The Washington Post

First Things First -- Tracee Hamilton on the Terps, Hoyas and March Madness

Mar 18, 2010

Georgetown begins its NCAA Tournament run today; Maryland joins the fun tomorrow.

For the Terps, the question is whether Greivis Vasquez can put his often formidable talents on display in the postseason. Scoring has never been a problem for the ACC player of the year, who'll finish his career among the Terps' all-time leading scorers. But Maryland has failed to get out of the first weekend of NCAA Tournament play during Vasquez's career.

Depth is the issue for Georgetown. Much is expected of the starting five, and they've delivered. But an injury or foul trouble can spell big problems for the Hoyas, who have had surprising wins -- and surprising losses.

I have both teams advancing to the Sweet 16. Crazy? You tell me.

Is being named player of the year the worst thing that could happen to Vasquez? He seems to play better when he has a chip on his shoulder.

Morning, everybody. Just a few hours left to fill out your brackets. I suppose everyone is done but me. Not sure I'll make it this year. Let's get started!

I've never gotten on the Vasquez bandwagon because he sometimes makes inexplicable decisions, but he started to make a believer of me a little this spring. But he does seem to need to feel the world is against him, so maybe there will be some booing fans to inspire him. Maybe even some booing Maryland fans!

But I have the same feeling about the Hoyas as I had about the '02 Terps!

I won't call you crazy. But then, I am probably not the voice of authority on crazy when it comes to college hoops. Georgetown could surprise a lot of people. I saw several of the Hoyas' best games this season and when they are on, they are really special. (I still feel the same about Villanova as well.) I just think the lack of depth if going to hurt them at some point. But when those five starters are rolling ... look out. I don't want my boys to play them, although my boys are far, far deeper.

What's your Final Four and who do you have winning it all?

You're kidding, right? :) Well, I have Syracuse, Kansas, West Virginia and Baylor, and I have Kansas winning it all. I have Kansas winning it all every year. I failed to pick Kansas to win it all one year, in 1988. They won it all. I don't fail to pick Kansas to win it all any more. (Seriously, I just can't pick them to lose on a bracket. Tried. Failed. Sometimes I do two brackets but then it makes me feel guilty. I have issues.)

If Georgetown flames out early, will we hear some rumblings about John Thompson III's job security?

I would hope not. I think he's done quite well this season. The bigger question for me, regarding Georgetown, remains this: Why are players leaving the program so often? It may be as simple as academics; not everyone is cut out for a  Georgetown curriculum. And it happened under Big John as well. I remember getting a fax from Georgetown one Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. -- an old Hoyas trick on newspapers -- announcing a player was joining the French Foreign Legion. Yikes. I think if Thompson could keep a deeper bench he'd be a better coach, but he's done well with what they have.

Was it only last Jan. there was all the talk about how Gary must go?

Yes, it was. Gary has done a tremendous job this season, without a doubt. And Gary is another one who works best when he thinks everyone is out to get him.

I'm from Louisville (Go Cards!) and don't know the history of the Kansas paper-scissor-rock references on your brackets earlier this week. I need a Jayhawk tutorial.

I am assuming you are referring to Rock Chalk Jayhawk? That is a chant that was dreamed up by, of all things, a geology professor at KU in the olden days ... before even my time. Chalk refers to chalk deposits, I believe, because let's face it, the guy was a geology professor. It stuck. When the crowd at Allen Field House does it slow -- rooooock chaaaaalk Jaaaaayhawk KUUUUUU -- at the end of a victory, it's pretty cool.

I'm tearing up.

Which double-digit seed to you have going the farthest? It's too bad Cornell got Temple in the first round.

I think the answer is San Diego State, at least one my seat-of-the-pants bracket from Monday's paper. I agree about Cornell; it gave KU a hell of a game and at Allen Field House, which is hard to do. I think Cornell and Temple were both underseeded, but one spot at least.

Okay, I'll bite -- why Baylor?

Well, first I think that region is the easiest. Second, I think Duke is vulnerable. I was torn between picking Nova and Baylor, and I went with Baylor for Big 12 reasons, I guess. I think Baylor is going to make a splash and I think a lot of people will overlook the Bears because they don't get a lot of attention. But they're good.


Why aren't these two days a national holiday?

Agreed. I have always felt for people who had real jobs, because in our department, they are sort of a national holiday. I mean, everyone has to go to work, but there are TVs and a satellite dish so we can get every game if someone is willing to run up and down the stairs often enough. And we'd order in Chinese food and settle in a watch while staffers from other departments wandered over to ask stupid questions, like, "Who's winning?" (The score is on the screen, dude!) Tons of work but a good time. I'm going to miss that this afternoon but I'm still quarantined. Otherwise, I'd be in Providence. Nuts.

Next year, save two vacation days, maybe? I suppose it's impossible to call in sick these two days. If you call in sick, everyone thinks you're faking.

Rex Grossman?? Seriously? I sorta hope JC leaves just so he gets a real chance somewhere. How many head coaches/offensive plans has he had to play with?

I was a little surprised by this one, but it's beginning to appear that Shanahan wants to bring in guys who will perhaps compel other guys to try harder? Hard for me to judge from the La-Z-Boy. But that seems to be the case with the Larry Johnson signing. The trouble is that that approach works with some people and not others. Will it work with Campbell? Or is his psyche so damaged that it's too late? I am still of the opinion that he should look elsewhere.

The Tim Tebow news is weird, too, and a little scary, because he seems more like a Dan Snyder quarterback than a Mike Shanahan quarterback. But we'll see.

Tracee: Not to rain on everyone's parade but I saw that annual "Tourney Graduation Rates" came out again this week, and while Gtown did fairly well, Gary has a terrible graduation rate, in fact the MD graduation rate for minority players is ZERO for the past three years.

I am not an alum of either school, but just once I wish a reporter would go past Gary's theatrics and ask him why he isnt ashamed to be keeping company with BobHuggins and Coach Cal....its embarassing and disheartening.

Gary's graduation rate has been written about many times -- hello, Eric Prisbell! -- and the school is aware of it. It is very bad. I don't know if alums care as long as the team is in the tournament. I always check KU's and when it's low I don't like it, but Self has done a pretty good job in that regard. (And in fairness, so did Roy when he was at KU.) Some of the rules for calculating the rates are sort of draconian, but that's no excuse. I think Maryland is having some success in getting players to come back later to finish degrees, but if they don't do in in a certain time frame they aren't credited, as I understand it.

I do think that most schools do everything they can to help players with study halls, etc., and sometimes the failure is on the player. You have to want it or all the help and pushing in the world isn't going to make it happen.

That's it for this morning! If I hurry, I can get a bracket in before the deadline. Good luck to everyone, and enjoy the greatest day on the sports calendar!

In This Chat
Tracee Hamilton
Tracee Hamilton has worked at the Post since 1993, toiling in office obscurity as an editor before someone said, "Hey, you've got a lot of opinons and can write a little. Why don't you become a columnist?"

Her interests range from geneology to Nordic combined to Kansas basketball. If ever there was a Jayhawk who once flew off a ski jump, she'd know where he was buried.

Her list of pet peeves is considerably longer, but includes Missouri basketball and poor subway etiquette. She welcomes dissenting opinions -- in the way Great Whites welcome open-water swimmers.

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