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The Courtmaster Pushes Buttons!

Hear ye, hear ye! Court is back in session and, since I’m a Maryland alum, you can imagine what kind of mood I’ve been in the last few days. The CourtMaster is a gamer, though, and vows to play through the pain to bring you this week’s column.

To show my ownership of this work, I kneeled down on my computer and signed it before I started writing. That may not show up particularly well on the Internet, but trust me I felt very strong writing this column and no one from any other site can come in and intimidate me.

What did show up well was the Duke players signing the floor at Cameron Indoor Stadium before their game against Maryland. I’m not usually a fan of motivational ploys by coaches. Players usually see right through them and they don’t mean very much. I LOVED Coach K’s idea here, though, including the timing of it.

There was a lot of discussion in the run up to the Terps’ visit Wednesday night about how their players weren’t intimidated by the Cameron Crazies or the Duke players. There is no doubt that the gesture of signing the floor gave the Blue Devils a strong sense of ownership of their home court. It didn’t take Maryland’s players long to figure that out either, and they appeared to back down.

This was a good reminder that Coach K didn’t win all the games he has without knowing what buttons to push with his players and when to push them.

Speaking of pushing buttons, Miami Coach Frank Haith picked all the right ones Saturday in the Hurricanes’ surprising win at North Carolina. The Tar Heels, who owned crunch time last week against NC State, gave up a late 12-0 run that allowed Miami to take control of this game.

Coach Haith had his players switching between zone and man-to-man defenses and never allowed the young Tar Heels to find any offensive rhythm. Haith’s plans worked because the ‘Canes controlled the paint on both ends of the court. Although Tyler Hansbrough scored 25 points for Carolina, the Heels were forced to take 25 three-pointers (making 8). That’s too many for this year’s squad to take because their perimeter game in not that good this season. Miami also pulled down 21 offensive rebounds and got a combined 65 points from the 21st century of Lethal Weapon 3—Anthony Harris, Guillermo Diaz, and Robert Hite.

The only button I wanted to push during Sunday’s Virginia-Virginia Tech game was the off button on my television set. Both teams were playing hard, but beyond Virginia’s Sean Singletary (19 points), there were not a lot of positive plays being made when either team had the ball.

Appropriately, the game came down to a three-point shot, an area where the Cavaliers (9-19) had a big edge over the Hokies (3-21). Sophomore Adrian Joesph hit the biggest shot of his young career, breaking a 49-49 tie by knocking down the game-winning three with 41 seconds left.

Virginia Tech is officially in trouble, dropping to 0-4 in the league, 0-2 at home. Any team that can’t beat Virginia at home this season stands to have trouble winning many games in the ACC. At this rate, though, that might also apply to playing the Hokies on your home court. Virginia, closing with a 10-0 run, wins their first ACC road game, one more than I thought with would win this season.

More interesting than anything that happened at that game was when Tech Coach Seth Greenberg grabbed the microphone during a stoppage in play. The PA announcer at Cassell Colliseum had asked the crowd to stop throwing items onto the court, a reasonable request, and was met with boos. This further agitated Greenberg, who took the mike, promised his players would play as hard as they could, and asked the fans to cheer as hard as they could.

Greenberg’s little pep talk fired the crowd and players up, and I suspect it also caught the attention of the ACC office in Greensboro. Look for Greenberg to get a phone call from there tomorrow and for the other conference schools to receive a memo in short order strongly suggesting their coaches don’t follow suit. I understand Greenberg was caught up in the emotion of the game, but it is critical that head coaches act like the grown ups in those situations and keep their poise.

Wake Forest is the only other remaining winless team in conference play after losing at Maryland Sunday night. The Demon Deacons are 0-3 in the ACC for the first time since 1990. Justin Gray went off, scoring 38 points, but he got little help from Wake’s other primary weapons, Eric Williams and Trent Strickland. This could be a long season for the Deacons, which won’t help quiet the rumors about Coach Skip Prosser leaving for the Cincinnati job when it’s over.

The CourtMaster’s Briefs

Maryland’s problems mounted on Friday when senior forward Travis Garrison was charged with misdemeanor assault and sex offenses. Garrison was suspended for Sunday’s game with Wake Forest, and any further action will wait until the legal process moves along. You can read more of my thoughts on the state of Terrapin basketball on my blog at

Speculation is rampant in Atlanta about the future of Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt. The retirement of the school’s athletic director Dave Braine, activates an escape clause in Hewitt’s contract. He has the option to leave the school with no penalty within two years of Braine’s departure. I think a lot of Hewitt and join many of the experts who feel he would be a good fit for any opening at a high profile program. It would be a big blow for the Yellow Jackets’ program to lose him, and this will be an interesting situation to watch.

What do you know; Boston College can actually make three-pointers. The Eagles knocked down 8-12 threes in the second half of their win over Florida State, the first ACC victory for BC. Craig Smith and Jared Dudley continue to be one of the most outstanding forward tandems in the nation. They combined for 53 points and 20 rebounds, making 17 of 28 shots. The Eagles needed that kind of effort to offset a career game by the Seminoles’ Al Thornton, who scored 37 points on 15-18 shooting.

You can’t get much more balanced scoring than NC State did in their win over Georgia Tech Saturday. The Wolfpack had a total of six players score between 13-16 points. That follows their big win at Boston College, where five players scored between 12-17 points. State is playing very well right now and their visit to Duke should be very interesting.

A situation I feel is an example of a coach using a lame motivation tool is happening in my neck of the woods at Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC). Their coach Randy Monroe has banned his players from using their own locker room or wearing anything with the school logo after losing 75-58 to New Hampshire. The Retrievers are 6-9, and I wonder how long it will be before they don’t allow Monroe in the locker room.

I noticed the testimonial being used for the movie “Glory Road” on the websites was from none other than ESPN’s Stuart Scott. It reads, “One of the best movies I’ve ever seen, Stuart Scott, ESPN.” I can think of a whole lot of people I would take movie suggestions from ahead of him. Is anyone going to be more likely after seeing that ad? How about less likely?

That’s what I think. Let me know what you think on the message board or by e-mail at

Until next week, court is adjourned.