Roosevelt Finishes The Job

COLLEGE PARK – Eleanor Roosevelt High junior forward Jahmal Cochran grabbed a rebound following an East Broadneck High School senior Jaamar Young miss and when he threaded a bounce to streaking senior Cameron Brown in transition who posterized Broadneck forward Logan Vican and send Roosevelt fans into a frenzy.

” I just wanted to run the floor and (Cochran) gave me a nice pass,” Brown said,  “After that I just do what i usually and go to the rim.”

Roosevelt captured their third state 4A title in this decade and fourth overall with their 77-48 win over East Broadneck High School Saturday night. The Raiders had multiple outstanding perfromances from their senior quartet of Cameron Brown (25 points, 14 rebounds, three steals double-double), Jaamir Butler (13 points and four steals), Isaiah Gross (10 points) and Kyle Rose (Six points, 10 assists, six steals) to junior guard Jahari Simon scoring 12 points. Meanwhile, the Bruins were led senior Jamar Young and his 22 points and eight rebound stat-line.

” I’m just super excited, i’m super proud of these guys” Roosevelt head coach Brendan O’Connell said, ” They’ve been one of the most fun teams to coach all year long. So happy for these seniors because they’ve been such a big part of what we’ve been doing for the last four years. They deserve it.”

The way the game started out, it seemed like Broadneck and Roose were in for a dogfight. At one point early in the first half the Bruins knocked down three 3-pointers in a row, leading the Roose 16-9, their largest lead of the night. Roose would respond and dominate from the second quarter on when they hold the hot-shooting Broadneck to just 27 points the rest of the way. On the other hand, the Raiders blew the game open scoring 27 themselves in the second quarter and establishing a lead that was never threatened.

“We’ve been doing that all year,” O’Connell said, ” We’re extremely hard to guard because we just got a lot of skill on offense.”

Roosevelt took a one-possession lead midway in the first half when Gross nailed a heavily contested 3-pointer. Things got out of control in the second half with the Raider unleashed a 21-0 run, including a no-look scoop pass from Rose to Cochran and then a Rose alley-oop to Brown to bring Xfinity Center a frenzy. From there the state title was only a formality. At the end of the game, the Roosevelt defense, utilizing their elite athleticism, embracing physicality, and length led to the Raiders scoring 26 points on 14 forced turnovers, scoring 16 points in transition, and scoring 28 points in the paint.

” You don’t get touches on the defensive end ,” Gross said, ” So you just impact the game on the defensive end and I’m glad that my defensive ability led to this win.”

Post-game, a question was raised about whether or not this Roosevelt team was the greatest after going 24-3, including going undefeated against PG county opponents. O’Connell said he would need a few days to consider the question, but Isaiah Gross just a few seats down confidently shook his head yes, demonstrably stacking the other teams against his and putting his on top.

” Just coming in here and ending the year off on a high note was really great to me,” Gross said, ” You can’t ask for anything better.”

Overtime Thriller Ends In Buzzer Beating Fashion

ROCKVILLE – Sophomore guard Ryan Cornish was ice cold all night, but with the score tied at 53-all he streaked into open space and received an outlet pass from senior Djordje Orcev and unfurled a running jump-shot to secure a tight victory and a MPSAA 4A West sectional title.

“I’m not going into a second overtime,” Cornish said defiantly on his game-winner, “I know I had to get that win and I had to make that layup.”

Richard Montgomery High School and Gaithersburg High School needed overtime

before they could determine the winner of the boys 4A West sectional final. The Rockets ended up the winners, 55-53 despite an off night from almost all of their major players. Cornish led all scorers with 20 points, Orcev contributed 11 points, and junior Devin Liyanamana rounded the Rockets out with 10 points. The Trojans were led by sophomore Jao wing Ituka, sophomore Mandela Tark, and sophomore forward Jordan Hawkins, who scored 17 points, 12 points, and 10 points respectively.

“This is what high school basketball is all about,” Head coach David Berslaw said, “ I love that we have this with Gaithersburg, I love how we’re going back and forth. I just love what us and Gaithersburg are creating.”

Gaithersburg was able to play their style of basketball all night, crashing the boards, and imposing their will physically throughout the night. Meanwhile, the Rockets couldn’t finish at the rim, their jump-shots clanked frequently, but their defense was outstanding. The Rockets game-plan of pressing full-court, as well as using a 2-3 zone and double-teaming Ituka And Hawkins whenever they had the ball up top worked to perfection. The aggressive trapping scheme helped the Rockets to force double-digit turnovers, while also forcing the ball out of their star sophomore wings.

The staunch defensive performance also helped on a night when the biggest lead was only a five-point lead by the Trojans. The low scoring affair afforded the Rockets a path to be able to fight back slowly, taking their third lead of the night when Cornish drained a long pull-up for 2, giving RM a 41-40 lead midway through the fourth quarter. The Trojans nearly pulled a victory when they took a three-point leAd late in the fourth with a minute to go, but Liyanamana answered the ball scoring on a fast break layup, and then fed Orcev for a game-tying layup off a botched out-of-bounds play.

“ I just had to step up,” Liyanamana said, “ we know not everyone’s going to score 20 points every game. We’re a very balanced team everybody can play their role and know what to do.”

In overtime it was the Cornish show, scoring all six of the Rockets points. Despite being off the mark with his jump-shot all night, it was a pair of free-throws that gave him the confidence to drain that aforementioned buzzer beater.

Sidwell Friends Shocks Wilson In DCSAA Title Game

WASHINGTON D.C. – Sidwell Friends School senior Dean Mazlish had the ball in his hands with six and a half seconds left and down two points against defending District of Colombia State Athletic Association champion Woodrow Wilson and shocked the DMV hoops scene when he launched the game-winner over senior Romaro Hutchinson.

“We threw it in down court and they were pressing so there wasn’t enough time to run the play,” Mazlish said, “I came down I saw the clock had like, three seconds and I knew I had to improvise. Went behind my back, saw the guy kinda just, take a step back so I had to pull -up.

The Quakers won their first ever DCSAA title Sunday night over the Tigers, 63-62. Guard Jason Gibson led all scorers with 24 points, and forward Jack Lewis contributed 18 points of his own. Junior wing Dimingus Stevens scored a team-high 21 points and was followed up by senior Boston College-commit Jay Heath and his 17-point performance.

Sidwell was able to grab a eight-point lead early in the second quarter off a Gibson 3-pointer and if Wilson didn’t unleash a 10-0 run, including a breakaway dunk and back-to-back 3-pointers Stevens, the Quakers looked like they were primed to extend their lead to double-figures. Following a pair of free-throws from senior Carlos Dunn to give the Tigers a 27-26 lead with seconds to spare in the first half, Mazlish was able to take back a one-possession lead when he nailed a 3-pointer right before the buzzer sounded off.

Wilson came out in the second half and after initially trading buckets early on, reeled off a 12-3 run that culminated in a 44-35 lead after a pair of Stevens free throws. The Quakers gradually battled back and took the lead late when Gibson went on a personal 13-6 run and took a two-point late within a minute of the game. Heath responded when he got to the lane, drew a foul, and then sunk two free throws to tie the game up. Both programs had a final chance to hit a game-winner but Gibson’s shot was too strong, while Heath’s desperation from beyond half-court fell shot. The pair of missed shots forced an unexpected overtime at 53-all.

One development the crowd and coaches were interested in was the fact that the trio of Carlos Dunn and Mitchell twins (University of Maryland-commits Makhi and Mahkel) fouled out within the closing minutes of regulation.

“Words can’t describe how I feel right now,” Gibson said, “ my seniors came (up) big for me when I fouled out and I can’t ask for a better group of guys.”

During overtime, the Tigers took the first of the extra period off a Stevens layup, but gave up six straight points including a Gibson to Lewis dime for a 3-pointer that gave the Quakers a 59-55 lead midway through overtime. Wilson responded sinking four free throws in their subsequent possessions, but Gibson drew one more foul but then fouled out the next Tigers possession with 39 seconds left. The Tigers were able to get one more stop and looked to cement their win when Dimingus Stevens caught a Heath pass in stride and layed the ball up to make it 62-60. Tigers head coach Angelo Hernandez called a timeout immediately after with just over six seconds left while it looked like Lewis sunk a possible buzzer beater. Although the shot was waived off, Malzin caught the ball out of the timeout and sunk the Tigers on an incredible dagger 3-pointer with the clock hitting zeroes.

“This amazing,” Mazlish said after climbing the ladder to get his piece of basketball net twine, ”This is the best way to get out.”

Gonzaga Wins An Improbable Third WCAC Title In Last Five Seasons

Gonzaga Wins An Improbable Third WCAC Title In Last Five Seasons

WASHINGTON D.C. – After coming up short in the 2018 Washington Catholics Athletic Conference championship,Gonzaga College High School junior Terrance William and senior Anwar Gill told their teammates and head coach Steve Turner all season that they’ll be back to make up for that letdown.

“Everybody was counting us out at the beginning of the season,” Gill said, ” We got the W and it just feels good.”

Monday night, Williams and Gill fulfilled their promise and led the Purple Eagles to a 60-56 win over St. John’s College High School. Williams scored a game-high 20 points and nine rebounds, Gill followed up with 19 points and eight rebounds, and junior Myles Stute put up 10 points and eight rebounds. The Cadets were led by Casey Morsell(19 points), Darius Maddox(14 points), and Ishmael Leggett(11 points).

” They’ve been dying for this,” Turner said of his championship squad, “This has been all they’ve talked about since the day we lost here last year at the same time. They worked their tails off. We’ve had some ups and downs and when it mattered most, this team bonded at the right time to make it happen for them to stand here tonight as WCAC champions.”

If you followed the WCAC all season, you know that these two programs being in the championship was a shocker. Gonzaga hit bottom when they lost to PVI, 69-44, but ended the conference and regular season winning 14 of their next 15 games. St. John’s themselves had some tough moment collapsing late in games, including losing to PVI and Baltimore Polytechnic in buzzer-beating fashion. They changed things around on an early season 10-game winning streak but they ended up losing four of their final seven regular season games to PVI twice and DeMatha and Gonzaga as well. However, three of the losses came to DeMatha, Gonzaga, and PVI at a combined 14-points, and looked to be playing their best basketball despite the losses.

Gonzaga and St. John’s came out trading buckets from the opening tip, until the Purple Eagles went off on an 11-0 run, with Williams scoring nine of those points, including back to back turn-around jumpers. Gonzaga turned an 18-9 lead into a 13-point lead after a Williams reverse layup gave the Purple Eagles a 28-16 advantage. St. John’s refused to give in and cut the lead to 29-22 after Morsell nailed a 3-pointer, but Stute came back with a tip-in and gave Gonzaga a nine-point lead going into the second half.

The Cadets were able to cut their deficit to seven points once again after going on a 9-2 run at the free-throw during a sloppy third quarter where St. John’s got a 10-2 advantage in team fouls. The Cadets and Gonzaga went back-and-forth in the fourth quarter. The Purple Eagles built a 12-point lead when Stute corralled an offensive rebound and put it back up to make 51-39, Gonzaga. The Cadets responded with a 9-0 run, cutting the lead to 55-53 when Leggett knocked a 3-pointer to make the score 51-48 midway through the final frame. Gill came back down after a timeout laying the ball up on end and stripping Casey Morsell and throwing down a dunk in the subsequent possession to make it 55-48. John “Manzie” Wilson then connected with Morsell for a timely 3-pointer to make it a one-possession game with 30 seconds left in the game, but Williams was able to close the game out at the free-throw line, knocking five down.

“It’s a great moment,” Williams said, ” You know close throughout the game, solidifying the championship win, live for moments like that.”

Gonzaga Dispatches DeMatha

By: Brooks Warren

Follow @_bwarren on Twitter

Washington D.C ~ It was the perfect exclamation point to end the game on. Senior Anwar Gill corralled a DeMatha Catholic miss and took one dribble before flicking a outlet pass to Terrance Williams. The junior forward threw down the two-hand hammer and stared down Carsten Kolgenik in celebration.

“It was a good pass from Anwar,” Williams said, “ I just found an open spot on the (floor) to get it and I just finished it.”

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The 65-58 Gonzaga victory was a full on battle. Both teams traded punches but Gonzaga landed the final one to secure their 10th win a row and first over DeMatha since losing to the Stags in last seasons WCAC championship game. The Eagles were led by a quartet of double-figure scorers. Williams scores a team-high 19 points while junior forward Myles Stute followed that up with 18 of of his. Junior guard Chuck Harris, who missed the first go around, and freshman point guard Devin Dinkins both contributed 10 points apiece. Earl Timberlake dropped 20 points Friday night, Hunter Dickinson handed out 13 of his own, followed up by a 10 point outing by Josh Wallace.

“You already know it’s going to be a big game, high intensity crowd,” Harris said in reference to the rivalry, “We owe these guys since they beat us at home.”

“I’ve been waiting to play these dudes,” Harris said since playing against DeMatha for the first time since last season, “Missing the first was alright but I had to come (to Carmody Center) and play my hardest.”

Gonzaga threw the first haymaker building up a seven point 19-12 advantage. The lead was created by the play of Dinkins and Williams. The freshman guard nailed a three pointer the top of the key followed by a Williams layup layup, then Gill nearly had the play of the night when he had a chase down block against Timberlake that brought the crowd to its feet. The Stags responded with a 7-0 run that gave them a 20-19 lead in the closing seconds of the first half. It was back-to-back layups from Wallace and Timberlake, and a pair of free throws from senior point guard Jahmir Young that highlighted the lead change. Just shortly before the buzzer went off Young went down with a leg injury and didn’t come back in the second half.

“Team effort”, Gonzaga head coach Steve Turner said, ” Only way you’re going to beat time like that is you got to have everyone dialed in and playing their part.”

The Eagles were more or less head to head throughout the third frame, with the Stags holding the lead, 28-23, after back-to-back 3-pointers from Timberlake. Dickinson created more of a cushion when he dropped a baseline jumper and went to work on the right block. The Eagles responded with a seven point spurt off the back of a Harris 3-pointer and free throws, then a Williams one legged fade-away to help Gonzaga to a 35-34 lead going into the final frame.

Following an 8-0 run powered by a Gill three ball, a Stute tip-in, and another 3-pointer by Stute, the Eagles grabbed a 46-41 lead and never looked back. In fact, Stute played out of his mind, scoring an incredible 14 points in the fourth quarter. Gonzaga build a lead as large as nine points, 57-48, after Stute nailed two more 3-pointers and flexed as the home crowd went wild. Williams then hit a step-back jumper over Dickinson then Stute blocked a layup attempt from Timberlake. The Stags cut the lead to 59-54 after successive layups from Wallace and then Kolgenik. Wallace was able to cut into lead once more after another pair of free throws and a point blank tip in but it wouldn’t be enough as Dinkins iced the game from the free throw lane.

“I was just playing, wasn’t thinking,” Stute said, “I was out there on the court just trying to give the best effort for my team. Play for my dogs and, I mean when the ball came to me I just shot my shot and it went in.”

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Trevor Keels Rips the Cadets Hearts Out Late In a WCAC Classic

Washington D.C ~ With just 3.3 seconds left and PVI down 60-58, Trevor Keels and Panthers teammates had all the confidence in the world that they would make the game-winning shot and steal one from St. John’s on Military Road.

“I knew I was going to hit the shot,” Keels said, “I had confidence in it. My team believed in it, I told them the games not over it.”

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PVI stole a key WCAC win over St. John’s, 61-60 to extend their conference win streak to 32 wins. Keels finished the contest with 24-points and Dug McDaniel contributed 15-points. The Cadets were led by Casey Morsell who scored a game-high 29-points. Ishmael Leggett joined him in double-figures with 14-points.

“They just don’t want to give that up,” PVI head coach Glen Farello said smiling and on the steak, “I thought we fought the whole game and Trevor kinda willed willed that shot in.”

It was a back-and-forth affair between the Cadets and Panthers. The Cadets held the lead for the majority contest, only facing a deficit twice. The game was tied up only three times as well. The largest lead of the night was just nine points after Casey Morsell dished an assist for a John Wilson layup to make it 23-14 early in the second quarter. Despite the adversity throughout the afternoon, the Panthers continued to dig and dig away at leads. Through the patient and poised play of Dug McDaniel, and the constant battering ram forays of Trevor Keels was all the offense PVI needed.

“Just pick up the slack,” McDaniel said on his role, “And just lead the team.”

The Panthers never gave up throughout the afternoon, and when Josiah Freeman implored to Keels to takeover late in the second half, that’s exactly what he did. In fact, he scored 17 of his 24 alone. That’s with Keels being blanketed by Morsell, one of the best on-ball defenders in the DMV. It was also Freeman that initiated the final exciting sequence of the game. The junior guard nailed a pair of free throws to tie it at 58-all after Morsell turned the ball over on the baseline with 29 seconds left. Casey Morsell patiently dribbled the clock down until nearly eight seconds were left on the game clock until he attacked the rim. He easily shed the defense of Trevor Keels off and extended for a left handed layup over the outstretched hands of Josh Oduro.

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The late bucket left 3.3 seconds on the clock and enough time for PVI and Trevor Keels to get a potential game-winner off. The Panthers subsequently dropped the pass off the Keels who ran to the right side of the court and put up a near half-court shot that hit nothing but net. Dagger! Effectively ripping the Cadets hearts out and making a meal out of it.

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The Cadets play Bishop Ireton and the The Heights this coming next, while the Panthers play DeMatha, McNamara, O’Connell, and Good Council.

Poly Breaks St. Francis’ Heart

Towson ~ You’re teammates trusting you to hit the biggest shot of the game even though you hadn’t scored all night says a lot. That’s exactly what happened when Justin Lewis drew a double-team and threw a precision pass to Ian Wallace who hopped into it for a dagger 3-pointer over Jordan Toles with just just 15 seconds to go in the game.

“The first option option wasn’t there (and) of the course the plan was to get the ball to the rim,” Wallace said, “They closed in on Justin so I had to be ready to shoot the ball at the arc.”

The final tally being 59-58, Brandon Murray(game-high 22-points), Justin Lewis(16-points), and Rahim Ali(11-points) carried Poly to a thrilling marque victory over St. Francis. The Panthers were led by Rajeir Jones’ team-high 21-points, followed by Jamal West and his 15-points.

“Our program was built around wanting to test ourselves in games like tonight,” Poly head coach Sam Brand said, “St. Francis was one of the first of my AA teams that would play us. We been doing this six years now and its been a big time atmosphere and competitive game every time.”

Playing at SECU Arena and a college court, both Poly and St. Francis acclimated to the size and depth of a college arena and decidedly played some high level basketball. The Engineers and Panthers went back and forth for the entirety of the first half, with Poly grabbing their second lead of the game when Ali finished a layup off a Murray assist to make it 26-25 at the half. The third quarter is when the Panthers flexed their dominance with multiple different defensive looks to get the Engineers fit. It resulted in a 21-11 scoring quarter.

“We got it, it only takes one run,” Ali told his teammates “The game is a game of runs and I knew that ours was google to come. All that matters is we had the last run we was going to win.”

After being down by as many as 11-points late in the third frame, the Engineers methodically climbed their way back into the contest to steal victory. During the decisive fourth quarter the Engineers narrowed the lead down to 52-47 after a Murray dunk. After a quick spurt from from the Panthers to make it 56-50 the Engineers responded with their own 9-2 run. The run was punctuated by back to back three pointers, first from Murray to make it a one-possession game at 56-53. The latter coming from the aforementioned 3-pointer by Wallace. The play was a perfect amalgamation of Brand telling his players they’re all stars earlier in the day and anyone can make the winning play. Tole raced back down the court and drew a foul to get to the line but missed both free throws, and when Amani Walker missed the front end of a one and one, the Panthers again had another chance but couldn’t put down any of their point-blank tip in chances.

“We just knew we had to push” Murray said on the last run, “We all came together, the heart and the soul of the team is through everybody. It’s from one-14 and it’s not even just the starters it’s not (anybody) it’s all of us.”

Video courtesy of Brooks Warren

Roose keeps Bowie an arms-length away

Bowie ~ The PG County 4A division is touted as having some of the most physical and competitive teams in DMV hoops circles and tonight’s thriller was another example of how you can never take a day during divisional play.

“We’re just happy to get another win,” Roose head coach Brendan O’Connell said, ” May have not been pretty at times, but it’s a win.”

Eleanor Roosevelt outlasted Bowie in a Friday Night Hoops thriller, 76-70. Jaamir Butler scored a game-high 26-points(four 3-pointers) while Cam Brown scores 18-points of his own to lead the Raiders. The Bulldogs received a double digit contributions from Kyree Freeman-Davis with his 23-points, Bobby Carson(12-points), and Nigel Santa-Cruz(11-points)

“Early on I was just hitting shots and my team noticed,” Butler said, ” Coach talked at the timeouts and was telling us that they saw I was hot so they wanted me to get the ball and if I’m open just put it up.”

The Prince George’s County 4A division game was nearly a replica of their earlier matchup when Roose stomped on Bowie 79-57. The Raiders offense was humming for nearly the entire contest, building a 20-point edge through the dominant play of Butler. The Raiders put together a strong thIrd frame behind an individual 9-0 run from Butler. The senior guard used his length on the boards for a tap-in, hit a nifty up-and-under layup, nailed his third 3-ball of the night, and finishing it with a trip to the free throw line creating a 55-35 lead.

Heading into the final frame down 20-points, the Bulldogs were desperate for a run to get back into the contest. That’s exactly what they received early on in the quarter when Bowie ripped off a 9-2 run. The run was punctuated by an and-1 bucket from Carson that brought the Bulldog faithful to their feet. After the ensuing free throw, the gap was closing before Butler swished a pair of free throws and made it 66-54. The sudden cold-shooting and defensive breakdowns were exasperated by Isaiah Gross fouling out at the 2:12 mark after battling foul trouble all night. The Bulldogs responded by reeling off yet another run going 9-2 once again, nearly blowing the top off the building when Freeman-Davis nailed a cold-blooded 3-pointer to make it 73-70 with just 23 seconds left in the game. Willie Rivera was fouled on the following possession but the freshman guard showed nerves of steel and hit both of his free throws.

“Playing in AAU, even in middle school I’ve played in games like (this),” Rivera said, “A lot of people in the crowd, and I just knocked down the free throws. I just knew I was going to make it.

Jordan Harris’ 3-pointer following a time-out clanked off the right rim. The Bulldogs valiant push fell short when Bowie turned the ball over and and Brown, went one for two at the line. The Bulldogs next opponent is Wise while Roose plays Suitland next.

Wizards Win In Overtime vs Kings Behind Bradley Beal’s 31 points.

It took a little longer than expected but the Washington Wizards won their sixth game of the season in overtime. DeMarcus Cousins nearly won the game with his spectacular 36 points and 20(!) rebounds. He was able to take the game over late in the 4th quarter hitting a variety of turnaround jump shots, layups, and dominating the boards. The Wizards dynamic backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 10 points in the overtime session and helped deliver a much needed W after a disappointing loss against the San Antonio.

Tensions were high once again as Scott Brooks, John Wall, and Marcin Gortat all picked up technical could in the first half. This is Wall’s fourth tech of season, which puts him behind former college teammate DeMarcus Cousin. For the night the rest of the starters played well, in particular ever-improving glue guy Otto Porter  had 15 points, 8 rebounds, and played the passing lanes well gathering 3 steals. Porter also continued to do the dirty work on the unsung glue guy, holding Rudy Gay to just 18 points, including forcing him into six turnovers and 1-4 performance from the 3-point line. Kelly Oubre notched his first career double picking up 10 rebounds to go along with 10 points. .

The Wizards Commit 24 turnovers, Including a career-high 11 from John Wall

24 times the Wizards turned the ball over. 24 times! Nine of those turnovers were unforced. What’s worse is John Wall, the All-Star and leader of this team, had 11 of his own. Now more so than ever Wall has been throwing ill timed passes and dancing around the ball like it’s no ones business. Not sure what needs to be done but Wall, who previously has been a strong decision maker, has to find his groove back in that department

Wizards Finally Defend the 3-point Line

The Wizards have routinely allowed teams to make double digit 3-pointers but tonight only allowed three to fall. That maybe due to the fact that along with the Wizards, the Kings are one of the worse 3-point shooting teams.

 

 

Bradley Beal explosive 42 Points Leads the Way Against Phoenix Suns

The Hop – Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards agreed to an enormous $128 million contract last offseason. Now in the most important season to date for not only Beal, but for the Wizards as well, the highest paid player in franchise had the best scoring game of his career just as his team needed it. Since he’s gotten into the NBA, Beal has been working on expanding his game beyond his lauded shooters label and so far his hard work has paid off. In his last three games he’s scored 94 points, good for 31.3 points per game. So far his career has been marred by inconsistency and injuries but it seems like he’s currently on a tear, if he continues to play like he has he will be on the way to his first All-Star berth. With the victory against the youth-filled Phoenix Suns the Wizards improved to 4-10.

In a game that featured a primetime matchup between the stud backcourts of the Suns and Wizards, it was John Wall and Bradley Beal whom came out victorious. Along with Beal’s career-high 42 points, Wall added 18 of his own points along with 15 dimes. On a night where he struggled with his own shot (6-24) Wall did what great players do and found other ways to contribute. The bench also had a solid night. Tomas Satoransky and Marcus Thornton are developing into a strong duo and they have a done a good job of facilitating and scoring when on the court together.

3-Point Defense Still Needs Work

The Wizards again allowed another team to make double digit 3-pointers. Over the last three games they have allowed 12 3-pointers a game.

Bradley Beal Building Confidence and Tougher Mentality

Courtesy of NBA.com After the game Beal was quoted as saying he was allowing himself to not worry so much about his shots falling, just realizing that no matter what happened there was always a next play, ”Not thinking, not worrying about if I miss or if I make it. I just have the same mentality that it’s on to the next shot. That shot’s over,” Beal said.

 

 

 

Butler’s 37 drops Wizards in 2nd straight loss

With the the starting  backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal absent due to surgery rehab, and injury respectively, the Wizards had a tough game ahead of them. The rookie backcourt of the Tomas Satoransky and Sheldon McClellan played well and fearlessly together. In fact on multiple possessions Satoransky and Marcin Gortat displayed a unique chemistry together. ” A eastern European thing” as Gortat called it at halftime. The Wizards, in the first quarter, started off well grabbing 21-12 before Jimmy Butler and Isaiah Cannon took over and sparked a 10-run and took the lead 22-21. They ended up winning the 1st quarter 28-27. The second quarter was a back and forth affair. Late in the quarter the Wizards went on their own run, an 11-0 one to be exact. With the lengthy scoring and strong defense they took a 56-53 lead into  half time.

The second half was a complete disaster for the Wiz and company. The Bulls defense dominated, holding the Wizards to only 14 points. Combine their smoothering defense with a balanced attack and you have the recipe for a hard earned lead going into the 4th quarter  81-70. In the final frame the Wizards played with more passion and played like they knew what was at stake. The closest they pulled to was seven points, but from then on Butler took over and the Bulls defense played better and pulled out 106-95 victory.

Satoransky and McClellan Proving To Be Hidden Gems:

With their first career starts, Tomas Satoransky and Sheldon McClellan became the first rookie starting backcourt for the Wizards since John Wall and Jordan Crawford did in 2010-2011. The two young guns had pretty solid games, Satoransky dropped 12 points along with 9 spectacular dimes. Meanwhile McClellan had 15 points, attacking when he had the opportunity and not allowing himself to make silly mistakes. Their development and confidence will be pivotal for nights when John Wall and/or Bradley Beal are out.

Bench Struggles Again:

In what has become a recurring storyline for the Wizards the bench struggled mightily. Trey Burke, in particular, was having a hard time running the offense and it created problems for the rest of the bench. Only producing 18 points, 10 boards, and 4 assists exasperated the issue. It will be interesting to see how they respond to Marcin Gortat’s comments about ” being the worse bench in the NBA”.

Wizards Blow Out Celtics Behind Otto Porter’s 34 points

The Hop-Even with Bradley Beal getting hurt(again) , the Wizards gained their second win of the season behind Otto Porters big time 34 points and the team hitting 10 3-pointers. John Wall chipped in 19 with 7 assists and pulled his weight, and Marcus Thornton filled in admirably after Bradley Beal got hurt late in the 1st quarter.

The Wizards seemingly channeled all their frustrations over the loss to the Rockets and the results of the election and unleashed the might of God onto the Boston Celtics. Playing quite possibly their best first quarter on both sides of the ball as they thrashed the Celtics 34-8. In the second quarter they were outscored 35-24 but the game was never in doubt.

The second half was more of the same as the Wiz just continued to play with never before seen emotion and togetherness on a night where a win would seemingly soothe the angst of the DMV. For the game the Wizards outpaced the Celtics in every stat. They out rebounded 54-31, including 19 on the offensive side. They also assisted on 29 of 46 made baskets. On the defensive side they stole the ball 10 times and blocked seven shots.

This will hopefully be the confidence booster the struggling Wizards need against the defending champion Cavaliers. Stay tuned here to The Hop to get a recap of that game.

 

Otto Porter Headed For a Breakout Season?

Otto Porter has emerged as the key glue guy and a good 3rd option for the Wizards offense. He’s been able to score in double digits in all but one game. He’s been cutting to the basket and hitting more spot-up jumpers has opened up the floor for his teammates. Doing the things that don’t necessarily show up in the box score and making winning plays. Porter in his three prior seasons had difficulty finding his role and confidence but now in his fourth year seems to have things clicking for him.

Will Bradley Beal Be Available to Play Against the Cavaliers?

The injury-prone Bradley Beal has once again gone down. This time suffering from hamstring tightness. The Wizards announced that he would be a game time decision but hamstring injuries don’t go away in two days. My personal optimism as far as his availability goes isn’t very high.

What’s Going on With John Wall?

For the second time in as many games John Wall was ejected. This time it was for a flagrant 2 foul late in the 4th quarter with the game basically sealed up? Wall has to be incredibly frustrated with not only the teams slow start, but things off the court. Even though he said he wasn’t ” worried about other players pockets” and claimed he wasn’t upset about the massive shoe deal James Harden it’s clear the perceived slights of his career are getting to him. He has to figure out how to channel that anger and use it on the court.

Washington Wizards vs Memphis Grizzlies Recap

After dropping the season opener and 2 days of rest got off to another slow start, shooting 5/20 out the gates. Missing easy lay ups and open jumpers has been plaguing this teams efficiency, as well as the middling defense. In fact the Wizards in the 1st half alone allowed the Grizzlies to shoot 51% from the field including 9/18 from beyond the arc. On the positive side is that the Wizards did continue to play with active steals forcing 9 turnovers, 5 of which where steals. They also continue to push the pace when possible, as John Wall was a freight train in transition attacking the basket and at one point converting two and 1 opportunities twice in a row. Bradley Beal had a strong first half scoring inside and out to the tone of 10 points.

In the second half it was a lot more back and forth, as both benches provided strong play and the offenses were clicking. John Wall continued attacking the paint and drawing in defenders as he is so apt to do, as everyone did their part on both ends mostly to contain the Grizzlies offense. The Wizards split the scoring pretty evenly, as their starters all scored in the double digits and the bench scored 26 points. They mostly turned the tide as they only allowed 5 more triples, and began to even out the rebounding battle. The Wizards grabbed an 8 point late in the 4th quarter but the Big 3 from Memphis started making plays. Mike Conley hit a fast break layup, Marc Gasol hit timely 3s and played great defense and Zach Randolph provided his usual toughness. Once the Grizzlies brought it to within a one possession game after a couple John Wall free throws, Marc Gasol hit the game tying 3 that forced overtime. In that overtime period the Grizz rode to Gasol to all but two of their overtime points, as they rode their tidal wave to a hard earned victory. ‘

The Wizards Defense Struggling:

In the first two games of the season the Wizards have already allowed 27 triples and are getting out rebounded by 19 rebounds. Although the backcourt does a good job of staying active with their hands they to often do not fight over screen, and they also get caught ball watching getting beat on backdoors or not getting back on defense to stop easy layup and 3 point shots. In order for the Wizards to get their first win they must improve finishing off defensive possessions and defending the arc better.

Offense Struggling Out the Gate:

In both games this season the Wizards have struggled mightily in the opening period. They have gotten out to slow starts missing easy shot after shot. It’s a strange anomaly but John Wall and Bradley Beal especially must find a way to shake any nerves or cobwebs to help their offense improve, because they are the main catalyst of this offense.

John Wall Can’t Seem to Protect the Ball:

Wall has 25 assists vs 20 turnovers right now. For an All-Star point guard and the man that holds the keys to this offense Wall must do better to make better decisions and protect the ball for the Wizards to be the best they can offensively.

Upcoming is the Eastern Conference finals Toronto Raptors, which also happens to be the home opener of the season.

 

NBA 2016-2017 Season Eastern Conference Preview & Predictions

The NBA season is right around the corner, starting off with the Knicks v.s Cavaliers on Tuesday night. Per usual the Cleveland Cavaliers are of course the favorites to come out the conference for the 3rd year in a row. The Cavaliers lost key players when Timofey Mozgov and  Matthew Dellavedova, but were order to retain indispensable players  LeBron James as well as J.R. Smith As for the rest of the Conference there was major losses and additions across the board. We saw longtime franchise stars like Dwyane Wade and Al Horford leaving for the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics respectively. With the sudden influx of money players like Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan, and Andre Drummond benefitted the most and signed big money contracts to stay with their franchises. After preseason study and research it’s time to roll the red carpet for my predictions for this new NBA season.

The Playoff Teams:

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers:

After a long and needed offseason the reigning NBA champions haven’t changed much. They offset the losses of Matthew Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov by adding Kay Felder in the draft and signing  Chris “Birdman” Anderson as well as Mike Dunleavey to add perimeter shooting. Resigning LeBron James, J.R. Smith, and Richard Jefferson was of course the main and completed priority. With their same starting 5 and an improved supporting cast the Cavs will look to run the table once again and return to the NBA Finals. w

2. Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors are coming off a franchise best season and didn’t lose a lot of production when playoff darling Bismack Biyombo left for the Orlando Magic in free agency. Dwane Casey will continue to lean on Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan as well as giving an eager Jonas Valanciunas plenty of touches in the paint as an underrated third scoring option. Along with a improved bench and shooting the Raptors are being slept on as one of the better and balanced in the NBA. Look for the franchise north of the border to repeat or improve on last seasons success.

3.  Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics had an interesting offseason. Despite losing Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger in the offseason, and not being able to capitalize on their plethora of draft picks, they were still able to sign All-Star big man Al Horford and get thrust into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference. Add Brad Stevens with the developing youth and veteran leadership this proud franchise has signed over the past couple offseasons and this is a team with the potential to be  Top 10 defense and offense this season.  

4. Indiana Pacers

This is officially Paul George’s team. Larry Bird has signed and traded for players that will help this offense into the modern era. Instead of George Hill and Lance Stephenson, the backcourt is occupied by Jeff Teague and Monta Ellis. Myles Turner has replaced Roy Hibbert at the center. And while Paul George has kept his spot at small forward, the power forward spot is now owned by Thaddeus Young. Gone are the gritty and defensive teams from the Conference Finals teams. Team President Larry Bird has gifted Paul George the talent that best suits his unique skill set, what happens next is up to Paul George.

5. Miami Heat

Gone are Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and Luol Deng. Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic usher in a new era for this Heat franchise. The biggest x-factor for this team will be who fills in at the small forward and shooting guard spot. Dion Waiters was signed in Wayne Ellington, along with Josh Richardson  and Tyler Johnson should make for an interesting rotation at the 2-gaurd spot. At the small forward Heat fans will be waiting to see how much Justise Winslow has improved over the summer. If he can find his 3 point stroke and continue to play strong defense then he has potential to be one of the stronger 3-D wings in the league. Hassan Whiteside finally his contract and from what Heat fans have seen from him so far in preseason action he has improved his post offense and has quit hunting blocked shots so often, instead choosing to alter shots or force contested layups.

6. Detroit Pistons

Like Hassan Whiteside, Andre Drummond got his big contract this past offseason, and the Detroit Pistons along with their infusion of young talent have the potential to do some damage during the regular season and playoffs. The Pistons will have Tobias Harris who has always been a strong scorer at the small forward spot. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is expected to take another step forward in his progression as a 3-D wing. Stanley Johnson will also be expected to take another step and expand his skill set after a good rookie season. The main thing to watch will be how Reggie Jackson performs when he comes back from his knee injury. Last season he found his niche as a pick and roll maestro and picked his spots well as a scorer. At this point we know what we will get out of the face of the franchise in Drummond. Defense, and plenty of buckets out of the pick and roll. This seasons success hangs on how he lives up to his massive contract and if has solved his free throw woes. 

7. Washington Wizards

Last season was filled with mediocrity and frequent for the Wizards. A season filled with hope after coming just a millisecond away from forcing a Game 7 was wasted due to bad luck and even worse coaching. During the offseason, NeNe walked away, but the Wizards added Andrew Nicholson, Ian Mahinmi, Jason Smith, and traded for Trey Burke. They also brought Tomas Satoransky stateside, and someone who jumps out the gym and should be a terror in transition with John Wall. After an offseason where dissent was rumoured between Bradley Beal and John Wall, these backcourt partners must lead this team to the playoffs success in order to alleviate any imagined beef between the two. If the two most important players for this franchise are unable to harmonize the Wizards must consider blowing the team up.

8. Chicago Bulls

 This has got to be the one the oddly put-together teams in the League today. The original plan was to allow the team to rebuild around Jimmy Butler and surround him with the right talent. Instead they signed Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade. The Bulls won’t have to much shooting on the court. Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic are expected to be rotation guys and Mike Dunleavy is no longer around to help spread the court. Taj Gibson may even be on his way out the door. If this team makes the playoffs it will be a miracle with their strange team but anything

Just Missed the Cut

New York Knicks

The Knicks added some pieces in Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Joakim Noah, and Brandon Jennings. It’s going to be interesting to see how they mesh with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. The big if is the health of Rose and Noah. Last season Rose did play 66 games and (knock on wood) his health seems to be trending in the right direction. On the other spectrum Noah seems like a shell of his fiery self, perhaps a product of the heavy minutes he played under former coach Tom Thibodeau.  Phil Jackson is stuck in his ways with the Triangle offense and it’s unlikely that he won’t butt his head and try to force Jeff Hornacek to run his antique offense. It’s easier to see this team underachieving and just winning 40 games.

Charlotte Hornets  

Kemba Walker had a career year last season. He finally discovered his shooting stroke, and he had a supporting cast that fit his game. Nicolas Batum was the perfect fit next to him as another playmaker and ball handler. Al Jefferson was the big man down low that could take the scoring load is Walker was off. And a collection of wing players like Courtney Lee, Marvin Williams, and PJ Hairston filled in to replace Michael Kidd-Gilchrist after he went down with an injury just 7 games into the season. Jeremy Lin played a great role as 6th man off the bench and did a great job running the offense with the rest of the Hornets bench players. Unfortunately they lost Lee, Lin, and Jefferson and it will be hard to replace their production. The playoffs may be a taller task than they anticipate.

Atlanta Hawks

Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard will make for one of the most dangerous pick and roll duos in the NBA, but how long will it take till Howard starts demanding for his touches in the post instead of running the play that is guaranteed success when he runs it successfully. This team has enough talent, athleticism, and shooting but the ability of Schroder to scale back turnovers and his erratic shooting and the drama that comes with Dwight Howard playing for you may set this team back an unexpected step.

The Rest

Philadelphia 76ers:

Do you even have to ask?

Milwaukee Bucks:

Plenty of length and defense but what about shooting? What do we expect out of the Giannis Antetokounmpo in his first full season as the starting point guard. Can Jabari Parker live up to his potential as a scorer extraordinaire? Can Khris Middleton come back from his injury and torch the nets as the Bucks sharpshooter? As of right now there’s just too many questions and not enough answers.

Brooklyn Nets:

They shot themselves in the foot trading away all their draft picks in earlier offseason. At least they’ll be watchable. Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson should make an interesting trio.

Orlando Magic

Should make for a fun team to watch for transition buckets, Aaron Gordon will be lighting up rims with his thunderous dunks and that should be about the only bright spot for this franchise.

 

KD2DC Isn’t Happening, But We Should’ve Seen It Happening

Kevin Durant’s journey to super-stardom began in the great state of Maryland. Growing up in Prince Georges County, raised by his single mother, he grew to love the game of basketball while playing AAU with future NBA players such as Ty Lawson, Greivis Vasquez and Michael Beasley. He expanded his game at the famous Barry Farms court, home of the Goodman League.  After playing high school basketball originally at National Christian Academy and renowned Oak Hill, Durant finally made his home at Montrose Christian. He concluded his high school career as an Washington Post All-Met Player of the year and the MVP of the McDonald’s All American.  As we all know he committed to play basketball at the University of Texas, unfortunately never fielding offers from either Georgetown or the University of Maryland. Part of that might be the fact that Durant was never recruited by either program or his lack of interest in playing for them. Nonetheless, Durant had a phenomenal freshman year, acquiring college accolades like they were candies. After becoming the first freshman to win the Naismith College Player of the Year award, Durant declared for the 2007 history and was selected second overall by the Seattle Supersonics. From his rookie year to this season, Durant has continued to improved. Growing from his role as a “professional scorer” and perennial All Star/NBA selection to the MVP, famously declaring that his mom was “the real MVP.” Throughout his amateur and professional career, Durant has become the pride and joy of the DMV area, a man whom players from the area have grown to admire and love.

KD2DC suddenly started to gain more traction in 2014. Fans started wearing Kevin Durant Wizards jerseys, shirts and having the KD2DC hashtag trending on Twitter. Rumors started churning more and more of Durant wanting to come home and play for his hometown a la LeBron James for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unfortunately all these rumors and fans salivating at the possibility of one of the best players in the League coming home seems to have turned off the future free agent. When the Oklahoma City Thunder came to Verizon Center to play the Wizards this past season, he had some choice words for fans. He was quoted as saying that Wizards fans should be grateful and cheer for the team they have now. It also seemed to annoy him that fans were paying more attention to him than their own team, in his mind disrespecting John Wall and Bradley Beal. That single game may have been the demise of KD2DC dream. The KD2DC campaign never had a chance when compared to better teams and situations from the likes of the Celtics, Spurs, Heat, Warriors and of course the Thunder. Durant never promised anything, never saying whether it was or wasn’t a dream of his. Wizards fans just have swallow that tough pill and be thankful for the good team they currently have.