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!

Five Football Games Left

Can anyone figure this team out? Going back to last season, the Terps have won five straight contests against ranked opponents. They have also lost to Middle Tennessee State in that time.

At 5-2, the Terps are still positioned incredibly well to have a successful season. However, if history is any kind of indicator; being positioned well is exactly when the wheels start to come off for the Terps. For evidence, one need look no further than the UVA loss three weeks ago (Yes, I realize that UVA beating UNC this weekend means that UVA might not be that bad).

Nevertheless, if the shutout against Wake is going to serve as the spark to a spectacular finish, then the Terps will need to break with history.

There can be no more letdowns. The Terps have homecoming this coming week against NC State. The Wolfpack have played horribly (except for the win East Carolina). Maryland should kill them and get to 6-2. Note, the most important word in the previous sentence is “should”. With this team, are you willing to say that they will win for sure?

How many times in a season can a team get caught sleeping on an opponent? The Terps have done it twice (both times on the road). If they can’t beat NC State, then they are truly lost.

I believe that the domination of this past weekend vs. Wake was a turning point. They destroyed a Top 25 team. Maryland’s other big wins have not been so convincing. If indeed we have seen the turning point, then the Terps will still need to demonstrate their superiority against the ACC’s upper echelon.

The season ends with games at Va Tech (Thu. Night), followed by home games vs. FSU and UNC. The season ends at BC. None of those games will be easy but they will all be winnable. If Maryland has turned the corner; then they will win three of the final four. If not it’s another trip to the Emerald Bowl.

Jekyll Shows Up; Terps Rout Wake

Ah, how nice was it to see the good Terps again. We sure did miss you guys. Here’s hoping you stick around for a while this time!

I have to say, what a performance by the entire team on Saturday as Maryland dominated Wake 26-0. This was a total team effort and the first time all season the team has played a complete game. I think we need to call out the team every week if that’s what gets them to play this way.

Let’s start with the defense. Wow. Hey Chris Cosh, that is how you coordinate! The Terps put pressure on Riley Skinner all day long and the defensive line had perhaps the best game I can remember. They swarmed to the ball all day. Sure, the receivers dropped some passes early on, but there are always going to be those kinds of mistakes. The offense put the D in some tough situations early on, but they were able to force FG attempts and that was huge. At one point, Wake went 6 possessions without getting into Maryland territory. The Terps tackled extremely well and here’s hoping they can play that physical in the coming weeks. Wake hadn’t been shutout in 10 years! Cosh, you are off the hook once again, but PLEASE LET’S SEE SOME CONSISTENCY.

Next up, the offense. Da’Rel Scott had a brutal first half with 3 fumbles (2 lost), but threw a great ball to Darrius Heyward-Bey on a halfback option and ran the ball okay the rest of the way. Interesting offensive gameplan letting Chris Turner throw over 40 times, but it worked. Turner was really good and in control the whole game. Oh, and they decided to get Heyward-Bey involved. What a concept! The guy caught 11 passes and we won. Hmmm.

Kudos really have to go out to the offensive line. The offense would not have been able to throw the ball so much if the O-line did not protect. They played physical as well and opened up some nice running lanes too. The O-line had its best game by far. Davin Meggett had some nice runs and he should be on the field more as well. I would love to see a backfield with Portis, Scott and Meggett for a couple of option plays. Who do you run to! Are you reading this Franklin!

More praise to our reborn kicker Obi. The guy is money right now. Even when they don’t look great, they go through. Great job Obi getting your confidence back and those kicks in the first half and early in the second half were bigtime.

So here we are. 5-2, 2-1 in the ACC. Will we be ranked? Maybe. Do we deserve to be ranked? I say not quite yet. I say they must prove they can play well in back to back weeks and if they come out next week against NC State at home for homecoming and whoop em, then we’ll be deserving. So let’s enjoy this for about a day and start thinking about NC State. In fact, we should put a number by NC State so the Terps think they are a ranked team.

Go Terps! We are proud of you today. The ACC is wide open and this could be a special season if they really really want it!

Terps Vs. Wake Thread

Great start boys. They actually got DHB involved early. Go figure. Gotta keep it up.

Terps Escape Against Wake, 74-70

Why is it that I feel the same after tonight’s win as I did after the first Wake game? If you’ll remember, the Terps and Deacons played a turnover and foul filled contest that left fans of both teams demoralized. If you go back to my post (entitled “When Winning Feels Like Losing”) and comments from that game, you will remember what I’m talking about. Tonight is different, we are all smiles, but I still see much to be concerned about.

For the third straight game, Maryland could not find the bucket in the last 8 minutes. It cost us W’s against Va Tech and Miami and should have cost us tonight (Wake missed plenty of open looks). A disturbing trend, our Terps need to figure out how to score down the stretch. Watching Hayes and Vasquez chuck up threes when the Terps had a commanding lead was maddening. Vasquez owned Teague on the low block all night. Not going there down the stretch bordered on a criminal act!

Milbourne was a no-show tonight and so was Osby. Osby was so bad that I actually think something was physically wrong with him. He didn’t start the second half and lacked his typical emotion. Between the Milbourne, Hayes, and Osby one of them needs to be a scorer each game. Tonight, none of them stepped up in a significant way (Hayes’ scoring was negated by his turnovers and 0 assists. Yes, that is right. 0 assists). Somehow the Terps still won.

Maryland was willed to victory tonight by our leaders. Jim Gist in particular, refused to lose. Why can’t he play with this attitude every night? This I will never know, but suffice it to say that we need another big performance from him against Clemson. Combined with Vasquez they totaled 55 of Maryland’s 74 points. I’m no math major but that is too much. We need production from other players.

The season now rides on the Clemson game. To date, Maryland has exactly one win against the RPI Top 50. Sunday night’s game represents Maryland’s last chance in the regular season to improve on that stat. That should provide us with the necessary motivation. If the noise emanating out of the Comcast Center is not registering on the Richter Scale on Sunday night, then the Terps don’t deserve to win.

Of course, if we go back to the first Wake game, Maryland followed that lackluster win with its most inspiring performance of the year: beating UNC. Here’s hoping they play with similar fire on Sunday. After all, the season only depends on it.

Finally, a little housekeeping. Turtle Soup is temporarily relocating to Buenos Aires. Yes, for the next 9 days, I will be in sunny South America with Mrs. Soup. Rest assured, I will still follow the Clemson game. Turtle Soup will still have regular posts, so please continue to make us your gameday headquarters.

Buenos dias, mis comprades. Vamos Terps!

Maryland – Wake Thread

Welcome to the postseason, ladies and gentlemen.

There is no room for error, the Terps need to start playing their best ball of the season tonight. For you out of towners, it appears that the game will be broadcast on channelsufing.net.

Enjoy the game wherever you are and if the tide is turning against us, try to have a nerf ball or some other unbreakable object nearby. No use tossing out something valuable while you express your frustration.

Wake-Maryland: When Winning Feels Like Losing

The Sling Box is back in action, although it is with less excitement that I tuned in tonight. This past weekend’s loss at Va Tech was a watershed moment for me and the rest of Terp nation. The goal of an NCAA berth is, barring a miracle, out of reach. The hole is now too deep to climb out from.

Tonight, Maryland should have beaten Wake Forest by 15 points, yet we were in a dogfight until the end. The freshman don’t know what to do in the offensive sets. Compound that with a shoot first, out-of-control point guard and the result is ugly.

At least Billy Packer was announcing the game. Yeesh.

For me the most telling sequence of the game occurred with Maryland up 51-38. Coming off a Wake Forest time out, Maryland turned the ball over multiple times (Vasquez played a crucial part) and gave up 7 points in under a minute of play. It was as if the Terps said, “Ha-Ha, we fooled you into thinking that we know what we are doing! Don’t you know, we suck?”

Before I go on, I have to devote three paragraphs to Greivis Vasquez.

His performance tonight was truly epic. Find me another player who can have a terrible game while scoring 22 points? I desperately want to know what goes through his mind. Here’s a typical scenario: the Terps are up 11 points, the game clock is under 5 minutes, and there is Vasquez launching threes with 28 seconds on the shot clock!

What is he trying to prove? You play to win the game! What is the point of trying to stick a three-point dagger at that juncture of the game? Work the clock and get the ball to Gist in the paint. Unreal! It’s not that hard and yet for Vasquez, these obvious game situations prove impossible for him to manage.

Will Vasquez ever learn? If he plans on playing professionally (notice I didn’t say NBA), he best figure out how to control his emotions and make better decisions. At this point, I’ll settle for average decisions. Good decisions are light-years away for him.

Can you imagine Gary Williams’ level of frustration? Jason McAlpin was playing crunch time minutes tonight. Please read that last sentence again. Are the freshman so inept that Gary literally had to go to the end of the bench to find someone who could play his way? Jason McAlpin? Are you kidding me? I didn’t even know what he looked like until tonight.

The only thing the Terps do well is play defense. That’s it. In particular, Osby and Gist are truly gifted shot blockers. Fortunately, good defense will keep you in most games, but it can only take you so far.

Remember when being in the game was a given? Now, a loss to UNC is so inevitable that just being close will feel like a victory. The worst part is that they are not even fun to watch. The brand of hoops being played is as ugly as it is ineffective.

The nightmare continues with our trip to the Dean Dome this weekend. It’s about to get worse.

Wake Forest Message Boards Report Coach Skip Prosser Dead from Apparent Heart Attack

I just heard this from the rumor mill and if true it is sad, tragic news.  Apparently, Skip Prosser collapsed while jogging today and attempts to revive him have failed.   The ACC has certainly been hit hard by tragedy this year.  I hope this is the last of it.

The Good, The Bad, and Ugly Part II

This is my second article today. My first one was lost to cyperspace (except for the picture of Eastwood). So let me try again.

The good: The Terps won on the road in the ACC for the first time this year and looked impressive for the first 28 minutes last night.

The bad: Wake Forest. Boy are they a long way from the days of Josh Howard, Tim Duncan, and Randolph Childress.

The ugly: The last 12 minutes. The Terps and only the Terps can torment their fans in this way. A win on the road, but somehow, the fans are left with queasy stomachs. At least they won. The season continues. We are not dead yet. (Insert cliche here).

It has been a tale of two seasons for the Terps. November and December were by all accounts, fantastic. 14-1 in non-conference play. Some great looking road wins against Big Ten and Big East opponents. Vasquez drew favorable comparisons to Manu Ginobili. Osby to Ben Wallace. The seniors were holding things together and seem to underestand each others roles.

Then came the ACC. Inconsistencies and poor leadership exposed the team. They started to fall apart. Blowout losses to UVA and Florida St demoralized the fan base. A third straight trip to the NIT still appears likely for these kids. However, last night proved that all is not lost.

Halfway into the ACC, the Terps record is a pedestrian 3-5. But let’s take a look at that record. There won’t be too many teams winning on the road against BC, UVA, Va Tech and Florida State this year. Take away the Miami loss (which will haunt us all year) and the Terps haven’t lost any games that they shouldn’t have. What scared the fan base (myself included) has been the blowout losses. Florida State is a good team with a great player (Al Thornton) who could have gone pro last year. UVa has great guard play and we are inexperienced there. Looking back, no other school in the ACC has played a tougher first half schedule than the Terps. They are a win against Miami from being 4-4 in the conference.

(I really can’t let this go. We should be 18-5 right now. If we are left out on Selection Sunday the Miami loss will be the reason why. The Terps MUST win a game that they are not supposed to win to rectify the situation. That means beating UNC or a road win against Duke or Clemson. The home games against UVa or Duke do not count as they are must-wins.)

Five of our remaining eight games are at home. Will it be easy? You don’t need me to answer that. Every team in this conference is capable of winning on any given day. NC State’s win against UNC proved that. It is up to the players and the fans to say that the Comcast Center is going to be a hard place to win.

Gary has had 2/3 of the season to figure out what he has. Hopefully, he has realized the following:

– James Gist is the key. He needs to be our inside presence and number 1 option. He has the athletic ability to create down low. Give him the rock.

– Vasquez and Hayes should be playing together and starting. Vasquez can knock down clutch shots and wants the ball in crunch time. Hayes makes good decisions and together, these two can create opportunities for each other.

– Strawberry and Jones are both winners of the genetic lottery, but they do not have court sense. Each has regressed in different ways. Strawberry no longer plays shut down defense and takes terrible shots (actually he always took bad shots). Jones has been maddening. His defense has always been suspect, but he does nothing to create opportunities for himself and spends way too much time behind the arc. If I could surgically implant Juan Dixon’s brain and heart into Mike Jones’ body; we would have the consensus national player of the year on our team.

– The other seniors: Ibekwe (stupid shots, stupid foals, terrible FT shooting), Bowers (where to begin? the most overmatched Terrapin since Chris Kerwin) and Parrish Brown (non-factor) cannot and will not get it done. Gary needs to rely on the younger players.

Gist, Vasquez, and Hayes will define the success of this team. The season depends on the next two games. Can we hold serve at home? No one, including Gary Williams knows which Terps team will show up. Let’s just hope we see a return to the Terps of November and not a continuation of the Terps of January. As always, we will know within the first five minutes of the UVa game, which team took the court.

Five regular season wins (plus one in the ACC Tournament) and we’re in.  That is a tall order, but it is doable.  Get to it, boys.