The Life of a Freelance Basketball Scout – Game 17
Minnesota vs Maryland
March 8 – Minnesota vs Maryland
After work I made a stop at my favorite liquor store “Christo’s Discount Liquors”, in Glen Burnie. This is the same liquor store that sponsors a soccer team that had a magical run in the US open cup a few years ago. When I was there I picked up a couple of variety pack IPA’s by Heavy Seas and Flying Dog. Both are local Maryland craft breweries. After that I picked up my kids from my brother in laws house. That is where my mother in law was watching the kids. I then went home to prepare to leave for the game. I was still waiting for a credential. I thought that it might be mailed, but it wasn’t. I called the location where I normally pick up my credential and they said that they did not have one for me. I then called and emailed Keith Sneddon of Maryland, and received an email immediately saying they will have a credential at the location for me. I was on my way. It was around 5:15 p.m. when I left. I traveled the back way to I-295 from my house. I know how terrible the road is right now because they are working on it, and it was also sleeting/snowing again. It seems like every game I go to this season it’s either raining or snowing. Crazy. So, I get almost all the way to the location and I decided to double check my email. Good thing I did. I got an email saying my credential will be at media will call instead of the other location. I was running late, which seems to be a theme for me this season. So, I made a quick and inspired left turn onto campus in the bad weather. Pretty ballsy move since I was quickly approaching an intersection. When I arrived at the Xfinity center and I was settled it was only 6:43 p.m. By the grace of God I made it before the game. I then took some pre game notes and ate a half of roasted chicken salad sandwich, pasta salad and half of a roast beef sandwich. I would finish the rest at halftime.
This was a big game for Minnesota and Maryland. For Minnesota they sit on the bubble, but closer to the good side than the bad. Maryland is trying to gain some momentum before heading into the conference tournament and improving their seed for the NCAA tournament. They started the process in doing this by winning 69-60 and it wasn’t really that close. This game was all Maryland from the start. Jalen Smith played one of his better games for Maryland. Stix, as he is known, is still developing his game on both ends. He can do a little bit of everything, but he really needs to work on his body. He will probably test the NBA draft waters to get some advice before returning to school. Stix had 19 points, 3 three-pointers, eleven rebounds and three blocks. If Maryland wants to play deep into March Stix is one of the huge factors for them as a freshman. Bruno Fernando had his usual eleven points and eleven rebounds. Bruno has an energy that no one else on the court can match. He is an all time hype man. Think Lil Jon, just 6’10 and 240 pounds. Anthony Cowan got going for the terps as well. He had 21 points and five assists. Cowan has been very streaky this season. It will really come down to his play to how far Maryland goes.
Minnesota just struggled to score. If Amir Coffey is struggling to score or create Minnesota will lose. They just don’t have enough creators or playmakers on offense. Coffey was stifled early. He only had six points in the first half. He eventually finished with 23 points and six assists. Coffey had a good run to close the gap midway into the second half, but it wasn’t enough. He is a very streaky jump shooter. He is at his best when he attacks the land uses his length and size. Jordan Murphy had foul trouble throughout the game. He never really got to exploit the matchups as much as Minnesota wanted him to. At 6’7 and 250 pounds he is a tough task to guard in the post, but since he doesn’t have much range to extend the defense it can be a problem when the opposition has solid bigs. Murphy did make two three-pointers in the game, but he only had made four on the season. So my point still stands. Murphy is an intriguing prospect.
After the game I waited around to attend both press conferences. Richard Pitino’s was pretty short and cut and dry. He knows his team sits in a decent position, but would benefit greatly from another win. As I was waiting for Mark Turgeon’s some local journalists were talking about a few things and I heard the name Steve Buckhantz brought up. Buckhantz is the play-by-play announcer for the Washington Wizards. I have grown up listening to him. His partner Phil Chenier was replaced on the broadcast this past season. Now, news has come out that it looks like Buckhantz will not return next season. I will sure miss his signature “Dagger!” call.
After the press conference I walked out to my car, which was in the important people lot, right in front of the arena. I have never parked this close. It was awesome baby with a capital A (channeled my inner Dickie V there). On my ride home I listened to music and sports talk. When I arrived back home around 10:20 p.m. everyone was in bed. I then went into my man cave downstairs to watch the Wizards game I had recorded. I have a projector down there; so, it’s a pretty cool setup. I drank a couple of IPA’s I picked up from earlier in the day and then started nodding off. I didn’t finish the Wizards game. That would have to wait for the morning. I retired for the night around 12:15 a.m. I can’t keep up with the young guns anymore.