Friday, March 30, 2012

Chris Wilcox Has Season-Ending Heart Surgery

Chris Wilcox's (2000-02) season with the Boston Celtics has come to an abrupt end. After routine heart tests detected an abnormality, Wilcox underwent season-ending heart surgery this week. An excerpt from the Boston Globe:
The Celtics received another stunning injury blow Wednesday afternoon when they learned that forward Chris Wilcox will not return this season because of surgery to repair an enlarged aorta determined during his monthly heart examination.

Wilcox, who last played March 7 against the Philadelphia 76ers, underwent a series of tests and the team received those results Wednesday as it prepared to play the Golden State Warriors.

The Celtics announced late Wednesday afternoon that Wilcox will undergo surgery March 29 at the Cleveland Clinic, and doctors have said he can resume his NBA career next season. The team said Wilcox, 29, has a previous condition that had been “stable,’’ but recent tests showed an enlargement of the aorta that requires surgery.
And, from ESPN:
For the second time in this abbreviated NBA season, the Boston Celtics have lost a player to a heart ailment. Chris Wilcox, a forward/center, will undergo aortic surgery on March 29 and miss the remainder of the season, the team announced Wednesday.

The cardiac irregularity was first detected last week during a routine screening. Wilcox has had a known heart abnormality that previously had remained stable, but followup tests confirmed Wilcox's aorta has thickened recently. Doctors are hopeful Wilcox will be able to resume his basketball career next season.
(It's a sad note to hit a milestone on, but Blogger's stats inform me that this is post #500 for this blog, so cue the balloon and confetti drop! It took a little over 6 years to get to 500, so I hope to still be around for post #1000 in 2018!)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Baltimore Sun's 10 Year Anniversary Series: Lonny Baxter

When the expense reports are turned in for the Baltimore Sun's "Where Are They Now?" series about the 2002 National Championship team, I bet the phone bill will be interesting. That's because in today's installment, they interview Lonny Baxter (1998-2002), who is playing in Siberia this season. Here's your excerpt; now go read the whole thing.
The past six years have seen Baxter play for five different teams in five European countries. He played on a championship team in Greece, as well as in Italy, Spain and Turkey, and is now in his second season in the Russian League. His team is located in Kraysnovarsk, a city of a little less than a million people in Siberia.

It is a place that author Anton Checkov once called "the most beautiful city in Siberia." Baxter said that he has grown accustomed to the long road trips to play other Russian teams, as well as to the culture that is far different than any country he has played in since leaving the United States.

"When I heard that the team was in Siberia, I thought, 'What the ...'" Baxter said in a telephone interview this week. "Once you get there, it’s not so bad. It’s different. It’s in the middle of nowhere. But it’s not as bad as it seems."

Also, the Sun finally has a page bringing together the entire "Where Are They Now?" project, with links to all of the stories in the series.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Baltimore Sun's 10 Year Anniversary Series: Mike Grinnon

Mike Grinnon (2001-05) is the only Terp in school history to win both NCAA and ACC titles in men's basketball. And Grinnon's profile is next up for the Baltimore Sun's 2002 National Championship team "Where Are They Now?" series. Here's a preview; go read the full story.
Grinnon was a little-used freshman during the 2001-2002 season that culminated with Maryland’s NCAA men’s basketball title. Though his playing time increased marginally over the next three years, Grinnon is remembered for the free throws he hit to help beat Duke in Greensboro, N.C., as a junior.

What Grinnon recalls more is the defense he played in overtime against Duke guard J.J. Redick.

"The personal highlight of my career was absolutely that game, but contrary to belief, the more exciting moment for me was that I had to guard their leading scorer for every second of overtime and he did not get one shot off," Grinnon said. "Personally that was more of an accomplishment than hitting the free throws."

Mike Grinnon now works in Tyson's Corner where he manages a financial planning group for New York Life.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sarunas Jasikevicius Advances in Euroleague

It's been a while since I posted an update about the annual Euroleague tournament. When we last left off, three Terps had advanced to the Top 16 round, all on teams in the same Group G. Of those three, Sarunas Jasikevicius (1994-98) and his team, Panathinaikos Athens, was the only one to advance, with a 4-2 record in the group. In the six games in the Top 16 round-robin, Jasikevicius averaged 4.7 points and 2.7 assists. Panathinaikos now moves on the a best-of-five quarterfinal series against Tel Aviv Isreal's Maccabi Electra, where Sarunas will have the opportunity to end the playoff run of Euroleague rookie Jon Scheyer. Panathinaikos already won the first game of that series at home. (Scheyer did not play in Game 1 for undisclosed personal reasons.)

Back to the Top 16, Drew Nicholas (1999-2003) was released from Milan's EA7 Emporio Armani midway through the round. Armani finished in a tie for second place in the group, but dropped to third on the tie-breaker and failed to advance (only the top two move on to the quarterfinals). In the four games he played in, Nicholas averaged 6.5 points, 3 rebounds, and 2.5 assists.

James Gist, with Turkey's Fenerbahce Ulker, finished 2-4 and in 4th place in the group. Gist averaged 4.7 points and 3.5 rebounds in the 6 Top 16 games.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Baltimore Sun's 10 Year Anniversary Series: Dave Dickerson

The Baltimore Sun's "Where Are They Now?" celebration of the 2002 National Championship team rolls on with a profile of Dave Dickerson (1985-89), who I knew was an assistant coach on that team, but never realized he was also a player for Lefty Driesell and Bob Wade. After several years as the head coach at Tulane, Dickerson is now an assistant coach at Ohio State, where he will be coaching in the Sweet 16 next weekend. Here's an excerpt about becoming the head coach at Tulane in 2005; go read the whole story:
Ironically, the first year Maryland didn't make the tournament after Dickerson's return to his alma mater, he got his first head coaching job at Tulane. A program that had once been shut down because of point-shaving and later had some success under Perry Clark, Dickerson’s predecessor, the former Maryland assistant thought the opportunity in New Orleans was promising.

Until Aug. 29, 2005, the day Hurricane Katrina hit the Big Easy.

"It was a tough job when I took it on a lot of fronts," Dickerson recalled recently. "Three years before that there was some talk within the university of going Division III. On the heels of that, there was a lot of skepticism about Tulane basketball and Tulane athletics. Then Katrina hits, which made it an almost impossible job."

Dickerson and his team – not to mention his wife Laurette and then 4-year-son David III – were displaced to College Station, Texas. The team went to school, practiced and played on the campus of Texas A&M.

"Within my first six months of a job, which is a crucial time in a job, we had no campus," he said. "We couldn’t bring recruits in on an official visit before the first signing day. The recruiting class that we were working on and had put a lot of effort into just washed away – literally."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Baltimore Sun's 10 Year Anniversary Series: Drew Nicholas

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that Drew Nicholas (1999-2003) is a huge star in Europe. If you missed out on following his exploits over the past few years by reading my blog, (a) don't let it happen again, and (b) let the Baltimore Sun catch you up on Drew Nicholas's career with their latest "Where Are They Now?" story on the 2002 National Championship team. An excerpt:
It was a departure met with major media coverage and ample blog and message-board discussion. Typically the parting of ways between a pro basketball team and a player scoring seven points a game wouldn’t be dissected at such an intense level. Drew Nicholas, however, is not your typical overseas player.

In the nine years since Nicholas finished his Maryland career, the 6-foot-3 shooting guard has won multiple championships and scoring titles for some of the premier franchises in the Euro League. So when Nicholas and Olimpia Milano decided last month that it would be mutually beneficial to go their separate ways, the former Terp admitted “it was a pretty big story.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Baltimore Sun's 10 Year Anniversary Series: Steve Blake

The Baltimore Sun continues to tax my abilities to write snarky jokes about them stealing my job. In the next "Where Are They Now?" story about the 2002 National Championship team, they visit Steve Blake (1999-2003). Here's a small piece of the story; click the link for the rest:
Steve Blake has carved together what is now a nine-year NBA career by feeding the ball to a list of All-Stars – from Antawn Jamison and Gilbert Arenas in Washington, to Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony in Denver, to LaMarcus Aldridge in Portland and, for the past two seasons, to Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles.

Though the lights are much brighter now and Blake, as a steady and much sought-after point guard, has parlayed his skills into his current four-year, $16 million contract with the Lakers, it is not much different than the role he played during his four seasons at Maryland.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Baltimore Sun's 10 Year Anniversary Series: Andre Collins

Ten years ago, Maryland won the National Championship. If only there were some sort of blog to let you know whatever happened to those players? Oh well. The Baltimore Sun is filling that void with their ongoing "Where Are They Now?" series about the 2002 championship players. In this edition, they catch up with Italian league star, Andre Collins (2001-04). Here's a small excerpt; go read the whole story:
Today Collins is 22 games into his sixth professional season, and for the first time in three years, the Eastern Shore native is back to his normal self. Injuries with Bologna and Pesaro limited him significantly, but Collins is 100 percent healthy and thriving on a team that fits him to a T. [...]

Collins, who averages 14.5 points and 5.7 assists, is enjoying his time with Otto Caserta – currently the 10th-place team in Serie A out of 17. While soccer remains the sport of kings in Europe, Italian League basketball has a fairly rabid following. Collins said “it’s impossible to go to a restaurant” and not be noticed by fans and autograph seekers.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Baltimore Sun's 10 Year Anniversary Series: Byron Mouton

In celebration of the tenth anniversary of Maryland's 2002 National Championship, the Baltimore Sun is trying to steal my job with their own "Where Are They Now?" series. In the next story of their ongoing series today, they catch up with Byron Mouton (2000-02). Here's an excerpt; go read the whole story:
After finishing his professional career with the Maryland Greenhawks, Mouton thought of going to work for his brother's insurance company in Washington, but wanted to be able to have a job that gave himself a little more freedom "and kept me in the gym." Securing donations from State Farm Insurance as well as Choice Hotels, Mouton's 6th Man Skills Development organization began.

"I love it, to be able to do something I love, get up when I want, motivate them academically, have a chance to help kids and still be able to be in the gym," Mouton said. "I wouldn’t want to do anything else - unless somebody wanted to hired me to be a head coach at a university or an NBA scout."

(Yeah, I know I skipped one accidentally... I'll go back and get it tomorrow.)

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Baltimore Sun's 10 Year Anniversary Series: Tahj Holden

As we gear up to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Maryland's 2002 National Championship, the Baltimore Sun is determined to make my blogging hobby incredibly easy this spring. Today, they launched a new "Where Are They Now?" series catching up with the players, starting with Tahj Holden (1999-2003). Go read it. Here's an excerpt:
Staying involved with basketball was Holden’s No. 1 priority after finishing his Terps career, and the abrupt end to his coaching career was a definite shock to his system. But armed with his Maryland degree -- and a connection from his basketball past -- Holden rebounded in a hurry. Ten years after winning a national title, Holden has embarked on a new career as an analyst for a global financial services company in Jersey City, not far from where he grew up. And Holden has stayed involved with the game he loves as a coach for his former youth team.
Tahj is one of my favorite players from that team, partly because he's one of the only players who has ever e-mailed me about this blog and provided his own update for me to post. Go follow him on Twitter: @tahjholden.