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.