As the teams in and around the beltway play their midweek games (3 on Tuesday, 4 on Wednesday), the world at large is still recovering from the loss of musical icon David Bowie.  I had the privilege of portraying Bowie during a summer camp sketch where he exposed Vanilla Ice as a fraud…the sketch also featured Don King and, naturally, the Fonz.  Bowie stretched and broke barriers as an artist…like a pressing, freewheeling team that never let up from tip to buzzer.  His fastbreaking songs left you out of breath while Bowie’s ballads crossed you over in the most embarrassing way on their way to the rim.  Coach Bowie’s starting five:

CENTER- “Suffragette City”, 1972.  Blocks shots right and left…manning its presence in the paint until its time to run.  In the pre-internet era I thought this song was called “Stop the Jet”.

POWER FORWARD- “Heroes”,  1977.  Stands its ground against screens and takes charges.   Stays out of everyone else’s way but makes the necessary play when needed.

SMALL FORWARD- “China Girl”, 1983.  Soars over the rim in the silkiest of ways from the start.  Always has one more move than you think it has…

SHOOTING GUARD- “Young Americans”, 1975.  Freewheeling on the wing… you never know if it’s going to pull up for a jumper in transition or go straight to the hole.

POINT GUARD- “Space Oddity”, 1979. Deliberate at the start of each possession.  Conscious of the shot clock at all times and able to make a play when necessary…

 

#3 Maryland (15-2, 4-1 Big Ten) continues to live dangerously, escaping Wisconsin with a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Melo Trimble but coming up short at Michigan 70-67 when Rasheed Sulaimon’s three was off the mark.  Captain Obvious reminded me after the loss to the Wolverines that the Terps will have issues if teams can handcuff Trimble and Sulaimon into 4-17 shooting with 5 assists and 7 turnovers.  Despite their ballyhooed backcourt duo, the Terrapins rank 12th in the Big Ten in turnover margin.  Saturday Ohio State drops by College Park.

 

Georgetown (10-6,  3-1 Big East)– okay, so the 74-63 win over DePaul was far from picturesque.  And the league record may need an asterisk as two of those three wins came against a Blue Demons team that is 9-32 in conference action over the last three seasons.   They rank 9th in the Big East in shooting as well as rebounding and turnover margin. And unlike the Big Ten or Atlantic 10…the Big East is actually a league with ten teams.  DVauntes Smith-Rivera needs a consistent second option to emerge out of a cast that’s shown a little of everything…good and bad.  In October coach John Thompson III said that it would take a while for this team to figure out the best way for this team to win…and in January it feels as though this team still has some self-discovery necessary.  Wednesday the Hoyas visit St. John’s…and the Red Storm has been downgraded to a Red Weather System:  0-4 in the conference and seven straight losses overall.

 

Cruising the Commonwealth- after being shocked by Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech on the road, #13 Virginia (13-3, 2-2 ACC) bounced back with a 66-58 win over #8 Miami Tuesday evening.  Coach Tony Bennett remains less than satisfied with his team’s mindset…and the Cavalier faithful have to be less than impressed with UVa’s supporting cast.  While Anthony Gill (16 points and 6 rebounds a game), Malcolm Brogdon (20 points per game) and London Perrantes (10-18 from 3-point range) have shined in ACC play, the rest of this bunch has been consistently uneven.  The good news is they won’t play a ranked team again until January 30th.  Virginia Tech (10-6, 2-1 ACC) saw their unbeaten in the conference status end mercifully at #9 Duke…but keep in mind the Hokies have already equaled last year’s conference victory total.  They won 2 games the year before as well… so Buzz Williams’ glass is half full as long as Seth Allen and Zach LeDay can produce.

 

George Washington (14-3, 3-1 Atlantic 10) won its first road league game Tuesday evening…a 12-2 second half run giving the Colonials the lead for good in their 81-70 wiun at UMass.  They also won on the road without guard Joe McDonald (eye injury)…the perfect time for Patricio Garino to shake a 9 for 26 shooting slump (17 points on 4-7 FG with 3 of those baskets coming from 3-point range).  If McDonald can’t play at Dayton Friday, do they start sophomore Paul Jorgensen (5-21 shooting in A-10 play) or senior transfer Alex Mitolla (the former Dartmouth guard is averaging 13 points and 6 assists over the last two games).

 

George Mason (6-10, 0-3 Atlantic 10) came up short at Davidson despite outrebounding the Wildcats by 17…and if there is one thing that the Patriots do well this winter, it’s rebound.  Coach Dave Paulsen’s team ranks 29th in Division I in rebound margin.  Unfortunately they don’t shoot the ball well, ranking last in the Atlantic 10 from the field, 3-point range and the free throw line.  Shevon Thompson may rank second in the conference in shooting (59%), but the senior center’s getting just over six shots per game. Will the Patriots be the last remaining winless team in the A-10?  They host Saint Joseph’s Wednesday while traveling to Saint Louis Saturday;  Duquesne is 0-3 in the league thanks to a tough early slate that includes contenders George Washington, Dayton and Davidson.

 

American (2-13, 0-4 Patriot League) is also looking for its first league victory as well as offensive efficiency.  The team’s loss to Lehigh saw AU shoot 37% while committing  15 turnovers.  Jesse Reed is the only player scoring 10 points per game…and the lack of a second option haunts coach Mike Brennan’s bunch.  Can they get back on track against Boston University and Army West Point?

 

Howard (8-9, 2-1 MEAC)- a clock issue kept the Bison from reaching .500 Monday night.  Not possession mismanagement by coach Kevin Nickelberry, but a malfunction of the clock at Delaware State with 15:41 left in the second half forced the suspension  of their game with the Hornets.  James Daniel may finally have help in the form of Marcel Boyd (23 points and 14 rebounds against Coppin State).  The Bison host Harvard Wednesday before returning to league play over the weekend against Florida A & M and Bethune-Cookman (2 schools that are a combined 10-24).

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