2010 was another typical year for D.C. area sports teams. That is to say, there wasn’t a whole lot to cheer about, other than a great regular season by the Capitals and some above-average seasons by local college teams.
2011 may end up being brighter for the Redskins, Capitals, Nationals, Wizards, D.C. United, Maryland and Georgetown, but first glowbass.com takes a look back at the year in D.C. sports that was 2010.
It was a disappointing debut for coach Mike Shanahan, whose Redskins finished 6-10, losing seven of their last nine games. Shanahan traded a second and a fourth-round pick to Philadelphia for Donovan McNabb, who had his worst season since his rookie year.
While McNabb didn’t live up to expectations, Shanahan tried to fit McNabb into his son Kyle’s system rather than building the scheme around McNabb’s talents. Shanahan benched the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback at the end of a loss to Detroit, mishandling the situation by lying about it.
Even with everything that went wrong, the Redskins could have won with McNabb had Shanahan made better coaching and personnel decisions. One of those blunders was his handling of the Albert Haynesworth situation.
Shanahan became embroiled in a season-long controversy with Haynesworth, who didn’t want to play in the team’s new 3-4 defense. It started when Shanahan made Haynesworth repeat a conditioning test in training camp to the point of embarrassment, and it ended when Shanahan suspended Haynesworth for the final four games of the season.
It was Shanahan’s responsibility to get the most out of the talented but temperamental and sensitive player, but Haynesworth ended up playing mainly on third downs, and was deactivated for several games. Without Haynesworth playing regularly, the Redskins finished 31st in total defense.
Ironically, if the Redskins had signed Michael Vick two seasons ago, they might have been in a better situation. However, few people thought Vick was the answer.
There was some good news for the Redskins. Former Hog Russ Grimm made it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At least Redskins fans can always look to the past.
The Caps won the President’s Trophy for the most points in the NHL during the regular season, but then crashed and burned in the playoffs, losing to the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens in seven games.
Still, the Caps’ regular season was special. Alexander Ovechkin scored 109 points including 50 goals. Nicklas Backstrom had 101 points and 33 goals. Washington won a franchise-record 14 games in a row, and the Caps swept the season series with arch-rival Pittsburgh.
Ovechkin’s goal production of 14 goals in 41 games is way down so far in the first half of the 2010-11 season, but the Caps are still just one point out of first place in the Southeast Division behind Tampa Bay. Washington suffered through an eight-game losing streak in December, but beat archrival Pittsburgh 3-1 outside at Heinz Field New Year’s Day in the Winter Classic.
The Nats finished with a losing record (69-93) for the fifth time in their six-season existence. Rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg did not disappoint, striking out 14 in his major league debut en route to a record of 5-3 and an ERA of 2.91 with 92 strikeouts in 68 innings.
But in August, Strasburg tore a ligament and underwent Tommy John surgery, which is expected to sideline him for most or all of the 2011 season.
Ryan Zimmerman had another good year, hitting .307 with 25 home runs and 85 RBIs.
After the season, the Nats finally made a big splash in free agency, signing outfielder Jayson Werth from Philadelphia for seven years and $126 million. However, Washington didn’t resign first baseman Adam Dunn, a fan favorite who hit 76 homers in his two seasons in D.C.
A franchise that has fallen on hard times recently – if you call the past three decades recently – finally hit the jackpot in May when they won the NBA draft lottery and the right to select point guard John Wall of Kentucky. But Wall missed 12 games with injuries and the Wizards started the season 8-25.
New owner Ted Leonsis announced that he would change the colors of the Wizards’ uniforms from blue, black, and bronze to red white and blue next season, a welcome and nostalgic change for fans of the old Bullets. However, Leonsis said a future name change back to the Bullets, who won the NBA championship in 1978, would not happen, though media and fan speculation about a possible name change ran rampant.
Last May, former Bullet Kevin Grevey, in an interview with glowbass.com, recounted his days as a starting guard on the Bullets championship team.
Grevey talked about the Bullets of the 1970s and ‘80s, the current team, and how none of his former Bullets teammates embraced the name change to Wizards.
Grevey’s comments about the name of the Bullets/Wizards were among the first in a year that saw many Bullets fans ask for the team to change the name back to the Bullets. However, Leonsis, who took over ownership of the Wizards last year after owner Abe Pollin died in 2009, has insisted he won’t change the name.
Another former member of the Bullets franchise died in 2010. Former Bullet Manute Bol, who at 7-7 was one of the greatest shot blockers in NBA history, died in June at the age of 47. Bol spent much of his life doing humanitarian work for people of his war-torn homeland of Sudan.
DC United had its worst record ever at 6-20-4, and fired coach Curt Onalfo in August. Former United midfielder Ben Olsen took over as coach and will coach the team in 2011.
One bright spot for United was a 3-2 win over AC Milan at RFK Stadium in a friendly in May.
Midfielder Jaime Moreno, who led United to three MLS titles in four seasons from 1996 to ’99, ended his career with 133 goals, the most in MLS history. The Bolivian midfielder excited fans at RFK Stadium for more than a decade.
Maryland Terrapins football
The Terrapins rebounded from a 2-9 season to a 9-4 finish and a 51-20 victory over East Carolina in the Military Bowl. It was the greatest turnaround in the history of the ACC, and Ralph Friedgen won ACC Coach of the Year for the second time.
But Friedgen was fired in December partly due to falling attendance, despite a 75-50 record and seven bowl appearances in 10 years. Initial reports said Mike Leach of Texas Tech would take over. Instead, Maryland hired Connecticut coach Randy Edsall, who led UConn to a BCS Bowl in 2010, though his record is only 74-70.
Maryland, led by senior All-America Greivis Vasquez, made it to the NCAA tournament but lost in the second round to Michigan State on a last-second shot.
Vasquez finished his career as the second-leading scorer in Maryland history, and led Maryland to many great moments including an upset over fourth-ranked Duke in his last home game.
Vasquez was drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies with the 28th pick in the first round of the NBA draft.
Georgetown Hoyas basketball
Georgetown had a successful season, gaining a three-seed in the NCAA tournament, but fell victim to the 14th-seeded Ohio Bobcats in one of the biggest upsets in recent NCAA tournament history. Center Greg Monroe was selected seventh overall in the NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons.
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