Arts & Entertainment

Picking Splinters: February Mailbag: Courts & Hoops

It looks like the Hoyas’ NCAA hopes are officially dashed after losing to Marquette and Louisville this past week. What would you like to see out of the Hoyas for the rest of the season?

JT “B”

(The “B” stands for “Bulldog”)

First, I want to see Jessie Sapp return to the starting lineup. Yes, the Hoyas have played better with him coming off the bench, and true, his replacement, the 6-foot-8 sophomore Nikita Mescheriakov has helped Georgetown with its poor rebounding. However, there is something not right in the relationship between Head Coach John Thompson III and Sapp. During Monday’s loss to Louisville, Sapp drained a long buzzer-beating three before halftime to give the Hoyas some momentum. JTIII walked out to congratulate his guard and Sapp brushed right passed him and kept his hands at his side. Maybe I’m reading too much into that, but it felt pretty icy.

A team’s chemistry cannot be undervalued, particularly when it’s struggling. Sapp has worked hard for three years for this team, hustling on the floor and, at least in previous seasons, exhibiting the most grit of just about anyone on the roster. If nothing else, giving Sapp his staring slot back would show that JTIII values long term commitment from his players. That probably couldn’t hurt considering two of its best players – DaJuan Summers and Greg Monroe – might be considering shorter commitments to jump to the NBA.

Second, I’d like to see Summers strapped into a chair and shown Monday night’s performances of Louisville’s Earl Clark and Terrence Williams on a loop until the Hoyas forward understands that is how to assert yourself on the scoring end while playing in the rhythm of the offense. Summers has just as much talent as either of those Cardinal players, but he constantly forces the action rather than letting the offense develop and giving him a clean look. Too often he’ll drive to the hoop while under duress and pick up a charge or bobble the ball away. Clark and Williams let their shots come to them and when it came time to make a play, they’d put their defender on their hip and use their size to back him down. Summers has never used his size (6-foot-8) as he should, instead relying on far-from-stellar ball handling to get to the cup. Sometimes it works, most times it doesn’t.

Third, I would like all this talk of Summers going pro to go away. If anyone was entertaining the flawed notion that he was ready, the should re-watch Monday’s game. Playing against Williams and Clark, two players that are ready for the draft, Summers finished 1-of-8 from the field with just four points. If you can’t step up in the big games in college, how can you do it in the pros where everyone is even better? Stay another year, work out the kinks and make your run in the NBA longer than a five-game call-up from the NBDL.

Greetings from the Nutmeg State. What did you think about Jim Calhoun’s tirade at the UConn press conference Saturday? Did you think it was a fair question?

Lowell W.

When the reporter asked Calhoun if he had contemplated giving back any of his salary, given Connecticut’s statewide budget deficit, that was a fair question, and Calhoun answered him fairly by saying “Not a cent.” When the reporter, who was clearly looking to spark controversy rather than get his facts correct, pressed on into Calhoun’s private income – a deal for a show on Comcast – and then blasted his peers for not covering the storyline, he proved that he was ill informed and deserved to be shot down. Calhoun telling him to “shut up” was a little over the line, but if UConn’s men’s basketball team brings in $12 million a year and they’re only paying Calhoun $1.6 million a year, that’s a pretty good return on investment.