds on Friday, Saturday and Sunday looked like a midweek Orioles home game. 5,000 people, tops, were there for Sunday's final round the year J.C. Snead won (2002). I was there, working the event. It was a family and friends gathering.

The U.S. Senior Open was held at Caves Valley in 2002. The golf was outstanding. Don Pooley and Tom Watson played a memorable five hole playoff to decide the winner. The course held up beautifully against 100 or so of the best senior golfers in the world. The crowds, though, were light, particularly when presented in the context of a national golfing championship.

An LPGA "international event" at Caves a few years back was a disaster from an attendance standpoint. The course looked awesome, the event's concept was solid, the players were amongst the biggest names in women's golf......but no one came out to watch.

Bulle Rock hosted an LPGA major for several years in the early 2000's. The course seemed perfectly situated between Baltimore and Philadelphia and big attendance numbers were expected. Lots of people came out in year one. A couple of years later it was a ghost town out there.

Baltimore Country Club held a Senior Players Championship for a few years a decade ago. Same story. Great, iconic golf course. 120 of the best senior players in the world, with at least a dozen memorable former major champions (Watson, Price, Langer, Strange). The first year, the crowds were really good. The second year, not so much. By the time Jay Haas won the event in 2009, the attendance was oddly poor.

Caves Valley held another Senior Players Championship a few years back when Scott McCarron won. The Ravens had more people attend their open practice at the stadium than ventured out to see world class golf.

Baltimore has enjoyed an amazing golf history, dating all the way back to the old days of the Eastern Open at Mount Pleasant and an LPGA event at Pine Ridge. Those tournaments seemingly "meant something" to the community. The crowds, based on photos and old newspaper articles, were strong. Neither event stood the test of the time, though.

Now, it's fair to point out that Baltimore hasn't had an event of this magnitude, golfing wise, since all the stars of the TOUR played Mount Pleasant in the late 50's and early 60's. There hasn't been a PGA Tour event in Baltimore since then. Washington DC has played host to regular TOUR stops and a handful of U.S. Opens (Congressional CC) and Presidents Cups (Robert Trent Jones GC) and those events have drawn very well over the years.

But, as we know, Baltimore and Washington DC are close to one another -- 45 miles -- only in actually mileage. They might as well be 200 miles apart in terms of the way people support sports, music and arts events.

This is a huge challenge for the PGA Tour. Caves Valley certainly seems like the perfect venue to host the BMW Championship. There's ample parking, the property is big enough to hold plenty of people but condensed enough to allow for a variety of different viewing options throughout the day. It's the perfect course and club, honestly, for this kind of tournament.

Longtime head professional Dennis Satyshur is among the best in the business and his staff will give the entire tournament the white gloves treatment all week. There's no need at all to worry whether Caves Valley -- as a club -- can handle this. The course and people involved were built for this exact thing, actually.

The players might have their way with the course, by the way, but that's a story for another day. Depending on how it's set up and what the TOUR does with par (my guess is holes #3 and #11 will be shifted from par 5's to par 4's to create a par 70 layout), I could see the winner shooting something in the 16 under par range for four days.

But what happens scoring wise will have no bearing whatsoever on whether or not skyboxes and tickets get sold in advance of the tournament. That's the ultimate barometer on whether moving the tournament to Baltimore was, in fact, the right move.

Will anyone go out there to see the golf?

It's also important to remember that the event is open to anyone who wants to attend. You don't have to show your Maryland driver's license to get in the place. Golf fans from Philly, New York, Boston, Richmond, Charlotte and anywhere in the world can travel to Charm City next August and take in the tournament.

But if Baltimore wants to establish itself as a potential long term host for significant golf events like the BMW or perhaps a major championship or a U.S. Amateur (rumored), the 2021 tournament at Caves Valley has to be a massive success story. We're getting one shot, again, to get it right.

Our history for these events isn't great, if we're being honest.

Let's hope we make the best of this mulligan Baltimore has been granted. Caves Valley deserves a grand, national showcase and so does our city.

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"The Keen Eye" of
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DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.

your college basketball primer

Selection Sunday is the Ides of March, 24 days away. The date was notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debts, which I suppose could happen in the NCAA tournament should there be a rematch of a regular-season game, or a third game between two teams that split a pair of games.

Anyway, in case you haven’t been paying attention, here’s a primer for the teams and stories that might make up the tournament this year.

Let’s get Maryland out of the way first. With five games left, the Terps have a two-game lead in the Big Ten standings. Every team has a slightly different schedule, but it’d still be a nice accomplishment to win a 20-game regular-season title in the best conference in college basketball in 2019-20. The Terps haven’t won an outright conference regular-season title since 2002, and you’ll remember what happened after that.

The Big Ten still may get nine or 10 teams into the NCAA tournament, but it’s hard to say anyone is a real title contender besides the Terps. Penn State, led by Lamar Stevens, is fun to watch on both ends of the court, but they seem like more of a Big Ten tournament champion than a Final Four team.

Cassius Winston and Michigan State have been a disappointment this year, considering the standard to which Tom Izzo’s program is now held. If you like to watch great offense, Iowa is your team; just stop watching after that until the Hawkeyes get the ball again.

Woudn't a March match-up between Maryland and Duke be glorious? Coach K might not think so after his Blue Devils lost by 22 last night to NC State.

Kudos to both Rutgers and Illinois for (probably) making the NCAA tournament, though I wouldn’t be surprised if both get knocked out in the first round.

Baylor (yes, Baylor) is the No. 1-ranked team in both the AP and Coaches polls, though you’d be hard-pressed to say they are a “better” team than Kansas, ranked third in both polls. The Bears do have maybe the best win of the season by any team, beating the Jayhawks by double digits at Allen Fieldhouse on January 11. The teams play again on Saturday in Texas.

Maybe the second-best win all season came against Duke, the one by unheralded Stephen F. Austin (now 23-3, by the way) at Cameron Indoor Stadium back in November. The Blue Devils beat Kansas early in the year, but this year’s weak ACC means they probably aren’t as good as their record might indicate. Coach K has another great (one-and-done, I assume) freshman in 6-10 Vernon Carey, who might finish just behind Kansas’ Devon Dotson and Iowa’s Luka Garza for national player of the year awards.

As far as the rest of the ACC, at this point defending national champion Virginia is on the outside of the NCAA tournament bubble. The Cavaliers have both Duke and Louisville on their home floor in early March, so Tony Bennett’s team has the chance to get on the right side of the bubble. Virginia’s offense, even more atrocious than usual early this year, has started to come around a bit. Right now, though, it’s just Duke, Louisville and Florida State out of the ACC, and North Carolina is likely to finish in last place.

Somehow I’ve gotten this far without talking about the nation’s only undefeated team, San Diego State, now 26-0 and 15-0 in the Mountain West. The Aztecs should have no problem winning their final three games, and also should have no problem getting a No. 1 seed. Can they win the national title? Thanks to guard Malachi Flynn, just maybe. The transfer from Washington State can do it all at 6-foot-1, and the Aztecs are the type of experienced team you just don’t see any more at the highest levels of college basketball.

The West Coast’s second-best team is another one from outside the Power Five, Gonzaga. The Zags have lost a neutral-site game to Michigan back in November and that’s it. Both BYU and Saint Mary’s will likely make the tournament out of the same conference, the WCC, so Gonzaga’s league isn’t as bad as it usually is. Still, the Zags have beaten Saint Mary’s by 30 points and BYU by 23, so it’s not like anyone is nipping at their heels.

The other great non-Power Five program this season? Dayton from the Atlantic 10. 6-foot-9 Obi Toppin is a future NBA star—he’s making nearly 70 percent of his two-point shots and almost 40 percent of his three-point attempts. Anthony Grant’s team is undefeated in conference play and has only lost twice, one of which came against Kansas.

Some great players who will play in the NCAA tournament on teams that aren’t likely to make long runs? It starts with Iowa’s Garza, a 6-foot-10 Washington, D.C., product whose improvement since his freshman year is incredible. Markus Howard from Marquette is the most explosive scorer in college basketball, perhaps the only player who can score 40 points in a game without it being a fluke. Myles Powell of Seton Hall, who didn’t play against Maryland in December, is sort of a Markus Howard-lite. There’s still a small chance that Minnesota can make the Big Dance. If they do, 6-foot-10 Daniel Oturu will have a lot to say about their fortunes. Either way, you can see him play against the Terps in Minneapolis next week.

Locally, as in the Baltimore area, both Towson and Morgan State are having excellent conference seasons, 9-5 in the Colonial and 8-5 in the MEAC respectively. There’s no reason either team couldn’t make a run in its conference tournament. This hasn’t been UMBC’s year, but the Retrievers have won their last three games. Loyola was 1-8 in the first half of the Patriot League season but is now 5-1 in the second half. Freshman Santi Aldama has been a revelation after returning from injury, and he’s made the Greyhounds a team that can beat any team in the league in the conference tournament.

As for the Final Four, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kansas and Baylor play for a fourth time there after a third game in the Big 12 tournament. For some reason, I’m betting that neither San Diego State nor Gonzaga will make it to the semifinals. And somewhere along the line the lack of depth for the Terps will really hurt them, so a great season won’t end up in Atlanta.

At this point, I’ll take the Jayhawks. I’m not sure how Bill Self still has a job in Lawrence, and I think he might be headed to the NBA soon if he gets the chance. Chalk up his second NCAA championship as of now, though I reserve the right to change my mind in a few weeks. Plus, you’re not going to get me to pick Duke…

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February 19
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seven more months of this?


I'm not gonna write about it.

I'm not.

Baseball's not going to sucker me in with this professional wrestling type subplot to their 2020 season.


OK, only for a second or two.

"Every single Astros players needs a beating," said Nick Markakis on Tuesday.

The baseball regular season has always been boring. That's not to say that your favorite team's season can't have excitement associated with it. There was a time six years ago or so where the Orioles were actually exciting.

I know that's hard to believe, but it's true. You can look it up. The Orioles weren't always this bad.

But rarely does the regular season in its totality generate widespread interest. I mean, unless you're betting on the games, do you really care who wins the American League West or the National League Central?

162 games. Six months. If you're lucky, your team wins one more game per week than they lose over five months and September rolls around and that month of baseball actually matters.

The baseball regular season is long. And mostly uninteresting.

If you're actively involved in fantasy baseball you might give a hoot what Yelich or Bellinger or Goldschmidt does on a nightly basis, but for the most part, you don't care what those guys do unless the Brewers, Dodgers or Cardinals are your favorite team.

Is anyone in Baltimore staying up on a Wednesday night in July to watch, say, the Royals and Mariners play the second game of a 3-game set in Seattle?

This season, though........

This season might be different.

Check that: Strike the word "might" and add "will".

This season will be different.

Things are going to be interesting on a daily basis because of the Houston Astros.

Nick Markakis blasted them on Tuesday.

Mike Trout lit into the Astros on Monday.

Other big names are sure to follow suit as spring training opens this week and veteran players get a microphone shoved in their face for reaction to the big off-season scandal involving the 2017 World Series champs.

Commissioner Rob Manfred was back in the crosshairs on Tuesday, apologizing for calling the World Series trophy "a piece of metal" over the weekend when he defended baseball's decision not to strip the Astros of the 2017 title.

No matter where you look, baseball and the Astros are the topic of conversation.

Phil Hughes hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2018 but there he was this week, front and center, yapping on Twitter about how the players should simply refuse to play until the Commissioner penalizes those Astros who were involved in the sign stealing saga.

Imagine that for a second. The players all have a "sit-out" until Manfred suspends a couple of Astros who were involved. Wouldn't that be an all-time power play?

It's weird, but I don't remember the players being nearly this hacked off about steroids 20 years ago.

Twitter and social media didn't exist back then, so the avenues for outrage were far less than what we have today. But even back then, players just sort of silently nodded and went on about their business. If they were disgusted by the guys on the juice gaining a massive advantage, very few players said or did anything about it.

In 2020, players are overwhelmingly outraged at the sign stealing benefits the Astros cooked up for themselves. Pitchers are talking about beaning the likes of Altuve, Correa and Springer. Markakis said "They all deserve a good beating over there", whatever that means.

The Dodgers are the most incensed because they're the ones who lost to the Astros in 2017. The two teams don't play one another in the regular season, sadly, but baseball would surely set some all-time TV ratings numbers if the two enemies were to somehow meet up again in October.

Here in Baltimore, the daily saga involving the Astros will keep baseball interesting throughout the summer. With the Orioles likely out of the A.L. East race by May 10, we'll need something to follow.

And it's looking like the Astros are going to be well worth following this season.

No matter your favorite team, you'll have to keep one eye on Houston, too.

Seven months of denials, beanballs and anger. Heck, if we're lucky, the Astros might only hit .220 at home for a few months and then we'll really have ourselves a story.

Baseball might just be interesting after all this season...even in Baltimore.

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DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.

unbeaten at home, terps glide past northwestern

It was a workmanlike effort that carried the Maryland Terrapins to a 76-67 win over the Northwestern Wildcats last night. After a 7 for 17 three-point shooting first half, Maryland followed it up with a 1 for 13 second half.

Even mediocre results from the three-point line would have resulted in a final score of blowout status. Northwestern keep the game close at times, but never really challenged for a lead.

Four Terps posted double digit points with Jalen Smith’s 22 points and career high 19 rebounds leading the way. Anthony Cowan had 19 points while Darryl Morsell and Donta Scott had 13 and 12 respectively.

As expected, Maryland ran their fast break when it was available and scored 17 fast break points. Part of the reason for their up-tempo success were the limited turnovers that Maryland committed. For the game, the team only turned it over 5 times.

Darryl Morsell chipped in 12 points for the Terps last night in their win over Northwestern.

Maryland rode a wave of three-pointers to a 37-25 halftime lead. The Terps made 7 of 17 first half long range attempts, good for 41%. After getting pushed around inside in their previous meeting, the Terps won the first half points-in-the-paint war, 12-8. That stat greatly favored Northwestern in their earlier game, 30-12.

The Terrapins had the lead from the outset of the game and extended it to as much as 11 before a Terrapin mini-drought allowed Northwestern to slash the lead to 3, 25-22 with 4:06 left in the first half. After the under four-minute media timeout, Maryland responded to an angered Mark Turgeon and finished the half on a 12-3 run. All 12 Terp points came on threes.

The second half started with Northwestern scoring inside. By the 11:42 mark, they had amassed a total of 22 points in the paint. Ryan Young accounted for 8 of those points and a handful of offensive rebounds. Maryland saw their lead shrink to just 4 points, 48-44, as the Terp threes stopped dropping.

The Wildcats could never get closer than four points because Maryland’s half-court offense began to operate about efficiently as I’ve seen it all season. For the game, Maryland dished out 17 assists while committing just the five turnovers. Even without the threes falling, the Terps were able to score enough to keep Northwestern at bay.

Some credit must be given to the Wildcats. I have said it twice, they will win some games with this core group. It just won’t be this year. They have some skilled pieces, and only need a real solid rebounder to elevate themselves from the bottom of the league. Don’t be surprised if they stun someone in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

Maryland needs to work on its ball screen defense. Northwestern figured things out in the second half, and used that knowledge to get the ball to certain spots on the floor. Boo Buie looked like he knew every coverage that was coming his way and he responded by knocking down 6 of 11 shots from inside the three-point line. Many of those came from little jumpers near the foul line after using a screen. Turgeon will definitely have his troops working on that this week as they prep for Sunday’s game at Ohio State.

Smith did have a great game with his 22 and 19, but I thought he got pushed around by Northwestern’s Ryan Young. Young, working exclusively inside, backed down Smith and converted on 8 of 11 shots. Smith just couldn’t stop this guy. That should never happen and will spell doom if Maryland runs into a tournament team with a big man who can duplicate Young’s success.

Here’s the difference in this year’s Maryland team. They ran into a squad that shot the lights out in the second half. Their interior defense in the second half was lacking. They couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn with their three-point shots in the second half. Yet they won by 9 points and now have a 2 game lead in a really tough Big Ten conference.

The Terps might be playing well, but they’ll need to learn from tonight if they expect to hold on to the top spot in the Big Ten.

The schedule gets brutal for the last 5 conference games. Maryland will play back to back road games against Ohio State and Minnesota before retuning home to play Michigan State. They then travel to Rutgers, who is undefeated at home, before finishing the regular season in College Park against Michigan.

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February 18
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turgeon quieting the critics

Perhaps the only way Mark Turgeon can finally and totally shut down his critics is for Maryland to win this year's NCAA title in Atlanta in early April.

That would, of course, do it once and for all, in the same way that anyone who had a beef with Gary Williams in the first decade of his College Park tenure got their lips sealed in, of all places, Atlanta in 2002.

Turgeon and the Terps have a long way to go before he can do the "shhhhhhhh" sign to his crew of haters, but Maryland is running awfully hot these days after a series of impressive Big Ten wins over the last month, including Saturday's memorable comeback at Michigan State.

Maryland brings a 14-0 home record into tonight's game with last place Northwestern and Mark Turgeon's Terps could be on the verge of breaking into the top 5 in the national poll.

I'd be one of those critics Turgeon gets the pleasure of quieting if Maryland makes a run to the Final Four this year. It's not that I was "anyone who replaces Gary can't live up to his standards", but I never felt as strongly about Turgeon's in game abilities as I did about those which Williams possessed. And because Maryland seemed to underachieve throughout the early years of Turgeon's tenure, I was naturally inclined to be only luke warm about the job he was doing at College Park.

Even this year, I wasn't sold. The Terps picked up a flukey win over Illinois in December, then got blasted by Penn State and Iowa and gave a game away to Wisconsin, all within a month or so. I wasn't expecting much at that point. I didn't think Turgeon had the players and I surely didn't think he could coach them up.

It sure looks like I was wrong and he was right.

In fact, it looks like everyone who thought (or thinks, still) Turgeon couldn't coach was wrong. I get it, players play and coaches coach, but if the coach gets a lot of the blame when the team loses, he should, therefore, got a lot of of the credit when the team wins. And Turgeon deserves a lot of the credit for this run through the Big Ten and climb into the national top 10.

In much the same way that Tiger Woods stuffed humble pie into the face of his critics with last April's Masters win, Maryland's play this season has done the same for those of us who assumed Turgeon couldn't get a team to the promised land.

The obvious most recent example of the humble-pie-feast is Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. "He'll never win a Super Bowl," they said about Reid. Humble pie delivered. Enjoy it, haters.

Now, it's fair to point out that Woods and Reid both won...and Turgeon, in fairness, hasn't really "won" anything just yet. The Big Ten tournament looms and Maryland's seeding in the NCAA tournament will likely be directly tied into how they play in that event. From there, the Terps will likely be favored in at least their first three March Madness games, if not their first four. Turgeon will face a new challenge come March in that every game at that point will be of the "win or go home" variety.

But for now, Mark Turgeon is quieting the masses. It took him a while to do it, and he'll always have his detractors, but winning closes down the critics in a way nothing else can.

Don't look now, but the Capitals are on the verge of falling out of first place after last night's 3-2 loss in Las Vegas.

The Caps (79 points) own just a one point lead over Pittsburgh and the Penguins have played two fewer games. By this time next week, expect the Caps to be in 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division.

Still stuck on 698 goals...

Washington has lost four of five and sport a 10-10 record in their last 20 games, which hardly qualifies as "getting hot at the right time". After a 3-game road trip out west, where they went 1-2, the Caps return home on Thursday night to host lowly Montreal. They need to get back on track...and quickly.

Alex Ovechkin is still stuck at 698 goals. He hasn't scored a goal in six games. Whether that's serving as a distraction for the Caps is something only they can answer, but the offense has been lousy of late. In their last ten games, the Caps have scored more than 3 goals just four times and have tallied 11 goals in their five most recent games. It's hard to win in the regular season with production like that.

Overall, Washington's problems are easy to detect but not so easy to fix in mid-season. The team's defensive backline is suspect, with John Carlson spending as much time creating offense as he does trying to keep the other team from scoring. He's a terrific player, mind you, but the team's defensive struggles mandate that several players take the bull by the horns and lock down that end of the ice. The Caps don't really have anyone of that ilk other than Carlson.

Braden Holtby has been "good" in goal, but "good" is like getting a B-minus in school. It's OK, but you can do better, in other words. Holtby has been sharp at times this season and also shockingly subpar at other times. As we saw two years ago when the Caps won the Stanley Cup title, you win in June because of your goaltender, not in spite of him. If Holtby can't raise his game in April, the Caps won't see May, let alone June.

There's also ongoing whispers in D.C. about the future of head coach Todd Reirden. There are gobs of hockey fans who aren't impressed. It might be wise for the Caps to look for someone new, but now is the not the time to do that. And, let's not forget, we are still talking about -- technically -- a first place team. It's not like the Caps are laboring near the cellar or fighting for a playoff spot.

Unlike last April, when the Caps were shockingly dismissed from the post-season by the upstart Carolina Hurricanes in seven games, nothing would surprise me this April. If the Caps go one-and-done, it wouldn't be an eye opener in the least. This group of players had their magical run in 2017-2018, held on for a while in 2018-2019, and now look to be simmering in 2019-2020. It's probably time to reload and go through the process again.

There was a scary scene at Daytona International Speedway last night as Ryan Newman was involved in a horrific crash near the finish line of the Daytona 500.

Newman's mangled and burned car rested on its hood for nearly 30 minutes after the race as track and medical employees worked to remove him from the vehicle. It was a very scary scene.

In the aftermath, something interesting happened on social media. People started praying. Or, at the very least, they wrote those words. "Praying for Ryan Newman." "I'm praying for Ryan!" "Not sure how many of you believe in prayer, but please say a prayer for Ryan Newman tonight."

Some members of the media even jumped in with the same thought. All over the country, people were praying for Ryan Newman. #prayingforryan was even a trending Twitter hashtag.

About two hours after the race-ending accident, word came from Newman's family that the NASCAR driver was safe. His injuries were serious, but not life threatening.

Prayer works...

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DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.

terps host northwestern tonight

Northwestern and Maryland played each other on January 21, each team winning a half.

Northwestern won the first half 40-26. In the second half, it was the Wildcats who could only muster 26 points, while Maryland exploded for 51 to win on the road by 11, 77-66.

In that first meeting, Northwestern employed a defensive strategy that basically forced the Terps to beat try and beat them from the outside. In both zone and man-to-man defenses, the Wildcats packed the lane while leaving the outside shot available. Maryland shot 33 threes, making 13. They made just 6 shots inside the key. They were outscored 30-12 in the paint. Maryland will fix that tonight.

The Terps did start going inside during the second half, and as a result they wound up going to the foul line 29 times. They hit 26 of those freebies.

Pat Spencer returns to the DC/Baltimore area tonight, but playing a different sport, as the former Loyola lacrosse star looks to slow down Anthony Cowan and the Terps.

Northwestern had a great game shooting from the floor, hitting 44% of their threes and 50% overall. They played very aggressively and dictated the action. It was a strong showing from the Big Ten’s last place team. Unfortunately for them, the game is 40 minutes long and Northwestern couldn’t sustain.

Things will be a bit different tonight starting at 8pm. First off, Maryland will be motivated. There won’t be a post big-game let down like there was against Nebraska. Watch the replay from the first game and you’ll see some hot-dogging by Northwestern players. Maryland won’t forget that and they won’t forget that they trailed by 14 points either.

I truly believe we are going to get 40 minutes out of the Terps tonight, who right now are 2 seed according the NCAA ranking committee.

I trust that Mark Turgeon and the Terps will find a way to get the ball inside tonight and not shoot such a high percentage of three-point shots. This may mean running a bit more than they did during the last game, and I expect a quicker tempo game. The transition offense will be key for Maryland.

In order to push the tempo, the Terps need to control the boards. They held just a slight one rebound advantage in the previous game, but that is partially because Northwestern hit a lot of their attempts. That won’t be the case tonight as I see the Wildcats struggling from the field. They’ll be fortunate to shoot 40% in this rematch.

The Loyola lacrosse grad, Pat Spencer, torched Maryland for a team high 17 points in that January game. He’s not getting that many in tonight's contest. It may mean that Darryl Morsell gets assigned to him while Anthony Cowan checks the freshman, Boo Buie. Cowan can be a tenacious defender, but Spencer is a great athlete who may be a bit too rugged for Cowan. This leaves Miller Kopp and Eric Ayala matched up. It’s a win all around for the Terps.

I think those head-to-head battles will greatly favor the Terps. Maryland’s defense will not allow 40 points in a half the way they did in the first 20 minutes at the Welsh-Ryan Arena.

As I wrote in my pre-game article for the January 21st game, this young Northwestern ensemble will win their fair share of games. It’s just not going to happen this year, or especially tonight when a motivated Terp team takes care of business.

Northwestern’s schedule had them at Penn State on Saturday, then home for one day before flying to Maryland to tackle the Terps. Tired legs against a motivated team wanting to run spells trouble for the Wildcats.

The line-makers have posted an aggressive 15.5 point line on this game. A point-spread win (or loss) could be determined by how well the Terp reserves play. I expect Maryland to have big lead in this game, and win by 17, 79-62.

February 17
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the story that just won't stop

As much as I want to get away from SignGate, the Astros, the media and the rest of baseball won't let that happen.

And the more I follow the story, the more amazed I become at how stupid a lot of the people involved show themselves to be on an almost daily basis.

I've read, watched or listened to almost every Astros player who has been willing to speak on the record about what happened in 2017.

Here's what stands out with each of those occasions: The players aren't really all that sad about damaging "the game we love" (as many of them describe it). They're not sad. They're mad. They're mad at Mike Fiers for spilling the beans on them. Nothing more than that.

It's sorta-kinda what happened to Colonel Nathan R. Jessup in A Few Good Men. He wasn't really all that sad about a "sub-standard marine" dying on his company's watch. He was far more mad that the men who served under him couldn't keep the "code red" a secret.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred says the Astros have been punished enough in the wake of their sign stealing scandal.

The Astros don't come across like a group of guys who really, truly understand the damage they've caused and the long-term stigma this will give themselves and their organization. Instead, they come across like a group of guys who feel poisoned by one of their own.

In some ways, this episode from 2017 (and 2018 and 2019...we'll get to that in a minute) is far worse than steroids, PEDs, pine tar on the neck and corking bats, which are all "tricks of the trade" that this nefarious group of so-called professionals have been using for decades.

At least with steroids, PEDs and pine tar, every player in baseball could have dabbled in those wrongdoings. In other words, as odd as it seems, every team could have benefitted from their scandalous players breaking the rules.

In the Astros case, while others around baseball might have also been utilizing an electronic sign-stealing scheme, it's obvious that not every opposing team they faced had the same advantage they had over the last three years.

And, yes, despite their claims, there's almost no doubt that the Astros were still using cameras and laptops in 2018 and 2019.

What? You think they won the World Series in 2017 and then suddenly felt shame and went to spring training in 2018 and said to one another, "OK, now, that was fun last year and all...but we have to go back on the straight and narrow this season and win the right way"?

Of course not. They started upgrading the cheating, I'd bet. That's where buzzers and other body-worn devices came into play.

This is all similar to Pete Rose's silly claim that he "only bet on the Reds" when he was gambling while serving as the team's manager. Yeah, sure, Pete. We believe you...

"We won the World Series in 2017 using an illegal sign-stealing scheme, then decided we didn't want to win like that any longer..." Yeah, sure. We believe you...

The real question through all of this, of course, is what kind of punishment do the players deserve? The GM and manager lost their job. The owner has fully embarrassed himself every time he talks about the whole ordeal. If baseball could fire him, they would.

But what of the players?

Commissioner Rob Manfred definitely cut a deal with them in order to learn all he could about the situation and publish his now famous "report". My guess is part of that agreement with the players is that he'd only focus on the 2017 season and would not pursue anything from 2018 or 2019. That's why Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve keep mentioning "the facts are in the report...and...the only year the Commissioner's report referred to was 2017."

So, because Manfred had to cut a deal, he has no real leverage remaining. The right thing to do would have been to strip the Astros of their title. As David Rosenfeld notes in his piece today, the Dodgers were the ones that couldn't win Game 7 at home in the 2017 World Series. But Houston won a lot of regular season and playoff games by virtue of their enhanced sign stealing scheme that wasn't just the World Series victory that wound up being tainted.

The entire 2017 Astros season was tainted.

And this notion that "if you ain't cheatin' you ain't tryin'" is about the most idiotic response anyone could author in an effort to overlook the Astros' transgressions. If you write or say that -- as lots of knuckleheads have over the last three weeks -- you're condoning cheating. Period.

Just because someone didn't punish Gaylord Perry doesn't make it right to say "boys will be boys" when the Astros involve themselves in the worst team-related scandal since the Black Sox threw the World Series in 1919.

There is one other piece of business to settle. And it's called "self policing", which appears to be one of the ways current major leaguers are going to deal with the Astros in 2020. If self-policing includes throwing the ball at an Astros player in an attempt to even the score, those throwing the ball should immediately be suspended for 15 games.

The Commissioner is the officer in charge of remedy in this case. The players, as much as they want to believe they should arbitrate the punishment, are not in charge.

Throwing a baseball at someone is never the answer. It's not the answer after someone throws his bat aside after hitting a home run off of you. It's not the answer when you steal second base when your team is leading 10-2 in the 8th inning. And it's not the answer in the case of the Astros, either.

The answer would have been for Manfred to throw the book at the former 2017 World Series* champions right from the start. Once he negotiated his way out of the ability to do that, the story would never end.

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.

consider this

Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers, the reigning National League MVP, didn’t mince words at Spring Training when asked about those cheatin’ Astros. He said that Houston second baseman José Altuve “stole” the 2017 AL MVP award from the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, and that “everyone knows” the Astros stole the 2017 World Series against Bellinger’s Dodgers.

To which I say…Bellinger and others have every right to be upset at the Astros, to think that the team’s scripted apology day was pretty lame, and to believe that Houston continued their shenanigans the last two years as well. Like Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman said, the Astros likely gave themselves a “distinct advantage.”

While they might have stolen signs in a highly against-the-rules way, however, the Astros didn’t “steal” those achievements. They just didn’t. They happened, just like the banging on the trash cans happened.

Altuve and Judge are different players, and not just by the 13-inch height difference. Altuve gets on base a lot because he’s a good hitter, with just enough power to keep pitchers honest.

Judge is the quintessential modern power hitter, albeit one with a better batting eye than most. He strikes out 200 times every year and he hits home runs. It makes for an interesting choice when deciding on things like the MVP award.

Did Altuve win the MVP over Judge simply because the Astros defeated the Yankees in the ALCS in 2017, with every win in that series coming by the home team? I really doubt it. Both of them had a good series, but neither team really hit the ball well in general against the excellent pitching of their opponent.

As for the World Series, the Dodgers had Game 7 in their home ballpark, away from garbage cans apparently. Yu Darvish, not helped by his defense, couldn’t get out of the second inning. The Dodgers managed four hits in the first five innings. The Astros led big early, and like any good team took advantage.

The Astros won the World Series. The Dodgers had every chance to do so and lost. There’s no shame in that, of course, and there is some shame in cheating. But the results are what they are.

One of the first things Orioles’ manager Brandon Hyde did at Spring Training this past week was address his pitchers and catchers, just like every other manager did. Hyde told the Baltimore Sun that he wanted his returning pitchers to remember their struggles, and “know what that feels like and tell yourself that’s not going to happen anymore.”

Brandon Hyde is back for year two in Baltimore but the roster he starts with might be inferior to the one he inherited in 2019.

Those are good thoughts. A confident mentality is important for a pitcher. I’m not sure any of the Orioles’ pitchers are physically capable of taking that mentality and turning it into results, but I can’t blame Hyde for trying.

Considering the era of offensive baseball we’re in (I mean like home runs, not “offensive”), you could argue that the 2019 Orioles had the worst pitching performance in MLB history. At the plate, Hyde’s team performed more like a 70-win team, not a 54-win team.

On the mound, it was sometimes hard to believe Hyde’s team ever won a game, especially after trading Andrew Cashner away in mid-July.

The Orioles’ team ERA was 5.59, almost half a run worse than that of the Detroit Tigers, who actually won seven fewer games. The pitching staff (in)famously broke the record for most home runs allowed in a single season with an entire month left and allowed opponents to score 981 runs, a simply astonishing figure that’s hard to process even now.

Of course, it’s not like there hasn’t been turnover on the pitching staff since last year. 36 pitchers are in camp, and only 15 of them pitched for the team last year. Maybe a couple who weren’t on the staff last season can be productive. A guy like David Hess, who showed signs as a rookie, can’t possibly be as bad this year as he was in 2019, can he? We’ll see.

As mentioned often in this space, it’s hard for a terrible pitching staff to get better when playing 76 games a year against the American League East. At least Mookie Betts is no longer around to torment us.

Maryland scored the last 14 points of the game Saturday evening in East Lansing, beating Michigan State 67-60. The Terps made three-pointers on four consecutive possessions in the final three minutes, thanks to terrific dribble penetration by Darryl Morsell and Aaron Wiggins and some questionable defensive decisions by the Spartans. I had to go back and watch the end of the game again so I’d believe it really happened.

But you already knew all that from yesterday’s game recap from Dale Williams or from watching the game on television. The question to ask now is…how far can Maryland go before the NCAA tournament starts in mid-March?

Is it realistic to think that the Terps can win their final six regular-season games? Probabilities suggest that maybe it isn’t, especially since the win at Michigan State was already Maryland’s eighth in a row.

But the fact is that Maryland, which is 14-0 at home, plays three more home games they’ll be favored to win. That means the Terps have three more road games too, but they’ve just won four straight on the road, in a league where there have hardly been any road wins all season besides games at Nebraska and Northwestern.

One of the three road games is at Rutgers, whose 17-0 record at home this season is even better than Maryland’s 14-0 record. The others are at Ohio State and Minnesota. I won’t predict they’ll all be Maryland wins, but neither will I predict they’ll all be losses either.

After all that, is it realistic to think that the Terps can win the Big 10 Tournament? Certainly any of the top four seeds, the ones that would only have to win three games to do it, are the best bets. Right now, it would take a total collapse for Maryland to fall out of the top four.

As for NCAA tournament seeding, a No. 1 would be tough. The Terps may really need to win 17 games in a row entering the tournament to get one. And if they did that, they’d probably be the favorite to win it all.

A thought on 2,000 (and two) straight days of publishing at #DMD. There are lots of books and articles and blogs that tell writers (both aspiring and experienced) to develop a daily writing “habit.” Some people start doing that at a young age with a personal journal or diary. Others start much later with subjects that are less personal.

Here’s what I can tell you, though I can’t really speak for the person who actually has posted something 2,000 straight days here. It may or may not always have been great for you to have read the 200,000-or-so words I’ve posted here, but it’s been great for me.

Writers write. If a writer doesn’t write something every day, then it’s just a hobby, really. There’s no reason that I can’t write something every day, even if it has nothing to do with sports and isn’t published at #DMD or somewhere else.

Does writing every day make someone a great writer? Not necessarily. Is it a good way to be a more curious and thoughtful person? Absolutely.

I’ve learned quite a bit while doing this the last few years. I’ve done research and gained sports knowledge that I never would have known or looked for otherwise. I’ve reacted to current events in ways that I never had to before. I’ve gotten a much better sense of what readers are like, including the fact that many of you are more interested in talking to each other than I’d imagined.

There are hits and misses in 2,000 straight days of content. For this site specifically, there are certain sports realities. I groaned in early January even before the Ravens’ unfortunate loss to the Titans, wondering what in the world I was going to talk about once football season was over, especially considering how much there was to talk about during this particular season.

But something always seems to come up. A big reason for that? When you do this for 2,000 days in a row, you start to look at the world a little differently…and realize that almost anything could be the subject for a spirited discussion.

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February 16
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sunday stuff...

Indoor soccer began in Baltimore back in 1980, when the Houston Summit moved to Charm City and renamed themselves the Blast. We have Blackpool, England native Kenny Cooper to thank for that one. He was tasked with finding a new home for the Blast and was scheduled to visit Baltimore first, then head north to check out the city of Boston.

Cooper never made it to Boston.

The Blast set up shop in Baltimore and started playing in November of 1980. 40 years later.......indoor soccer is still being played in Baltimore, although the venue changed a few years ago when the current franchise moved from the downtown Royal Farms Arena to the 4,000 facility on the campus of Towson University known these days as SECU Arena.

40 years after Kenny Cooper brought indoor soccer to Baltimore, they're still playing the pro game in Charm City.

I went to last night's Blast-Harrisburg game and bumped into some old friends. Mike Conway was a young East Baltimore soccer player back in 1992 when we first signed him to play for the Spirit, which was an entry in the NPSL after the MISL folded and we were in a legal hassle over using the Blast name. Mike would go on to later work in the front office with me and eventually moved up to the team's General Manager a year or so ago.

I also ran into Lance Johnson last night, a former Towson University soccer player that we drafted in 1993 and would go on to enjoy a successful career with the Spirit/Blast and later be added to the team's Hall of Fame roster.

And I spent some time chatting with Kevin Healey, who ran the Blast for 15 years or so after I departed in 1998 and is now the general manager of the Harrisburg team, where his son Pat, an outstanding player himself with the Blast for a decade, is now the Heat's head coach.

"40 years......." I said to Kevin as we stood in the concourse together at halftime.

"I know, it's amazing," Healey responded. "40 straight years without missing a season. No one can say the same thing in this country in soccer."

Indeed that is true. No city in the U.S. has featured a professional indoor soccer team playing in a professional league for 40 consecutive years except for Baltimore. I've lost track at exactly how many leagues have come through the city since 1980 but I'll give it a whirl: the original MISL, the MSL, the NPSL, the MISL (again), the NISL, the MISL (again x 2) and, now, the MASL, which, in case you don't know or care, stands for Major Arena Soccer League.

The crowds are down these days, a far cry from the zenith of the sport when 12,000 would jam the Baltimore Arena/Civic Center for Blast soccer, entertaining such great indoor players as Steve Zungul, Tatu, Keith Furphy, Tino Lettieri, Stan Terlecki, Branko Segota, Preki, Kai Haaskivi and 50 more that I don't have the time to list.

They had roughly 2,000 there last night to see the Blast beat Harrisburg in a big game, 7-4. While the 2,000 had a good time, it was disappointing to see an already small building only half full. The times have changed, unfortunately, and the hot ticket that once was isn't hot any longer.

But it was cool to catch up with three old friends and chat about the old days. All three of those men played vital roles in indoor soccer, in some way, from 1992 through 2018. One of them, Lance Johnson, is already a franchise Hall of Famer. The other two, Kevin Healey and Mike Conway, should be in the Hall of Fame someday. Without those two, that 40-year stretch of indoor soccer in Baltimore probably wouldn't still be intact.

Didn't see any of the Maryland game last night. Not one second of it. Because, as I noted above, I was at the Blast game. But here's precisely how it went for me.

I had a Google calendar update set on my phone and got instant scoring changes, so all I had to do was open my phone and look at the score.

I saw Maryland was up early, enjoyed a 14-point lead at one point, and by the next time I checked the score it was a close game in the 40's somewhere. "Michigan State wasn't going to get blown out on their home court," I mumbled to myself as I saw they had forged ahead 51-50.

Could Anthony Cowan be closing in on getting his jersey hung in the Xfinity Center rafters someday?

The next time I looked it was 60-53 with 3:25 remaining. This also happened to coincide with the end of the Blast game (both contests started at 6 pm) and the home team led in that one 6-4 but Harrisburg had pulled their goalie and was pressing to get back in the game.

The Blast goalkeeper threw the ball into the empty net for a goal to make it 7-4 with 30 seconds left and I grabbed the kids and headed for the exit.

Walking to my car, I checked my phone.

MD 67 - M St 60 (Final)

I actually stopped in my tracks.

"Come on Dad, keep walking, it's freezing," my son said.

I started walking again but refreshed my phone to try and get the score to come back up again. Surely that couldn't be right. My brain started doing the math. Maryland was down 60-53. They couldn't have won 67-60. That's a 14-0 run.

The phone refreshed and the score popped back up: MD 67 - M St 60 (Final).

Dale Williams will do his duty below as our outstanding basketball analyst, but I'll just say this: Back in early January or so, I didn't think this Maryland team was all that good. I said so. I didn't think they were lousy or anything, but I just didn't think had much under the hood. I was wrong. Big time wrong.

I still think they could run into a bad match-up in the NCAA tournament if they draw a high scoring, offensive minded team, because this Terps squad doesn't seem like one that can pour in points at a feverish pace, but they are playing great team basketball and defending the heck out of the half court game. There's no telling how far they might go. Last night's win over Michigan State proves that.

Even though Tiger won't win his 83rd career event today in Los Angeles, the golf might still be worth watching. The final group is a promoter's dream, with Rory McIlroy, Matt Kuchar and Adam Scott all tied for the lead at 10-under par.

Adam Scott doesn't have a PGA Tour win since March of 2016.

And then there's Harold Varner III one shot back at 9-under par. Varner is African American and seeking his first win on TOUR. It would be, quite obviously, a unique story line for Varner to win his first ever tournament and be handed the trophy by the tournament's host, Tiger Woods.

Editor's note: I had a very good fantasy team working its way up the DraftKings leaderboard yesterday until Ryan Palmer took six shots to get out of the bunker on a par-3 hole and made a "9" there. Thanks a lot, Ryan...

McIlroy was once the next fair haired boy on TOUR, winning four majors rather quickly before falling back to earth five years ago. He's still a great, great player, of course, having won last year's PLAYERS title and the FedEx championship as well. But he's been stuck on four majors since 2014 and still needs to win the Masters to complete the career grand slam. A win for him today would be a nice way to start that lead-in period to Augusta National in early April.

It's fitting that Adam Scott is in the hunt giving his Hollywood good looks and the tournament's venue in Los Angeles. Scott was also once "the next great thing" but still has just one major championship to his credit, the 2013 Masters. He has top 5 finishes in all of the other three majors, but hasn't been able to crack through at any of them. Unlike McIlroy, though, who has piled up PGA Tour and European Tour wins over the last five years, the Australian has just a handful of international wins since 2013 and hasn't won on the PGA Tour since 2016. He's had his chances, too.

If any of the final three could really use a win today it would be Scott. McIlroy's still great no matter what and the other guy, Matt Kuchar, won twice last season on TOUR. Scott really needs this one today.

Kuchar can win today and that would be great, but his career is still incomplete without that elusive major championship. He's had chances throughout his two decade career to snag one, but Kuchar hasn't ever pulled into the winner's circle at the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open or PGA. A victory today would be nice for his already-bulging bank account and would garner him some significant Olympic and Ryder Cup qualifying points, but the victory he wants the most is in Augusta, Georgia in two months time.

I'm rooting for Varner, personally, but certainly wouldn't mind seeing Adam Scott get the trophy at the end of the day, either.

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dale williams aims the
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DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.

a comeback for the ages

This team has heart!

Maryland squandered a 15-point first half lead, trailed by 7 points with only 3:25 left in the game, and yet the Terrapins managed to beat Michigan State last night in the Breslin Center by 7, 67-60.

After struggling to score throughout most of the second half, the Terps outscored the Spartans 14-0 during the last 3:25 of the game to secure the win. They were down 60-53 prior to the late run. Jalen Smith and Anthony Cowan combined to hit four three-pointers in just 2:30, and the entire team never stopped defending with ferocious energy.

As a result, Maryland secured a road win against a tough, and stunned, Spartan team.

A lot of the Turgeon critics have been silenced in recent weeks.

Three-point shots gave the Terps the early lead (5 were made in the first half), and it was the three pointer that enabled them to overcome the late 7-point deficit and win this game.

After going 0-10 from long range in the second half, the Terps hit their last four deep balls in a row to fashion a come from behind win. Jalen Smith hit the first, but it was Anthony Cowan’s clutch shooting that put Maryland over the top when he nailed three bombs in a row in just under two minutes.

Cowan finished with 24 points and Jalen Smith added 17 points and 10 rebounds.

At halftime, Maryland held a 22-12 rebounding advantage, a big advantage on three-point shots made (5-1), and a 39-31 lead on the scoreboard. Xavier Tillman (13) and Cassius Winston (9) had accounted for 22 of the 31 Spartan points.

Maryland’s defense excelled early on, and they got 7 big points from Eric Ayala, but the momentum at the half switched to Michigan State’s side when they scored 7 straight points to cut a 15-point deficit down to 8. The momentum had shifted, and even though the Terps held the 8-point intermission lead, you could sense the confidence in the green and white and a bit of panic with Maryland.

The second half continued much where the first half left off. Maryland struggled to score and Michigan State chipped away at the lead. The Spartans finally forged ahead when Cassius Winston made a three pointer with 7:32 left in the game. Things really looked bleak for the Terps.

Michigan State would gradually push their lead to 7, but then their scoring stopped and it was all Terps, and long-range bombs from that point on.

Maryland made Michigan State work hard for every bucket. At times the Terp half court ball pressure was stifling. They raced to loose balls and dominated the glass in the first half. However, MSU was able to turn the rebounding tables in the second half when they out rebounded Maryland 22-13. Tom Izzo must have given them a stern pep talk.

I’ll go on record as saying that the three-pointer is way too influential in college basketball. It’s ruined the pro game for me.

It’s a shot that yields up to 50% more points than a shot inside the three-point line, but it’s not 50% more difficult than the closer shot. It’s too influential, but the NCAA and the fans, enjoy the equalization that the shot can provide.

Earl Weaver preached pitching, defense, and three run homers. Last night, Maryland played outstanding defense, and hit enough timely three-point home runs to ruin Michigan State’s hope for a quality home win.

Michigan State did a nice job defending Cowan for much of the second half. This left Eric Ayala open for 13 shot attempts, He scored 7 times in the first half, but only managed to hit 1 shot in the second. He shot just 4-13, so I guess the strategy was successful.

I couldn’t notice any significant changes for Maryland, defensively, between the first half and the second. Michigan’s splits were 31 points in the first half and 29 in the second. Pretty consistent.

Offensively, with MSU’s concentrated effort on stopping Cowan, I thought Maryland did a nice job running sets for Smith and he responded with several assisted layups. Both teams played tough defense, but Maryland just made more critical shots, especially late in the game.

Sparty will get their chance to avenge last night's home collapse when these teams meet again in two weeks back at College Park.

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February 15
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lou, we're coming for you next!

As you can see above, today marks the 2,000th consecutive day of publishing here at #DMD.

I'm not much for milestones. Looking forward is always more productive than looking back, but 2,000 days in a row is pretty wild to sit back and reflect upon.

Tony Young got me started with #DMD about five hours after we all got canned at the radio station. He was the guy who built the first website for me and made me go live on Monday, August 25, 2014 when I had little idea what this would or could become.

I'm sure I'm going to miss a location, somehow, but by God's grace and the computer wisdom of my friend George McDowell, who built me a mobile server way back when, we've been able to publish #DMD from a lot of different places since August 25, 2014.

Baltimore, Hagerstown, Ocean City, Deep Creek Lake, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Foxborough, Myrtle Beach, Washington DC, Hot Springs VA, New York City, Plainfield NJ, Pinehurst NC, West Palm Beach FL, Raleigh NC, Durham NC, Kiawah Island SC, Nashville, Phoenix, Pebble Beach CA, London, Atlanta...I *think* that's everywhere we've hit "publish" from over the last five-plus years.

So, next up is something symbolic, from a sports standpoint anyway. We're gunning to go 2,131 days in a row and surpass the games played streak of the great Lou Gehrig. If we're able to reach that number sometime in early July, then -- and only then -- will we even *think* about Cal Jr.'s all time record!

We're channeling our inner-Ripken here, I guess, but I can say that we didn't start out with the hope or goal of publishing 2,000 consecutive editions here. It's just happened that way. I've published in the middle of a kidney stone attack in Pinehurst, during more gout outbreaks than I care to remember and I've published in the middle of an overnight cardiac evaluation at GMBC. I hit "send" minutes before taking off from Dulles airport en route to London for the Ravens-Jaguars game. We've published on Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. On any of those days, I suppose it would have been just fine to say, "Taking a day off today, see you back here tomorrow"......but we just never did. I can't explain it. Here we are at 2,000 days and counting.

Isn't there a Johnny Cash song about this? "I've Been Everywhere".

I haven't been everywhere. No one has, actually. But we've published from a lot of different places, that's for certain.

Anyway...I don't know how many people have checked in for all 2,000 days thus far, but thank for visiting here no matter your frequency. I hope we've become part of your daily routine in some small way.

Carroll County Public Schools voted on and approved a new high school athlete transfer rule last night. It now reads that no CCPS varsity athlete can switch schools and play the same sport without sitting out one year of competition. The rule does not apply to JV athletes or students without varsity level experience.

This rule, of course, is in place to serve as a potential "game changer" in terms of transferring within the CCPS. If after two outstanding years as a varsity football player at CCPS "A", you can't finish out your sophomore year and then skip over to play your junior year at CCPS "B". You can go to school as a junior a CCPS "B" and you can even practice and participate in all athletic activities with CCPS "B", but you can't play in any games with them until your senior year.

Oh, and in case you're wondering......this exact rule already exists within the MIAA. A Calvert Hall rugby player can't play his sophomore year on the varsity team and then transfer to Gilman and play his junior year of rugby over there. He could play rugby if Calvert Hall discontinued rugby. And he can play soccer or baseball or golf at Gilman as a junior. But he couldn't play rugby again until he sat out one year.

This was good news from Carroll County on Friday.

Tony Kemp was called up by the Astros in September of 2017 and was asked directly, if he wanted to participate in the sign stealing scheme. Kemp said "no thanks".

Kemp, now with the Oakland A's, was a rookie in 2017 who had enjoyed a productive minor league season at the Triple A level.

"Once I got called up, I just felt like I was going to trust my abilities up there," he said. "I just didn't want any distractions."

Imagine being that guy...

The varsity players tell you about this new drink they're all drinking before a game that makes you hit the ball better and you say, "No thanks, I'm good."

Now they know you're not willing to go to the dark side with them. How can they trust you as a teammate? Do they worry that you're going to someday spill the beans on them? How do you go along every day and know what's happening and not be distracted in some way?

I noted yesterday that some national writer penned a piece that essentially said, "I'm going to keep riding the Astros until one of the prominent parties in the whole sign stealing scheme openly uses the word "cheated" in a direct attributable quote."

Boy, you talk about dying on a hill.

We need to hear them say "cheated" for what reason? Just to force it out of them? Will it make them feel any differently at all? Worse about themselves? Will it feel like, finally, the media and fans won and the Astros lost?

The only way the players lose is if Rob Manfred punishes them, somehow. And it would appear he granted most of them immunity in exchange for having them participate in his initial investigation. So, punishing them now might not actually be permitted.

I don't think the Astros are going to say "we cheated". But we all know they did and we know that they know that we know, too. That's good enough for me.

Barring a stirring weekend comeback, Tiger Woods won't win at Riviera CC this weekend, making him 0-fer, still, at the iconic track in Los Angeles. Matt Kuchar leads at 9-under par while Woods rests at even par after rounds of 69-73 to start the tournament.

But that wasn't the biggest news to come out of L.A. on Friday. Woods and three other prominent American players who could use the free Olympic qualifying points available at next week's WGC event in Mexico City have elected NOT to play down there. Woods, Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Patrick Cantlay each failed to sign up by last night's deadline. International players in need of Olympic qualifying points who also missed the deadline included Justin Rose (England), Jason Day (Australia) and Henrik Stenson (Sweden).

It's a horses-for-courses thing, apparently. Just like Woods has never fared well at Riviera, most of those skipping Mexico City haven't scored well at Club de Golf Chapultepec.

Koepka’s record at Club de Golf Chapultepec is dismal: He hasn't finished better than 27th in two appearances, and he’s playing the following week at his hometown Honda Classic.

Fowler has never cracked the top 15 in Mexico City, either, and as a past champion he’s already signed up for Honda, in addition to Bay Hill and The Players that all come around within a month's time.

Rose? Never better than 37th in Mexico City, and he skipped in 2019, too.

More and more these days, the best players in the world simply pick and choose where they play, even when valuable "free" Olympic points are on the line.

My guess is guys like Koepka and Cantlay and the rest of them just assume they'll win once or twice between now and late June and that will take care of their Olympic qualifying quest. They're not forced to play in Mexico City. They'll just win somewhere else in the next few months.

Wins wise, there's only one thing Tiger hasn't done in his career: He doesn't yet have an Olympic medal of any kind, mostly because golf was just added as an Olympic sport in 2016. If it's important to him to play in Tokyo this summer, skipping the Mexico City event is an odd way of showing it.

a new #dmd podcast

Bill Bolander of Jerry's Toyota sits down with me this week to discuss the Ravens, the Terps and the benefits of leasing a vehicle. I learned a lot in this one, myself. I learned Bill knows plenty about the Terps and I definitely discovered that I should be a leasing a new vehicle soon instead of buying one.

Check out my conversation with Bill Bolander below.


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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.

terps face huge test tonight in east lansing

With Michigan State now occupying third place in the Big Ten and no longer part of the top 25 national rankings after being the preseason #1, you might think this team isn’t one of Tom Izzo’s better teams.

Don’t believe that. This Sparty team is good. They might not be Final Four good, but they are good.

Every Spartan home conference win this year has been by double digits. Other than their recent home loss to Penn State, they really haven’t been challenged at home in their conference games.

In order to beat Michigan State in East Lansing, Penn State needed a special night by Myreon Jones (6-8 shooting threes) and a big night forcing turnovers. Two things at which the Terps don’t excel, unfortunately.

It's almost unthinkable that Tom Izzo and his Spartans would lose two straight home games.

I think the Spartans are a tough matchup for Maryland. Coach Izzo has used a variety of starting lineups lately, but I’ll take a shot at the likely starting matchups for tonight's game (6:00 pm tip off).

Cassius Winston is the best point guard in the league. He can slash and he can shoot from beyond the three-point line He’s a four-year player and the heart and soul of their team.

Winston leads them in scoring with over 18 points a game and also dishes out a team high 5.7 assists per game. The Winston – Anthony Cowan battle will be fun to watch and go a long way in determining the outcome of today’s game. Michigan State can still win even if Maryland can limit Winston’s scoring, but the Terps have little shot for victory if Cowan doesn’t put up big points himself to counter the expected production from Winston.

The next likely matchup involves Eric Ayala and Rocket Watts. Watts is a smaller guard, at 6’2”, but staying in front of him will be a real problem for Ayala. Watts is a relative newcomer to the starting lineup, but he can provide an offensive lift whenever he’s on the court. He’s not a deep threat (29% from three), but he’s good at getting into the paint and making things happen. It’s another good matchup, but in this game they pretty much all are.

At the three-spot, Izzo will start Aaron Henry. Henry shoots it really well from the outside (38%) and is an athletic defender with his 6’6” 210-pound frame. He’s a natural matchup with Maryland’s Darryl Morsell. He may not be the defender that Morsell is, but he’s more versatile offensively. I see this fight as a draw.

The small forward starter could come from any one of three players. Gabe Brown and Malik Hall have amassed the most minutes there, but a guy that only gets 12 minutes a game could come up big for Michigan State, literally.

If Izzo chooses to give significant court time to Marcus Bingham Jr, the matchups under the basket greatly favor the Spartans. Bingham’s body is almost a carbon copy of Maryland’s Jalen Smith. Like Smith, Bingham is a lanky 225 pounder, but he’s not nearly as skilled as Smith. However, at 6’11”, he could be a problem for Donta Scott, Ricky Lindo, or anyone else Maryland puts on him. Regardless of who plays the four spot for Michigan State (including Kyle Ahrens), they are winning that battle.

Perhaps even more important than the point guard battle, is the big man battle between Smith and Xavier Tillman.

Defensively for the Terps, I think this is the most important duel on the court. Winston will get his points because he is just really good, but limiting Tillman spells success for Marc Turgeon’s Terps. Only once this year have the Spartans lost a Big Ten Game where Tillman scored in double digits.

If you look at the box score at the conclusion of this game and see that Tillman has 12 or more points, his Spartans will have won the game.

From a team perspective, I’m sure Maryland’s recent practices have focused intensely on transition defense and rebounding. Runouts and second chance points are a trademark of Tom Izzo teams. It’s where Tillman will beat you too. Michigan State's rebounding stats are the best in the Big Ten, overall, and Maryland can’t allow themselves to get man-handled on the glass.

Not only are the Spartan rebounding stats superior to Maryland’s but Michigan State is better than Maryland in most of the Big Ten statistical categories. They are a good all-around team playing a big game for them.

I have questions about this game. Can Smith stop Tillman? Which Anthony Cowan will we see? Can Maryland compete at the small forward position? Will Michigan State lose back-to-back conference home games after losing to Penn State the last time they played in East Lansing?

Again, this is a tough matchup for Maryland. They can really distinguish themselves with a win here today, but I think it’s a bit too tough a task.

Maryland is a good defensive team, but a poor shooting team.

The Terps' rebounding is average. Michigan State has better rebounding, defensive, and shooting numbers than the Terps.

The Spartans are home, so you can’t expect Maryland to gain a huge advantage with their excellent foul shooting abilities.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Jalen Smith pick up a few early fouls. Tillman will get 15, Winston will provide 20, and MSU will force Terp turnovers. It will take a major shooting percentage upgrade for the Terps to hang with Sparty and pull off the upset today.

And shooting accuracy on the road hasn’t been Maryland’s strong suit. Michigan State is a 6-point favorite on the early line. It another situation where an unranked home favorite is playing a top ten team. That almost never goes well for the visiting team....Michigan State wins by 9, 76-67.

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February 14
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things i love in sports

This isn't a complete list and some of my affections are quirky, but here are some Valentine's Day loves of mine.

Please don't ask for an most cases, I don't have one.

I love a three point shot that banks in off the backboard and swishes. I especially think it's cool when it's clearly an accidental shot attempt or something that is thrown up to beat the shot clock.

I love the hockey tip in and not just because T.J. Oshie authored one last night 2:04 remaining in Colorado that gave the Caps a 3-2 win. There's just something about a guy standing in front of the net and gently nipping at the puck that is more like art to me than a 50-foot slapshot at 110 mph. Tom Wilson also had one last night, it's worth mentioning. Hockey tip-ins are the best.

Go get 'em Skipper!!

I love when Jim Palmer calls what's going to happen and then it does happen. "You know, Gary, if they put Villar on here, they'll have to hold him at first base with a one run lead, which means the gap between first and second is about 15 feet wider. That would open things up for Mancini to punch one into right field, which, as we saw in that Boston series last week, he's pretty adept at doing when the circumstances call for it." Villar walks...and on a 1-1 pitch, Mancini pokes one between first and second, just like 'Cakes said he might.

I love hearing the TV announcer say, "This ball is buried, I can't see any way he can hit the green from here" and then seeing a PGA Tour player gouge it out of there to 15 feet. The late, great Bob Rosburg was famous for authoring that line. "What's he have, Bob?" "Oh, Roger, this is awful. I've been out here all week and this is by far the worst lie I've seen in the rough. I almost stepped on the ball walking past it. If Tiger can get this out to within 50 yards of the green he'll be lucky." Moments later, Tiger blasts it out to within 15 feet of the hole. "I can't believe what I just saw," Rosburg would then say.

I love seeing the manager kick dirt on the umpire's shoes. It doesn't happen all that much these days, but it was an Earl Weaver special way back then. When a manager beefs with the ump and all he does is yell, we're missing the best part of it all. I mean, we can "see" it, but we can't hear what's being said...and we know that alone would be worth the price of admission. But seeing the manager kick dirt on the ump's shoes is the visual treat we need. It's harmless, obviously, but it's so over the line you know the manager is getting tossed. And he's OK with that. "If I'm going to get thrown out, you're at least going to have dirty shoes..."

I love being the first group or two on the course when it's immaculate and the greens are freshly cut and untouched by other players. Sure, it's easier to putt, but even more so, there's just something very settling about putting on fresh greens. No one else has been on them yet today. They don't have "missed putts" in them already. They're brand new, with no bad memories seeded in them from other players coming along and scraping their feet or missing a 2-foot putt and cursing the greens. Uncursed greens react better for everyone than do cursed greens. I'm pretty sure that's a fact. Don't curse at the greens. It makes life miserable for everyone else that follows you that day.

I love watching the snap, hold and kick in a football game. There really is an art to that. The timing of it all is nearly flawless. The snapper has one job, but he has to be almost perfect. The holder has one job, but he has to be almost perfect. The kicker has one job, but he has to be almost perfect. If any of those three efforts are "off", the kick is generally not made. There's precision, science, art and mechanics, all wrapped in one two-and-a-half second event.

I love the smell of new ice at an ice rink. You know, the one the Zamboni machine creates when it cleans the ice and lays down a new, fresh sheet. It's one of the greatest "clean" smells you'll find anywhere. In between periods of a hockey game, you duck out for a bathroom break and a refreshment. When you walk back to your seats, it's the first thing that hits you as you go from the concourse to the seating area. "That smell", it's glorious.

a new #dmd podcast

Bill Bolander of Jerry's Toyota sits down with me this week to discuss the Ravens, the Terps and the benefits of leasing a vehicle. I learned a lot in this one, myself. I learned Bill knows plenty about the Terps and I definitely discovered that I should be a leasing a new vehicle soon instead of buying one.

Check out my conversation with Bill Bolander below.


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stop talking and stop caring

The Houston Astros had their day in the sun on Thursday and, for the most part, it didn't go well.

In an attempt to get everyone to start the process of forgetting that the Astros cheated to win the 2017 World Series, the players who are still around from that team met the media to discuss, openly, what happened and how regretful they are that they were a part of it.

Instead of helping people forget...they poured more gasoline on the fire.

Owner Jim Crane was the worst of them, stumbling and bumbling through a 30-minute explanation at the team's spring training headquarters in West Palm Beach, Florida. Crane said so many dumb things I won't list them all here, but the two biggest eye openers were these:

"I shouldn't be held accountable for the actions of my employees."

"Our opinion is that this didn't impact the game."

These guys were having fun then...not so much now!

Other Astros talked openly about "SignGate" and nearly all of them said something dumb at least once or twice in the Q & A with the media. Carlos Correra was one of the few who came clean and understood the situation entirely.

"It was definitely an advantage for us," said Correra.

Of course it was an advantage. It turned out to be such an advantage that the Astros -- loaded with talent already, it's fair to point out -- were able to use their sign stealing talents to edge themselves past everyone they faced in the playoffs, including the Dodgers in the World Series.

The only person dumb enough to not believe the whole episode created an advantage for the Astros was the owner.

Everyone else knows.

The media, naturally, tore into Crane on Thursday. They sniped at certain players, too, like Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve, both of whom met with the media yesterday but didn't come close to authoring any sort of full, open admission of guilt or a lengthy, tears-welling-in-the-eyes apology.

We do this a lot. Athlete makes mistake. We demand apology. Athlete's apology isn't "good enough" for us, so we demand something better. Nothing better comes along, so we say they're not willing to take ownership of their ways.

The Astros cheated. To suggest they didn't is just you being dumb or protective of them. No other evidence is needed. This case is settled. The Astros cheated.

In the same way they should stop talking now, because it's not helping their case, we can now stop worrying about it, because they've said what they said and it's clear they just.....don't.....get it.

And, really, what more could the Astros say that would us feel any better?

I can't think of anything myself.

I mean, if Jose Altuve stood up there yesterday and broke down in tears and went into great detail about his sorrow and how much he knows this impacted careers and records and young players learning the sport he loves, would it change anything at all? It might be nice to hear, but nothing really changes.

We're best served to let it go now.

And by "we're best served", I'm talking about the media, the fans, and everyone with a Twitter or social media account. You can continue to pile on if you like, but in the same way the Astros are no longer serving a purpose with their lukewarm apologies, those of us on the outside aren't changing anything by hammering away at them.

The Astros cheated and got caught. The person responsible for punishing them is Commissioner Rob Manfred. We don't have that authority, which is actually something the Astros should be happy about. I do believe the court of public opinion would be harder on the Astros than Manfred has been thus far.

My advice to the Astros is to shut up about it now. They have a long season of baseball ahead of them and 17 different cities to visit over the next seven months. They can't keep doing this Apology Tour from now until September. Like it or not, deserved or not, they are public enemy #1, baseball wise.

And my advice to the rest of us? Let it go now. They know that we know...and they know we won't forget about it, too.

But there's no reason to continue trying to make the Astros see something they clearly don't want to see.

They should stop talking now. And we should stop caring. The Astros are guilty and that's that. Nothing else needs said.


valentine's day reminder!

Men, today is Valentine's Day, in case you didn't know. Most men -- studies show -- are huge procrastinators. Today's your last chance.

We're doing our part here to keep you in good graces with that significant other in your life. We don't want you getting the cold shoulder when you forget that this Friday is an important day!

Get your Valentine's Day purchase out of the way today by shopping at Flowers and Fancies.

For those men (and our female readers, too, Valentine's Day works both ways!) who are looking for something to give to their wife, girlfriend or significant other or family member this Friday, please consider using our friends at "Flowers and Fancies". They're a local company owned by longtime Baltimore florist Edddie Wingrat. Not only will they put together the best flower arrangement you can find, you can also purchase "fancies" from them like balloons, fruit baskets and much more.

You can visit their website by clicking here. There's also an ad on directly below that will take you there. We'd prefer you use the ad simply because it will best allow us to track our results, but either way works just fine.

Get your Valentine's Day obligations taken care of today by visiting the Flowers and Fancies website. You can also reach them by phone at 410-653-0600. Please tell them you're a Drew's Morning Dish reader!'t procrastinate! Get it done now!

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February 13
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what's baseball thinking?

In case you haven't noticed this week, Major League Baseball is considering some significant changes in the very near future.

I think most of them are dumb.

Before we even look at the idea of the DH in the National League, expanded playoffs, and choosing your playoff opponent, I'd love to ask baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred this question:

"Why do you think these changes are necessary?"

Baseball's potential new playoff format might mean we get to see Mike Trout play more October baseball than we have in the past.

I'd love to hear his answer...because I think that would give us a look into his mindset and the others who have their fingerprints on these proposed changes for 2022.

The league announced yesterday that a few changes will be implemented in spring training (starting on March 12) and will carry over into the regular season. These are not the ones I'm referring to above, remember. The one we'll know as the "3 batter rule" is perhaps the biggest game changer. A starter or relief pitcher must now face a minimum of three batters unless the inning ends. This one mostly impacts the LOOGY (left handed, one-out guy) in late game situations, but it could potentially also factor into a team's decision to go with the starter by committee idea that was used frequently in 2019. Relief pitchers -- as they were -- will now have to be better equipped to throw 25 or more pitches on consecutive days.

There are some other nitpicky changes for 2020; 20 seconds to challenge a call instead of 30 and back to the 15-day injured list instead of 10, but the 3-batter minimum is the big one. I don't know if I'm going to like that rule or not. I don't think it's dumb...I just don't know if I like it. Yet.

But the ones on the table for 2022 -- two of those are really dumb.

I don't mind the designated hitter in both leagues. It was always inevitable, I guess, even though it took four decades to finally happen. There's always been a healthy debate about which league is "better" but I think it's obvious that only having half of the teams use a DH is sort of useless. Either all 30 teams use it or zero teams use it.

The other two rules don't make much sense.

Instead of the current five team playoff format (three division winners and two wild card teams who play a best of 1), the proposal calls for 7 teams in each league to qualify for the post-season. The three division winners would still make it, obviously, along with four wild card teams. I'm assuming the thought process there is more playoff teams keeps the regular season important, longer, and increases the chances of bigger TV markets making it into the post-season.

It also increases the chances that an 83-79 team could sneak into the post-season and win the World Series. St. Louis did that once recently, if I remember it right, but they won their division at least. Under the new format, the Red Sox -- at 84-78 in the regular season -- would have made the playoffs last season. Winning six more games than you lose (over 162 games) shouldn't qualify you for the playoffs, in my opinion, but it occasionally does now. In the future 84 or 85 wins will almost guarantee that you make the post-season.

One national media member says baseball is trying to do everything it can to get Mike Trout and Aaron Judge into the playoffs more often. I see that logic but can't imagine that's what's really going on behind the scenes.

I thought the playoffs were supposed to be a reward for outstanding overall play over a 162-game season. 84-78 isn't "outstanding".

Honestly, I thought three division winners and one wild card team making the playoffs was just fine. Those were the old days, of course.

But I'd sign off on 7 teams making the playoffs WWWAAAAYYYY before I'd ever even think about adopting the other dumb rule: The top team in each league gets a first-round bye. I'm all for that. Now it gets weird. The next two division winners and the wild card team with the best record host all three games (best of 3) against a team of THEIR CHOOSING among the remaining three wild card teams. Yes, you read that right. You get to pick the team you play in the playoffs. It might make for good smack talk and internet chiding among fans, but it's a dumb idea.

Little League baseball has often used a first half/second half theme for their schedule. The team with the best record in the first 12 games is automatically in the playoffs and the team with the best record in the second half is also automatically in. I like that idea better than the 7 teams getting in.

Simply play an 81-game "first half" and give the three division winners of the first half a playoff spot. Then do it again in the second half. Add one "wild card" team if you want and base that on the entire season's record and you'd always have a minimum of four teams in the playoffs and a max of seven.

The baseball season is entirely too long. We all know that. If I ran MLB, the schedule would be 130 games. We can fight in court about contracts and money and all that other stuff but the season would be 130 games. Adding playoff teams and best of 3 series' and all that other stuff is only going to push the start of the season up. If these new rules get adopted, you might see a March 20 starting date for regular season games in 2022. March 20 in Tampa or Atlanta or Los Angeles? That's fine. March 20 in New York, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago? Not so fine.

Baseball would be smart to let everyone in on their secrets. We might be able to tolerate some of these radical changes if we knew why they were being considered.

One national writer suggested the main theory behind it is to keep teams from tanking or going through these massive five-year rebuilding programs where everyone in the league knows those teams aren't trying to win.

Rather than disrupt the playoff format, how about just do this: You are only allowed a Top 5 draft pick twice in a four year period. Once you've used two picks within the top five in a four-year period, you move to sixth in the first round order for the next draft. You could have a situation where two or three teams get moved to 6th, 7th and 8th and teams that would have been picking four, five and six now get moved up to first, second and third. But I like that idea better than re-arranging the playoff format to help persuade teams to get better more quickly.

If it were up to me, I'd keep the playoff format as is and simply make the wild card "game" a best of 3 series. If we're all going to agree that 162 games is too long, I think we'd also agree that it's too long to allow one game or one manager falling asleep in the dugout in extra innings to have your season end with one swing of the bat.

Baseball has one other problem. Most of the country is glued into what's happening from about mid-May through the end of August. Once football begins and more than half the teams are already out of the baseball playoff picture, national interest declines. Baseball's biggest post-season obstacle is football.

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.

pretty good for valentine’s day

This is the best Maryland basketball team since the 2009-10 squad tied Duke for the ACC regular-season title and came within a sort-of-lucky buzzer beater by Michigan State’s Korie Lucious of reaching the Sweet 16.

*Yeah, I know that Nebraska game was a close one. Hey, a win’s a win.

From the standpoint of “efficiency,” if you want to look at it that way, none of Mark Turgeon’s previous teams has been close to this year’s group. Maryland’s KenPom ranking is 10; in the last five seasons, four of which have ended in the NCAA tournament, the high was just 22. That was the 2015-16 team, which was supposed to be great but was really just pretty good, reaching the Sweet 16 by barely beating noted powerhouses South Dakota State and Hawaii.

You get to the Top 10 by having a decent balance of offense and defense (in Maryland’s case, tilted more toward defense) while playing a good schedule. It became abundantly clear early on that almost every Big Ten win would be a good win this season. Meanwhile, blowout victories against Rhode Island and Marquette keep getting better as the season goes on. Even close wins against Temple and Harvard look pretty good.

As poorly as Maryland played in road losses to Penn State and Iowa in conference play and Seton Hall out-of-conference, those teams are on their way to high NCAA tournament seeds. If the Terps had hung on in the final 15 seconds against Wisconsin in Madison, their résumé wouldn’t even have any minor blemishes.

The Mark Turgeon critics have been silenced this season as the Terps roll into mid-March as a potential 2 or 3 seed in this year's NCAA tournament.

In those “Bubble Watches” that started to appear online in early February, the Terps have already surpassed “should be in” and are a “lock.” There’s nothing to discuss, apparently. What does all this mean, besides a No. 3 seed in the first NCAA tournament committee preliminary ranking that was obsolete the next day? Nothing, actually.

Maryland has seven games left. All but one of them is an “A” game, or a “Quad 1” opponent to say it another way. And the one that isn’t is Northwestern, which was beating the Terps by 14 points at halftime a few weeks ago in Evanston, you may remember.

So, 10 wins in a great conference and 20 wins overall by February 11 is really good. The Terps hold a one-game conference lead. If Maryland simply wins the rest of its home games and can win one game on the road, there’s a good chance they’ll win the regular-season title. And that’s nice…

But even if the Terps continue to play well the rest of the month, and maybe end up with the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, they’re still going to be judged on how they play, and for how long they play, in Indianapolis. Even if they end up with a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, they’ll be judged on how long they play in that tournament, and a No. 2 seed ought to win at least two games, and if they lose the third it sure shouldn’t be a blowout.

That’s the way every team gets judged when they play well enough to get a high seed, not just Maryland. And that’s the way it’ll be this year, even though it’s already pretty clear that this is Mark Turgeon’s best team.

This team is more “efficient,” and thus better, for a few reasons. A big one is turnovers, or a lack thereof. No matter how talented Turgeon’s teams have been, or how many games they’ve won, they’ve almost always ranked among the worst teams in the country in terms of the percentage of possessions that result in turnovers. That’s not the case this year, and it’s made a difference that you maybe don’t even notice. Or maybe you did notice that the Terps had just 10 turnovers in a hostile environment at Illinois last week.

Maryland also has an “efficient” player in Jalen Smith. In conference games, the Pomeroy rankings says that he’s been the best offensive player in the league, buoyed by the fact that he is both a great three-point shooter and an excellent offensive rebounder, two things that don’t usually go together. He’s also a great shot blocker, among the 50 best in the country.

Dez Wells and Melo Trimble and Bruno Fernando and Anthony Cowan were/are outstanding players that have been responsible for a lot of wins at Maryland. Others like Kevin Huerter had somewhat brief flashes of greatness. But Smith is Turgeon’s first player to show the kind of efficiency that’s mostly been the province of guys at Kansas and Duke and Gonzaga.

The most important factor in Maryland’s 2020 efficiency is its defense. Turgeon’s teams have usually been good on defense, but this one is just better. It’s statistical, for sure—opponents are shooting just 38 percent, and the Terps have made 70 more free throws than their opponents have attempted. But it’s also anecdotal, I think. The other team may get an ok shot, but it takes them a while to get it.

That wears on a team over a 40-minute game, even the good teams.

Other things? The Terps haven’t lost games by shooting free throws poorly at the end*; each of their top six players is shooting 74 percent or better from the foul line. As poorly as Maryland has shot the ball from three-point range this year, their opponents haven’t done any better.

*So, yeah, so that almost happened Tuesday night with both Eric Ayala and Anthony Cowan.

Problems? It would be nice if Serrel Smith and Ricky Lindo, and even Josh Tomaic, could play a few more minutes per game. With Eric Ayala, Turgeon can take Cowan out of the game and still have a good point guard. With Lindo, they have a guy who can mix it up near the basket, which Jalen Smith doesn’t do. Lindo would be a better compliment to Smith if he could play more and give the team’s star a few more minutes of rest every game.

And I’m sure some fans are still saying that Turgeon is a problem, or at least could be one. But this team seems a little more set in its ability to just go out and play, taking advantage of whatever the opponent is giving them at the time. They can run a bit, and they seem a little more willing to do so. They can play defense well in a few different ways, as they showed at Illinois. And as good as it would be to have more depth, there’s something to be said for a short rotation. There’s not a lot for a coach to think about when he has one.

There are seven games left, so let’s see what happens. There will be time in the future for fans to be disappointed in what happens in the Big 10 and NCAA tournaments. Maybe a decision Turgeon makes will be criticized for days. But right now the record is 20-4 and 10-3, and the team is a lock as early as its been in many years.


valentine's day reminder!

Men, this Friday is Valentine's Day, in case you didn't know. Most men -- studies show -- are huge procrastinators. I think that's spelled right. I'll check it out at some point today or tomorrow. Or Friday, maybe.

We're doing our part here to keep you in good graces with that significant other in your life. We don't want you getting the cold shoulder when you forget that this Friday is an important day!

Get your Valentine's Day purchase out of the way today by shopping at Flowers and Fancies.

For those men (and our female readers, too, Valentine's Day works both ways!) who are looking for something to give to their wife, girlfriend or significant other or family member this Friday, please consider using our friends at "Flowers and Fancies". They're a local company owned by longtime Baltimore florist Edddie Wingrat. Not only will they put together the best flower arrangement you can find, you can also purchase "fancies" from them like balloons, fruit baskets and much more.

You can visit their website by clicking here. There's also an ad on directly below that will take you there. We'd prefer you use the ad simply because it will best allow us to track our results, but either way works just fine.

Get your Valentine's Day obligations taken care of today by visiting the Flowers and Fancies website. You can also reach them by phone at 410-653-0600. Please tell them you're a Drew's Morning Dish reader!'t procrastinate! Get it done now!

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February 12
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we have a new leader in the clubhouse...

A few days from now, #DMD will -- with God's grace -- publish for the 2,000th consecutive day. There won't be any national fanfare. Or local fanfare, for that matter. On Saturday, we'll just publish like we always do and the Issue number above will be #2000 and that will be that.

But along the way, there have been some things here worth a gold star. Contributors like David Rosenfeld, Brien Jackson, Dale Williams, George McDowell, Bo Smolka and others have published some remarkable pieces over the last five-plus years. As Buck used to say, "I like our guys."

I'll put "my guys" -- past and present -- up against anyone else in town when it comes to producing strong, engaging commentary.

The Comments section is another story. This isn't the time or place for me to dissect and opine on it. As Elton John said in the song Philadelphia Freedom, "The less I say the more my work gets done."

But there was a submission in yesterday's Comments that is now the new clubhouse leader for "Best Comment in Franchise History". We've had a lot of them since August 25, 2014. Well over 25,000, I'm guessing.

Biff Poggi was a longtime successful coach at Gilman who has recently taken the St. Frances Academy football program to a national powerhouse.

And while I admittedly don't have a precise, etched-in-stone way of determining the order of brilliance for #DMD comments, I can say that I've never read one more spot-on than the one offered by "Such" (Mark Suchy) yesterday.

I'll save you the time that it would take to scroll down and present it here:

I'm continually amazed at the target that's painted on St. Frances Academy when the title article is about an alumnus of a Baltimore public high school leaving his head coaching job. These two issues are not even closely related. And even if the schools are located less than a mile apart, they operate in two completely different worlds when it comes to attracting athletes to enroll.

The broad brush argument of blaming "AAU culture" is a lazy and tired trope. I know plenty of young men who compete at various levels of AAU and at both public and private schools. I can assure you that the majority of young men who choose to participate in AAU programs do so because they love the game of basketball and it provides the opportunity to play in the spring and summer. And contrary to the belief of a frequent poster here, these boys realize that their futures lie at lower levels than Power 5 DI schools. Amazingly, they're happy with that reality!

I find it hilarious that anyone believes that private schools have to recruit athletes "in order to survive". That's incredibly myopic. And this argument only seems to apply when the sports discussed here are football or basketball. Hmmm, why is that? Nobody ever seems to get too worked up about what private schools do regarding lacrosse, soccer, wrestling, swimming etc. Hmmmm again....

I look around Baltimore and see lots of private schools that apparently don't need to "recruit to survive". They've been around for quite a while and it seems that they'll be around for quite a while to come. The decision to turn a school's focus towards athletics, for whatever reasons, lies solely with that school's administration. They don't owe me or anyone else an explanation. And I'm honestly not asking for one anyway because it makes no difference to me.

It's long overdue that the lazy slur "Evil Empire" be retired. Quite frankly, as someone who knows several young men enrolled there, as well as their families, it's quite offensive. These are fine people who chose to send their sons there, and again, it makes no difference to me. But they deserve a smidgen of respect regardless of anyone's opinions. Especially an alumnus of a school that is equally complicit in the modern prep sports culture.

#DMD has never had a comment hit the bulls-eye like that one did yesterday. Now, some might argue that Mark enjoys the benefit of having media/writing experience and that might be true. But it's more the context and not the polished nature of his writing that was the eye-opener.

I have an advantage, if you want to call it that. I'm currently a high school coach. I don't teach at the school, so I'm not around all of the kids at Calvert Hall, but I'm in the facility a lot from January through May. Some might say, rather than having an advantage, that I'm actually "jaded" about high school athletics. Maybe so. I most certainly favor high school athletics and, in this case specifically, the work that private, faith-based schools do in educating young men and women. My son likely will not play sports in high school, but if he's fortunate enough to get accepted, he'll most certainly attend Calvert Hall.

I know very little about the inner-workings of St. Frances Academy, but they, like other schools of their ilk, no doubt take great pride in educating young men and women. They are not, in any way, shape or form, "evil". Is every student and/or student-athlete at that school perfect? Of course not. Here's a news flash: None of us are. No school, no place of employment and no home is without flaws, problems and ongoing tension.

But to suggest that St. Frances Academy is "evil" because they put value in athletics and endeavor to use sports as a growth formula for young men and women who otherwise might not have that same opportunity elsewhere is, at its core, simply not true.

We should be thankful for any school, anywhere, that takes in boys and girls and pledges to teach them and help them grow. Academies that use sports to do that are similar in nature to schools that emphasize dance, music and theater. Perhaps because this is a sports website we don't delve into the real world all that often, but there are thousands of children each year who eschew "normal" high school and instead spend their teenage years at a school learning to perfect their craft at piano or the violin. I don't see anything wrong with that. And I don't hear much arguing about it, either, although I'm admittedly not in that in circle.

And how the schools go about running their business is extraordinarily complex. With all due respect to anyone and everyone here, it's far, far more complicated than you can imagine. There are state and national guidelines to follow, banking and financial issues, and so much other stuff that goes into it that can be adequately explained here. For most of us (me included), it's simply above our pay grade. You just don't know. You think you know and you come around to places like this and try and talk as if you understand all of the complexities of running a multi-million school, but you don't know.

Case in point: I don't know anything about the public school system. I was a public school "kid" and did OK. But my children have been blessed to attend a private Catholic school and that's important to me and my wife in terms of building their faith foundation. I don't know what's happening these days in the public school system because I'm not there. I assume they're doing the very best they can, though.

And I don't need to read some fancy book by a college professor who tells me about the failings of high school and high school athletes. I'm there. I'm around them. I see it for myself. If you want to know about being a high school parent, consult with Mark Suchy, as just one example. He is one. If you want to know about high school athletes, go talk with one who is in high school today.

We live in a world of generalization. You saw it yesterday in our Comments section. Someone once coached a student-athlete who was better than he thought he was and suddenly, "most kids are delusional" about their athletic prowess and ceiling. I have another news flash: My modest coaching experience tells me there are only two kids of athletes: You're either better than you think you are. Or you're not as good as you think you are.

It's a very rare thing indeed when you can find a young athlete who doesn't fit one of those standards. As I tell my golf team all the time: Your goal should be to move from one to the other. For a few months, you're better than you realize. Then, you get into a month or two where you're not quite as good as you think you are. Armed with that information, you go back to working hard and you wind up, again, being better than you realize.

Most kids at the high school level are not, in fact, "delusional" about what they're doing in college. In fact, they know exactly what their limits are. Their coaches typically do a very good job of painting a picture for them of what they're capable of and what they're not capable of. And if their high school coach fails in painting that picture, the number of interest letters and e-mails they receive as juniors and seniors paints an even more accurate picture.

Often times, it's in the presentation. As I've told a number of student-athletes: "It's not that (X-school) didn't want you. It's that they wanted someone else more." And that's the truth. Kentucky can't have the best 25 high schoolers on their team, even though they'd love that. So they pick the 16 best that fit their program and leave 9 others to go elsewhere.

This is 2000, not 1980. Kids are very aware of their progress and how it measures up against everyone else. I can say, for certain, every young man who plays for me knows what his level of college golf might or might not be. I'm not speaking for every coach at Calvert Hall, but knowing the ones that I know, they have a similar situation in their sport(s). They are more than ready to give their student-athletes the required information necessary to understand what their level might be in college, if there even is one.

Parents? That's a story for another day. But they can fend for themselves. They're adults. High school coaches and administrators are there to lead, guide and mentor. In the Lasallian Way that we do our best to follow at Calvert Hall, we're there in a high schooler's formative years to give them a foundation that encompasses life lessons that go beyond sports on the field of play. And I've found nearly every student-athlete both understands and appreciates what is given to them.

If you don't know a high school boys or girls athlete in 2020, you should get to know one. They're extrarodinary people. They have incredible personal and educational challenges that, without question, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to handle in 1981. I was a "teen ager" at Glen Burnie High School. The students I interact with at Calvert Hall and the other schools we compete against are "young men".

This likely seems like a blanket, overseeded defense of high school athletes. And it is. But yesterday's post in the Comments section by "Such" deserved some space of it own today. I'm not moved to do it very often, but I was moved to do it today.

So, Mark Suchy gets the #DMD golf clap this morning for his contribution on Tuesday. 25,000 or so comments later, it's the best one I've seen yet.

Give that man a scholarship...or a half one, at least.

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.

terps squeak past nebraska

For 20 minutes last night, there was no “D” in Maryland.

As a team, the breakdowns were numerous, mostly in the second half, and they allowed the Nebraska Cornhuskers an opportunity at pulling off the biggest upset in the Big Ten this year. But, as much as Maryland tried to give the game away, the Cornhuskers couldn’t capitalize and the Terrapins walked away with a less than impressive 72-70 home win.

The game came down to the final 23 seconds.

Down by 3, 71-68, Nebraska elected to put Eric Ayala on the foul line for a one and one. They were the first foul shots in the half for Maryland after taking 18 during the first half. Ayala had to be feeling the pressure, as his short miss was closer to an airball than a made shot. "Ugly" is an understatement. "Choke" may not be.

Nebraska grabbed the rebound and set up their potentially game tying play. The Terps, not risking a game tying three point try, put Nebraska on the line, intentionally fouling the ‘Huskers’ Cam Mack with 12.9 seconds left in the game. A sub 60% foul shooter, he hit them both to bring Nebraska within a single point.

Jalen Smith's last second block saved Maryland from an embarrassing home defeat on Tuesday night.

The Terps easily inbounded the ball to Anthony Cowan, who was fouled immediately. With a chance to put his team up by three, the usually reliable senior guard missed the front end. Like Ayala, his shot also came up extremely short, just a small fraction better than the bad miss a few seconds ago by Ayala. Remarkably, Nebraska was now down 1 with the ball, and had a chance to steal a win on a last possession shot.

Mack brought the ball almost straight up the court. He blew by Cowan like Cowan had his feet glued to the floor, and headed directly to the rim. His short, 3-foot floater looked to have a chance of going in for the win before Smith blocked it and came away with the loose ball. Game over. The Terps survived.

Yesterday I wrote about this game being wedged between the big Illinois win and the huge road game on Saturday at Michigan State. It was a typical “let down” situation and Maryland played like it.

Not one Terp was innocent of playing bad defense, but Cowan, Darryl Morsell, and Donta Scott were leading the pack of indifferent defenders. Close on their tails were Ayala and Aaron Wiggins. The Cornhuskers were easily slipping past their defenders on the perimeter, getting into the paint, and dishing off to a wide-open back cutting teammate.

Maryland played defense in the second half without an ounce of passion. They were really lucky that they had a substantial gap in talent and size, because they were out-worked in the final 20 minutes.

There wasn’t anything exceptional or unexpected about the first half. Maryland had a 38-25 lead, Nebraska was horrible from the three-point line, and Jalen Smith controlled the interior. Smith’s 10 rebound, 9-point half provided much of the led for the Terps. A 14-4 advantage from the foul line accounted for the rest.

There was no surprise in the fact that Mark Turgeon gave his bench almost 25 minutes of playing time in the first half, but it was a bit confusing that none of those minutes went to Ricky Lindo, while starter Danta Scott played almost 18 minutes. Lindo never saw the court at all last night.

With Nebraska always seemingly with striking distance in the second half, the substitutions were far less liberal. Maryland went only 6 deep for the final 20 minutes.

The Terps were fortunate to claim the victory last night. It could have easily gone the other way. After two games where they showed immeasurable heart, last night they won simple because they were bigger and better, but just barely.

There is a big clash in East Lansing on Saturday night at 6pm as the Terps take on Sparty. ESPN will carry all of the action.


valentine's day reminder!

Men, this Friday is Valentine's Day, in case you didn't know. Most men -- studies show -- are huge procrastinators. I think that's spelled right. I'll check it out at some point today or tomorrow. Or Friday, maybe.

We're doing our part here to keep you in good graces with that significant other in your life. We don't want you getting the cold shoulder when you forget that this Friday is an important day!

Get your Valentine's Day purchase out of the way today by shopping at Flowers and Fancies.

For those men (and our female readers, too, Valentine's Day works both ways!) who are looking for something to give to their wife, girlfriend or significant other or family member this Friday, please consider using our friends at "Flowers and Fancies". They're a local company owned by longtime Baltimore florist Edddie Wingrat. Not only will they put together the best flower arrangement you can find, you can also purchase "fancies" from them like balloons, fruit baskets and much more.

You can visit their website by clicking here. There's also an ad on directly below that will take you there. We'd prefer you use the ad simply because it will best allow us to track our results, but either way works just fine.

Get your Valentine's Day obligations taken care of today by visiting the Flowers and Fancies website. You can also reach them by phone at 410-653-0600. Please tell them you're a Drew's Morning Dish reader!'t procrastinate! Get it done now!

Flowers and Fancies banner

February 11
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue

booth dismissed at dunbar

Dunbar fired men's basketball coach Keith Booth on Monday, ending his first-season at his alma mater before it even reached its conclusion.

We'll wait for the "official" word so as not to muddy the waters. Depending on whom you believe, Booth's departure was either "in the works for a while" or "a sign of people feeling pressure" after Booth apparently approached the Baltimore school about upgrading the basketball program to better compete with the city's elite high school teams.

"Keith went in there, rolled up his sleeves, and was working his tail off to make that program better," a source close to the school told #DMD on Monday. "You can't make wine out of a water anymore, no matter what your name is or how many years you played in the NBA. The playing field isn't level out there. Keith knows how the game is played. But if the school's not willing to help him out, there's no sense in being there."

Keith Booth was fired at Dunbar on Monday.

Booth's sudden departure is the second area coaching termination in less than a month. In mid-January, Archbishop Spalding fired its women's coach after she made what some people thought were disparaging remarks about a rival player in a private message to a sports website.

In that case, the coach, Lisa Smith, was trying to point out the imbalance of coverage provided to local high school players. When she asked the publication to "highlight some other girls in the conference who aren't as genetically gifted", Smith was deemed to have crossed the line. The former Spalding coach also described the rival player's on-court behavior as "repulsive, unacceptable and unflattering." In closing, Ms. Smith also wrote, "You can have swag without acting like a punk." While she didn't mention the rival player by name with that comment, it was obviously intended to frame the player in that light.

The word and use of "punk" didn't mean much in the '70's and 80's. Its definition has taken on a different tone in the last decade or so.

The issues facing Booth and Smith were different, yet eerily similar in their desired conclusion. Booth apparently wanted his school's basketball standards to improve. Smith wanted the standards of player behavior to improve. At its core, both of them simply wanted "better" for their school and their sport.

Booth might have said the wrong thing to the wrong person or used a tone that was inappropriate. There could be more to the story, too, which is why we'll allow everyone to unveil their part of the story before making a full and final opinion on the merits of dismissing one of Baltimore's biggest basketball names not even one full season into his tenure.

In this instance, though, it would be fair for Dunbar to remember that they brought Keith Booth in because of his cachet in the Baltimore basketball community. They knew Keith Booth wanted to restore Dunbar to basketball greatness. That's why they hired him in the first place. Booth wasn't going to take the job unless he had certain guarantees that the school and its alumni base would help him get the program percolating again.

If Booth wasn't seeing the kind of support he was initially promised, one would expect he'd voice his displeasure at some point. Those of us who were in Baltimore in the '70's and '80's know all about the legacy of the Dunbar basketball program. So, after years of recent underachieving, the powers-that-be decided it was Booth who could lead them back to respectability. It can't be done with magic, though. Decisions have to be made about the upgrading of standards, which occasionally means either an influx of money or improved facilities. Sometimes, it even means both.

If Keith Booth rubbed people the wrong way, it was only because he was doing the job they asked him to do in the first place.

When the dust settles, the questions worth asking are these: Does that coach always have the best interest of his or her team at heart? Does that coach maliciously demean or disparage their own players and/or players from other teams? Does that coach put teaching and mentoring above winning?

I can't answer those three questions for the people at Dunbar.

But if the answers are "Yes", "No", "Yes", you'd be hard pressed to find a reason to terminate a coach, barring some kind of criminal activity, obviously.

I don't know *exactly* what happened with Keith Booth, but I hope Dunbar didn't rob their student-athletes of a high quality coach who believed in those students and was trying to help make them the best they could be.

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George McDowell

George McDowell is #DMD's foreign correspondent. His international reports are filed from a hardened outpost just across the U.S. / North Carolina border. He writes on sports topics that interest him that he feels might also interest some segment of the wildly esoteric #DMD readership. George has been a big fan of DF and his various enterprises since the last century, and for several seasons appeared as a weekly guest on his Monday evening radio show, Maryland Golf Live, delivering commentary as The Eccentric Starter. George also donates his time and talents to the less fortunate, and currently volunteers as secretary of the Rickie Fowler Fan Club.

preliminary factual findings of a tragedy

I've reprinted below that part of the National Transportation Safety Board's "Aircraft Accident Investigative Update" that describes the flight of the helicopter that crashed and burned, killing all nine souls on board including Kobe Bryant.

I re-paragraphed the Update to allow for clarity and the insertion of explanatory annotation. Anything in brackets is my comment; what's in parentheses is in the original.

ATC communications and radar data indicate the flight departed KSNA [John Wayne Airport; Santa Ana, CA] about 0906 PST. N72EX proceeded to the north-northwest at an altitude of about 700 to 800 feet mean sea level (msl) under visual flight rules (VFR).

[Note the use of both msl {Mean Sea Level} and agl {Above Ground Level} below. MSL is what the aircraft's altimeter will show, and what the cloud ceiling will be reported as. AGL will, in mountainous terrain in a rapidly-moving aircraft, change frequently and drastically.]

[Visual Flight Rules in the airspace where the aircraft was operating required the pilot to be able to see clearly for three miles in his general direction of travel, and that he remain 500 feet below any cloud layer above him and 2,000 feet from any cloud or fog in any horizontal direction.]

At 0920, as the aircraft neared the Burbank class C airspace, the pilot requested to transition the area along Highway 101. The current Burbank weather observation reported instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions. [That is, the airport and vicinity were below VFR minima.] In response to the pilot’s request, the air traffic controller advised that cloud tops were reported at 2,400 feet msl and queried the pilot’s intentions; the pilot then requested a special VFR clearance (an ATC authorization to proceed in controlled airspace at less than VFR weather minima).

[The ATC clearance authorized this currently instrument-rated pilot to fly this currently IFR-certified aircraft "clear of clouds," without other ceiling or horizontal restrictions.]

The air traffic controller advised that the pilot would need to hold for a short time due to IFR traffic, which the pilot acknowledged.

[This is why the aircraft slowed down and circled for a few minutes just east of Dodger Stadium.]

At 0932, ATC cleared the pilot of N72EX to transition the class C surface area following the I-5 freeway, maintaining special VFR conditions at or below 2,500 feet [MSL]. The pilot acknowledged with a correct readback and climbed to approximately 1,400 feet msl (600 feet agl). In response to query, the pilot replied to the Burbank ATC that he would follow Highway 118 and “loop around VNY [Van Nuys Airport]” to follow Highway 101. ATC acknowledged and coordinated.

At 0939, as N72EX was passing west of Van Nuys at 1,500 feet msl, the VNY controller asked the pilot if he was in VFR conditions. The pilot replied “VFR conditions, one thousand five hundred” [feet MSL] and the VNY controller advised him to contact Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (SCT) for radar advisory services.

The pilot reported to SCT that the flight was going to Camarillo [Camarillo Airport, CMA; 11 miles by car from the Mamba Sports Academy] at 1,500 feet [MSL]. The SCT controller advised that he would not be able to maintain radar contact at that altitude and terminated services.

[Part of the controller's transmission included the words "too low." This has been widely mis-interpreted. It meant than that the aircraft was beneath the altitude necessary to be acquired by ATC radar, and NOTHING else.]

The SCT controller was subsequently relieved by a different controller. At 0945, the pilot of N72EX again contacted SCT and advised he was climbing above cloud layers and requested advisory services. The second controller was not aware of the aircraft, as services had previously been terminated, so asked the pilot to identify the flight. The SCT controller then asked the pilot his intentions, to which he replied he was climbing to 4,000 feet [MSL].There were no further transmissions.

Radar/ADS-B data indicate the aircraft was climbing along a course aligned with Highway 101 just east of the Las Virgenes exit. Between Las Virgenes and Lost Hills Road, the aircraft reached 2,300 feet msl (approximately 1,500 feet above the highway, which lies below the surrounding terrain) and began a left turn.

This is the most heartbreaking image contained in the NTSB Update. It was taken by a wildfire-alert camera about 30 seconds before the aircraft crashed. The National Weather Service analyzed the photo, and determined from a known elevation that the top of the lower cloud layer was at 2,400 MSL. Had S-76 climbed only 100 more feet, it would have broken through the clouds into clear sky.

[Why the pilot began a left turn will be widely discussed. The reasonable assumption, partially supported by witnesses on the ground, was that the aircraft was in clouds and had no visible reference to earth. The pilot's function in this instance {termed Inadvertent IFR} is to stabilize the aircraft using information from dashboard instrumentation, on a straight course at proper speed in a controlled climb at a proper rate of climb, then declare an emergency and await ATC instructions for course, speed, and altitude.]

Eight seconds later, the aircraft began descending and the left turn continued. The descent rate increased to over 4,000 feet per minute (fpm), ground speed reached 160 knots. The last ADS-B target was received at 1,200 feet msl approximately 400 feet southwest of the accident site.

[There has been much reporting of the fact that the aircraft was not equipped with a device that would have warned that it was too close to the ground, called a Terrain Awareness Warning System. Reputable publications have deemed this system "key," "crucial," and "vital," and have suggested or implied that had the S-76 had such a device, there would have been no crash. This is sensationalism, and grossly misleading. No pilot would ever, under any circumstance, fly on instruments without external visual clues so close to the ground as to have to depend on beeps from a box. A 4,000-feet-per-minute {67 feet per second} turning descent is a 45-mph dive. The S-76's VNE {Velocity, Never Exceed} is 155 knots; at impact its groundspeed was 160 knots. The aircraft was out of control.]

Additional information will be released as warranted.


dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.

nebraska visits college park tonight

In between the end of last year, and the beginning of this season, there has been a radical change in Nebraska basketball. I can’t remember any other college basketball situation where a coach has had just one returning player, and the coach is new also.

The 2018-2019 Nebraska team was one bad injury away from being an NCAA tournament participant. This year’s team of freshmen and transfers have put Nebraska, and coach Pete Hoiburg, near the bottom of the Big Ten with a 2-10 record.

Darryl Morsell and the Terps look to stay undefeated at home when Nebraska visits College Park this evening.

Gone are James Palmer, Isaiah Robey, Isaac Copeland, Glynn Watson Jr and the rest of the Nebraska roster with the lone exception being Thorir Throrbjarnarson.

The Huskers have lost 8 in a row, and even their two wins are somewhat tainted. In Nebraska’s home wins against Iowa and Purdue, the visitor’s combined to shoot 10 of 68 from the free-throw line and scored a total of 4 points from the charity stripe.

Nebraska doesn’t rebound well, are the worst defensive team in the league, and struggle mightily from the foul line. The ‘Huskers big men are no threat inside, but the guard play, offensively, isn’t all that bad.

All three starting guards average scoring in double digits. The group is led by Cam Mack and his 13 points-per-game. Mack came to Nebraska via the Community College route. He was a star at Salt Lake Community College before entering the Big Ten. At this level, he’s more of a slasher than a catch and shoot guy, but he can get a bit out of control. He gets to the foul line more than any other Cornhusker, but he converts just 58% of his attempts.

An even more impressive slasher, in my eyes, is Dachon Burke Jr. Burke played two seasons at Robert Morris before joining Nebraska. He’s the best defender on this team and causes turnovers with his quickness and wiry frame, He’ll play hard all night, but he’s even worse from the foul line than Mack.

Completing the three-guard lineup is Haanif Cheatham. He had stints at Marquette and Florida Gulf Coast before coming to Lincoln for his final season. Cheatham is a decent shooter, but he will struggle defensively tonight trying to defend Darryl Morsell or Aaron Wiggins. Cheatham scores almost 12 points per contest.

This should be a tough game for Nebraska. They play small at 6’2” (Mack), 6’4” (Burke), 6’5” (Cheatham), 6’6” (Throrbjarnarson - and he plays smaller than that) and 6’9” (freshman -Yvan Ouedraogo). Their only hope would be a Terp letdown because the game is sandwiched between Maryland’s emotional win at Illinois and a pending collision at Michigan State on Saturday.

Maryland will never shoot poorly enough to keep Nebraska in the game. I anticipate the Terps to own the boards and dominate with points-in-the paint. Dribble penetration will yield easy buckets because of the lack of a Nebraska rim protector.

A ton of touches down low for Jalen Smith will allow him to maintain his streak of double-digit scoring games. The line is 16 1/2, but I’m thinking that Mark Turgeon will play his reserves as much as possible, even early in the game, in an effort to keep his starters well rested for the big game Saturday night. Because of that, I’m hesitant to predict a huge blowout tonight.

Nebraska likes to push the tempo, so possessions will be available for both teams to score. Maryland dominates, 79-67, in a game that isn’t as close as the final score indicates.

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February 10
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maybe there's hope yet

It's been a long time since another football league came along to challenge the NFL.

And maybe the newest football entry -- the XFL -- isn't even here to challenge the NFL as much as it's here to capitalize on it. Perhaps that's their angle.

An ethusiastic crowd of over 17,000 in DC saw the Defenders win the XFL's inaugural game over Seattle.

Either way, though, one week after the NFL campaign ended with Kansas City's Super Bowl win, the XFL roared into action with four games over the weekend, including one right down the road in Washington DC.

Nothing's perfect, of course, and any comparisons to the NFL would be off target, but the XFL's debut weekend was well received.

The crowds were decent and so, too, were the TV ratings. They weren't NFL numbers, by any means, but for a start-up league with no juice at all, opening weekend was a hit.

The two Saturday games (in DC and Houston) both drew over 17,000. The DC vs. Seattle game -- played at the DC United soccer stadium, which holds just north of 20,000) -- averaged 3.3 million viewers with a peak high of 4 million. Official attendance numbers for the Sunday game weren't available as of this writing, but they were rumored to also be in the 17,000-18,000 range.

Now, as I tell anyone who listens when the subject of sports attendance comes up, the only "real" number that matters when talking tickets is the "gate", which simply means how much revenue was generated via ticket sales. If you draw 12,000 to your game but your "gate" is only $120,000, I did better than you if I drew 9,000 but my gate was $150,000.

I have no idea how many of those 17,000 seats were sold in DC...or how many were complimentary...and I have no idea how many of those seats were sold at full price and how many were somehow discounted. Thus, the "gate" question looms large in DC and elsewhere throughout the XFL. Despite their partnership with both ABC and FOX, the XFL can't make it on TV and TV alone. People have to be interested enough in the eight cities where teams are located to spend money on the franchise and go to the games. If 2,000 people start showing up, the league's dead.

The on field product, filled with former NFL players, was fine. It wasn't the NFL, obviously, and it never will be. But there was some "good football" in the games I checked out. The rules of the XFL are different than those in the NFL. Some are, in my opinion, improvements. Others aren't. The biggest difference you'll notice immediately is that camera people and sideline reporters are everywhere. You'll get the occasional f-bomb dropped in because reporters are sticking microphones in guy's faces right after a midfield skirmish.

The United States is so football-delirious we'll watch just about anything once. And in cities like Washington DC, where the NFL product has been lousy for so long, the XFL might even have a chance of capturing the local football fanbase for a few months in the spring. If they play their cards right, the XFL's model franchise could wind up being the DC Defenders. That would be a nice feather in the start-up league's cap.

No one's giving up with their NFL season tickets because they've fallen in love with the XFL. That's just not happening. But the first weekend, at least, was a definite success. Let's see what happens once the bloom is off the rose in a month or two.

Speaking of roses, this Friday is Valentine's Day, in case you didn't know. Most men -- studies show -- are huge procrastinators. I think that's spelled right. I'll check it out at some point today or tomorrow. Or Wednesday, maybe.

Get your Valentine's Day purchase out of the way today by shopping at Flowers and Fancies.

Anyway, for those men (and our female readers, too, Valentine's Day works both ways!) who are looking for something to give to their significant other or family member this Friday, please consider using our friends at "Flowers and Fancies". They're a local company owned by longtime Baltimore florist Edddie Wingrat. Not only will they put together the best flower arrangement you can find, you can also purchase "fancies" from them like balloons, fruit baskets and much more.

You can visit their website by clicking here. There's also an ad on the right side of #DMD today that will take you there. We'd prefer you use the ad simply because it will best allow us to track our results, but either way works just fine.

Get your Valentine's Day obligations taken care of today by visiting the Flowers and Fancies website. You can also reach them by phone at 410-653-0600. Please tell them you're a Drew's Morning Dish reader!'t procrastinate! Get it done now!

Phil Mickelson sure does love Pebble Beach. He doesn't love it enough to have won a U.S. Open there (0-for-3 in 2000, 2010 and 2019), but Mickelson again put himself into contention at the historic layout before finishing 3rd in this weekend's Pebbble Beach Pro-Am.

Three weeks ago, Mickelson was in a funk, missing two straight cuts on the PGA Tour and then heading over to Saudi Arabia for his first appearance in their big European Tour event that's held there every January.

Two consecutive third place finishes have Phil Mickelson motivated to qualify for this year's U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

After a 3rd place finish there, he jetted back to the States and teed it up at Pebble, a venue where he'd won five times previously. And if not for some stellar golf from Canadian Nick Taylor on Saturday and Sunday, Mickelson might have very well been the repeat champion (he won last February).

Mickelson, who will turn 50 this June, is nothing if not entertaining these days. He went on a bizarre 5-day fasting program in the fall where he drank only a wild concoction that included Ethiopian coffee, promptly lost 15 pounds, started posting his workout sessions on social media, and pronounced himself "fitter than ever" just before Christmas.

Last week, when asked if he would accept a special invitation from the USGA if he fails to qualify for this June's U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Mickelson flatly said "no". Winged Foot was the site of one of Mickelson's closest brushes with winning the only major he's never won. He made a double-bogey 6 on the last hole in 2006 to help hand the U.S. Open to Geoff Ogilvy. As of this weekend, the southpaw still hasn't qualified for this year's event at Winged Foot.

"I'm not taking a special exemption," Mickelson said on Wednesday at Pebble Beach. "I'm either getting in the old fashioned way or I won't play. I have too much respect for the tournament and the process that it takes to play. I either make it on my own or I'll watch it at home."

I'm betting he gets in. Even though he's not the player he once was, Mickelson -- as he showed this weekend -- can still be competitive if the venue is right for his game. Between now and early June, he'll win a tournament or climb high enough in the world ranking to draw an exemption into the U.S. Open. And if he doesn't do either of those things, he can still go through 36-hole sectional qualifying and get in that way.

Don't bet against Phil. He might not be as good as he once was, but he's as good, once, as he ever was.

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.

consider this

Contrary to emotional belief, the Maryland men’s basketball team has been pretty successful as a member of the Big Ten Conference. Friday’s comeback win at Illinois improved the Terps’ B1G regular-season record to 68-36. In other words, the Terps have won just about two of every three league games they’ve played.

There have been buzzer beaters and near-buzzer beaters. Comebacks from big deficits much later in the game than on Friday. Wins over Michigan State, Wisconsin and Purdue when those teams were among the top six or seven in the country. All good.

The win in Champaign on Friday? I’d say that was the best game Maryland’s played in its six seasons in the B1G, and not by statistics or execution or style points, though there were a few of those, led by Jalen Smith’s left-handed catch and finish on a lob pass that screamed “NBA All-Star.”

Mark Turgeon had his best coaching game I can remember. He adjusted his defensive strategy, for sure, and he never tried to strangle his team into playing a certain way. When they needed to run, the Terps ran. When they needed to be judicious, they were. He showed a lot of trust, which I’m sure he understandably didn’t have earlier in the season.

As for the guys that really matter, the players, they were composed in a difficult environment. In the first half, they were more composed than Turgeon, by a long shot. With Anthony Cowan and Darryl Morsell, and a group of experienced sophomores, Maryland is honestly somewhat unusual among the country’s top teams. The Terps might lose, or miss shot after shot, but they won’t panic.

These last two road wins for Maryland, at Indiana and Illinois, were not games the majority of fans believed the Terps could win. They were not games that Turgeon’s other five B1G teams would have won, despite their overall success. Against the Illini in particular, the Terps exhibited a combined sense of calm and effort that’s a good sign for the rest of the season.

I woke up Saturday morning looking for the Baltimore Sun game story from Maryland-Illinois, only to find Associated Press copy instead. It was odd, since beat writer and Sun vet Don Markus would usually have been there. Perhaps he had a couple days off, or maybe the long trip to Champaign wasn’t on his schedule this year.

It came as a surprise, then, when Twitter gave me the actual reason for Markus’s absence. After 35 years at The Sun, Friday was Markus’s last day. Like so many others before him, he finally “took the buyout” from the paper.

Always one to show his sense of humor, Markus tweeted about Maryland’s win in Champaign, noting that the Terps were now 1-0 in the post-Markus era, and that “Mark Turgeon will never let me near the Xfinity Center again.”

There used to be lots of men and women in this city, and lots of other cities, that “covered” sports. They didn’t blog about them or tweet about them or “create content.” They covered them. That might have meant a beat like Maryland basketball, but it also might have meant simply looking for stories wherever they were.

People like me used to spend some of our time doing what was (and still is) called “pitching,” and sometimes it would even work! That great soccer player or the swimmer with the unique family story was enough for a person like Don Markus to spend a day reporting, by which I mean actually doing interviews and showing interest in a story.

These people were (and are) actual journalists. At the very least, they pretended that the local college basketball game mattered to them. Maybe they had only 10 or 12 column “inches,” as they used to say, but they really tried to make the most of them.

People like Markus aren’t being replaced, obviously. The world of sports journalism works differently now. But I really appreciated all of them, even if they sometimes wrote something I didn’t like. They were good at what they did.

I’m not sure I realized until the release of the Orioles’ promotional schedule for 2020 that it’s now been 25 years since Cal Ripken’s 2,131st consecutive game played. I believe that was before “load management” had entered the sports vernacular.

On the exact 25th anniversary, Sept. 6, the Orioles host the Yankees at Camden Yards and the first 25,000 fans 15-and-over will get a Cal Jr. bobblehead. I’m interested in seeing what era of Cal Ripken will be chosen, and whether or not the bobblehead will feature one of the 132 batting stances Cal used during his career.

As Cal Jr. approaches his 60th birthday this year, almost 20 years since he retired from baseball, it’s worth mentioning that, as a baseball player, Cal’s consecutive games streak was nothing but a sidebar.

Cal changed the notion of what a shortstop was supposed to be. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter have him to thank for that. I don’t know how sincere A-Rod is in general (I’m guessing not very), but his insistence on Ripken moving to shortstop in that last All-Star Game was absolutely sincere.

He was the smartest baseball player of his time all the time, though he was only the best player of his time in short spurts. He was a unique and quirky player, and not just with the batting stances. There was a certain genius to him that was innate, or maybe just gleaned from spending his childhood in baseball clubhouses like Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes did.

Cal’s son Ryan attended Gilman School when I worked there. One day I walked out the back door of the new academic building, which was right behind the baseball field. I looked up and saw someone throwing batting practice 400 feet away, and I immediately knew who it was. Only Cal threw a baseball like that, and it must have been a dream for many of those kids to step into the box against him even for a few seconds.

So this report came out from the USGA and R&A, the “Distance Impacts Project,” and I suppose what it said was predictable. “In summary,” the report noted, “we believe golf will thrive over the next decades and beyond if this continuing cycle of ever-increasing hitting distances and golf course lengths is brought to an end.”

This brought out the usual solutions, such as more club regulations and “tournament balls,” and also the typical thoughts from professional tour players like Dustin Johnson (so what?) to Graeme McDowell (on some courses I feel like I’m two shots behind standing on the first tee).

As I read about the study, and thought about this issue that’s been at top of mind in professional and top amateur golf for years, I thought back to a round I played last May.

My usual group, for various reasons, wasn’t available. So I stood on the first tee with a nice man and his son-in-law. The younger fella walked back to the back tee box, the one that began the 7,100-yard course with the course rating of 74.0 and the slope rating of 137.

And the speed with which this man hit the ball was frightening. Even standing even with him or behind him, I’d often lose the flight of the ball almost immediately. But he had no idea where it was going. I can’t imagine he was having fun, though I could imagine he’d have fun if a bunch of those 320-yard drives were going straight that day.

My point? Being able to hit the ball “too long” is okay, but being able to hit the ball “too long” and in play is actually really hard. Being able to hit the ball “too long” and in play and also having the skills to play delicate 85-yard wedge shots and beautiful rhythmic chips around the green is even better. So why would we want to take that away from a high-level golfer, pro or not?


we're heading to new york!

We have 14 people signed up for this trip so far!!! It's going to be a blast!

Maybe the O's aren't going to be all that good in 2020. We know that going in. But what you might not know is how much fun a #DMD road trip can be in the summer! And what better place to visit and take in a couple of games than New York?

Join us in NY on June 23-24 to see Trey Mancini and the O's take on the Yankees.

We're going to the Big Apple to support our Birds, June 23 and 24. And we've love to have a bunch of O's fans join us in the Bronx for a couple of days in New York and two baseball games.

We'll leave on Tuesday, June 23 around noon and check in at our Manhattan hotel sometime around 4 pm. The game that night is at 7:05 pm. We'll have upper deck seats for that, with unlimited food and drinks for everyone in our group.

The next night, June 24, we'll have a pre-game bullpen party and awesome left field seats close to the field.

Once the game's over, we'll head back home, arriving in Baltimore after midnight.

If you're interested in going on the trip, send me a quick email so I can start building the trip list:

I Am Catholic
February 9
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ten things you should know...

If you watch today's final round of the PGA Tour event at Pebble Beach, here are a few nuggets for you that could give off the "smartest guy in the room" vibe.

Even though I only played Pebble Beach once during my recent four-day trip out there, I soaked in a lot of information, both just from my own observations and from caddie lore that was shared throughout the trip.

The TOUR event actually isn't very popular -- While everyone absolutely loves Pebble Beach and the area around the course, the tournament itself is one of the most unpopular on the PGA Tour. To wit, this week's event has one of the weakest overall fields of the year. Why? Three reasons. First, the Pro-Am format lends itself to 5.5 hour rounds. Each TOUR player gets paired up with an amateur. The amateur is typically a decent player (handicap ranges this week go from 0 to 22), but there's a difference between a 10 handicap playing at his/her home course and teeing it up in a national competition at three tough venues.

Second, the tournament uses three different courses; Monterey Peninsula CC, Spyglass Hill GC and Pebble Beach. That means you have to learn three courses instead of one, have to get your bags and equipment to three courses, etc. A tournament is hard enough when it's played on the same course for four days. Expecting a TOUR player to hop around to three different courses in three days and actually like the format is asking a lot.

Third, it's "party first, golf second" for a lot of people this week. It doesn't really resemble a golf tournament, except for the guy who gets the trophy Sunday afternoon. The entire week is filled with dinner, drinking, concerts, shows, etc. Most of the top players who have their financial security handled don't need to go out and schmooze at night. But the mid-tier players and rookies who are playing in the event feel compelled to go out and entertain and hang with their amateur partners. And ultimately, that takes away from why they're there in the first place. To play golf.

The 7th hole at Pebble Beach plays 105 yards. Players have hit lob wedges and 5-irons into the green throughout the years of the Pro-Am tournament.

Pebble Beach isn't very difficult -- Like any course, Pebble can be toughened up, as it was last summer in the U.S. when Gary Woodland posted 13-under for 4 days. But all in all, Pebble is not very difficult. There are some tough holes, for sure. #7 is a tricky 105 yard hole. #8, #9 and #10 are three holes where you really have to hit it straight (and long, helps, too). But other than the dangerous 14th hole -- a par 5 with a crazy green -- the back nine is fairly easy.

There's expensive, and then there's Pebble Beach -- Everything costs a lot of money at Pebble Beach. Coffee: $5.00 Bagel: $7.50 Burger: $18.00 Wine: $20-$25 glass, minimum. I tell anyone who goes out there to expect to pay $200 a day for food/drinks. No matter where you go, no matter what you eat (assuming you're going to eat regular meals), you'll wind up spending $200 per-day on food and drinks. And $200 is a minimum number.

The practice facilities are bland -- We played three courses on our trip out there; Pebble Beach, Spyglass and Spanish Bay. None of them had practice facilities worth a hoot. The one at Pebble Beach was "decent", but certainly nothing like you'd find, say, at Caves Valley. Property value being what it is in that part of the region, a huge, 10-acre driving range wouldn't be nearly as smart as selling two or three houses on that same parcel of land. So they're really "warm-up" facilties rather than "practice facilities".

It really is that beautiful -- You'll hear Jim Nantz wax poetic throughout today's final round about the beauty of Pebble Beach and the quaint town of Carmel. Nantz should know all about it...he lives there, now. Unlike Augusta National, which in person looks very different from what you see on TV, Pebble Beach looks exactly like what you'll see on TV. The views and the beauty of the area surpass the quality of the golf course, if I'm being honest. It's a great golf course, don't get me wrong. But the piece of land it sits on and the Pebble Beach are remarkably gorgeous. I haven't been to many places in my life where I said, "Boy, I'd live here in a heartbeat." I'd live at Pebble Beach in a heartbeat. If I had $30 million, that is.

The greens aren't great -- One of the reasons why they play the TOUR event there every February is that it's the best time of the year for them to be able to cut the greens on a daily basis and not have the poa annua take over by 12 noon. Poa annua greens are great to putt on for about six hours every day. But the small flowers start to pop up once the sun hits its peak and by mid-afternoon, putting can be tricky. Regular golfers don't mind it much or even notice the real difference. TOUR players don't care for bad bounces and putts that should break a half-ball to the left but instead actually wiggle a touch to the right. They used a special chemical on the greens last June when they held the U.S. Open to keep the poa at bay, but the maintenance required to apply it and control it would be too much to do on a daily basis.

The caddies know -- I guess if you've lived there your whole life, you know the differences in wind, air temperature, etc. If you do make it out to Pebble Beach, listen to your caddies. They tell too many stories and jokes, in all fairness, but I assume they figure that's half of what you're paying for. But when they tell you the shot you're facing has a carry of 145 but it plays more like 175, you'd be well served to just believe them. Or you can try and hit your 160 club there because you don't believe there's a 30 difference in carry vs. wind and you'll come up 15 yards short. We played a par 3 at Spanish Bay that was 145 to the hole from a slightly downhill tee box. I assumed it played 140 or so. "This is actually uphill," the caddie said. "Or at least it plays like that. It's 155 to the hole." My well hit 9 iron came up about 50 feet short of the hole. I listened the rest of the way to my caddie's advice.

You're not getting a tee time at Cypress Point -- Lots of people make the trip to Pebble Beach and wonder, "How do I get my foursome on at Cypress Point?" Answer: You don't. You can actually see Cypress Point from several holes at Spyglass Hill. But they're worlds apart, in reality. No one plays Cypress Point unless they're invited, and even then, a guest can only play on Monday or Tuesday morning at 7:00 am. Even the TOUR players who are in town for the tournament this week know the drill. You don't just "phone the pro shop" to see if you can get on. Ian Poulter apparently found that out once.

Pace of play moves along -- Roughly ten years ago, the biggest drawback at Pebble Beach was pace of play. The rounds would take six hours, mainly because of photo and video opportunities that each group took it upon themselves to create. That's no longer the case. You're told before you start to keep photography to a minimum and it's strongly suggested that you allow caddies to do the picture-taking. Our round in October took exactly 4 hours and 20 minutes to complete. Our caddie knew the spots on the course for photos and he'd announce it ahead of time. "Next hole we'll take pictures right by the 7th tee so get a phone out for me." Sure, groups without caddies (and there are some of those) wouldn't have that luxury, but caddies and groups playing up on them would send the message right away to pick up the pace. Or, the caddies simply go up and tell them to get moving or skip a hole, one of the two.

It's expensive, but you should do it. -- A 4-day trip with golf at the three big courses is going to run you $5,000-$6,000. It just is. But if you love golf and you have that sort of money to spend on something like a guy's trip to Pebble Beach, you will not regret it. I had this discussion with a friend back in January when the prospect of the Ravens playing in the Super Bowl was still a reality. I told him I probably wouldn't go to the game if they got in. He wondered why. "Because I'd rather spend $5,000 to go back to Pebble Beach than to spend $5,000 on a ticket to a game I can watch from a bar in Miami." I'll be going back someday. Maybe soon, in fact. It's worth the money. But it is, for sure, an expensive trip.

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we're heading to new york!

We have 14 people signed up for this trip so far!!! It's going to be a blast!

Maybe the O's aren't going to be all that good in 2020. We know that going in. But what you might not know is how much fun a #DMD road trip can be in the summer! And what better place to visit and take in a couple of games than New York?

Join us in NY on June 23-24 to see Trey Mancini and the O's take on the Yankees.

We're going to the Big Apple to support our Birds, June 23 and 24. And we've love to have a bunch of O's fans join us in the Bronx for a couple of days in New York and two baseball games.

We'll leave on Tuesday, June 23 around noon and check in at our Manhattan hotel sometime around 4 pm. The game that night is at 7:05 pm. We'll have upper deck seats for that, with unlimited food and drinks for everyone in our group.

The next night, June 24, we'll have a pre-game bullpen party and awesome left field seats close to the field.

Once the game's over, we'll head back home, arriving in Baltimore after midnight.

If you're interested in going on the trip, send me a quick email so I can start building the trip list:


February 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue

saturday stuff

During Friday's edition of Glenn Clark Radio, the show host asked me if the Red Sox/Dodgers trade (still not officially confirmed) in any way bothered me.

"Bothers me?" I asked. "How so?"

It's still not a done deal yet, but the Red Sox are on the verge of shipping Mookie Betts to the L.A. Dodgers.

Clark went on to ask if it bothered me that one really rich franchise (Boston) that could easily afford the contracts of both Mookie Betts and David Price would dump them for a couple of hotshot prospects and shave nearly $60 million off their payroll, giving away one of the game's best offensive players and a still-decent-but-no-longer-great left handed starting pitcher.

It doesn't bother me in the least.

First of all, we can't really complain when the rich teams overspend (which they do) and then counter-complain when they decide they want to spend less. The luxury tax does matter in baseball, even though most of the really wealthy franchises sorta-kinda ignore it for a while in their quest to win a World Series.

If Boston doesn't want to pay Mookie Betts $350 million and they know that right now, why not just trade him and get a couple of kids who might help you win again in 2024? I don't see a problem with that. Unloading David Price as part of that deal was really smart, if you ask me. It would be akin to the Orioles trading away their only good player, Trey Mancini, and "adding" Chris Davis to the deal. We'd all applaud that move.

That the Dodgers are the ones scooping up Betts and Price could be looked at as an issue. I mean, why not just give the Dodgers Scherzer, Arenado and Judge too? At some point, we should all hope the Dodgers win a World Series just so their team payroll will get in under the $500 million mark. Right?

I don't have an issue with Boston getting rid of Betts. Sure, they have the money to pay him (now and in the future), but perhaps they don't want to pay him. I have no idea, because I'm not there every day. Maybe he's not the greatest locker room guy. Maybe he's already started telling people he can't wait to leave the organization. I couldn't tell you why the Red Sox wouldn't want to keep him around as a lifetime Red Sox player, but that's their call.

This year's NCAA Final Four will be held in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maryland, you might remember, once did themselves proud down there in the 2002 Final Four.

Mark Turgeon's Terps are now ranked #9 in the country.

And with last night's win at Illinois, it's more than fair to start at least looking at flights and hotel rooms for that first weekend in April.

Make no mistake about it, the Terps are getting hot at just the right time. Dale Williams does the heavy lifting from Friday evening's win in his review below. I'm just here to look at it from 35,000 feet and tell you a few things I see.

I wasn't around at practice, obviously, but there's little doubt that something changed with the Maryland program when the Mitchell twins departed in late January. It might have taken a few weeks to come together after their abrupt exit from the program, but I'm adding two (Maryland's massively improved play) and two (the Mitchell twins leaving) and I'm coming up with four.

Jalen Smith's play has been extraordinary over the last month. So much so, in fact, that he's officially now in the running for Big Ten Player of the Year. Others have more scoring numbers on their side (overall) but there's little argument that Smith has essentially carried the team on his back of late. Even last night when he was only good for 11 points, he still snagged a game-high 11 rebounds. Smith is all but done at Maryland, of course. He'll be a NBA draft pick in June and will not return for his junior year at College Park. But he has a lot of basketball left to play for Mark Turgeon still.

Barring something bizarre happening, the Terps are going to get the double-bye in the Big Ten tournament and might very well lock down the #1 seed in the next three weeks. They still have to face Michigan State twice, including at East Lansing next Saturday, and there's a road trip to take on pesky Rutgers still looming, so the Terps can't put it on cruise control just yet. But Maryland's rolling now and it sure looks like they're getting hot at the right time.

FYI, I checked on flights last night. There are gobs of Baltimore-Atlanta options for Friday, April 3 and hotel rooms for that weekend are plentiful in Atlanta. Just sayin'...

The match-up I dread the most in the NHL is front and center tonight as the Capitals host the worst franchise in the history of the sports. It will be the first regular season visit by the Flyers this season, with the series tied 1-1 after the two teams split a pair of games in Philly earlier in the season.

This one's titled: Miserable in Philadelphia. Also known as: The best picture in all of sports.

The one saving grace from tonight's game is that Alex Ovechkin is sitting at 698 career goals. Wouldn't it be glorious if he dumped two into the net tonight and hit the historic 700 goal mark with the Flyers and their fans having to endure the celebration that would unfold on the ice? Ahhhhhh, just thinking about that gives me goose bumps.

Washington is rolling along with the best record in the Metropolitan Division while the Flyers are in the thick of the playoff race with 65 points. Much to everyone's chagrin, Philadelphia is actually on the upswing. They'll likely do enough to squeeze into the post-season and they could be a tough out in April if their goaltender gets hot, which is always the primary factor in any team's Stanley Cup run. I hate to even think about it, but the possibility does exist that sometime in April or May the Caps and Flyers could meet in a 7-game series. I might have to disconnect myself from the internet for those 10 days if, in fact, the two teams face one another.

In the meantime, I'm hoping beyond hope that Ovechkin can score twice tonight and hit that 700 goal mark. That sure would be sweet. And doing it against the Flyers.....oh, man, that would just be about the best thing that's happened thus far in 2020.

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terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.

terps roar past illinois for big road win

I’ll label last night’s Maryland win at Illinois as “impressive".

The Maryland Terrapins withstood some torrid early shooting by the Fighting Illini, and they showed massive poise and determination thereafter, beating Illinois 75-66 on the road. The Terps may have lost the first ten minutes of the game, but they won the last 30 impressively, outscoring Illinois 58-35 after falling behind by 14 points in the first half.

Anthony Cowan was masterful while scoring 20 points on 11 shots and Darryl Morsell added 18 on just 10 attempts. Jalen Smith had another double/double with 11 points and a team high 11 rebounds.

The first half featured some great basketball and a massive momentum change. Illinois came out on fire. They were knocking down threes and finishing inside. The Terp defense wasn’t exactly horrible, but the Illini were just that good. Illinois forged a 14-point lead while their shooting hand was hot (5-7 from three). They led 31-17 with just under 10 minutes left in the half.

After leading Maryland with 17 points in Tuesday's win over Rutgers, Anthony Cowan again led the way last night with 20 points in Maryland's road victory.

Mark Turgeon tried almost everything to change the course of the game. He called timeouts and drew a technical foul. Nothing worked until they changed defensively philosophy.

Illinois was on pace to score 60 points in the half when Marc Turgeon decided to go with some light full court pressure and a zone defense. The switch worked, as the Illini offense stalled for the rest of the half and the Terps got back into the game.

When the Illinois three pointers dried up and the Maryland threes started to fall, the Illini lead began to shrink. Maryland also started to push the tempo and get inside. By the time Aaron Wiggins hit a three just before the first half ended, Maryland was solidly back in the game, down by just 2 points at intermission, 42-40.

Each team’s featured guard, Cowan for Maryland and Ayo Dosunmu for Illinois, dominated their team’s scoring in the first half. Cowan poured in 13 while Ayo Dosunmo tallied 10 points in the first 20 minutes.

The momentum stayed with Maryland as the second half began. Illinois went without a field goal for the first 8 minutes of the second half and by the time they finally broke the ice, the Terps had a seven-point lead. Although Illinois twice hit three pointers to cut the lead to one point, Maryland was able to answer with a three of their own to immediately extend the gap back to 4. The Terrapins would lead for the rest of the game.

Turgeon eventually went back to his staple man-to-man defense, but the Illini had lost their offensive mojo, and the crowd had been hushed. Also, Maryland was playing some inspired defense.

This was the second straight game that I thought Maryland showed some great heart. It would have been easy for them to panic early and get blown out. That may have happened if this game had been played in December. But this team has grown, and every player seemed to play with emotion, and yet with poise. Eric Ayala still needs to hit more shots, but there’s not one Terp who I would say had an off night or didn’t play with urgency.

The only concerns about last night’s game were the exposure of a real depth issue and the 5 turnovers by Morsell. Once thought to be a strength, depth now looks to be an issue as the Terps last night were effectively 6 deep. Outside of the top 6 plyers, the others logged just 13 minutes without getting a single point or rebound.

Morsell played such a strong game, but his 5 turnovers hurt the Terps. That being said, it’s much easier to accept the miscues when Morsell is being as aggressive and effective as he was last night. He was really good.

The Terps were impressive last night. Their poise, heart, and intensity were all on display and they earned their number 1 spot in the Big Ten. Things should get a bit easier for the Terps when Nebraska comes to the XFINITY Center on Tuesday for an 8:30 tip-off.

February 7
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saving the preakness (for the 12th time)

I don't really know if this current attempt to save the Preakness is the 12th such occurrence or not. But it definitely feels that way.

Stop me if you've heard this story before.

Roughly $180 million of work in and around Pimlico Race track is about to be waved in front of the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis. There are still plenty of hoops to jump through, but if that money finally gets approved and the work actually gets done, the Preakness will survive and thrive at Pimlico and Baltimore will have one-upped Laurel in the fight for one of horse racing's three triple crown races.

I know what you're thinking: I'll believe it when I see it.

I feel the same way.

Rather than bring in tents and temporary buildings for the Preakness every May, the new Pimlico facility would have most of those structures permanently in place in the infield so other events could take advantage of them.

I trust the whole process about as much as I trust the Orioles to rebound and once again dominate the American League East by 2025. In fact, I probably trust the Orioles more than I trust Maryland lawmakers and horse racing enthusiasts to get this Pimlico project off the ground.

When you trust the Orioles to win, you know you're taking a leap of faith.

The Preakness is the centerpiece of the redevelopment plan for Pimlico. Without the Preakness being held at Pimlico, there'd be no reason at all for the track to exist. Under the plan being presented to the General Assembly, the grandstand will essentially be gutted and rebuilt, the track itself shifted slightly in direction, and monies will also be poured into the Park Heights neighborhood that borders the race track.

Detractors of the whole idea will point to the $180 million and wonder if that money shouldn't be better spent somewhere else. Yes, perhaps it should. But do you really trust the state of Maryland and Baltimore City government to appropriately spend $180 million of "found money" on something sound? I sure don't.

The blessing of the money being spent on the Pimlico project is that the plans will be displayed for public consumption and we can all generally follow along to make sure it's coming together as promised.

Not that we'd have the power to do anything about it otherwise, but there's a checks and balances opportunity that exists as far as the race track goes. If we just handed over $180 million to Baltimore City and said, "Do some good with this, please" we might wind up with a dozen new children's books in unopened boxes in the basement of City Hall.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don't, as the saying goes. I'm not sure spending $180 million on the Preakness is actually the smart, prudent thing to do. But it's probably better to do that than rely on government officials to spend it elsewhere.

Horse racing in Maryland is pretty much dead. And that's not to say it couldn't work, because for a while, circa 1975, it was an important part of the Baltimore sports landscape. Here's one that's hard to believe: All three local TV sportscasts -- back then -- used to spend 20 seconds or so giving daily results of the 7th, 8th and 9th races at Pimlico.

But that was back when they actually ran a full 200-day schedule at Pimlico. In those days, people went to the track and wagered. Today, you can bet on every race in the country from your cell phone.

People don't go to watch "live" horse racing any longer, which is why Pimlico barely has a competitive racing card these days. It's the Preakness and nothing else, for the most part.

And before anyone jumps up and down and claims I'm "anti horse racing", you should know that's far from the truth. In my days on the radio, I was one of the only people in town who actually gave a rat's rear end about the sport and the industry. I would routinely do shows -- and series' of shows -- on racing and the track(s) and how to "fix" all of it. I cared.

But that was then and this is now, with all credit going to S.E. Hinton for that cliche. Like most everyone else who has been paying attention for the last couple of decades, I've lost faith in our political powers-that-be to get anything done and get it done the right way. It's like asking you to pinch hit in the 9th inning at Camden Yards. Back in the old days you were a pretty good hitter...but that was then and this is now. William Donald Schaefer isn't coming back to see this project through to its completion, in other words.

I always contended the only natural way to revitalize racing was to build a new track somewhere downtown. Horse racing -- or any sport, for that matter -- can rarely be saved just by polishing up the old jalopy and putting it back on the road as is. Everything in sports is typically saved by one thing and one thing only: a new facility. That's why they don't play baseball and football up on 33rd Street any longer. And, absent a new, 20,000 seat state-of-the-art indoor arena in the 1980's or 1990's, that's one of the biggest reasons why Baltimore never garnered a NBA or NHL franchise to call its own.

A new track downtown somewhere might have had a chance. "Might have" being the two key words there. A refurbished/rebuilt Pimlico? It will help the Preakness, which is good. But it's not doing anything else for Maryland's horse racing industry.

While the detractors of the $180 million will bellyache about those funds being used for entertainment instead of education, supporters of horse racing will contend that this is precisely what the industry needs to get it back up and percolating again. But that's just fantasyland stuff.

The Preakness is a viable, one-off entertainment day that's great for Baltimore and Maryland. Horse racing in general, though, is done. At least here, anyway.

Let's hope the General Assembly sees the bill through and Baltimore and Pimlico gets its $180 million. The folks at Laurel will get $175 million, by the way, to line their pockets and "boost" that ratty old track down there. But the real winner in the whole thing -- if it all faces into place -- will be Pimlico.

I'm not convinced the people in charge are trustworthy enough to move this project from the planning room to the point where shovels go in the ground. Our state local government isn't really well known for smart, proactive work, in case you haven't noticed.

I'll believe it when I see it.

Until then, I'm going to assume somewhere along the way it's going to get fouled up.

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.

terps face big test at illinois tonight

While watching a replay of the Illinois and Maryland game from early December, it became very evident to me that Maryland is a far different team right now than the one that defeated the Fighting Illini in that early conference test.

There are no Mitchell twins, Hakeem Hart is seeing almost no action, and Jalen Smith is playing at a whole different level. This all should bode well for the Terps tonight.

Well, maybe not.

Kofi Cockburn had a solid first half in College Park back in December, then ran into foul trouble and wasn't a factor in the final 20 minutes.

In the first half of that first meeting, Illinois dominated. They lead 39-25 after 20 minutes and looked like a quicker, bigger, and stronger team than their Big Ten counterparts. Maryland had little answer for the massive Kofi Cockburn or the speed and power of Andres Feliz.

Fortunately for the Terps, Cockburn played less than six minutes in the second half and Maryland made a dramatic comeback to win by a single point, 59-58.

There will be no similar comeback in Champaign’s State Farm Center tonight. If Maryland gets behind by 15 points, like they did in December, this game will be over.

Illinois and Maryland have identical 8-3 conference records and sit atop the Big Ten. However, the Illini have yet to beat any of the top 5 conference schools. They lost to Iowa, Michigan State, and Maryland while having yet to play Penn State. All three of Illinois' losses have come on the road.

As I wrote in the pre-game analysis of that December contest, I really like the guard rotation of Illinois. Starters Ayo Dosunmu, Trent Frazier, and Damante Williams are a formidable trio. Reserves Feliz and Allan Griffin offer little drop off. Inside, Cockburn and Giorgi Bezhanishvili (Bez), are stout and strong.

The fashion by which Illinois lost the first game will have them ready for redemption tonight. They should have the fresher legs, as they haven’t played since Sunday. The Terps played a tough game against Rutgers on Tuesday, and then have to travel.

If Illinois can knock down a few early threes, it will be tough for the Terps to answer. I look for a very physical game with both teams playing aggressive basketball. With the strong guard play and big interior lineup Illinois boasts, plus the home court, I don’t see the Terps walking away with the sole lead in the Big Ten.

Bez and Cockburn will avoid the foul trouble that limited both of them in game one. Maryland continues to struggle from the outside, and Illinois wins a hard-fought game, 70-64.


we're heading to new york!

We have 14 people signed up for this trip so far!!! It's going to be a blast!

Maybe the O's aren't going to be all that good in 2020. We know that going in. But what you might not know is how much fun a #DMD road trip can be in the summer! And what better place to visit and take in a couple of games than New York?

Join us in NY on June 23-24 to see Trey Mancini and the O's take on the Yankees.

We're going to the Big Apple to support our Birds, June 23 and 24. And we've love to have a bunch of O's fans join us in the Bronx for a couple of days in New York and two baseball games.

We'll leave on Tuesday, June 23 around noon and check in at our Manhattan hotel sometime around 4 pm. The game that night is at 7:05 pm. We'll have upper deck seats for that, with unlimited food and drinks for everyone in our group.

The next night, June 24, we'll have a pre-game bullpen party and awesome left field seats close to the field.

Once the game's over, we'll head back home, arriving in Baltimore after midnight.

If you're interested in going on the trip, send me a quick email so I can start building the trip list:

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February 6
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"fixing" golf

On the heels of yesterday's piece here at #DMD, where I broke down some of the ways I think sports is "missing it" these days, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to pontificate about golf.

Like the sports I zeroed in on yesterday, golf has some issues. A recent report -- 18 months in the making -- was released that focused on how "length" has become such a dominating factor in the sport, in terms of the distance the golf ball travels. To that end, the increased length in terms of distance has led to golf courses of 7,500-8,500 yards being built throughout the country.

But golf's issues are far greater than this overhyped subject of "length". Sure, professional players are hitting the ball incredibly far off the tee, but the average golfer (15.7 handicap in 2019, according to Golf Magazine) hasn't seen the same percentage of increase as the pros have over the last decade or so.

Golf participation is down. Fewer people are picking up the sport, more people are giving it up, and the general summary of golf right now is that it's losing its appeal with the younger generation.

So I'll fix it today.

With night golf, you could tee off at 6:00 pm and play until 10 pm or so in mid-summer.

I won't really fix it, of course. My ideas, while sound, would require either too much of a shift in tradition or course owners wouldn't be willing to sink capital into a few of the projects that I believe would make the game more enjoyable for everyone.

And here's the thing. I'm not going to tamper at all with the game. We're not going to make the hole bigger (stupid idea...been bandied about for decades). We're not going to make the holes shorter (another dumb idea, hole length is critical to a fair score of "par"). And we're not going to allow you to move the ball into a "beneficial playing area" no matter if you're in the fairway or rough (the entire theory of golf is based on playing the ball as it lies...nothing should ever change that.)

The changes I'd put into play if I "ran" golf or owned a course are all submitted with two things in mind: Get more people interested in golf (1) and make it more enjoyable when they do play (2).

Let's understand a couple of things right away about golf. A) It's incredibly difficult. B) It takes too long.

"A" plays into "B" and "B" plays into "A". The more shots you hit, the longer you take to play, for the most part. If you take 100 shots and I take 75, I'll finish my 75 before you finish your 100. And the more shots you take and the harder it is, the less likely you'll want to spend 4.5 or 5 hours of your time out there being unsuccessful at something.

With that in mind, I'd do two things right away: Make the golf course 12 holes. Remove all of the sand traps/bunkers.

I'm not saying this just because my Calvert Hall team plays 12 hole matches in the MIAA...but let me stress to you how "perfect" 12 holes is. It takes no more than 3 hours to play, for starters. It's still a large enough sample size to have a fair competition with someone. Sure 18 holes tells a better story -- talent wise -- than does 12 holes, but if you made courses 12 holes we'd figure out how to play 12-hole matches in no time.

Golf's slow play issue would essentially be gone. No more 5 hour rounds. No more half-days of work used for client entertaining.

12 holes is perfect. Get to the course by 4:00 pm, done by 7:00 pm. How good would that be?

Why remove the sand traps? There's an easy explanation. They're tough to play out of, for starters. And if you removed the bunkers, your maintenance crew would have far less work to do each morning.

You can still leave the bunker imprint there and even let the grass grow to mid-calf length in those "bunker areas" if you want to keep some of the integrity of the hole intact. But there's no valid reason to have sand bunkers on any golf course any longer. All it does is slow things down and cost a lot of money to maintain.

Want more golfers? You need more daylight. And since we can't functionally add more daylight, let's just add more light, in general.

If each course added some kind of lighting on the incoming four holes, for example, you could get an extra hour of play out of each day. At 10-minute tee time intervals, that's roughly 24 more players you could add, per-day, if your timing works out right. If your greens fees are $80, that's almost $2,000 in additional daily revenue. Pull that off for 200 days a year and that's $400,000.

I don't know enough about electricity costs to tell you if burning those lights for an hour or hour and a half each day would eat up all of the $400,000 you generate. But that's an issue that can be addressed in a variety of ways, including a surcharge of $5.00 per-person to play under the lights, increased food and beverage sales on the course, etc.

The money you save by not having to worry about sand in the bunkers, maintaining it and replacing it, for example, would help defray the lighting costs. What would get you more players and make them enjoy the sport more....bunkers with sand or lights on the last few holes? You know the answer.

Lights on the last few holes of the course makes great sense. Originally it would be a novelty and the courses with lights would be a major attraction. I know it's not easy to do (or people would be doing it now) and it would take some serious financial backing to make it work, but we're in 2020 now. Nothing is impossible. All things should be considered.

Music should be encouraged and played. I occasionally have friends as guests at Eagle's Nest and I give them all fair warning before we start. If you have a tough time playing golf when music is being played, you won't care for my course/club. Music is constantly on. It's not played at a loud volume or anything like that. You can't hear Van Halen on the 7th fairway if my group has it playing in the first fairway.

But, music is very much a part of the Eagle's Nest golf culture. And it's that way at a lot of places these days.

People like to have fun. Music is fun. Music should be part of golf.

Those are my four starting points.

Courses should be 12 holes. I know Brandel Chamblee of The Golf Channel has promoted this idea in the past. I think it's a no brainer. You can still have 18 hole courses, obviously, and true golf "competitions" will likely still be played out over 18 holes, but a course with 12 holes only would be a massive invitation for more people to take up golf and/or play it more regularly.

No more sand traps. They're silly. Grow the grass mid calf-high and maintain it once a month instead of every day.

Have some kind of lighting on the last 3 or 4 holes of the course. You'll be able to get more feet on the course with that extra hour of light.

Play music throughout the course and/or encourage people to bring their own music (even better).

Golf should resemble an outdoor neighborhood party. Or there should at least be courses in the area who focus on that sort of "brand".

You can still belong to a club that honors the longstanding traditions (18 holes, sand traps, no lights, no music or outside "noise") if you so choose. I'm not saying we should do away with those clubs and/or that approach to golf. But I am saying that alternative approaches should be considered in an effort to get new people interested and, hopefully, keep them interested.

Make golf easier, quicker and more fun and you'll see a new wave of interest almost immediately.

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"The Keen Eye" of
David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.

news and views

As often happens in the wake of a divorce, Larry King and his ex-wife Shawn recently sold their house. It went for nearly $17 million, so they made a nice profit after reportedly buying it for just under $12 million in 2007. The house has seven bedrooms and nine(!) bathrooms, a pool and a gym, and a guesthouse of course—does any abode in Beverly Hills not have a guesthouse?

King had a rough 2019…he revealed in November that he had a stroke last March and was actually in a coma for a while prior to heart surgery, and that he doesn’t really remember much of what went on for months. He’s 86 now, though he’s back at work at least part-time on his internet talk show.

Back in his somewhat younger days, King wrote a column in USA Today. “News and Views” was its name, but it was really just a seemingly random, stream-of-consciousness list of celebrity shout-outs, personal likes and dislikes and references to his childhood in Brooklyn. It was Twitter well before Twitter, but without most of the cyberbullying.

As I’ve done a few times before, here’s another attempt at King’s News and Views, #DMD style. Best wishes to King for a better 2020…

This Patrick Mahomes character is ok, but he’s no Leonard Ray Dawson. Let’s see Mahomes host Inside the NFL for 25 years…The time’s finally yours, Andy Reid…Can we go to “AFC-NFC World Championship Game?” Super Bowl just isn’t cutting it for me…Up with People was terrific at halftime, weren’t they?...The best quarterback to play for both the 49ers and Chiefs? Has to be Steve Bono, by a nose over Elvis Grbac…How a team can be successful without running the Packers’ sweep is beyond me…64 degrees Sunday at game time in South Florida? We need a warmer place for these games. I’m thinking Palm Springs. Hey, it was good enough for Sinatra.

Former Loyola lacrosse star Pat Spencer is enjoying an outstanding grad-student season with the Northwestern men's basketball team.

Looking forward to the NCAA tournament in a few weeks. If CCNY can’t win it, give me West Virginia. That Bob Huggins is a class act…Those Terps really love the three-pointer! They’d rather shoot contested 22-footers with one second on the shot clock than score layups on the fast break. Analytics, they tell me…The game really misses another class act—Rick Pitino…Boy, when I get upset, I only wish I was as calm as Iowa’s Fran McCaffery…I saw that Kansas and Kansas State got in a fight. Someone told me that Kansas State is in Manhattan. And I thought it was in Missouri…Those Cameron Crazies are just the best. What’s better for a fan than being told what to say off a prepared script?

Non-sports…If you’re looking for a place to get the real scoop on the coronavirus, you won’t do better than Chinese state TV…Is this “Impossible” burger guaranteed to keep me from having a heart attack? If not, I don’t want it…Let’s have another 1980 TV show remake, like Hawaii Five-0 and Magnum, P.I. I vote for “Bosom Buddies.”…When I’m looking for a quick laugh and hoping to feel better about the world, I head right to NBC’s “This Is Us”…I’m glad Tom Brady did that whole thing for Hulu. It just wasn’t right going more than four hours without talking about him…Kudos to all those guys who predicted a cold, snowy winter around here. Spot on, fellas.

Shout-outs...Lamar Jackson won the NFL MVP award unanimously. He was my choice too, just ahead of Jameis Winston, whose “30-30” season was quite an accomplishment…Webb Simpson birdied three straight to win in Phoenix. His full name is James Frederick Webb Simpson, while his wife’s name is Taylor Dowd Simpson (she goes by Dowd). I think they’ve spent a few days at the country club…Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open for the eighth time…has anyone in the U.S. actually been awake to watch any of those matches?...It’s amazing how good Pat Spencer is at basketball, but it says something that he’s probably Northwestern’s best player.

The greens fee at Pebble Beach moves to $575 per round April 1. Jim Nantz’s backyard par-3 is part of the deal, right?...The AT&T pro-am is there this week. If I were playing, I’d like my celebrity partner to be either J-Lo or Shakira…The best college basketball player in Baltimore is Loyola’s Andrew Kostecka, and he’d be even better if Spencer had decided to play point guard at Loyola for one year instead of Northwestern…The best young player in the NBA is from—you guessed it—Slovenia…The Terps were ranked No. 5 in the RPI earlier this week. It figures that the NCAA no longer uses that metric…Is it even necessary for the Orioles to have Spring Training? What difference is it going to make?

Philadelphia stories...Flyers’ mascot Gritty has been cleared of any wrongdoing in an alleged November assault of a 13-year-old. That does not make he/she any less frightening…Love the revisionist history on Andy Reid in Philly. We loved him the whole time! Spare me…St. Joe’s fired legendary coach Phil Martelli after last year. If they were looking to lose their first nine conference games by double digits under the new coach, then well done!...Some rich guy who sits courtside at Xfinity Center actually believed Jay Wright might leave Villanova for Maryland in 2011…I’m thinking Bryce Harper might be able to lead the Phillies to 83 or 84 wins this year as opposed to 81 last season.

Mike Trout update...he still hasn’t won a playoff game. I’m thinking Anthony Rendon might help…North Carolina lost to Boston College on Sunday. How many more years can Roy Williams take?...Loyola’s Kevin Lindley has taken over the No. 7 from Pat Spencer this year in case you’re wondering who that is out there…San Diego State might go undefeated in men’s basketball this year…Watch out, this year’s Duke team might be subject to another Mercer or Lehigh upset…This year’s Summer Olympics are in Tokyo—didn’t remember that until I looked it up…Personally, I was rooting for Almaty, Kazakhstan, for the next Winter Olympics, just for Borat appearances.

And finally…Expect Chiefs-Patriots as the Thursday season opener in September. Good luck Jarrett Stidham...I’m also betting on Ravens-Jaguars for Week 1, televised to 4.7% of the country…I can’t be the only one looking forward to the continuation of this preseason winning streak…I have an idea for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Instead of inducting an extra 15 guys for a Centennial year, just induct an extra 15 guys for a Steroid year. Great publicity!...Reading the Golf Digest equipment issue right now. Every one of these drivers flies completely straight and feels great off the face, apparently…And you heard it here first—your Masters winner is not Tony Finau.


I Am Catholic

February 5
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nothing remarkable about seeing it live

I ventured down to College Park with our intrepid basketball analyst, Dale Williams, last night.

The best part of the night was, by far, catching up with him.

Maryland's basketball experience is, to put it bluntly, bland. Maybe it's just me and my expectations. It could have been that the game featured a lot of bad basketball. Or maybe it is what I think it is -- that the production of putting on a live sporting event lacks imagination these days.

And this isn't really an attempt to pick on Maryland basketball, per se. It will be, as you'll see in the context below, more about every sport and a lot of teams. Maryland just has the recency bias because I've been there twice in the last two months.

I used to be a set-list-peeker when I'd go to a concert. By that, I mean I'd venture to the internet a week or two out to see the set-list of the various shows the performer I was going to see had utilized in previous shows. I eventually stopped peeking once I realize a lot of the set lists don't change from show-to-show.

I love Billy Joel to death, but on the most recent monthly run of his Madison Square tour, he opens with the same song -- The Natural -- every night.

Another one of my favorite bands of all-time, Rush, had the same habit. They'd play 18 songs on Tuesday night in Chicago, the exact same 18 songs two nights later in Cleveland, and the exact same 18 songs in Philadelphia the very next evening. I get it. Nearly everyone in Chicago is different than the folks watching the show in Cleveland. Therefore, they don't know the difference, set-list wise. But it speaks to a higher issue, in my opinion.

It speaks to their comfort level. "I'll just play The Natural, Big Shot, Just The Way You Are and I Go To Extremes again because the band knows that flow really well." Fair enough. The band's flow is important. But it's incredibly flat if you are a concert goer who knew going in they played those same four songs two nights earlier in Buffalo. You almost expect more...even though you weren't actually in Buffalo. You feel slighted, somewhat, by Billy's lack of effort to mix things up.

Back to the Terps...

To the athletic department's credit, they didn't bite the apple last night when the game wasn't sold out. In other words, they announced the "real" crowd (15,855) instead of a sellout (17,950). But as I sat and watched the game, it made me wonder, naturally, how the Terps couldn't sell out a Big 10 game against an opponent with a fan base just three hours away? Oh, and this isn't Rutgers 2016, the league pushover. Despite their tepid performance last night, this Rutgers team has been ranked in the Top 25 this season and look like a 70/30 bet to make the NCAA tournament in March.

As we drove home last night, Dale brought up the attendance. "Pretty disappointing crowd," he said. "Anytime I see empty seats like that, I wonder if the attendance would have been better if the opponent was Virginia or Clemson or NC State?"

To wit, the discussion about the Big Ten move has been discussed ad nauseum, but still bears mentioning. It's just not as exciting as was the ACC. The style of basketball is different. And other than Penn State, which is clearly not really a football rivalry, the only in-the-blood rival the school has in the Big Ten are the Nittany Lions. No one else in the Big Ten gets the fan base's blood boiling.

Point to any of the external circumstances you want about last night's crowd. Early game (7:00 pm). Rutgers isn't the most inviting opponent. Lots of folks just went hard on Super Bowl Sunday and aren't yet ready for another night out. The Capitals were home last night playing the Kings before a sellout crowd. All four of those factors might have been part of the equation.

But to my eyes, a bigger part of the issue, at nearly every sporting event, is the lack of seeing something new.

In one of his (many) great books, marketing mastermind Seth Godin talks about the importance of what he calls, the Purple Cow. He uses the purple cow as a metaphor for doing something remarkable. And as I watch live sporting events, nothing about them really stands out as all that remarkable. It's the same thing, game after game, pigeon-holed into the exact same time during the game.

Either that or the production crew totally misses the point.

I went to the Towson-College of Charleston basketball game on Saturday afternoon at SECU. During the pre-game warm-ups, loud rap music blared from the speaker system. I might have been one of the only 57 year old white guys in the crowd to know several of the artists and lyrics, but I've had an affection for certain types of rap music for two decades or so. But, based on a scan of the audience, I can say for certain the majority of the folks in the stands would have preferred something a little more soft than say, Rick Ross.

So exactly who was the music being played for before the game? The players? Sure, it might have been their music of choice, but a lot of them had on their listening gear to start with. If the 750 people sitting in the building are largely older -- and it's VERY easy to scan the arena seating and figure that out -- why wouldn't you play something a little more connected to their likely musical interests? This.....I've never really understood. Are you playing music for 16 basketball players or 750 people in the stands who paid money to enter the facility?

I think the unfurling of the big Maryland flag (if that's the correct terminology) is a cool idea. But here's the thing. There's nothing at all new about it. Game in, game out, the video they play on the screen is the same. The music is the same. In fact, they do it at exactly the same time. Every. Single. Game. And while it's cool to see the kids in the upper deck get it started and help lower it down to the floor, it's incredibly boring to have it all happen in such a cookie-cutter fashion.

The player introductions? Incredibly boring. "A six-nine sophomore from Baltimore, Maryland, Jalen Smith..." And out he comes, meeting a benchwarmer at the end of the line to do some sort of fancy handshake or skit. Doing that once or twice a season? Really cool. Doing it for all 18 home games. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Here's a thought. Introduce every guy. Just say their name. They're all on the team, right?

How about bringing each player out with his favorite professor/instructor? You can insert the joke here, but that would also be a nice touch for the educators.

Bring out a different Maryland coach with each player. Who is the swimming coach? Golf coach? Tennis coach? Give them a small slice of the limelight one night.

I could come up with 18 different introduction ideas in about two hours.

Unfurl the flag at a different time.

The Ravens are guilty of this, too.

I get it. There are probably only so many ways to introduce the football team. But this week it's the defense, next week it's the offense, and so on. Same music, same smoke, same lights, etc.

There's nothing "remarkable" about any of it. Not if you go often, anyway.

So while most of the blame these days goes to television as the easy "way" to watch sports these days, I'm not so sure that's entirely the problem. I could have stayed home last night instead of fighting 5 o'clock traffic. I could have watched it from the comfort of my living room. But I wanted to go, so I went.

And the product was, by and large, very forgettable. I've found myself thinking the same thing at Capitals games, Orioles games and Ravens games, too. "This was fun...but it was almost 'forced fun'."

Last week's PGA Tour event featured, without question, the most unique set-up in all of golf. An "arena" is basically built around the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale, where upwards of 30,000 people jam their way into seats to watch the players play ONE hole.

It started in the 90's. There were no stands or arena settings in place back then.

Then in the 2000's they built a small 5,000 seat configuration to give it a "distinct" feel.

Then they added more seats and suddenly 10,000 were there.

Now, there are 30,000 people sitting around one golf hole screaming and making a scene.

It's not something that would fit in at every tournament on the schedule, which is what makes it unique. I just had four friends go out there for the tournament because seeing the 16th hole live was a sports "bucket list" item for all four.

There's nothing at all "bucket-list" worthy about Maryland basketball or the Ravens or the Capitals. It's generally "well done" -- to their credit -- but it's also generally very predictable.

Either that or I'm just getting old and I'm the only goof who thinks about this kind of stuff.

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DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.

terps win: cowan, smith, morsell shine

There’s a saying regarding a golf score that states, “They don’t ask you how, just how many”.

The same might be said of Big Ten wins this year. It really doesn’t matter how you get them, just keep ringing up those victories. And Maryland did just that last night when they defeated Rutgers, 56-51, in a less than packed XFINITY Center. Both defenses played hard, but both offenses played ugly ball.

It was a 7-2 run over the last 2:12 that propelled the Terps to the win. Four of those points were scored by Anthony Cowan and Daryll Morsell accounted for the other three. All of the points came from the foul line. Rutgers missed their last five shots, helping Maryland to advance to an 8-3 Big Ten record, tied for tops in the league.

Three Terps scored in double figures, led by Cowan with 17 while Jalen Smith and Morsell both tallied 14.

Jalen Smith (14) and Darryl Morsell (14) scored half of Maryland's 56 points on Tuesday night in the win over Rutgers.

Maryland raced out to a 14-6 lead after 7:11 had been played in the first half. Then, in what I thought was a bizarre coaching move, Mark Turgeon elected to pull out his core group of starters and insert Chol Marial, Serrel Smith, and Ricky Lindo. Rutgers immediately went on a run that eventually reached 19-4.

During that run, the Scarlet Knight’s Akwasi Yeboah scorched Maryland for 9 points on three triples. The Terp defense started breaking down, and Maryland, even after the starters returned, never regained their offensive confidence or continuity. They shot just 2 of 17 for the remainder of the half. Even for a team that struggles offensively at times, playing the last 9:21 without making a field goal is mind boggling. But the Terps managed to pull it off.

Luckily for the Terps, Rutgers proved that they too could be offensively inept, as they failed to score at all during the last 5 minutes of the half. The end result of all this offensive futility was a 25-20 halftime lead for the Scarlet Knights.

For the half, Maryland shot 24% from the floor, and had 4 shots blocked. Their spacing looked awful, with the lane too crowded to allow for dribble penetration. It was a bad half triggered by the questionable substitutions by Turgeon.

Early in the second half, Maryland would cut the Rutgers lead to 1 by scoring 8 points in the paint. A layup by Danta Scott and 3 buckets by Morsell, including a monster dunk, would get the Terps within one possession, 29-28. Shortly after the last Morsell dunk, a Jalen Smith 3 gave Maryland a two-point lead, 31-29.

The Terps would grow the lead to 8 points by outscoring Rutgers 24-11 during the first 13:17 of the second half. It was at this point that Rutgers began pounding the offensive glass and racking up second chance points. 7 of the Scarlet Knight’s 8 offensive rebounds came in the second half. Most of those 7 happened during a 13-5 run that allowed Rutgers to knot the game at 49 apiece.

The score was 49 all when Cowan began the Terp run of free throws that secured the win. The first three were made after Cowan was fouled while shooting a three-point shot. He converted them all, and Maryland never looked back.

I will give some credit for Rutgers defensive success to their game plan. They frequently slacked off of the Terp perimeter players, and chose to crowd the lane. This made it extremely difficult for the Terp ball handlers to dribble penetrate.

In the second half, Maryland began to get inside with the dribble, and the results were positive. It’s what allowed them to get back into the game.

With the two teams combining to miss 78 shots, this game really didn’t come down to size, speed, or skill. It came down to heart. Maryland had the heart last night to stay tough despite being frustrated on the offensive end of court. They had the heart to make foul shots with the game on the line. And they also had the heart to play tough defense, and get stops, during the critical last 2:12 of the game.

If you are a Terps fan, you have to be encouraged with that effort. It wasn’t pretty, but when you look at the 8 conference wins, nobody asks, “How?”.

On Friday, first place in the Big Ten will be on the line when the Terps travel to Champaign for a rematch with Illinois. Game time is 8PM and the contest will be covered by Fox Sports 1.


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February 4
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wrapping up the nfl season

In honor of the 21 points the Chiefs scored in the final 8 minutes of Super Bowl 54...

1. If there was any one coach in the league who deserved a Super Bowl ring, it was Andy Reid. This theme might have been overplayed a bit, but that's only because it's undeniably true. He's been oft-criticized for some of his clock management skills, but the reality is every coach in the NFL has occasional issues getting it right. Reid is a great coach.

2. The Miami victory at New England in Week 17 really twisted the AFC playoffs in an unthinkable way. It meant the Chiefs only had to win one game to get to the AFC title game and it also meant -- by the fact they went to New England and won -- that the Titans wound up playing the Ravens in Baltimore. And, when the Ravens lost that game, Kansas City hosted the AFC title contest and their march to the Super Bowl was on clean pavement.

3. Speaking of "17", I can't for the life of me figure out what the owners are thinking about by playing 17 regular season games. I mean, I know it's all about money, money, money, but why wouldn't they try and put together an 18-game schedule as a way of making it even? The players will bellyache about it right up until......they get another $50 million added to the salary cap. 17 games -- such a stupid number. Drop the four pre-season games down to one and add two regular season games with another "bye" week in the schedule somewhere.

4. Why isn't the Super Bowl on a Saturday? I don't have any logical reasoning behind the question. But I've always wondered that. Why play the game at 6:30 pm on Sunday night? Why not play it at 8 pm on Saturday evening?

Could Josh Allen be a MVP candidate in 2020?

5. Lamar Jackson was the NFL head-turner this season. If the Bills help their quarterback, Josh Allen, with a couple of pass catching upgrades, I think he could be the 2020 head-turner. Not saying he's ready to be the MVP or anything, but I think he's due for a big season in '20.

6. Kyle Shanahan got roasted pretty good by the national media on Monday, but here's my question: Where's the critical eye for 49'ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh? I mean, he was the guy who was gifted a 20-10 lead with 8 minutes remaining. Where are all the hot takes surrounding Saleh?

7. The team that turned out to be the biggest disappointment in 2019 had to be the Los Angeles Rams. Some folks might say the Browns, but they weren't really beating anyone when it mattered. Others might say the Steelers, but they weren't doing anything of note without Roethlisberger. The Rams were a Super Bowl team 12 months ago and couldn't even sniff the playoffs in 2019. And if they're not careful, they'll be the 4th best team in the NFC West next season.

8. My "official" prediction with Matt Judon is: franchise tag. I don't think the Ravens are willing to fork over $80 million or so for him. And I also don't think they want to lose him, either. So they'll give Judon $16 million and ask him to have another great season and then can revisit the long term deal next spring. I'm still not completely sold on him. I think he's a good player who had a great season. I'm not sure he's a great player.

9. I also remain unconvinced on Hollywood Brown. And by "unconvinced", I mean as a long term, #1 receiver. I think he's very capable. He obviously has speed to burn. But until he goes through a couple of seasons playing 16 games and is available for all the offensive snaps, I'll hold off on a full appraisal.

10. Three teams that weren't very good in 2019 who could be decent enough to be in the playoff hunt next year: NY Jets, Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons.

11. I think Joe Burrow was a great college quarterback. But there's no telling if he can go to Cincinnati and be a great professional quarterback. They are the Bengals, after all. He would have been much better off being picked by just about any other franchise. Think he'll lead the Bengals to the playoffs by year three of his career? I don't.

Matt Ryan and the Falcons...can they rebound and be a playoff contender in 2020?

12. Dustin Colquitt nearly fouled up the opening coin toss on Sunday night. After Richard Sherman called "tails" and it came up that way, the 49'ers cornerback quickly said, "We'll defer." The referee then said to the Chiefs, "The 49'ers have deferred, what do you want to do?" Colquitt said, "We'll kick..." and the referee quickly shot back, "You'll what?" just as another member of the Chiefs blurted out, "We want the ball!". Here's what needs to happen in 2020 (and beyond). The team that wins the coin flip gets their choice of kicking or receiving to start the game. Whatever they choose, the other team gets the opposite "benefit" to start the 3rd quarter. Easy enough. No need to ask anything of anyone. You kick to start the game, you get the ball to start the 2nd half.

13. The Chiefs may have themselves a scheduling problem. The Royals play at home on Thursday, September 10 at 12:35 pm (CDT). That's also the opening game of the NFL season, which traditionally features the defending Super Bowl champion opening at home. This past season, the league went away from that tradition in order to have the Packers and Bears play the opener as a way of celebrating the NFL's 100th anniversary. The Royals also play at home on Sunday, September 13. Will the Chiefs and Royals be able to work out a suitable solution, since they both share the same parking lot and facility staffers?

14. While on the subject of the schedule, my early guess is that Kansas City's visit to Baltimore next season will be a NBC Sunday Night game. CBS would probably like it for one of their late season 4:25 pm national games, though. You just know those two networks are going to be fighting like heck over that one. I assume Baltimore at New England will be a Sunday Night or Monday Night game as well.

15. I'm not a mock draft guy in the least, but a bird on a tree out at Owings Mills tells me the Ravens are very high on A.J. Epenesa, the edge rusher from Iowa.

16. This year's "deserving coach" was Andy Reid. Who takes over that title now that Reid finally has his ring? Kyle Shanahan makes the most sense, although his biggest heartbreak was when he was the offensive coordinator for the Falcons and they squandered that 28-3 Super Bowl lead. Still, it would be good to see him win a title soon. The other guy already has a ring. After seeing the Saints get ripped off at home in the NFC title game two years ago, I wouldn't have a problem with Sean Payton winning a Super Bowl again. As long as neither Shanahan or Payton win at the expense of the Ravens, I'm cool with one of those guys winning a title.

17. Michael Pierce to the Packers. Jimmy Smith to the Eagles. Tony Jefferson to the Steelers. You heard it here first.

18. Count me in as someone who thinks the Steelers can be a threat next season -- but only if Roethlisberger is healthy. They're not beating anyone with Rudolph or Duck under center. They need some help offensively, obviously, but if they get a couple of pass catchers and a decent running back, Pittsburgh could be good. My guess is the Derrick Henry rumors are just blogger-fodder from the Steel City, but he would clearly help them.

19. Philip Rivers? Tampa Bay, Nashville, Charlotte. One of those three. I can't imagine the Titans are ready to turn the team over to Ryan Tannehill for the long haul. What if Cam Newton pulls an Andrew Luck? And haven't the Bucs seen enough of Jameis Winston to know he's good-but-not-great? My guess? Rivers in Tampa Bay in 2020.

20. Terrell Suggs is a Hall of Famer. That's a done deal. Marshal Yanda should be a Hall of Famer, but as Tony Boselli is showing, offensive linemen have their work cut out for them. Yanda's career will wind up being much longer than Boselli's, who played just eight seasons. The other Raven who should get into Canton someday: Justin Tucker. But we know how it goes with kickers.

21. I have the Ravens going 11-5 next season and winning the AFC North for the third straight year. I know...I know...we haven't even seen the draft, free agent signings or the schedule, for that matter. But I'm going with 11-5 no matter happens between now and September.

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dale williams aims the
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DALE WILLIAMS returns for his fifth season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2019-20 season.

rutgers rolls into college park tonight

At almost the exact mid-point of the Big Ten regular season, Mark Turgeon’s Terps are just a half game away from the top spot in the conference.

With a 7-3 record, only Illinois and Michigan State (both 8-3) are ahead of Maryland. The Terps opponent tonight, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers, are just a half game behind Maryland at 7-4.

The Rutgers record is not a fluke. They are a legitimate NCAA Tournament caliber team this season.

With wins over Wisconsin, Penn State and Seton Hall, Rutgers already has defeated three teams that topped the Terps. However, all three of those wins came inside the cozy confines of the Rutgers home court known as the RAC. Tonight they’ll play in College Park, where Maryland is 12-0 so far in '20-21.

#DMD basketball analyst Dale Williams sees another big night for Jalen Smith when the Terps take on visiting Rutgers this evening.

Rutgers has an assortment of big guards that play a relentless style of basketball. Ron Harper Jr is the epitome of this group. At 6’6” and 245 pounds, Harper has seen stints guarding the other team’s point-guard, and their 4-man. Offensively, on a team without a dominant producer, Harper is the leading scorer at 11.6 points-per-game.

Caleb McConnell is a 6’7” guard who plays pretty “long”. Montez Mathis --- from John Carroll High School in Bel Air -- is a strong 6’4” guard who can be expected to score tough buckets in the paint. He’s a real competitor.

One thing all of the Rutgers guards do is rebound. They are the main reason why Rutgers is in the top 3 in rebounding, both offensive and defensive, in the Big Ten. Off of the bench, Jacob Young and the athletic Geo Baker are both capable substitutes but I think Young is more of a scoring threat, as Baker tends to miss a large percentage of his shots.

Akwasi Yeboah and Myles Johnson do most of the work on the interior for the Scarlet Knights. Yeboah is a bit undersized at the power forward position, being just 6’6”. But, he’s a sturdy 230 pounds and the team’s best three-point shooter, at 38%.

This isn’t a stellar shooting group that head coach Stephan Pikiell puts on the floor. They have many players who could get hot, but on a nightly basis, there’s no sharpshooter of which to be afraid.

McConnel will struggle defensively. He’s long, but not quick at all. If Maryland’s Daryll Morsell gets the start, he’ll have a big night getting into the paint. Aaron Wiggins could beat McConnel also, but I think Morsell is tougher in the paint. Whoever is McConnell’s assignment, that Terp needs to attack.

I’m not sure what Rutgers starter is quick enough to guard Cowan. Maybe Baker or Young off of the bench, but none of the starters can handle Cowan’s bursts. Quickness should be a real issue for the visiting Scarlet Knights.

Defensively for Maryland, the keys are to keep Harper in check, and rebound well. Every Maryland defender, especially the guards, needs to put a body on a man. Keeping Rutgers off of the glass will be key, as I expect the Knights to miss a ton of shots.

I have much respect for this Rutgers program, and anticipate seeing their name when the brackets are announced come March. However, playing three home games in a row and then coming into the XFINTY Center to face a pumped up Maryland team, might not be the best scenario for a squad without a “go-to” scorer or a top line post game.

Rutgers has had success guarding on the perimeter, but tonight their lack of speed and the absence of a true rim protector will hurt them.

I think four Terps get into double figures tonight. Cowan, Smith, Morsell, and Donta Scott will lead Maryland to a 70-59 win. Game time is 7pm and can be seen on FS1.


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February 3
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super fourth quarter saved the day

Christmas was six weeks ago, but I was feeling very "bah-humbug" throughout most of the Super Bowl.

Commercials? Eh. A few were really well done. Most of them were very forgettable. Not many were worth their six million investment, plus production costs.

Google and Hulu won the night, I'd say. Google's ad was the most memorable and Hulu's, by far, drew the most social media reaction. Hulu's ad featured Tom Brady and served as a blend-in-moment for his earlier cryptic tweet during the week, where it looked like Brady might have been retiring or "saying goodbye" to the NFL.

Instead, Brady was merely saying goodbye to cable TV. Nicely done, Hulu. And give Brady credit. Even when his team wasn't there playing in the game, he figured out a way to make himself a topic of conversation nonetheless.

Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes having fun after last night's Super Bowl win.

Halftime show? Embarrassing. I mean, those two women can definitely sing, but I had to send my two children up to take a bath. Actually, my 12 year old son needed a cold shower. I have no idea what the NFL really wants to do with the halftime show. My guess is they're looking to keep the men glued to the set and craving -- uh, who was the sponsor, Pepsi? -- product of some kind. But last night's halftime performance should have been rated-R. I'm aware it's 2020 and all and there are very restrictions in our world today, but that Shakira/J-Lo episode was borderline pornographic.

The game? It was a chess match for three quarters, and despite my personal fondness for the great game of chess, we all know how boring it is watching two people play. The 49'ers defense did a great job of putting the heat on Patrick Mahomes early on and the San Fran offense did an even better job of keeping Mahomes off the field by chewing up the clock and executing their game plan.

But a 10-10 halftime score in the Super Bowl is like 5-under par winning the Masters, which is what Danny Willett did back in 2016 when Jordan Spieth gift-wrapped the Masters for him. In other words, it's not what we expected. Or wanted, even.

The end of the first half was a comedy of coaching from the 49'ers. They got the ball at their own 20 with 59 seconds remaining, armed with all three time outs. They ran a pedestrian play for three yards and called time ou -- wait, no they didn't. They let the clock keep running for some bizarre reason. Apparently afraid of their own shadow (insert Groundhog Day joke here), the 49'ers then ran another play into their own line for two more yards. Kansas City, coaching unafraid at this point, then called their own time out with 19 seconds remaining.

On 3rd and 5, Jimmy Garoppolo connected on a 20-yard pass. San Francisco now decided to play football again, so they called their first time out with 14 seconds remaining in the half.

Garoppolo then found George Kittle on a 42 yard throw down to the K.C. 13 yard line. The 49'ers, at worst, were going to kick a field goal and go into the locker room up 13-10, which would have made folks with "3" and "0" in the block pool world very happy indeed. Except Kittle got called for pass interference (ticky tack) and the half ended at 10-10 after San Fran took a knee.

Kyle Shanahan sprinkled those two time outs he didn't use on his halftime orange slices.

The 49'ers didn't lose the game because of what happened at the end of the second quarter, but it was further proof that some coaches stay engaged throughout the entire game and others are just happy to still be in the game for sixty minutes.

Kansas City couldn't do anything throughout the third quarter, but in fairness to Patrick Mahomes and their offense, the AFC champs only got the ball twice. Mahomes threw a terrible pick on K.C.'s first possession of the 3rd quarter, then Tyreek Hill had a ball bounce off his hands early in the 4th quarter on a drive that started late in the third. Those two interceptions looked as if they were going to seal the deal for Andy Reid. Another Super Bowl trip, another year of missing out.

But then, what we assumed would eventually happen did, in fact, happen.

Kansas City's offense got hot, the 49'ers defense ran out of gas, Richard Sherman got exposed, and the referees got involved.

All four of those things led to an epic 21-point explosion by the Chiefs in the final eight minutes of the game. K.C. went from the team that was starting to have a monkey on its back to world champions.

Mahomes wasn't great in the first 52 minutes of the game. Not by a longshot. Some of that, of course, was due to the San Francisco defense. The other team tries, too. And the 49'ers did a great job of pressuring the K.C. signal caller and keeping him uneven throughout the first three and a half quarters of the game.

But a long throw on 3rd and 15 kept a drive alive and Travis Kelce collected a TD pass a minute later to make it 20-17. You could see the 49'ers starting to wobble.

After a 3-and-out from Garoppolo and the San Fran offense, Mahomes went right back to work. He hit Sammy Watkins on a beautiful 38 yard throw where Sherman looked like he had cement feet. Moments later, the K.C. quarterback soft-tossed one to Damien Williams and he scored the go-ahead TD with 2:44 remaining.

Or did he score?

It was awfully, awfully close.

It was so close, in fact, that anyone who adamantly says "He was in" is just saying that to say it.

The call on the field was a touchdown, so now the officials had to decide if there was enough evidence in place to overturn the call. Even though it looked like his right foot might have hit the sideline before the ball touched the plane of the goal-line, there was no change in the call. Touchdown Chiefs -- game over.

It was really, really close. Personally, I thought he was out of bounds shy of the goal-line. But I'm not the guy making the call.

At that point, it was all over but the shouting. Now, the 49'ers suddenly had to get the bit between their teeth and do something magical in the last two and a half minutes. And that just wasn't going to happen. Jimmy Garoppolo might very well turn out to be an excellent quarterback someday, but that moment, in Super Bowl 54, was far too big for him. Montana? Sure. Young? Sure. Garoppolo. Not a chance.

K.C. tacked on a touchdown to make it 31-20 and Andy Reid had his Super Bowl, finally. And despite a ragged first 52 minutes, Patrick Mahomes came up big when it mattered most. The MVP award he won probably should have gone to Damien Williams (or even San Fran's Deebo Samuel, who was a wrecking ball all night), but the quarterback always gets the nod in moments like those.

The Chiefs and 49'ers gave us a memorable Super Bowl, even if the action didn't really heat up until late in the game.

In the end, the right team won.

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"The Keen Eye" of
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DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Monday & Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.

consider this

2:30 p.m., Super Bowl Sunday

People want to know how Ravens’ fans are feeling about the Super Bowl, considering their team was the best in the NFL this season and didn’t get there. Personally…I’m just rooting for a good game, as opposed to last year’s slog.

I’m over the Ravens. That Titans’ debacle was 23 days ago, but it might as well have been 123 days ago. Conference championship weekend was disappointing, and downright depressing. But now this feels a lot like any other Super Bowl in which the Ravens haven’t played, which is 22 of the 24 since the beginning of the franchise.

The 2019 season was a dream. As mentioned here time and again since September, the Ravens accomplished things statistically that rank among the best seasons in the history of the NFL. As a matter of wins and losses, the 2019 Ravens are one of a very small percentage of teams to have won 14 games—only the 2007 Patriots and six 15-1 teams won more.

The Ravens will enter the 2020 season having won 12 consecutive regular-season games. I’m not predicting another 11 in a row to tie the top number of 23, set by Peyton Manning and the Colts in 2008 and 2009, but it’ll be fun to see how long they can keep it going. Perhaps it will be best if the Chiefs aren’t on the schedule until later in the year.

Lamar Jackson said that he sat in his room for two days after the loss to the Titans…and understandably. If some of us did the same thing, imagine how he was feeling, whether any of it was really his “fault” or not. But did you see him at the Pro Bowl, and check out his enthusiasm (and outfit) when winning the MVP award at the NFL honors ceremony?

He’s ready to go play again. Unfortunately, it’s not in the Super Bowl. But September’s only seven months away!

5:00 p.m., Super Bowl Sunday

I don’t watch as much golf as some of you guys, but it’s really odd to listen to a CBS golf broadcast and not hear the voices of Peter Kostis and Gary McCord. Honestly, it’s still odd for me to hear CBS golf without David Feherty, who left for NBC a few years back now.

With FOX owning the Super Bowl rights this year, CBS was left with airing golf up until about 6:15 pm, where Webb Simpson won in a playoff over Tony Finau.

The Phoenix Open — excuse me, the Waste Management Phoenix Open — concludes on Super Bowl Sunday every year. It’s even finished on Super Bowl Sunday the last two times the game has been played in Phoenix—in 2015, when the Patriots held on to beat the Seahawks, and in 2008, when the New York Giants pulled off one of the great upsets of all-time in keeping the Patriots from a perfect 19-0 finish.

Under the present PGA Tour contract, the tournament is a CBS tournament, except when CBS is televising the Super Bowl once every three years as part of the NFL television contract. In that case, the golf tournament has been televised by NBC, and the Honda Classic in Florida, usually an NBC broadcast, is instead shown by CBS.

Got all that?

Here’s something else. Continuing the order from the NFL contract, next year would have been NBC’s year to televise the Super Bowl, with the year after that going to CBS. This past March, however, the networks agreed to switch years, because CBS didn’t want to compete with NBC’s broadcast of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Now NBC will just be competing with itself, as Super Bowl LVI is on February 6 and the Olympics officially begin on February 4.

Got all that?

Anyway, back to the Phoenix Open, it’s really cool that the PGA Tour decided to place the pin on the famous par-three 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale 24 paces from the front and 8 from the left of the green to honor the late Kobe Bryant, and equally cool that some of the players took to wearing his jersey when playing the hole.

7:30 p.m., Super Bowl Sunday

Somewhere in a hypothetical fantasy world, Ravens’ fans would have been on Twitter urging John Harbaugh to kick the field goal on 4th-and-1 on the 49ers’ 5-yard-line late in the first quarter, in order to “keep the momentum” going and tie the game, as opposed to “losing the momentum” by failing.

So, for the final time this season, I’ll give you something that’s not even my opinion as much as it’s common sense. In the first quarter, losing 3-0, with 4th-and-1 on the 5-yard line, an NFL team should keep its offense on the field 100 percent of the time.

Equally as much common sense…with 4th-and-1 on the 19-yard-line early in the second quarter, ahead 7-3, an NFL team should also keep its offense on the field 100 percent of the time.

Anyway, a football game can always surprise you, especially one that comes after an extra week of preparation for both teams. The Chiefs, for instance, called a run on 11 of their first 25 plays, which must feel like an anathema to Andy Reid. Meanwhile, the power-running, traditional-type 49ers twice ran trick plays with wide receiver Deebo Samuel, one of which went for 32 yards and another which was meant to be a pass.

Despite all the things you might like to change about the NFL, especially the rules and officiating, it’s never been more fun to watch NFL teams play. For years, college teams have listed their offensive systems as “multiple,” which was always kind of a joke. These days, however, professional teams have so many ways to gain yardage in big chunks. It’s not always about a traditional pocket passer making his reads. In other news, this one’s already a much better game than last year’s stinker. These teams are both so…um…multiple. We’ve got one of those teams here in Baltimore as well. Which reminds me…seeing Hard Rock Stadium does kind of remind me of that 59-10 thrashing of the Dolphins in Week 1, so maybe I’m a little bit annoyed, despite what I said before. 10:00 p.m., Super Bowl Sunday Patrick Mahomes did not have a good second half, to state the obvious. He did things bad quarterbacks do, like not seeing a linebacker standing directly in front of what he thought was an open receiver and consistently throwing the ball behind and at the feet of his receivers. He’s always in motion, maybe more than most quarterbacks in the pocket, but he seemed a bit panicky overall.

Until, of course, the play that made all the difference, the long pass to Tyreek Hill on a 3rd-and-15 play right after another terrible pass to Hill that was originally called a completion, only to be rightly changed after replay review.

I thought back to the 2018 season in Kansas City, when the Ravens were going to beat the Chiefs until Mahomes made a ridiculous play on a 4th-and-9 with under two minutes left in regulation. You could argue that San Francisco played better than Kansas City for most of Super Bowl LIV. At the very least, they played much like they had the whole year, while making the Chiefs look mediocre.

And then, Mahomes and Kansas City did the same thing they did in all three of their playoff games. Looking back, has any team played three games in a row like that? And in the playoffs, for good measure.

Kansas City was losing 24-0 to Houston. In a flash, they led 28-24 at halftime. By the end of the game, they’d dropped 50 on the Texans. It was an astonishing game, one only the Chiefs could have won. The Chiefs twice trailed the Titans by 10 points. In a flash, a 10-point deficit turned into a halftime lead. In a game that was still tight in the fourth quarter, a four-point lead turned into an 18-point lead quickly.

And then Mahomes and the Chiefs trailed the league’s best defensive team by 10 points in the fourth quarter and came back to win.

We had an epic playoff run a few years ago around here, but this one was pretty good too.


soccer: youngsters shine in u.s. win

The US came out with a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in Carson, CA on Saturday in an international "friendly".

While not a dominant performance, the US did what they needed to do to win the game and were never put on their toes by Costa Rica. The US lineup was a mix of first teamers from MLS and newcomers from the U23 and U20 teams. They faced a Costa Rica team that was nearly full strength, minus a few European stars like GK Keylor Navas.

The two standout players for the US were Ulysses Llanez and Reggie Cannon. Llanez started on the left wing and consistently threatened the Costa Rican defense with his skill and pace. The 18 year old was the youngest player on the field but looked completely comfortable in international competition. When he was surprisingly called upon to take the penalty kick he calmly dispatched it in the corner. For a player who has yet to play a first team minute for his club he showed he belongs and likely raised his stock for both club and country.

Reggie Cannon provided an offensive boost and held down his defensive responsibilities along the right side. His overlapping run drew the penalty for the US goal and he also popped up for key stops on defense.

The right back spot is one of the deepest positions on the team with Sergino Dest at Ajax and Deandre Yedlin at Newcastle in the Premier League, but Cannon’s performances in the US shirt have made the case for him to be included in the starting XI, perhaps with Dest moving to left back.

The rest of the US team was solid on the night without standing out. Paul Arriola perhaps best encapsulates the current state of the team. He showed both his good and bad qualities. His hard work and resourcefulness helped earn the penalty that the US converted for the only goal.

However, they may have had several more if Arriola had a higher quality finishing touch, as he missed several good chances to add another goal. Arriola is a fine player who can help the US qualify against CONCACAF competition, but if this team wants to reach the next level they need players such as Llanez and Gio Reyna (18 year old who subbed on for the third straight game for Borussia Dortmund today) to reach their full potential and replace the Arriolas on the team.

This victory will go down as a success for the US and this January camp. Berhalter saw the team play with poise and integrate some young players who could be key in Olympic qualifying and the next round of World Cup qualifying. Due to the restraints on the roster during this camp it’s hard to give a full grade to the performance.

The US will face its first real tests of the year in March when it has the full team available for friendlies against Netherland and Wales. Those games will give a true glimpse at the tactics and lineup Berhalter intends to use going into the Nations League Semifinals and World Cup qualifying.

About the contributor: Randy Morgan was born and raised in the Baltimore area graduating from Dulaney HS and then University of Maryland. His day job is software development. He's an avid sports watcher and recreational participant. A devoted Ravens, Orioles and U.S. soccer supporter. he also follows many soccer leagues around the world as well as the NBA and college basketball. Randy played soccer, basketball, and baseball growing up and still plays soccer and basketball recreationally as well as the occasional round of golf. His commentary on mostly sports, but sometimes music and other miscellany can be found on twitter @jrmorgan16.

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February 2
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it's only "super" when your team is in it

You might have heard, they're playing a big football game tonight at 6:30 pm in Miami.

I'm going to watch it, like the rest of you, but I couldn't really care less who wins. If you pressed me to pick a team, I'd be rooting for Kansas City, mainly because of Andy Reid. But if San Francisco winds up winning, I'll sleep the same as I would if the Chiefs come out on top.

I can't help but feel this Super Bowl malaise I'm experiencing is connected to the Ravens sudden departure from the post-season. We lost to the Titans, remember. They were 9-7 in the regular season and just lucky to make the post-season in the first place. And we couldn't beat them when the chips were down.

Can Andy Reid finally capture that elusive Super Bowl title and earn his way into Canton in the process?

It's been a tough three weeks. I'll be watching tonight's game and thinking about how fortunate those folks are in Kansas City and San Francisco who have been planning for this event for the last fourteen days.

Just when I start to really get aggravated, again, I remind myself that football fans in Detroit, Cleveland, Jacksonville and Houston have never felt the euphoria of watching their team play in a Super Bow. Not one. Never. I know the Bills are 0-4, but at least they played in four of them. The Lions, Browns, Jaguars and Oilers/Texans have never made a Super Bowl.

And when you think of that, it does tend to lessen the impact of losing at home to the lowly Titans when all we needed was a win to host the AFC championship game.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the awards won by the Ravens last night do nothing at all for me. Lamar was the MVP. That's great. Harbs was the Coach of the Year. Nice.

But neither of those honors comes anywhere close to being as important as beating the Titans and Chiefs and making it to the Super Bowl. They're wonderful honors for the two individuals, naturally, and both will make more money someday soon in part because of those accolades, but I personally couldn't care less about them.

You can tell...I'm still a little bitter.

Perhaps the only real saving grace about tonight's game is the fact that it doesn't include New England. Can you imagine having to sit through another 4-hour Brady/Belichick love fest? Holy cow.

I also have little to no interest in the halftime show, but that's more because I'm an old man than anything else. I respect the work of Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, but it's just not my thing. If I'm watching at halftime, it's only because I'm too full from taco salad to get up and do something else during those 20 minutes.

The commercials will be the most interesting sidestory to the whole broadcast, and I admit to being one of those people who "rates" them. It's amazing to me that folks will spend upwards of $6 million to try and reach 100 million viewers and 30 seconds will go by and we'll say, "What was their message supposed to be?" If you're selling a car, show us the car, say something important about it, and make us remember the car. Sounds easy enough, but the folks designing the ads make it incredibly more complicated than that for some weird reason.

Other than the commercials, the other "interesting" things about the game are those that we can, in no way, predict might happen. Like, for example, the lights going out for 25 minutes in New Orleans back in 2013. Or one of the musical guests accidentally showing a body part we shouldn't be seeing on national television at 8:30 pm.

When your team isn't playing in the game, these are the things that capture your interest!

And because I have no reason at all to really be interested in tonight's contest, I came up with ten prop bets I'd be willing to wager if I could find someone to take my money. It would also help if I actually had the money to wager with, which I don't. But just like it's perfectly fine to sit back and dream about your team being in the game, it's also fine to dream about big wagers, too.

So, here we go.

I'd bet $1,000 each on these prop wagers.

Will someone other than either of the two starting quarterbacks throw a pass in the game? -- "Yes"

Will there be a turnover of some kind in the first quarter? -- "No"

Will a player from the winning team drop an audible f-bomb during the post-game celebration? -- "Yes"

Will play-by-play man Joe Buck mention Tom Brady's name during the broadcast? -- "Yes"

Will there be a missed field goal during the game? -- "No"

Will the winning team reach 20 points before the losing team reaches 14 points?" -- "Yes"

Will there be a touchdown pass of more than 39 yards? -- "No"

Will either team attempt a fake punt and/or onside kick? -- "No"

Will a call on the field -- of any kind -- be reversed by instant replay? -- "No"

Will there be more penalties than scoring plays? -- "No"

Oh, right, the game itself. Who wins?

I've been wishy-washy on this one for two weeks, as most of America seemingly is if you've paid attention to the wagering line. Everyone seems to think it's going to be a tight one.

I liked San Francisco for a while, but I think I've come to my senses now. I don't think the Chiefs offense can be stymied. The 49'ers have an excellent defense, of course. But I don't see how they're going to contain Mahomes and his plethora of offensive options. If the San Fran offense was a lot better, I think we'd be in for an old fashioned shootout. But it seems to me that Kansas City's "just OK" defense has a better chance of slowing down San Francisco's "just OK" offense.

I'm going with the Chiefs in a little bit of a blowout. I know what they say about defense and how it travels and how it wins championships, but I don't see K.C.'s offense coming up short tonight.

Kansas City 33 -- San Francisco 20

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we're heading to new york!

We have 14 people signed up for this trip so far!!! It's going to be a blast!

Maybe the O's aren't going to be all that good in 2020. We know that going in. But what you might not know is how much fun a #DMD road trip can be in the summer! And what better place to visit and take in a couple of games than New York?

Join us in NY on June 23-24 to see Trey Mancini and the O's take on the Yankees.

We're going to the Big Apple to support our Birds, June 23 and 24. And we've love to have a bunch of O's fans join us in the Bronx for a couple of days in New York and two baseball games.

We'll leave on Tuesday, June 23 around noon and check in at our Manhattan hotel sometime around 4 pm. The game that night is at 7:05 pm. We'll have upper deck seats for that, with unlimited food and drinks for everyone in our group.

The next night, June 24, we'll have a pre-game bullpen party and awesome left field seats close to the field.

Once the game's over, we'll head back home, arriving in Baltimore after midnight.

If you're interested in going on the trip, send me a quick email so I can start building the trip list:

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February 1
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saturday stuff

I'll be heading over to Towson University today to see the men's basketball team take on College of Charleston at 2 pm. The Tigers have won 7 straight games after starting conference play at 0-3.

College of Charleston also comes into today's game at 7-3.

Might this finally be the year the Tigers work their way through the CAA tournament and give Towson its first NCAA March Madness appearance since 1991? In a year where there are a lot of "good" teams in the CAA but no outright dominating squads, Towson might very well be a legit contender for that mid-March trip somewhere.

William and Mary leads the CAA at 8-2, but Towson just beat them in their own building down in Williamsburg. Towson, Hofstra and the College of Charleston are next at 7-3.

Editor's note: For the Flyers fans out there, "William and Mary" is one school, not two separate schools.

Pat Skerry is one of the area's best "sports people". Yes, sure, I'm saying that because I know him, but ask anyone who has worked with him during his nine seasons in Baltimore. He's a good man.

After inheriting a bag of pillows in 2011-2012 and going 1-31, Skerry's record since then is 21 games above .500. An injury riddled campaign last year was Towson's first losing season in five years.

UMBC had their run-in-the-sun two years ago and it was awesome. I was on the air back in the days when four area schools -- UMBC, Loyola Morgan State and Coppin State -- all made it to the NCAA tournament by virtue of winning their conference tournament. I haven't seen Towson play in the NCAA tournament (no, I wasn't watching back in '89-90 and '90-91). It would be cool to see Skerry and the Tigers win the CAA this season.

They have themselves a weekend shootout at the Phoenix Open on the PGA Tour, with five players already in double figures through 36 holes, including the midway leader, J.B. Holmes, who is 13-under par.

One guy who won't be playing on the weekend is Jordan Spieth, who has fallen to 51st in the world rankings and is danger of costing himself exemptions into two significant upcoming World Golf Championships events.

Jordan Spieth continues to struggle on the PGA Tour and he's now moved outside of the Top 50 in the world rankings.

Spieth posted a 3-over round of 74 on Thursday, then rebounded with a 2-under 69 on Friday, but his +1 total for 36 holes left him outside of the 1-under par cut line.

The 3-time major champion -- with $40 million in career on-course earnings -- hasn't won a PGA Tour event since the British Open in July of 2017. Someone named Adam Long has won more golf tournaments than Jordan Spieth over the last three years. So, there you go.

Unless something completely crazy happens, like winning a major championship and/or at least two or three other events this spring/summer, Spieth will not make the Ryder Cup team this Fall and would have to rely on a captain's pick from Steve Stricker to make the team. It seems almost unthinkable that Spieth might potentially miss back-to-back American teams because of poor play, but that's what it's looking like right now.

What's happened to him? Well, his golf swing has never been all that great in the first place. Useful? Sure. You don't win like he's won without having a useful golf swing. But he was never long off the tee and once this new group of big bombers came along and started having wedges into 75% of the par 4's and 5's, Spieth wasn't able to keep up with them. That put some pressure on the former Masters champ to try and find some extra distance and swing problems started creeping in.

Funny enough, though, some of the swing changes have actually yielded some fairly positive results over the last six months. But the numbers and the cuts made aren't showing it yet. Spieth's biggest current issue is his putting. He hit 16 of 18 greens in Friday's round at the Phoenix Open but shot just 2-under par. A handful of costly three putts over the first two days kept him from playing on the weekend. Spieth and "putting issues" were words you'd rarely ever see in the same sentence before the last couple of years.

American golf is in fine hands these days, what with the career resurgence of Tiger, the awesome 3-year run of Brooks Koepka and the emergence of Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff, just to name a few.

But it doesn't feel the same without Spieth being involved. Truth of the matter, long before someone coined Patrick Reed "Captain America", Spieth was the guy that American golf could rally around. His swing wasn't perfect, his on-course temperature occasionally ran hot, and he was a guy who had a flair for making the big shot at just right the time. No one -- at least not in this generation of golfers -- will ever be "the next Tiger", but Spieth was on his way to being the most visible and perhaps dominating American golfer of his time.

And he hasn't been heard from in almost three years now.

Let's hope that changes soon. He deserves it and so do we.

Alex Ovechkin scored two goals for the Caps in their 5-3 win at Ottawa last night and in the process, moved past Mark Messier into 8th on the NHL's all-time goal scoring list with 695.

But Ovechkin has sights on far more than passing Messier, and next, Mike Gartner on the scoring list. Ovi is gunning for Wayne Gretzky and his 894 career tallies, the most in league history.

Ovechkin needs 200 more tallies to pass The Great One on the scoring list. The 34-year old now has 37 goals on the season as the Caps continue to own the top record in the entire National Hockey League.

200 more goals? Can it be done?

The key, as it usually is with older athletes, is health. People keep asking if Tiger Woods can win more majors. Sure he can, if he stays healthy. People wonder if Roger Federer can win another Grand Slam singles title or two. Sure, if he stays healthy. One of the reasons why Tom Brady continues to enjoy a prolonged NFL career is because of his health, with only one major knee injury in his almost two-decade career.

If Ovechkin can stay healthy and play into his late 30's, he can chip away at Gretzky's mark and eventually catch him. He'll score at least 15 more goals this season, I'd suspect. That will give him 52 for the season and he'll be at 710 heading into 2020-2021.

Let's pretend he "dips" a tad next year and only scores 40 for whatever reason. That's 750.

If he enters the 2021-2022 campaign with 750, he'll only need 145 more goals to surpass Gretzky. That's a lot of goals, obviously, but if Ovi can chip away at it with four more seasons of 35-40 goals, he'll get there.

The only qualifier to all of this is age and health. And, yes, it seems likely that when Father Time finally catches up to Ovechkin, he'll do so with a hard knock on the door, not a timid touch of the doorbell. In other words, you'll know it's over if Ovi posts a 27 goal season sometime in the next two or three years.

It's almost a given that Ovi will pass everyone else on the list and eventually settle in at #2 on the list. He'll need to score 802 goals to pass the great Gordie Howe for that 2nd spot.

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soccer: u.s. men play costa rica tonight

The US Men’s soccer team plays their first game of 2020 on Saturday night against Costa Rica. This game is a friendly that concludes their annual January camp.

This period has generally been used by US coaches to evaluate new players and experiment with new tactics. Since the camp and the game do not fall within a FIFA sanctioned window, many of the regular first team players are not available. All players in European leagues are currently in-season, so there is no Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, etc, available for this game. Instead, the roster features a mix of MLS veterans, under 23 players eligible for the Olympics, and a few under 20 players with big potential.

Gregg Berhalter and the American team start preparing for their World Cup qualifying schedule with a friendly tonight vs. Costa Rica.

Gregg Berhalter will use this game to build some cohesion among the under 23 players who will be key in Olympic qualifying this Spring and to give a few younger players a chance to get acquainted with the system and international competition. The veteran MLS players have been brought in to stay sharp and serve as mentors for the younger core. Berhalter will not stress much over the result of this friendly with Costa Rica. He will be more interested in seeing his system executed successfully and evaluating the potential of the new faces on the roster.

Here’s a look at tonight's roster:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

DEFENDERS (8): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Chase Gasper (Minnesota United FC), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Mark McKenzie (Philadelphia Union), Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union), Christian Cappis (Hobro/DEN), Bryang Kayo (Unattached), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Brandon Servania (FC Dallas), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes)

FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Ulysses Llanez (Wolfsburg/GER), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC)

Notes: There are a few players who can seize this opportunity in the spotlight with many regular starters missing and enhance their profile with the team. Jackson Yueill is the top player to watch. He is in competition with Michael Bradley and Tyler Adams for the starting defensive midfield spot on the full first team. He’s the favorite to be the starter at that position for Olympic qualifying as well (Adams will likely not be released by his club). This is a great chance for Yueill to shine and instill confidence in his coach and teammates that he is up to the task of filling this key role in Berhalter’s system.

Brandon Servania is another player to watch. The box-to-box midfielder had a good showing for the U20 team last summer and followed that up by gradually integrating himself into the FC Dallas starting XI. He could position himself as an Olympic starter with a solid game on Saturday.

Two final players who could turn heads are Jesus Ferreira and Ulysses Llanez. Ferreira had a good 2019 season as a young player at FC Dallas bouncing between Striker and Attacking Midfield. He just recently gained his US citizenship and could provide depth in the attack for the first team and be a top option for the Olympic team. Llanez is one of the youngest players on this roster and will be eligible for the U20 team in the next cycle. He is a quick and technical winger who possesses skills that are in limited supply in the US player pool. He has impressed for the Wolfsburg (Germany) youth team this season and could raise his stock further with both club and country with a good performance.

About the contributor: Randy Morgan was born and raised in the Baltimore area graduating from Dulaney HS and then University of Maryland. His day job is software development. He's an avid sports watcher and recreational participant. A devoted Ravens, Orioles and U.S. soccer supporter. he also follows many soccer leagues around the world as well as the NBA and college basketball. Randy played soccer, basketball, and baseball growing up and still plays soccer and basketball recreationally as well as the occasional round of golf. His commentary on mostly sports, but sometimes music and other miscellany can be found on twitter @jrmorgan16.