If a 6-foot-10 scholarship basketball player appears in four games and logs a dozen minutes and does so little without injury (for the most part) to blame, did he really appear?
Or, put more specifically, do we really know any more about Steve Goins today than we did a year ago?
Well, that’s a misleading question. Of course we know more, if only because at the time in the magical year of 2008, those who follow Maryland knew absolutely nothing about Goins.
Goins wasn’t a consideration until the spring rolled around, and wasn’t a real consideration until Gus Gilchrist bolted for a near-the-bottom-of-the-barrel Big East school (one that just so happened to have an assistant strength coach/DirecTV operator position available).
So Gilchrist and the friends in his life with an affinity for hooking up video systems went off to greener (and golder, given South Florida’s uniform colors) pastures, and Maryland went rummaging around in the big man bargain bin.
Early June is not the time of year to be doing that. If you’re lucky, you come up with the basketball version of an Island of Misfit Toys native —- something that will work out just fine if you find the right home for it. If you’re not (to carry the analogy further), you get something coated in lead paint that’s been on a recall list since the Reagan administration.
More than likely, you get a grab bag full of Tickle Me Elmo pogs.
But with toys, you know what you’re getting. Not so with basketball players who, unless they’re complete knuckleheads, take a while to demonstrate how useful they really are.
They wound up with Goins, who took a while to fully qualify but was good to go by the time practice started in October.
And then … not much.
Goins made it into four games for a team (and just one after the start of December) with virtually no formidable inside players, which in itself suggests how well the offseason trip to the dollar store worked out. But in reality, it’s probably a little unfair to issue an indictment on Goins for two reasons:
* Unless a player starts good and then dramatically unspools (be it through a drastic diminishing of skills or serious off-court issues), it’s unfair to affix a judgment to a college player after one season.
* Goins was, as coach Gary Williams said early in the season, “in development” during his first year. So he wasn’t supposed to be more than a practice player as a freshman.
In short, the Chicago native was an unbashed project. And while Williams isn’t about hand out grades to his players, Goins would be worthy of an “incomplete” —- mainly because we know little more about his game now than we did at the start of the season.
In retrospect, a midseason left foot injury that cost him a couple weeks probably didn’t make much of a difference. He played once in the Terps’ last 30 games (in garbage time at Duke), rolling a +5 for the season:
+2: Youngstown State
0: vs. Gonzaga
-2: at Duke
Maybe there will be something more to say on Goins after next season. There probably will be, because all projects warrant a year to get their bearings. But by the end of year two, you usually have more than an inkling whether you have a “hidden gem” or a “bad gamble” on your hands.
Right now, Goins’ inactivity is a much greater piece of proof than anything he did with his dandy dozen minutes during the season. The jury isn’t out because it probably isn’t deliberating yet, mainly because there isn’t enough evidence at hand to demonstrate anything definitive about the big fella.
—- Patrick Stevens