Wake Forest Game Thread

Before I get into my brief pre-game analysis; I need to tell you a quick story.  At around noon today, I was scheduled to be a guest on Terrapin Sports Network’s Pregame Radio Show (that’s 105.7 in Baltimore and 106.7 in DC).  I was going to talk about Turtle Soup and the general state of the Terp Blogosphere.

Well, I just got a call from Greg Abel (tonight’s fill-in host) that I had to be bumped because–get this– Jared from Subway is at the Comcast Center tonight and Subway is sponsoring the game and Greg was being forced to interview him.  How hilarious is that?  I got bumped by Jared from Subway!!!  My life is complete.   The best part is that I will be able to tell that story forever.

Regardless, many thanks to Greg for inviting me on and I hope I have a chance to get on the show at some point in the future.

On to tonight’s epic contest.  The Terps must box-out on the defensive glass, harrass Teague; hit some threes and get someone else besides Vazquez to step up.  I hope Gary doesn’t rely too much on the press because I think Wake is too quick to be bothered by it.

Enjoy the game folks.

Go Terps!

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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.

Must Win Part IV – Georgia Tech Thread

I feel like this is the third or fourth “must win” game so far this year.  With each “must” win that turned into a loss; the Terps somehow have at least kept their hopes alive for an NCAA berth.

Let’s be honest; the Terps are on the outside looking in; and will need to play out of character to get themselves in the hunt.  Working in their favor are two factors.

1.  The home vs. away schedule is a positive.  Of the remaining opponenets, the toughest teams (outside of the road game at Clemson) are at home; while the easiest teams are road games.  Of course this could completely backfire and MD could lose it home games to the good teams and lose the road games as well.  Either way, the Terps need as many wins as possible and the schedule is set up for them to maximize their chances.

2.  The selection committee cares most about the last 8-10 games of the regular season.  If the Terps can win six of their final eight games; they will earn a bid.  There is no question about that.  That sounds like a tall order, but remember that even when the program was perennially making the Tournament; they had to at least finish .500 over their final eight games  to get in.  The committee almost never rewards faltering teams with a bid.

After all that has happened, the Terps control their own destiny.  Of course every loss from here on out makes the task more difficult. There are no excuses for losing road games to league doormats.  A loss tonight and it will take a miracle.

The Terps can take nothing for granted.  They won’t run away from an ACC opponent all year and Georgia Tech is no different.  I’ve been encouraged by the recent play of Sean Mosley.  He has really asserted himself and the UNC game is a clear indication that he is at his best when the game is fast paced and he can take advantage of the open seams that occur when much of the game is played in transition.  Mosley’s emergence could be the key to a miracle finish a la the 2007 season (remember 8 wins in a row to close out the season that year?).

Braxton Dupree is showing signs of a little life; but I’m not about to start banking on that.  Either way, it all begins tonight.  A road win will give them confidence heading into Clemson.  If they take care of business tonight; we as fans can start to think about how a win at Clemson could completely rejuvenate the entire team’s psyche.  There is nothing like a revenge game to breath life back into a team.  Let’s save that talk for another time.  Tonight is all about the Yellowjackets.

Ahhhh… All is well… until 10pm tonight?

It’s been a nice few days of love throughout the Maryland basketball program.  Debbie Yow cleared the air publically, Gary was back to running down his resume and predicting next year’s team will be ranked.  Hey, we’ve all seen the good that this team has to offer.  I believe he can make it happen, but we’ll see.

So while we are all realistic in enjoying last Saturday’s victory, we all know that they have a mighty task tonight on the road at North Carolina.  You can forget the Heels taking us lightly after what happened last year.  You know they’ll come out to play and it will take a miraculous turn of events to win, but it’s all happened before, so we’ll see what the boys have in them.

If we can hit shots, we have a chance to keep it close.  If we don’t, it’ll be another Duke.

Gameday Thread: Maryland v. Duke

Maryland enters the first installment of its biannual dance with Duke at a crossroads.  At 13-5, the Terps desperately need a signature win to get back into serious contention for an NCAA berth.

Terp Nation is uneasy.  Clearly undermanned upfront, the Terps have played valiantly, yet they appear to be fatally flawed in a distinct way: Maryland is unable to put teams away and/or hold big leads.

The Terps have lost three games in January.  In two of those games, Maryland blew leads of 14 (Morgan St.) and 17 (Miami) points.  What’s more, MD almost blew a 15 point lead against Virginia on Tuesday.

In my view, the culprit is one of two things:

1. The Terps are prone to lapses in which they grow complacent and fail to execute for long stretches, thus allowing the other team back in the game.

2. Maryland’s offense is one dimensional and other teams are bound to figure out how to stop the Terps over the course of a 40 minute game and when they do, the Terps collapse.

If it is the former, then the Terps can get better this year.  They can learn to maintain concentration throughout the game and throttle teams when the Terps have the upper hand.  It will be tough, but the Terps can learn to win.

If it is the latter, then the season is lost.  If teams like Miami, Morgan, and UVA can handcuff the Terps for stretches of 10 minutes or more because they have figured out that MD’s offense can be permanently neutralized; then we are surely NIT bound.  Again.

I’m not enough of a basketball expert to say which it is.  My gut and heart says the former.

Maryland will be given an excellent opportunity to prove the doubters wrong this afternoon.  The boys travel to Comcast Center South — also known as Cameron Indoor Stadium.

On paper, this game won’t be close.  Duke is ranked #2 in the country and poised to take the top spot if they can beat the Terps.  Fortunately for MD fans, Duke usually brings the very best out of our players.

In the last 10 meetings, the Terps have won 5 contests, including 3 wins at Comcast Center South.  Last year, MD lead Duke by 10 points at halftime before falling apart in the second half.  In fact, that defeat was the first in a string of five such collapses in the last 12 months: Duke, Va Tech, and Clemson last year; and the aforementioned Morgan and Miami games this year.  As if you needed another reason to hate Duke.  They started this mess!

This trend must be reversed.  The inability to hold leads hangs like an albatross on the neck of the entire team.  What better way to exorcize the demon than to triumph against the team that started it all last year?

Duke is one of the few elite teams that Maryland can match up with favorably.  Duke won’t kill us on the inside, and the Terps should have the best athletes on the floor. I believe the Terps will be battling themselves as much as they will be battling the Blue Devils.  If Maryland can remain mentally tough; then they can win.

I will be interested to see if Gary Williams is able to stop Duke’s three point shooting with his new found love of the zone defense.

The Terps need to win badly.  A victory could turn the season around. Get busy living or get busy dying.