In the end, the game comes down to one thing: man against man. May the best man win.
~ Sam Huff
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The final Maryland-Duke game seemed fitting. Everyone involved did what they've always done.
Maryland did their part. They fought Duke tooth and nail like they usually do. The Terps were gunning for their 14th win over Duke in as many seasons. No other team has won that much against Duke during that span. There was no fear of Cameron. The Terps swung back at Duke. It's what they've always done.
Duke did their part. They dug down for that something extra that they rarely have needed against most of the other ACC teams. They got a key stop on defense and big-time drive and dunk for the game-winner.
The Cameron Crazies did their part. They serenaded the Terps with A-C-C chants and then for old time sake, chanted "Sweat Gary sweat". Gary hasn't been there for 3 years but it was a nice gesture. When it became obvious to the Crazies that per usual, Maryland came to win rather than fold, it got loud....real loud. Coach K said after the game, "that was vintage Cameron man, that was one for the ages."
And of course, the referees did their part. They whistled 12 fouls on Maryland during the first 13 minutes of the game despite the fact Duke was shooting threes while the Terps were attacking the rim. At that point, Maryland was on pace for 37 fouls for the game. They finished with a mere 25 for the game....still 7 more than the home team. Other than that, not much except a simple case of oops on the possession arrow. Yes, the held ball with just over 7 minutes left in the game was indeed supposed to be Maryland's possession but somehow (I'm sure innocently??) the refs gave it to Duke. It wasn't a big deal or anything. The Terps had a 2-pt lead and would've had a chance to extend it but instead, Amile Jefferson took the possession gift and tied the game with a runner in the lane.
Lastly, it was another in a long line of Maryland-Duke thrillers which seemed fitting and this time, final.
Barring a matchup in the ACC Tournament, Maryland's game at Duke tonight will be the last between the two as ACC foes. The promise of huge Big 10 profits is the reason one of the great ACC rivalries (yes it's a rivalry) will end tomorrow and it's sad. My personal memories of the 5 best Maryland wins and 5 worst Maryland losses in the 174-game history with Duke.
1. 2004 ACC Championship. John Gilchrist completed an incredible MVP weekend by completing a 3-point play to tie the game late in regulation leading to a Terp win in overtime. The Terps trailed by 10 with 3 to go and roared back for Gary Williams' only ACC Tournament title.
2. Shane Battier Senior Night. Maryland and Duke played four memorable games in 2000....the 2nd of those 4 was sweet revenge. A month after "Gone in 60 seconds" (see below), the Terps got revenge in Duke's home finallee. Juan Dixon was unstoppable on offense (28 pts) and relentless on defense (5 steals) as the Terps spoiled Senior Night for Shane Battier, 91-80. No team beat Duke at Cameron Indoor more than Maryland did in the 2000's and each one felt great but none more than this one.
3. Lefty Finally Wins ACC Tournament. Lefty Driesell was 0-3 in ACC Finals until Len Bias scored 26 including an array of spectacular dunks en route to a 74-62 win over Duke. It was Coach K's first ACC final and it would be the last for Lefty who once said he'd take the ACC trophy if he won it, place it on the hood of his car, and drive it around the entire state of North Carolina. He didn't do it but long-time ACC fans from any state would've loved to see him do it.
4. Vasquez Leads Terps To ACC Regular Season Title. Greivis Vasquez banked in a tough floater from the right wing with 37 seconds left to lift Maryland to its first ACC regular season title in 8 years. In front of an electric sold-out Comcast Center, Vasquez scored 20 points in his final home game and wrapped up ACC Player of the Year honors in the process.
5. Blake's Steal. #1 Duke at #3 Maryland for the ACC regular season lead was part of a 5-year stretch where the rivalry was white-hot and at it's peak. Cole Field House was packed to the rafters 45 minutes before the tip. As the first-half clock wound down with Jason Williams dribbling the ball near halfcourt and looking back at Coach K for the final play, Steve Blake made a burst towards the ball, ripped the ball from Williams, and scored with 1 second left in the half. The play gave the Terps a 9-point halftime lead and too much momentum for Duke to overcome.
1. Gone in 60 Seconds. There were a ton of heartbreaking losses to Duke to choose from and most would probably say the Final 4 loss was the worst but nothing was ever so stunning as what happened on a late Janaury 2001 night at Cole. The Terps were in total command and on the verge of a big win over Duke but up 10 with a minute to go, they blew it. Jason Williams scored 8 of Duke's 10 consecutive points to force overtime as 14,500 sat shocked and silent. The Devils had all the momentum and hung on for a 98-96 win. I remember just sitting in my seat for a full 15 minutes after the game ended trying to figure out what the hell had just happened.
2. Final 4...Up 22...and then... Among the 4 epic games played against Duke in 2001, the last one was in the Final 4 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. The Terps roared to a 39-17 first half lead and once again, couldn't hold it. Duke chipped away until they took the lead with just over 7 minutes left in the game. This loss was painful because of some typical one-sided Duke officiating including Carlos Boozer grabbing, holding, and tripping Lonny Baxter but somehow Baxter fouled out and Boozer stayed in the game.
3. Kenny Dennard Undercuts Buck Williams. In the 1980 ACC Tournament Final, ACC Player of the Year Albert King had a nice look from 17-feet to beat Duke. The shot was short and hung on the rim. Buck Williams was in perfect position to tip it in for the game-winner until Duke's Kenny Dennard undercut Williams, causing him to lose his balance and fall awkwardly to the floor. The no-call gave Duke the title and left Lefty Driesell still searching for his first.
4. Nate James' Tip-In. In front of 40,000+ at the Georgia Dome, the 3rd of the 4 games in 2001 was a classic. Nate James tipped in a missed Chris Duhon shot with a second left to beat the Terps 84-82 in the ACC Tournament semi-finals. The final 30 seconds were breathtaking with no timeouts called by either team. Steve Blake hit a 3 to tie it with 10 seconds left. James' tip-in gave Duke the lead and then Juan Dixon's shot from 40-feet at the buzzer just barely missed. After the game, Coach K told Gary Williams, "see you in a few weeks". He was right. They met less than a month later in the Final 4.
5. Stevie Shutdown. Maryland and Duke appeared to be the two best teams in the ACC when they met as top-5 teams in early-January, 1999. Maryland was ranked 4th and Steve Francis appeared at the time to be the best player in the country. Duke came in ranked 2nd with Elton Brand and company in a game that was hyped as one of the biggest of the year. Francis went 3 for 14 from the field and Duke went on a 19-3 run early in the 2nd half to win going away 82-64. Maryland took 2 of 3 from North Carolina that year but couldn't get close to Duke during a season where the Terps were ranked in the top 10 and as high as #2 all season long.
WHAT'S THE FRIDAY FOOTBALL SMELL TEST?
Sunday, February 3rd
WHAT'S THE FRIDAY FOOTBALL SMELL TEST?
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Mark Turgeon's 3rd season at Maryland has been a rough go so far. Wednesday night’s win at home over Notre Dame will quiet an increasingly agitated fan base for the moment but another season without some March dancing won’t play well in Terp Land.
Maryland basketball fans are passionate but also impatient, combative, and confrontational. There's a ton of Jersey, Long Island, and Philly in this fan base. Throw in some old salt Eastern Shore and the grumbling usually comes with fists clenched.
Basketball is the sport that matters in College Park. No bowl game for Edsall, no big deal. No NCAA tournament for a 4th straight year, major deal.
With that said, whispers from a few about running Turgeon out of town after this year if they miss the tournament is ridiculous.
For starters, there's a top-10 recruiting class led by local standout Melo Trimble on the way next year. For Gary Williams’ last few years, the biggest complaint was recruiting. Turgeon has the program’s first top-10 class in 12 years on the way to College Park.
Secondly, Turgeon can coach. He's won everywhere and has consistently been viewed as a coach whose teams got more out of less and almost always improved as the season went on.
His last three teams at Texas A&M won two-thirds of its games from mid-February on.
His first two teams at Maryland played some its best basketball late in the season. Terrell Stoglin was nearly impossible to coach yet Turge had him playing his basketball in the final weeks of 2012.
Last year, the Terps beat Duke twice including a flawless beat down of the Devils in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals. They had Carolina on the ropes in the ACC semis, a win that would've put them in the NCAA Tournament but fell one 3-pointer short.
This year’s underwhelming 11-7 record has a reasonable explanation. Seth Allen’s preseason injury cost them dearly. What’s clear after just a few games back is that Allen isn’t just the team’s best point guard; he might be their best player.
Home losses to Oregon State and Boston University would've been reversed.
Losses to GW and UConn may have turned out differently as well.
Instead of 11-7, they'd be no worse than 13-5 and they would be right in the middle of the NCAA at-large discussion had Allen not gotten hurt.
Despite what some of the message-board dummies think, Turgeon is a solid coach and his 3rd season is far from dead. There are 13 games left before Maryland’s final ACC Tournament in Greensboro. The NCAA bubble once again looks soft. Teams that in previous years wouldn’t have had a chance will find themselves surprisingly in the hunt for one of the 68 spots. Maryland can still be one of those.
The Terps will likely need a minimum of 11 conference wins considering their rough non-conference November and December. That’s an 8-5 rest of the way. That rest of the way must include at least a pair of marquee wins but they’ll have plenty of chances with Pitt and Syracuse at home, Virginia twice, and Duke on the road.
It would be nice if the fan base did their part over the next six weeks. The first-half crowd the other night against Notre Dame was lifeless. The atmosphere stunk for a team that needed a push.
20 years ago, Maryland made its first of 14 trips to the NCAA tournament under Gary Williams. It was a tournament trip that hung in the balance most of the year until a season-closing win at home over Virginia. That entire season Cole Field House was electric and desperate to get back to the dance.
This year’s team closes with Virginia too. There are 6 home games between now and then. A heated and blood-thirsty Comcast Center for all of those games could be the difference between March smiles or sadness.
WHAT'S THE FRIDAY FOOTBALL SMELL TEST?
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