It was another tough loss for the Terps last night, and KGoon1590 from INRICP voices the frustration most fans are feeling today. Being 6-4 at this point in the season is definitely rough, and losing a winnable home ACC game will probably come back to haunt Maryland.
Maybe I'm too optimistic, maybe I'm looking at the world through Terps colored glasses, or maybe I've lowered my expectations too far, but I found a lot to like about the team's performance.
Towards the end of the game I found myself (not for the first time this season) thinking back to the NCM/Chis McCray/Mike Jones teams of a few years ago. That was a group of players with a huge amount of talent who never quite lived up to expectations. It wasn't just that they underachieved (relative to the expectations the Dixon/Baxter/Blake teams had set), it was the way all the games seemed to go. I remember many games during those years where the Terps would allow an overmatched opponent to hang around all game. Other times, the team would seem to fall asleep for 10+ minutes of game time, allowing the other team to take a commanding lead or eat away at the Terps' advantage. Basically, they never seemed to play hard for 40 minutes, unless Coach K was sitting on the opposing bench.
This year's team feels a lot different. They remind me a lot of the Emerald Nuts Bowl-bound Maryland football team. They're going to lose some frustrating games, but it won't be for lack of effort. It was really great to see the Terps (without emotional leader Greivis Vasquez, more on that below) keep fighting at the end of the game, even after it seemed hopeless. Maryland was down 9 with 2:05 left to play, and rallied to be down 3 with the ball at 0:03 left. That kind of heart and determination will pay dividends as the season goes on.
The foul on Greivis seemed uncalled for, but I understand punching the basket support is an automatic technical. It would be nice if the referees were given discretion in the enforcement of the rule. Unfortunately, NCAA basketball officials have repeatedly proven themselves unable to enforce the rules as they are written, much less make difficult judgment calls. Ultimately, it's absurd for a player to be given a fifth foul for expressing frustration with himself, provided he doesn't show up the official. Unfortunately, that's not how the rules are written, and it is Greivis' responsibility to know the rules (and Gary's responsibility to make sure the players know the rules). In the end, if Greivis' emotion costs him a technical foul every once in a while, I consider that a fair trade. It's just too bad that this technical came at the worst possible moment for the Terps.
One other thought from the game: it was great to see the end of the Landon Milbourne "Invisible Man" routine. He really stepped his game up in the second half. Hopefully we'll see more of the same from him the rest of the way.
Update 8:40pm: I logged in to Facebook this evening and was reminded of why I'm such a big Vasquez fan:
That just about says it all, doesn't it?