The NFL playoffs move into the Divisional Round, and the Redskins are a week into the all too familiar golf season. Therefore, we'll set our sights on the two local college hoops powers, the Capitals and, yes, the road weary Wizards (who are at the bottom of the column by design).
Season Over Drama Just Starting for Redskins?
Just when I thought it was safe to get away from Redskins drama, I stumbled upon this item in the National Football Post. There's certainly nothing substantial here, but there's also nothing that would be totally shocking either. Once again, let me remind you that these rumors don't swirl around the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.
There appear to be some cracks in the relationship between Redskins owner Dan Snyder and head coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen, according to those familiar with the goings on at Redskins Park. And that might mean Shanahan and Allen better win in 2011 if they want to be around in 2012.
No Moral Victories for Maryland ...but ...
As we always say, a loss is a loss. But with that out of the way, Maryland's 71-64 loss at Duke was an encouraging sign. The Terps frustrated the top-ranked Blue Devils most of the night with their defensive pressure on local product Nolan Smith. The went toe to toe with the nation's No. 1 team in their house for 40 minutes.
Also, Jordan Williams continues to show no sign of a sophomore slump, with a 23-point 13-rebound performance. He was a man among boys much of the night, and could teach some "professional" post players in the area a thing or two about playing in the post.
"Our guys are coming along," Williams said. "We're better now than we were in November. And that's the key for us the rest of the way. Even though we didn't win, I think this game can give us some positives for the rest of the year. Hopefully were growing as a team."
Not Your Father's ACC
All the positives aside for Maryland, the reality is they are now 0-2 in ACC, and the membership may not have the usual built-in benefits of years past. According to realtimerpi.com, the ACC is currently behind the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Mountain West and Pac-10 in conference RPI. That's right, the ACC is sixth in conference ratings. How bad is it? Historically bad, in one analyst's eyes.
ESPN Analyst Jay Bilas said there are a number of major conferences that have taken a step back season, calling it a "cyclical thing." But the ACC, he said, "is the worst it's ever been."
Maryland's strength of schedule coming into Sunday night's matchup against Duke was 205th, and their overall RPI was 139. Those are not pretty numbers, yet they went toe to toe with the consensus No. 1 in both polls. So maybe the computers don't have it all figured out.
However, the message to Maryland and the rest of the ACC should be this: don't count on your membership automatically carrying you into the tournament. Just win baby!
Georgetown has issues 1-3 Big East Start
The Hoyas are off a 1-3 start in the unforgiving Big East, and now has a matchup with No. 5 Pittsburgh later this week. Georgetown still has plenty of equity in the bank, with wins over Old Dominion (my alma mater), Missouri and Memphis. The are concerns with Austin Freeman's energy level after he went scoreless in the first half in the team's loss at home to West Virginia. The Hoyas are dying by beyond the three-point line, hitting just just 13 of 56 in their three Big East losses. The roster no longer has a big post presence like Greg Monroe or Roy Hibbert, and it shows in the 223rd rebounding ranking.
Capitals Continue to Be Defensive
The Caps are not just giving lip service to the defense-first mantra. They are executing it on a night in and night out basis. One of the many interesting parts to HBO's 24/7 was watching the team work on the defense in practice. The penalty kill is third in the NHL and the team ranks seventh in goals against.
The Caps also can no longer take a night off in the ultra competitive Southeast Division. Tampa Bay starts the week in front of the Caps by a point, and Atlanta is on the Caps' heels.
Will the Wizards EVER Win on the Road?
Sooner or later the Wizards will win on the road. However, they are now 0-18 away from Verizon Center. So what has been the issue for all the road failures? Perhaps they just need to grow up and toughen up.
"It's just the story line it usually is," Kirk Hinrich said, "We're not very mentally tough. I don't know if we just go into games expecting things to go right and when things don't go right, we kind of hang our heads and we don't move on to the next play. That's why our road record is what it is. It's just a level of immaturity, I think."
The Wizards get another shot coming up on Thursday when they play fellow cellar dweller Minnesota.