This was just one of those games that you kept looking at the clock and the hoping the game would end sooner. Every one in Terp Nation just wanted the “W” and you could just feel that the players played that way too.
That was a brutal final eight minutes of the first half wasn’t it? In January, that meant a loss. The stupid fouls and overagressiveness killed us. Even when Maryland took a 29-21 lead, I knew we were in trouble. We had 18 points from three pointers. That is not our game. With our starting frontcourt on the bench with foul trouble, the Terps were in trouble. But, we held on.
The second half started with an impeccable four minutes. 12 unanswered points keyed mostly by turnovers and fastbreaks and Comcast was rocking again. But somehow, the game didn’t feel like it was over. The Terps just weren’t playing their game. The offense was out of sync and the halfcourt offense was not working. The 12 minute timeout came and we just couldn’t stay out of foul trouble. Gist, DJ, Ibekwe all had 3 fouls. I thought, “if we could just make it through the next 4 minutes with none them picking up their 4th”, we’ll be home free.
For the most part, that happened (except Ibekwe); yet somehow I’m left uneasy. The optimist would say, “we played poorly and still won by 18!”. If you are reading this, then you know by now that I am not an optimist. Florida State really frustrated the Terps in the halfcourt and forced us into countless bad decisions. Is this a roadmap for how to beat Maryland? Stop the penetration and get our bigs in foul trouble and the Terps will struggle mightily.
All of this is reason for concern, but guess what? The good teams have off-nights and still win. Can we play this way and expect to win on Sunday? No way and the players know it too. How excited are you for Sunday? The Terps have a chance for a signature victory. An exlcamation point on this remarkable resurrection. 11 days ago who could have imagined this?
The resume has us dancing. 21-7 overall, 7-6 in the ACC, RPI in the teens and rising. So why is it that Duke is ranked #18 and the Terps are unranked again?
Can they make a Tournament run? Absolutely, if they continue to pound the ball inside and let Vasquez and Hayes make the decisions.
The seniors have finally accepted their roles. Strawberry is a slasher, and with able passers in the half court, he can get to the hole and use his athletic ability to finish or get to the stripe. Jones is our shooter and remarkably not a whole lot of anything else. He knows it now and so do we. Ibekwe rebounds and plays defense. His offense should come off putbacks and the occasional low post move if there is a mismatch situation.
With Gist and the freshman leading the way and playing consistently, the Terps can make a run. The NCAA is pretty mediocre this year. No team outside of the Top 5 or 6 teams have demonstrated consistency. That helps to explain our high RPI ranking.
MD could rise as high as #2 seen in the NCAAs should they finish 10-6 in the ACC and win the ACC Tournament. Granted that is extremely unlikely. What is more likely, is a 9-7 conference record and a run to the semis of the ACC Tournament (if the draw works in our favor). If that is the case, we are 25-9 and I think that warrants #5 seed in the NCAAs. From that position, I think we make the Sweet 16 and depending on the matchup, an elite 8 is possible.
I can’t believe I just wrote that.