Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Mr. Jones and Me

Some readers have asked about my “obsession” with Mike Jones. and why I complain about his lack of playing time. Since the Terps are on a mini-hiatus “studying” for finals, I figure it is worth an explanation. Essentially, there are four main factors that contribute to my support of the guy.

1. The Precedent: The kid is a McDonald’s All-American and he never gets off the bench. It’s not as if Gary has so many All-American recruits pining away to be Terps. Maryland has always lost these guys to Duke and UNC and I don’t like it when we don’t play the ones we have. By not playing Mike Jones, Gary is sending a terrible message to any future McDonald’s All-Americans thinking of coming to College Park. He’s saying, “If you have some bad habits or don’t play my style of ball then I’m not playing you regardless of whether or not you can help us win”.

2. His Game: It’s not like when he gets in there, he’s lost. Quite the contrary. He has the most consistent jumper on the team, and frankly one of the best I have seen in a Terps uniform. Obviously, no one is better than Juan (especially in the clutch), but Mike Jones had some huge buckets for us in ACC Tournament last year. In fact, he was wide open during the last play against Syracuse in last year’s second round loss. If DJ had only passed the ball to him, well let’s just say would have been playing Alabama for a trip to the school’s third ever Elite Eight (%#@&). I’m not bitter or anything.

How can you not love a guy with a natural shooter’s stroke and the ability to go to the hole? The problem with his game as I see it; is that he is afraid to make a mistake or two. Much of that stems from the fact that if he commits a turnover or takes a “questionable” shot, Gary yanks him from the game. How do you develop a level of comfort when you are gone after one turnover. Which leads me to…..

3. His confidence: Any basketball player who refers to himself as MJ, and is not Michael Jordan, is obviously supremely confident. Gary is slowly eroding that away. There are very few athletes in any sport who thrive on pressure and crunch time. Last year, Mike Jones played his best basketball in those situations. Kids like that don’t grow on trees.

4. Lack of Improvement of the starters: Nik Caner-Medley is overrated, and it must be killing Mike Jones to see this bozo starting over him. Like I mentioned in an earlier column, NCM can only hit a three when he catches the ball on the baseline, in shooting motion, with the wind blowing outside at 5 mph and it’s 73 degrees. Otherwise, he misses. Jones is deadly from anywhere on the court. Chris McCray has a great all around game except for one thing. He is unbelievably inconsistent from three point range.

There is one simple fact about big time college basketball. You cannot win without a two guard who can hit the open three. Period. End of story. That neutralizes opponents. That is why teams like Valpo and Butler win in the NCAA Tournament every year. Look at all the marksman that Duke has had over the years. JJ Redick, Mike Dunleavy (alright he’s a three), Trajan Langdon. The list goes on.

I am suggesting moving McCray to the three spot and let Jones takeover at the two. DJ can back up either position and let NCM transfer and commit charges/travelling violations while simultaneously getting burned on defense somewhere else. Seriously, what is NCM bringing to the table? He gets like 5 rebounds a game, and commits about as many turnovers. He can’t defend to save his life. Someone explain this phenomenon to me.

my personal opinion on the subject is that mike jones isnt the outstanding player that everyone claims. don't get me wrong, he's got one hell of a jumper, but he lacks in defense what me makes up for on the arch. im not gonna sit here and bash the kids ability; he's a good ball player but he's not what the team needs. the team needs players that aren't afraid to go inside and box around. garrison doesn't give us that; he wants to be an outside player. bowers well, bowers should go back to where he came from because he's terrible. medley's not great at it, mostly beacuse he has no right, but he's willing to drive when called upon. hes not all that overrated either. he's a legit player and he deserves the playing time he gets. he has bad nights, but so does everyone on that team.
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