I was relieved the "rapture" predictions by radio evangelist Harold Camping came up short this weekend. Guys like him make guys in my industry seem a lot smarter, which is not a compliment. Anyway, I have to admit a few sports stories this week in D.C. had me thinking the end was near, because they seem too strange to be true.
Redskins QB Smack Talk
Nothing better than a quarterback controversy and a little trash talk to stoke the fires of Redskins fans. No fan base loves a quarterback controversy more, but this John Beck vs. Rex Grossman battle could be really awful and makes me wonder whether I want the lockout to end. I would love to be wrong about this, but if I have to watch a Beck/Grossman battle at quarterback, go ahead and skip the damn season. (I'm kidding of course).
Anyway, there is some quality bravado coming from both camps at this point, starting with a guy that has a grand total of two starts.
"This is XM Radio, right?" Beck said, and indeed, this was SiriusXM NFL Radio with Gannon and Adam Schein. "I basically say, ‘Screw the awkwardness.' I'm trying to be the starting quarterback. I'll call whoever, try to set whatever up. If you don't think like a starter and act like a starter, your teammates probably aren't gonna believe you're the starter. So I'm thinking I'm the starter."
Meanwhile, Grossman gave his rebutal to Beck's proclamations on ESPN 980
"I think he's leaving no stone unturned. He's doing everything he can to put himself out there. You're not going to be perceived as a starter unless you say it, I guess. If he doesn't say it, no one else is going to say it. I know that the coaches appreciate his hard work and think he's pretty talented and are not quite sure what he can do. This is the time of year that you prove or not prove that you can do those things. He's not benefitting from this lockout at all."
Did I mention how good next year's draft class is supposed to be?
A Top Draft Prospect WANTS To Be a Wizard
You could argue the fact that Enes Kanter says he wants to play for the Wizards and has blown off interviews with other teams is a sign that the world may be coming to an end. Instead, lets call it progress and the John Wall effect that a highly-regarded prospect in the draft wants to play for a franchise that has lost so much. Here is the video evidence.
Unfortunately, the marriage may never take place because the Wizards own the sixth selection and Kanter is projected much higher right now. So it may never happen unless the Wizards are able to move up. Or maybe it all falls into their lap. Perhaps Steve Francis can give Kanter some advice.
Battle of the Beltways
The Nationals came up on the short end of the three-game set against the Orioles in the Battle of the Beltways, losing Sunday, 2-1. It was the same old story: strong pitching, not enough hitting. The news that the Nationals miss Ryan Zimmerman is also more of the same, but it is the reality with a team that came into the season wondering if they could produce enough runs to back up an improving pitching staff.
The Nationals are now 21-25, which is actually pretty amazing if you consider they are 30th in batting average, 29th in on base percentage, 25th in slugging percentage and 22nd in runs. The offense has struggled, needless to say. but not the effort by the players. That is what manager Jim Riggleman continues to focus on.
"Play the tape from many other games this season," Riggleman said. "The guys are giving you 100 percent. We’ll break out."
Zimmerman is expected to head to the teams' Spring Training facility in Florida to begin rehab in the "very near future."
Maryland Hoops Scores A 5-Star Recruiter
Maryland may not have been able to score Sean Miller, Jay Wright or Mike Brey, all coaches that would have been gold on the recruiting trail in the D.C. area. They did however pull a rock star on the recruiting front with the hire of Dalonte Hill. Here is just one of the reviews on the move made by new coach Mark Turgeon.
"If there's one thing we all know, it's that there are completely different ways to get the job done," said Dave Telep, ESPN.com's national recruiting analyst. "I think it's abundantly clear that Mark Turgeon is going to put a premium on relationships with the high school and AAU coaches in the area. Dalonte Hill is probably the biggest departure from Coach Williams that Mark Turgeon could have, and it's a very significant hire for Maryland recruiting because he'll be a catalyst for a bunch of relationships."
Paul Hewitt Suffers First Loss at George Mason
Before the Patriots take the court under Paul Hewitt, they were hit with a big loss over the weekend. The team's third-leading scorer, Luke Hancock, is leaving for Louisville. Hancock played huge for the Patriots in their win over Villanova in the NCAA tournament, scoring 18 points and hitting the go-ahead three-pointer. He was unable to play against Ohio State in round two because of food poisoning. Hewitt and the staff are moving on.
"I'm disappointed, but he felt a change was best for him," Hewitt said. The Patriots are expected to fill the scholarship opening with George Washington recruit Erik Copes, whose uncle, Roland Houston, left GW to join Hewitt's staff. Copes, a 6-8 center from Philadelphia, was recently released from his letter of intent with the Colonials.
Maryland and Virginia Headed to Final Four
Lacrosse is the fastest-growing youth sport in America, and this area is fortunate to have some of the best of the best in the sport playing nearby. Maryland and Virginia are both headed to the Final Four. The Cavaliers beat Cornell to punch their ticket. The Terps' path was much more dramatic, as they knocked off No. 1 Syracuse, 6-5, in overtime and are headed to their first Final Four since 2006. The Cavaliers will face Denver, and Maryland gets
Coach K and Duke.