Sunday, February 17, 2008

The PG's Mike White on Duquesne Recruit T.J. McConnell

"It's obvious T.J. McConnell's injured left wrist bothers him, but it's painfully obvious that Chartiers Valley needs him if it is going to live up to its No. 1 seed in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.

McConnell, a sophomore who averages 19 points a game, had his left wrist injured in the regular-season finale Feb. 1 against Keystone Oaks. He didn't practice for more than a week, but he started and scored 21 points in Chartiers Valley's 52-39 victory against Mount Pleasant in a first-round playoff game Wednesday.

Char Valley probably can't win a WPIAL title without this 5-foot-9 sophomore, who already has made a verbal commitment to Duquesne Univesity. He means that much to the Colts, and not just with his shooting. He also had a number of assists against Mount Pleasant.

Plus, Chartiers Valley already is without starting point guard Eli Maravich. He has been out four weeks with a stress fracture in his leg, but is scheduled to visit with a doctor today and Char Valley's coaches are hopeful he will be cleared to play.

McConnell's wrist was taped for the Mount Pleasant game and it's obvious he still has pain in it. He didn't reach for loose balls and try to make steals with his left hand. He keeps the hand away from scrums for loose balls. He also catches the ball with his right hand first. But he does dribble a little with his left hand.

After the game, Chartiers Valley coach Tim McConnell, who is T.J.'s father, was asked when his son would be 100 percent.

'I don't know and I don't care. All I care about is that he's still playing,' Tim McConnell said.

T.J. McConnell is one of the WPIAL's best shooters and he made three 3-pointers in the game, which gives him 93 for the season. Barring injury, T.J. McConnell would seemingly have a good chance at breaking the WPIAL career record for 3-pointers. The record-holder, coincidentally, is former Chartiers Valley guard Mike Colbert, who had 302 from 1993-97.

McConnell also saw considerable playing time as a freshman. Chartiers Valley's coaches were unsure of how many 3-pointers he had as a freshman, but believe it might have been around 30 to 40. That would give him more than 120 or 130 for his career so far. With the rest of this season and two more, the record is certainly within reach."

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