John McNamara’s special talent for sports journalism was his ability to expose the dedication, hard work, heartbreak, sacrifices, faults, delights, personalities, strategies, tactics, and intricacies in each player, contest and season. He performed the homework needed to provide historical context for these stories. He wrote without pretension or condescension, telling stories that were accessible and informative to new and established fans and readers alike.
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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.
On Friday night, though, Maryland recruit Andrew Wiggins, a 6-foot-6 swingman, offered offered some hope there may be better days ahead.
During the past week, one local basketball product will be staying put, another will be moving on and yet another made a bit of history.
At Notre Dame University, Mike Brey (Bethesda/DeMatha), the winningest coach the program’s history, has signed a contract extension through the 2024-25 season.
The new deal was in recognition of his body of work, even though injuries derailed what could have been a promising season in 2017-18. The Irish wound up in the NIT, rather than the NCAA Tournament, and finished 21-15. Brey, 59, has taken the Irish to 12 NCAA tournaments in 18 seasons.
“My goal has always been to be good enough to retire as the head coach at Notre Dame,” Brey said in a statement. “It sure looks like I might be able to pull that off with this extension. I am truly honored and humbled to be the head coach at the University of Notre Dame. …
“I’m proud of what our program has achieved in the past 18 years and I could not be more excited about what the future holds.”
Brey is 403-201 at Notre Dame, having surpassed Digger Phelps as the school’s all-time leader in victories earlier this season. Brey, who graduated from DeMatha in 1977, has an overall record of 502-252 in 23 seasons as a Division I head coach.
He also enjoyed a successful five-year stint at Delaware (99–51, two NCAA Tournament trips), which landed him the job at Notre Dame. Prior to that, he served as an assistant coach to two of the best in the business – Morgan Wootten at DeMatha and Mike Krzyzewski at Duke.
“Mike Brey has built one of the most consistently successful programs in the country,” Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. “And the foundation of that success is a winning culture that develops the members of his teams as both basketball players and young men. He is a perfect fit for Notre Dame and we are excited to have him lead our program well into the future.”
HOYAS’ DERRICKSON MOVING ON: Georgetown forward Marcus Derrickson (Bowie/Paul VI) announced that he’ll enter the NBA draft and hire an agent after three seasons with the Hoyas.
“I will forego my senior year at Georgetown by entering the draft with plans of signing with an agent,” Derrickson wrote in an Instagram post.
Derrickson averaged 15.9 points and 8.1 rebounds as a junior for the Hoyas and hit 46.5 of his 101 3-point attempts. Derrickson, who averaged 17.2 points in Big Est play, was Georgetown’s second-leading scorer behind center Jessie Govan. Govan also announced he would enter the draft, but will not sign with an agent, leaving the door open to return to the Hoyas next season.
Derrickson’s announcement came as a surprise; several times during the season, the 6-foot-7 forward said he planned to remain in college for his senior season.
Before coming to Georgetown, Derrickson played for one year at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire after spending three years at Paul VI High School in Fairfax, Va. He helped lead Paul VI to two Washington Catholic Athletic Conference titles.
FULTZ SEEING DOUBLE: Philadelphia 76ers rookie guard Markelle Fultz (Upper Marlboro/DeMatha) finished the NBA regular season with a bang, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double.
Fultz had 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in 25 minutes after coming off the bench as the Sixers won their 16th straight game, beating Milwaukee in the regular-season finale.
At 19 years and 317 days, Fultz is the first teenager in NBA history to post a triple-double. He’s younger than Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball (20 years, 15 days), who earlier this season took over the claim as the youngest with a triple double. Before Ball, the distinction belonged to Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James (20 years, 20 days).
Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, averaged 7.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists during the regular season. But a lingering shoulder injury kept him on the sidelines for 68 of the Sizers’ 82 regular season games.
In Fultz’ lone college season at the University of Washington, he averaged 23.2 points per game, the highest scoring average in the Pac-12 in 20 years. He also led the team in minutes played (35.7) and assists per game (5.7). He finished second on the team in rebounds per game (5.9).
Both were high school standouts, with Williams playing on Crossland HS team that reached the Class AA state basketball finals three years in a row (1986-88). Ferry, of course, played at storied DeMatha Catholic HS, where the team he played on in his junior year (1983-84) wound up 29-2 and ranked No. 1 nationally by USA Today.
Maryland’s basketball team, coming off back-to-back 27-win seasons for the first time in school history, faces a lot of questions entering the 2016-17 season.
Starters Jake Layman, Rasheed Sulaimon, Robert Carter and Diamond Stone have moved on. The return of point guard Melo Trimble and the arrival of a strong recruiting class seems to have convinced someone that the drop-off won’t be too severe, though. ESPN picked the Terrapins 18th nationally in its most recent preseason poll.
That’s the good news. The bad news for Terrapins fans is that four Big Ten teams (Wisconsin at No. 8, Michigan State at No. 10, Indiana at No. 11 and Purdue at No. 14) are ranked ahead of the Terrapins by ESPN.
However, the conference’s schedule-makers (Maryland’s slate was released last week) seem to have done the Terrapins a favor.