In preparation for the biggest game of the year, it’s a good time to look back at some of the greatest wins of Gary Williams’ tenure at Maryland. Hopefully, this will get you pumped for the Carolina game.
In reverse order:
#5 January 31st, 2002. Maryland 91 – Virginia 87
Also known as Drew Nicholas game #2. Let me set the scene. The Terps were down by nine at Virginia with three minutes to play. If I recall correctly, Gary even had the boys roll the ball up the court for a few possessions (that never works). Then, Nicholas caught fire. He rained a barrage of threes and suddenly the Terps were winning. Virginia was shell shocked and the Terps stole a win on the road. I remember turning to my buddy and saying, “we never win THAT game”. I couldn’t remember a comeback as miraculous as that in the history of Terps basketball. It was at that moment, I knew the Terps were cutting the nets down in Atlanta.
#4 2003 NCAA Tournament, First Round. Maryland 75 – UNC Wilmington73
Also known as THE Drew Nicholas Game. Who could forget this one? UNCW played out of it’s mind and was just taking it to the Terps for 39 minutes and 57 seconds. In the final minutes, Maryland pulled within 1 and had the ball with three seconds left. Gary called timeout. Many thought that Steve Blake would take the final shot, but for anyone who remembers the aforementioned game at Virginia, it was clear who was taking the final shot. I can picture it like it was yesterday. What Maryland fan can’t? Nicholas caught the ball on the baseline and hit a three as he was falling out of bounds. Swish. Game over. If you were in the Sports Book at the Mandalay Bay Casino that day; you saw me and 10 of my college friends go ballistic in front of 1000 strangers.
#3 2004 ACC Championship Game. Maryland 92 – Duke 87
Not only was it Gary’s first ACC title, but it ended Duke’s streak of 6 straight ACC Championships. The Blue Devils can say all they want about Maryland “not being their rivals”, but if they look at their most devastating losses over the last 7 years; many of them are at the hands of the Terps. Of course, the same could be said for the Terps worst losses. And that proves my point. Great rivals do that to each other.
People remember that photo (so eloquently photoshopped in the previous post) of the crying Duke kid, but forget what an incredible game it was. The Terps were down 10 with three minutes to go in regulation. Mike Jones caught fire and carried us to OT. Looking back, MJ was limited; but boy he is clutch isn’t he? It turned out that the title was bittersweet as it was the end of an amazing run. The Terps would miss the Tournament the following year and the class of 2006 would self-destruct. It was still a win for the ages.
#2 1993 NCAA Tournament Second Round. Maryland 95 – UMass 87
This was the game that brought Maryland back into the national spotlight. I was a sophomore at the time and so were Johnny Rhodes, Exree Hipp, and Duane Simpkins (all local kids, by the way). The most memorable moment ocurred when Exree had gotten fouled while converting a difficult layup attempt, got up from the floor, pounded his chest and said, “This is my game!”. I don’t know who was calling the game that day for CBS, but I will never forget what he said after that moment: “The number 2 seed in the Midwest is in trouble!”. The history of Maryland basketball was changed forever.
#1 2001 NCAA Regional Final. Maryland 87 – Stanford73
No one would have beaten the Terps that day. It was the most dominant performance I had ever seen the Terps turn in. Stanford was a good team and they didn’t stand a chance against Juan, Lonnie and the boys. Lonnie destroyed their bigs
One of my favorite stories about the 2001 season occured in the ACC Semifinal. After Duke squeaked by with an 84-82 win (remember Juan’s desperation 40 foot heave that almost went in?), Shane Battier walked up to Juan, hugged him and said, “I’ll see you at the Final Four”. Battier knew a good team when he saw one.
Much like this season, the 2001 Terps went through some extreme highs and lows. From gone in 53 seconds to the win at Duke. The Terps were streaking heading into the Tournament and everybody felt the breakthrough was coming, but the Stanford game provided the moment. Anyone who had ever spent time in College Park or grew up in the state had waited for that moment. The school with the most Top 10 finishes to have never gone to a Final Four was no longer Maryland. Our suffering had ended.
Even Coach K upon being interviewed after making the Final Four himself said “I’m so happy for their kids” in referring to the Maryland. I think it is the only time in my life that I actually didn’t hate the man. Of course, I was wasted and still celebrating Maryland’s win, so it could have been the booze.