UM recruit Wiggins shines brightest at Capital Classic

Recent news about the Maryland basketball program hasn’t been too good.

Coach Mark Turgeon’s Terrapins endured a difficult, injury-plagued season that wound up with them missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years.

Once the season ended, three of the team’s top players – Bruno Fernando, Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson – declared themelves eligible for the June NBA Draft. Jackson plans to sign with an agent, and will not return. Fernando and Huerter could be back, depending on where they’re projected to be drafted.

Andrew Wiggins, center, poses with fellow Maryland basketball recruits Jalen Smith, left, and Serrel Smith right, following Friday night’s Capital Classic at Catholic University
Andrew Wiggins, center, poses with fellow Maryland basketball recruits Jalen Smith, left, and Serrel Smith right, following Friday night’s Capital Classic at Catholic University (photo by John McNamara).

On Friday night, though, Maryland recruit Andrew Wiggins, a 6-foot-6 swingman, offered offered some hope there may be better days ahead.

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Forty years ago this week, DeMatha came up with the perfect ending

Forty years ago this week, DeMatha’s basketball team made history.

By that time, Hall of Fame coach Morgan Wootten had been at the school 20 years and had turned it into the premier high school basketball program in the Washington area, if not the country.

But the Stags had never finished a season unbeaten. That is, not until a 74-64 victory over league rival Mackin in the finals of the Alhambra Invitational Tournament on March 18, 1978.

Wootten art
In 1977-78, DeMatha basketball coach Morgan Wootten directed his first-ever undefeated team.

Continue reading Forty years ago this week, DeMatha came up with the perfect ending

Happy 62nd birthday to DeMatha great Adrian Dantley

Adrian Dantley
While at Dematha, Adrian Dantley was a three-time All-Met selection and helped lead the Stags to four straight No. 1 rankings in the Washington area.

It was a cold winter morning in December of 1969. Schools were on break, with teachers and coaches like DeMatha’s Morgan Wootten happy for a respite from their responsibilities.

This particular morning, Wootten heard a knock on the door of his Hyattsville home. He went to answer it and discovered ninth-grader Adrian Dantley standing on his doorstep. Dantley, then an up-and-coming star for the Stags, wanted to borrow the keys to the DeMatha gym, so he could squeeze in a workout.

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Local product Palmer finds winter in Nebraska to his liking

It’s rare that someone would prefer winter in Lincoln, Nebraska to winter in Miami.

But it worked out for James Palmer, Jr.

Palmerpic
James Palmer, Jr, who played at Henry Wise and St. John’s, is one of the main reasons Nebraska is battling for an NCAA Tournament bid as March approaches

Palmer, an Upper Marlboro native and former standout at St. John’s and Henry A. Wise, started his college career at the University of Miami. The 6-foot-6 wing played sparingly there, averaging about 12 minutes and three points per game for the Hurricanes.

With prospects for playing time looking bleak, Palmer opted to transfer to Nebraska. There, coach Tim Miles has shown a knack for landing transfers from big-time schools like Terran Petteway (Texas Tech), Walter Pitchford (Florida) and Andrew White (Kansas). All flourished at Nebraska and later pursued professional basketball careers of one kind or another.

“Those guys left a trail for me to follow,” Palmer told the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star. “That shows a good example of Nebraska getting good transfer players and really developing them.”

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In January of ’68, nobody was hotter than Jim O’Brien

Fifty years ago this week, Washington’s sports pages were full of stories on the Green Bay Packers’ recent Super Bowl II victory over the Oakland Raiders.

O'Brien head shot
Jim O’Brien played with the NY Nets in 1973-74.

In sports news closer to home, local basketball fans were starting to notice a kid named Jim O’Brien, who kept showing up in the Stuart High School boxscores with 20 or 30 points to his credit. The rail-thin, 6-foot-7 redhead averaged 17.8 points per game as a sophomore on a team that finished just 11-10.

But by January of 1968, O’Brien had shifted his game into a different gear. He’d had a 42-point, 29-rebound game against rival Falls Church to open the 1967-68 season – a stunning statistical achievement in a 32-minute high school game.

Continue reading In January of ’68, nobody was hotter than Jim O’Brien

Brey now winningest coach in Notre Dame history

For years, a string of Notre Dame football coaches has tried to duplicate the sustained success of the program’s  glory days.

 

Mike Brey at the ACC Tournament in Feb 2017 (Source: Grant Halverson/Getty Images North America
Mike Brey at the ACC Tournament in Feb 2017. (Source: Grant Halverson/Getty Images North America

Notre Dame’s basketball program, meanwhile, doesn’t have that problem.

Mike Brey has seen to that.

The Bethesda native and former DeMatha point guard, now in his 18th season as head coach of the Irish, became the all-time winningest coach in Notre Dame basketball history on Wednesday night, thanks to an 88-58 victory over North Carolina State. That triumph gave him 394 victories at Notre Dame, pushing him past the 393 wins accumulated by Richard “Digger” Phelps, who coached at the school from 1971-91.

In a nice gesture, Phelps was even on hand in South Bend the other night to hand Brey the game ball after the final buzzer.

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Turnovers a big problem for Terrapins

Much of the talk after University of Maryland’s 80-65 victory Saturday over New Mexico centered on the Terrapins’ ability to bounce back from a tough loss.

“I’m really proud of how my team responded,” Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon said. “It was a short turn around but we came out with a lot of energy.”

The victory came less than 19 hours after the Terps walked off the court 63-61 losers to a short-handed Saint Bonaventure squad in the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Fla. on Friday night. In that game, Maryland showed little energy, struggled on offense and got beat by a team that was missing its top returning scorer from last season, guard Jaylen Adams. Adams, a Baltimore native, is nursing a sprained ankle.

The Terps showed far more life against New Mexico the next day, roaring out to a 27-3 lead and never looking back as they improved to 5-1 this season with Syracuse up next on Monday night.

But there was one problem that lingered from the St. Bonaventure loss and it’s a problem that has plagued the Terrapins all season – turnovers.

Maryland turned it over 20 times against St. Bonaventure and 22 times against New Mexico. They also had 20 against Butler in a home game earlier this season. For the year, Maryland’s got 120 turnovers in seven games (17 per game).

That number might seem a little high to Terrapins fans – and they’d be right. Last year’s 24-9 team averaged just 12.9 per game.

 

Cowans dribble
Cowan now has 25 assists after seven games and 20 turnovers for the Terrapins.

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