The Duke Aftermath

Wow, there were sure were some interesting comments last night.  Losing to Duke sure brings out the frustration for us! 

Hey, we can still say we’ve won a National Title more recently than them, so we still have that going for us… which is nice.

Anyway, despite the Duke fan’s comments, I really believe that it’s the frustration of being right in the game for the first 30+ minutes and not finishing that has a lot of us looking for blame.

In my opinion, the reality is we came to play last night.  We played hard.  The defense in the first 30+ minutes was as good as it’s been all year, with just a few breakdowns (but that’s going to happen).  In the past week, I’m more convinced that this team has a legitimate shot of getting to the tournament.  We are still flawed, or course, so it won’t be easy, but this team has made me proud the last week.

I really think the great defense was the reason for the poor free throw shooting.  I really think the players were exhausted after running around and that caused them to miss those shots they normally make.  No excuses.  They need to be stronger on the line and make those shots since the FT’s were a big reason we lost control of the game late.

Hopefully the players learn from this game.  They were close to pulling off one hell of a week, but Vasquez has to control his emotions to the point of not picking up silly fouls.  Mosley has to realize that he does not need to take a charge every time down the floor.  Mosley had a freshman game.  It was bound to happen.  But I don’t blame Gary for sticking with him because Mosley makes things happen on the defensive end and that’s what we needed.  We needed to get some easy buckets late, and the defense could have allowed us to score in transition.

In hindsight, I’m sure Gary would not have done some of the things he did, but personally I don’t have a problem with his strategy except for the very short-lived attempt at a zone that failed miserably, though I’m thinking that may have had something to do with the foul trouble.

In any rate, we did not embarrass ourselves and while Virginia Tech’s win last night was not good for us, we still control our own destiny.  All 3 remaining games are winable and they are all losable too.  Step one is winning a big game on the road this Sunday. We’ll need a top effort, but I have confidence this team will be ready and give it all they got.  We’ll see whether it’ll be enough.

Duke Preview. Will It Be Jeckyl Or Hyde?

What’s going to happen tomorrow night?  Does anyone actually know?  Does Gary Williams know which version of the Terps will show up?  Would you be willing to bet one way or another as to which team will show up?  Will MD get blown out by 40 or will they punch their ticket with an emphatic win?

I sure as hell don’t know. What I do know is that if the Terps can do what they did on Saturday (shoot 40% from three, get a Cliff Tucker-like performance from someone; and block nine more shots than their opponents); then the Terps will win.  Of that there is no doubt.

We’ve been here before.  Just last year, MD was fresh off their monumental upset of UNC and then lost a heart breaker to Duke.  It was a heart breaker because the Terps had a 10 point lead at halftime and lost it going away.  Looking back, it is clear to me that the Duke loss last year started MD on a path the led to many more second-half collapses in the ensuing 12 months.

Tomorrow is an opportunity to complete the redemption.  Like a Phoenix from the ashes, the Terps can exorcise the demons– literally.  It won’t be easy.  Duke is a much different team than UNC.  As has been noted by readers on this site; Duke plays much more aggressive defense.  Duke forces you to take care of the basketball and the Terps did not do that at all last month during the 40 point debacle.

And that brings me to Mr. Grievis Vasquez. Despite notching a triple double.  Vasquez did commit 7 turnovers.  Those are the kind of numbers he turned in last year.  Not coincidentally, Greivis took over the point guard duties against UNC.  Add that wrinkle to Duke’s aforementioned aggressive man-to-man defense, and the Terps could be walking back into the same buzzsaw that blew us out by 40.

That’s  my fear.  My hope is that the Terps finally turned a corner on Saturday.  The 40 point blow out to Duke is but a distant memory never to return.  The Terps will shoot consistently from three and not allow themselves to ever be mentally taken out a game again.

In reality; I don’t think either scenario is true.  I think the Terps will perform better than normal; but not as strongly as they did on Saturday.  I just wonder if they can win without a perfect performance.

As fans, we all want to win this game so badly; but let’s not allow ourselves to get overwhelmed by hope.  We may win; but a loss will not end the season.  The sun will rise in College Park on Thursday morning and Duke will still suck regardless of the outcome.

MD Shocks UNC as Vasquez and Tucker Spark Upset

Wow.

I’ve seen my share of upsets; but today’s performance has to take the cake.  Talk about improbable! MD’s trio at the pivot of Dave Neal, Dino Gregory, and Jerome Burney some how some way held off one of the strongest frontcourts in the nation. And that wasn’t even the most incredible performance of the game! That honor, of course, goes to Greivis Vasquez.

I couldn’t be happier for Mr. Vasquez.  Sure, he has caused his share of heartache during his tenure at Maryland; but the kid wants to win so bad that it hurts.  He has taken his lumps in the ACC, gotten ripped in the press, and been booed by his own fans.  Through it all, he has never stopped trying. Maybe, just maybe he will have the opportunity to go out on top.  He may have a few more great performances in him; but surely none will compare to what he did today.  35 points, 11 rebs, and 10 assists.  Greivis notched the triple double before overtime even started.  He was Mr. Everything all game long.

Even with Vasquez carrying them, how did the Terps pull this off?  I think it’s just that MD wanted (hell, needed) this more than UNC.  I’m not saying that is the only reason they won; but it helped.  I’m thrilled as a fan; but even more thrilled that 12 kids and a coach who have worked so hard all year finally got rewarded for their efforts.

How many close calls that turned into eventual losses have their been?  Too many to recount here.  We have talked ad nauseum about how this team “didn’t have the horses”.  We lacked talent and height and just couldn’t compete with the top teams in the NCAA.  That may still be true; but as I said in my thread post, there is a reason they play these games.

The Terps proved to me that they can play with heart.  Sure, there have been other games where it looked like they gave up (see Duke); but if they give it their all and they play with consistency, it is a beautiful thing to watch.

Of all the reasons to be happy tonight; I hope you are happy for Gary Williams.  Ripped to shreds by his hometown paper; Gary may indeed have the last laugh.  For if he can take this squad to the NCAAs; he has forever proven his mettle as a great coach. If it happens, it will be his finest hour.

Now, it is on to Duke and a chance to vault ourselves off the bubble and into the dance.  However, before we get too excited; remember that this is the same team that lost to Clemson by 27 points on Tuesday.  Last year, MD hosted Duke coming off the upset at UNC and we ran to a 10 point halftime lead only to blow it in the second half.  Maryland has a chance to exorcise all of its demons on Wednesday.

Terps – UNC Thread

Today is Maryland’s penultimate chance to impress the selection committee. Some probably think that this is an exercise in futility and there is nothing the Terps can do short of winning out to get in.

I’m inclined to agree. The Terps just aren’t good enough to compete with the likes of UNC. As we’ve seen all year; the team’s flaws often get exposed against the better teams.

Despite that, there is a reason why they play the games. Let’s just hope we are not ashamed of the performance after the fact.

Opportunity Knocks in Clemson, SC

Make no mistake. The Terps are a long shot to make the NCAAs. However, a loss at Clemson on Tuesday, will not eliminate the Terps. Maryland is not expected to beat the #8 team in the RPI on the road. So, the Terps have no expectations and nothing to lose. Add that to the fact that this is the MD’s only shot to gain a modicum of revenge against the team that ruined their season last year; and we have every reason to believe that this game will represent the Terps best effort this year.

Clemson is very good; but they have a history of fading down the stretch. The Tigers needed overtime to win at bottom-feeder Virginia on Sunday, so they can be beaten.

(Editor’s Note:  Clemson lost.  I’m an idiot and read the score wrong.   There is nothing to see here.  Move along.)

I still think the Terps need a miracle, but boy would a win be special. For a realistic shot at the Tournament, the Terps need to have and RPI in the low 40s at worst. At present, MD is #61. A road win (worth 1.6 wins in the RPI formula) against a top 10 team would probably vault the Terps 15-20 places. That would put the Terps right in the middle of the bubble discussion.

That my friends, is a lot to play for. Sure, the five games that follow Clemson won’t be easy; but a win and the Terps can start to believe in the impossible.

Virginia Tech Thread

Well fans, here we go.

Today, the Terps begin in earnest their quest to earn that elusive NCAA bid.  This season has delivered mixed results but the Terps have a chance to right the ship today and set themselves up for a run that could turn the season around.

We are seeing signs that the team has rallied around Gary Williams and that is probably just how Gary wants it.  You can almost hear his pregame speech now.

Everyone is saying that I don’t recruit.  That my players aren’t up to par.  Well, I like this team.  You guys ae good enough.  You have showed it again and again.  Let’s prove the doubters wrong. It begins today

Virginia Tech is frisky and should prove to be a formidable challenge.  Yet, the schedule only gets tougher from here.  A loss and we can go back to ruminating on Jordan Williams backboard shattering dunks or Born Ready’s choice of gym shoes.

Let’s hope that the boys can stave off the recruiting talk with a couple of wins over the next 10 days.

How Can We Do It?

Since we have to wait 4 more days for another ‘must win’ game, I thought it would be interesting to ask all of you how you think the Terps can get on a run and win some of these key big games remaining on our schedule in hopes to sneak into the tournament.

I know after watching this team all year, most of us don’t think it’s possible to all of a sudden get hot and win our way in, but I’d like to know what you think HAS to happen for us to have a chance to do it.

The schedule sets up nicely in that we need to have multiple big wins in conference to impress the selection committee.  And with a murderer’s row of opponents, it’s right there in front of us.  The good news?  Most of the big games are at home.  The bad news?  We haven’t shown the consistency needed to have a shot to beat the best teams in the ACC. 

What do they need to do overall as a team and individually as players?