Survival! Terps Now 6-2!

I hate not being able to watch these games. With all due respect to Johnny Holiday, listening to him doing the broadcast is infuriating. The guy misses things and won’t tell you what happened until 5 seconds after the play is over. I ended up just listening to the crowd in the background to determine whether it was a positive or negative play.

This team is something, and no matter how close it was, this was a big win.

To quote Rob Schneider from Necessary Roughness: “In a monsoon, it’s anybody’s game.”

And it was.

Since I didn’t watch it, I’ll defer to you guys for specifics, but all that matters is that the Terps put together one hell of a final drive, going over 90 yards and overcoming 2 holding calls to kick the winning field goal. Kudos to Obi Egekeze for hitting that 47 yarder early in the game and with what sounded like a sloppy field, you can’t blame the guy that much for missing the other FG, can you? He hit it when it counted and we are now 6-2, bowl eligible and have a long season still to go.

Not sure what was wrong with the defense today. It’s hard to believe a defense can play that great last week and then stink it up one week later, but they did come up big late and gave the offense a chance to win it, and they came through.

We’ve got as good a shot as anyone, as you can see that Virginia now controls its own destiny after upsetting Georgia Tech. I still think the UVA loss was a bad loss, but the Cavs have sure turned it around, haven’t they?

Let’s be glad the Terps got this victory and move on.

Startin To Come Together

It was a special night at Comcast Center. Not just because the Terps played an inspired second half and ran away from NC State. It was a nice University of Maryland Class of 1996/97 reunion. Jeremy, myself, and many others who spent 4+ years in Student Section, Row 3 of Cole Field house were watching the Terps live, in person, all together, for the first time in nearly 12 years. It was fantastic.

So was the play of James (you can call me Jim) Gist and my man Grievis Vasquez. Okay, he hasn’t always been MY man, and he still makes really bad decisions at times, but you can’t argue with a team record-tying 15 assists and being one rebound away from a triple double. Gist was unstoppable. The comparison to Joe Smith was accurate in this game. He was the go-to guy and he didn’t disappoint. Well, except for the one airball, but when you pour in 30, you are allowed one bad shot!

Early on, who would have thought we were going to be watching two players have career nights. Here’s Jeremy’s quotes:

2:30 into the game: “I can’t believe we are going to lose to NC State”

5:00 into the game: “I think we are going to win this one.”

8:00 into the game: “We haven’t looked this bad since December”

(you get the idea).

5:00 into the 2nd half: “We are going to beat Duke this week.”

10:00 into the 2nd half: “We are definitely going to the Sweet 16”

Boy did I miss the back and forth from our group. Anyway, you gotta give this team a lot of credit. To finish the first half strong, then come out and score 12 straight points early in the 2nd and blow the roof off the place showed a lot of heart. They didn’t have this heart 6 weeks ago. This team does have a chance to go to the Sweet 16, but then again, if they stop playing smart, they could end up 8-8 in the conference. I’m betting they get that magic 10 games and make the tournament.

We should definitely get some votes in the polls this week and if they are able to upset Duke, and not have a letdown next weekend, they can get themselves in the poll. But that’s not the most important thing. This team needs to continue to get better, continue to believe in themselves and gain confidence.

Vasquez has shown he can learn (most of the time). Gist has stepped up and could end up sneaking into the late first round of the NBA draft. Osby seems to have worn himself out a bit in the past week or two and you can see that Gary is trying hard to give him more rest. But Boom was there early in the second half to set the tone and the rest of the team fed of his emotion. Landon Milbourne continues to show signs of getting better and better. His defense is excellent and he’s hitting some big shots as well as throwing down some big time dunks. He still makes some dumb plays, but remember this is really his first real year playing college ball. Eric Hayes hit some big shots and is developing a mid-range game that is essential to our offenses success.

As for the bench. Tucker and Bowie were solid and even Dupree got in there and did not embarrass himself. Like I said, this team is really coming together and they have a legitimate shot this week at Duke. But after getting this game against the Wolfpack, they are 6-3 in the conference and the game at Cameron is like playing with house money. They can come in loose knowing a win is not essential. They can be relaxed and have fun and perhaps they can beat the rat-faced man and his crew.

The Terps of Dangerfield

Maryland’s 20 point win yesterday felt more like surgery than a game. NC State could not compete. Everything seemed like a methodical march to inevitability. Jones and Strawberry were unstoppable. Forcing their will on to their opponents. Yet, there were the freshman. Cool and focused decision makers. Dishing out dimes as needed and not turning the ball over once in the second half. The big men have come along too. Like a caterpillar to a butterfly, the Terps have completed the transfomation from also-ran to full-fledged juggernaut.

Maryland fulfilled reader Kaze’s prophecy on Saturday. They won out. Yesterday’s win completed what is arguably the most improbable run in school history. Sure, there are Terp teams from days gone by that have had longer winning streaks (most recently the 2002 squad), but there have been precious few that have pulled off the metamorphosis of our 2007 version.

Gary has accomplished what every coach dreams about. He molded freshman and seniors to form a team that was greater than the sum of its parts. The best part of this is that for the Terp faithful, we got to watch and be a part of what might be the most exciting and satisifying event in all of sports: an unexpected season. These last three weeks have been as memorable as they have been unprecedented. For that, we owe everyone associated with this team our gratitude.

Much will be made over the coming days about post-season awards. Dave Leitao (or is it Dan? Actually, who cares?) looks to be the front runner for Coach of the Year. Sure, UVA swept the Terps this season and they finished a game ahead in the standings. That is likely to put Leitao over the top. No matter. We know better. All things being equal, if given the chance, Gary will out-coach Leitao when it matters most.

Actually, it will be fitting if Gary doesn’t get the award. No Terp player will find their way on to the ACC first team, nor will Vasquez win Freshman of the Year. Deep down, I think that is how Gary wants it. I think there is no better motivator for this team than to be ignored. Why not have that start at the top with Gary? Respect? Who needs it?

Quietly, the Terps are the most feared team in the conference and a dark horse Final Four candidate. The longer we go unnoticed, the better.

As I watch the UNC – Duke game, I’m torn. Sure, I’d love the Terps to get the bye in the ACC Tourney, but that means we would likely play Carolina in the Quarterfinals. However I had Zen-like realization a I watched the game. Instead of worrying about who the Terps are playing; other teams are worried about playing us. You think Carolina wants any part of the Terps right now? Let the chips fall where they may. Our boys will be ready.

In terms of respect, it may come this week. I would expect the Terps to find themselves in the Top 15. Anything less, and the Rodney Dangerfield show will continue its uninterrupted run in College Park.