November 27, 2008

I'm Thankful for Maryland Basketball

I don't think I can overstate how important that victory over #6 Michigan State is. This Maryland team has had some consistency problems earlier in the season and had yet to play with the kind of confidence we've come to expect from a Gary Williams coached team.

Last week the Terps struggled to beat Vermont at home, but tonight they blew Michigan State off a neutral court. That's exactly the type of win the tournament selection committee loves to see, and it's not too early to start talking about building a tournament resume.

Everyone played well for the Terps tonight, but I have to start off by talking about Dave Neal. He's been the butt of a lot of jokes over the years, and there are plenty of Maryland fans who still cringe every time he steps on the court. But tonight he played like a senior: 17 points, 4 rebounds, and 3-for-3 from beyond the arc. One thing I've noticed about Dave Neal is that he's improved markedly each year. His freshman year he played mainly in garbage time, but as he's matured, he's earned more and more playing time. On a team whose biggest weakness is big men, Neal is going to be a huge contributor this year.

One of my big questions heading into the season was how much Braxton Dupree had improved over the off-season. Through the first three games, that was still an open question. Tonight, he answered any critics with the most aggressive performance of his career.

Adrian Bowie and Sean Mosley also turned in unexpectedly huge performances.

The big difference between this game and a lot of Terps games over the past few years is that they played hard for 40 minutes. They built a lead, the Spartans fought back, but Maryland didn't give up, regained the lead, and won the game running away.

With the tough victory over Vermont and tonight's huge win over MSU, we're seeing the Terps mature before our eyes. There are going to be some rough spots ahead this season, but Maryland is a very dangerous team that will punish any team that overlooks them.

10 Responses:

Russell said...

Obviously any victory over #6 is big, but this is much bigger than normal because of the tournament layout. By winning, MD now plays Gonzaga and then one of Tennessee and G'Town. I would argue that splitting those two games will look much better than sweeping Okla St. and Siena or Wichita St., and we are certainly capable of losing to one or more of those bracket-buster style teams. Now we are guaranteed 2 quality games against good teams, with no expectations and limited downside, a good thing for a young team.

Jeremy said...

The Big 11 is horrible. Every single year the ACC, no matter how down the conference is, just wipes the floor with the conference. For all the Tourney appearances their teams have, the conference has done nearly (not totally, but nearly) squat. Seriously, I don't know why us ACC folks are still subjected to the Big 11-ACC Challenge. Can't we upgrade our opponents?

Jeremy said...

Oh... and after we make Michigan our bitches next week, we will officially own the State of Michigan. However, these days, with the economy what it is, the total cost of that is roughly 37 cents.

"ben" said...

Does this mean I get the points, now? You aren't allowed to talk trash like that and not give points.

Funny, when I was trying to get the points before, you were all, "Wah, wah, Maryland sucks. Michigan will win, seriously. Wah, wah."

Russell said...

I'm not as thankful any more.

Anonymous said...

As great as the MSU win was, the the Spartans play like ass. Gonzaga and Georgetown (and I would argue Vermont before Vasquez bailed us out with a 3) has exposed this team as flawed. I think the Terps could be one of those teams on the bubble come selection Sunday. But that's a best case scenario. We are not as good as carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, VA Tech, or even Miami.

But if we get good solid point guard play from Hayes, it's possible that we finish in 5th place and sneak into the tournament. On the other hand, if we play like we did against Gonzaga or Georgetown, it's going to be a really, really, really long year.

(Former Terps manager who prefers to stay anonymous for this post, LOL)

Anonymous said...

I meant the Spartans PLAYED like ass (in the Maryland game). MSU was # 6 at the time and some project them as a Final Four team. Personally, they seem overrated this year, especially without Raymar Morgan. Jeremey's right. The Big Ten stinks. Let's see how good MSU is by the end of the year. Izzo is a great coach.

big tuna said...

Big Ten 1

big tuna said...

MSU was without Raymar Morgan (fouls) and Goran Suton (injuries). Not that it should have mattered.

Did I just defend Sparty? Man, I feel dirty.

silverbax said...

I think that people who are getting Maryland basketball tickets this year are going to continue to see an up and down team, but Gary has a long home stretch for them to try and work out the kinks.

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