March 8, 2009

Maryland Basketball - Expect the Soul Crushing Defeat

No need for a caption. The picture says it all.

In response to Brien's Post on February 22 after the Terps upset North Carolina, I had this to say in the comment section:

Every year we get a marquee win against UNC or Duke down the stretch, just enough to make people talk about us getting off the bubble. Then, inevitably, we choke against a team that in eminently beatable and a game that we should win, and we play ourselves right into NIT contention. That said, based upon our game yesterday, now, if we win our two games against eminently beatable opponents, UVA (on the road) and NC State, we should be tourney bound at 8-8 and wins over Michigan State and UNC. However, if this year bodes like years past, we'll choke one of those games away.

Brien responded to my comment as follows:

Wow, Jeremy, that's an unbelievably negative thing to say in the wake of the biggest win of the year.

Look, believe it or not, I'm not out to play who's right or who's wrong. I think all Terp fans are demoralized beyond belief after yesterday's soul-crushing, gut-wrenching loss to the woeful Virginia Cavaliers, which barring a miracle in Atlanta, ended the Terps' NCAA hopes.

But, in reality, should any Terp fans really be all that surprised by what happened yesterday? Was I really all that off base in my prediction? At the time, I was doing it off-the-cuff from my recollections of the past few years, without actually taking a look back. Well, turns out the numbers from the past few seasons show that every Terp fan should have expected the collective bed-shitting that we saw yesterday.

2004-2005 Season:
- Terps beat top-5 ranked Duke, leaving them with 5 games left in the ACC season.
- Terps lose 4 of 5 of those games, including games against UVA, Clemson, and Virginia Tech, who combined to end the season with a 46-45 record.
- Terps blown out in the first round of the ACC Tournament in Washington, DC by woeful Clemson, who finished the year at 16-16 overall.

2005-2006 Season:
- Arguably the season that the Terps got totally screwed for an NCAA Tournament bid, finishing 8-8 in the conference.
- They win their first round ACC Tournament game, but get blown out in the second round of the ACC Tournament by Boston College, a team that the Terps had already beaten. A win here would've guaranteed the Terps entry into the NCAA Tourney in "the year of the mid-major."
- Instead, the Terps get to host the NIT, and it comes out later that Gary had already told the team they would turn the bid down but was forced into it by Debbie Yow, who had already promised the NIT that Maryland would host a first-round game. Maryland comes out listless and gets blown out by MAAC "powerhouse" Manhattan.

2006-2007 Season:
- The Terps most recent NCAA appearance
- Terps run off an amazing seven straight wins to end the season, including a season sweep (2 wins) over top-15 Duke, and a win over top-5 UNC.
- Terps have the chance to earn a very, very high seed in the NCAA Tournament but, instead, as the 17th-ranked team in the country, lose to a 12-20 Miami Hurricanes team (the bottom seed) in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
- Terps do make the NCAA Tournament as a four-seed, beating Davidson in the first round, before losing to five-seed Butler in the second round.

2007-2008 Season:
- Terps are 8-6 with 2 ACC games left and the chance to firmly clinch a high NCAA seed.
- Terps lose a close game to doormat Clemson on Senior Night at Comcast Center
- Terps get blown out by UVA on the road to end the season, finishing 8-8, and placing them firmly on the bubble. For all intents and purposes though, a win in the first round of the ACC Tournament gets them off the bubble and in the tournament
- Terps head to the ACC Tournament and get beaten by Boston College in the first round in that "must win" game, and head back to the NIT for the third time in four seasons.

2008-2009 Season:
- Terps enter final game of the season at 7-8 in the conference, going on the road to Charlottesville to face a UVA team that was 3-12 in the conference, 9-17 overall. UVA students are on "senior recess" (don't even get me started on this shit), and Terp fans fill up a good 20% of the John Paul Jones arena, making it "Comcast South" for the afternoon.
- Terps blow an 11 point first-half lead, can't beat the zone defense, can't keep their heads on straight at the end to have awareness as to what kinds of shots they need, and lose.
- Terps now need at least two wins in the ACC Tournament to even be considered for one of the final slots in the tournament, in a year when mid-majors are weak and lots of other bubble teams have choked down the stretch (see Wildcats, Kentucky; Rams, Rhode Island)

So in the words of Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday, "I don't know what to say, really." I mean, this Terps basketball team has given fans pretty solid heartburn and heartbreak down the stretch in each of the past five seasons.

Is it coaching? I actually don't think so, because I think the Terps executed pretty damn well against Duke, Wake, and NC State, earning close losses against top-10 teams Duke and Wake, and a great road win against NC State. But, then again, yesterday, how could the team seem so startled and get the deer-in-headlights look the second they went against a zone defense.

Is it motivation? Dave Neal called out the rest of his team yesterday after the game asking how anybody could not be motivated to play a game with so much on the line. Greivis Vasquez admitted that UVA wanted the game more. How could you let a team want it more when everything is riding on the game?

Is it talent, or a lack thereof? I think we may be onto something here. So the greater question is how did Maryland fall totally off the wagon when it came to getting talent on their roster, especially big men who could break the zone and get inside?

Terp fans feel sick this morning. I think Denny Green said it best, "AND WE LET 'EM OFF THE HOOK!!!" (edited because J-Red caught my inaccurate quoting of Denny Green)

9 Responses:

Grant said...

I was at that DC ACC tourney. What a waste of money.

J-Red said...

I think you misquoted Dennis Green.

"We are what we thought we were."

That being said, if Greivis=Gilchrist, as I think he does, we'll probably run the table in Atlanta.

Jeremy said...

No, Denny's quote preceded the "We let them off the hook."

Jeremy said...

Never mind, you're right, I just watched the Youtube again.

KO'd over Cheese Fries said...


Watching this game yesterday, Uncle Steve goes "wow, there will be gnashing of teeth on East Coast Bias over this one"

J-Red said...

I wish we were the only four people gnashing teeth. I hope the entire student body, alumni base, and local support group had a little heartburn...especially to the awful f-ing Cavaliers.

Anonymous said...

It gets better. Mamadi Diane, the senior who hit the game winning 3 against us? He is from Potomac, MD and was recruited by Maryland. He chose UVA over Maryland.

But wait. There's more. Diane has been a bench warmer this whole year. He's their 2nd guy off the bench. On a team that is 11th place in the ACC and has won 10 TOTAL games all year.

But wait. There's more. Maryland was ready to offer this guy a schlarship. That tells you everything you need to know about the Terps recruiting.

To make things worse, he says "no thanks" to Maryland, goes to UVA, and then comes back to dick them on his Senior Night.

Lee said...

Unfreakingbelievable. Really all there is to say about it. Terps had played so well for the last month and then lay a giant egg at UVA. Would write more but may induce vomiting. Don't have any idea why I will watch Thursday and then inevitably Firday(is there any doubt the Terps will look incredible Thursday night to get the hopes up again?) to torture myself again with NCAA dreams...

The Real Athlete Blog said...

Great article, although it depresses me to read as a die-hard MD fan. NIT bound for the 4th time in 5 years. Sweet! Rick Maese's article in the Baltimore Sun sums it up best.

Maybe we will get a decent recruiting class next year, so our front court has a player over 6'7" who starts. I know Gus Gilchrist bounced before the season, but we have nobody down low, except Braxton Dupree (who is a project!) and Goins and Burney who never left the bench.

With Padgett coming next season, we will have more depth in the front court. I don't think Stephenson will come to MD, especially after the tour Under Armour gave him and the questions about violations.

All in all, the program is in the dumps and needs to be rescued...we have become a bunch of chokers and NIT regulars.

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