Monday, December 29, 2003

Terps Ambushed at Florida State

Originally posted on "TerpTown" on the network and syndicated to Yahoo

If a college basketball team wants to win on the road, it needs to make their foul shots and avoid turnovers. The Maryland Terrapins did none of the above Sunday night and lost at Florida State 79-75 in the ACC opener for both teams.

The game could hardly have begun in a worse manner for the Terps, who fell behind 16-4 before the first media time out. Maryland turned the ball over on their first three possessions (13 in the first half). Michael Joiner paced the Seminoles, who added another hoop after the timeout, with seven points and Mike Matthews added another six points during that opening run. Both seniors had exceeded their season scoring average (Joiner 5.2, Matthews 2.7) in the first five minutes of the game.

The game quickly turned around, however, when the Terps went on a 14-2 burst to draw within 20-18. Chris McCray, who scored 13 points in the first half, made 4-4 free throws, John Gilchrist and Nik Caner Medley knocked down three-pointers, Ekene Ibekwe threw down a dunk after rebounding a Jamar Smith miss, and D. J. Strawberry came up with a steal that led to a breakaway layup.

Much of the balance of the first half was played at a frantic pace, with turnovers and missed shots leading to lots of end-to-end action. Florida State nudged their lead out to five points, and the Terps briefly led by two, but it was the Seminoles that took a 37-36 lead into the locker room at the break.

Not only did McCray lead all scorers at halftime, he was also the defensive star. McCray held the Seminoles' leading scorer, Tim Pickett (14.4 points per game) scoreless in the first half. Pickett needed only 14 seconds of the second half to change that, knocking down his first shot after halftime. Travis Garrison quickly answered with a three-pointer to tie the game at 39-39.
The game went back and forth well into the second half, but the first sign of trouble came for Maryland when McCray headed to the bench with his third foul only five minutes in. Smith quickly joined him with his third foul, and then Garrison picked up his fourth moments later. Despite foul problems, the Terps led 56-51 following a Caner-Medley layup with 10:20 remaining in the game.

For Maryland fans who taped this game, that would be the point to stop the VCR and eject the tape. Florida State embarked on a 16-4 run to take control of the contest. The Seminoles', who came into this game having held opponents to 35.6% shooting for the season, clamped down defensively.

Backup center Alexander Johnson got Florida State started with a layup, then Von Wafer followed a Tim Pickett miss, and Johnson scored again with a dunk. The ‘Noles upped their lead to 60-56 when Nate Johnson (no relation to Alexander) knocked down a three-pointer following the Terps' third consecutive turnover. A pair of free throws by both Alexander Johnson and Anthony Richardson sandwiched around a three-pointer by Wafer built Florida State's lead to 67-58 with 6:22 remaining, and they would never trail again.

Maryland would not go away quietly, though. After Smith missed two free throws with 1:40 left, Caner-Medley grabbed the loose ball and got it to Gilchrist. He managed to draw a three-shot foul on Joiner and made all three free throws to pull the Terps within 73-68 17 seconds later.

Strawberry gave the Terps one last gasp by making a three-pointer with 38.1 seconds remaining to pull Maryland back within 75-71. Pickett made two free throws for Florida State but Caner-Medley scored on a putback after a Gilchrist missed three. He was fouled on the play but missed the free throw, and Anthony Richardson's two free throws with 19 seconds left iced it for the Seminoles.

Maryland played well on defense most of the game, holding Florida State to 40% shooting and forcing 18 turnovers. The Seminoles missed a staggering amount of shots from close range, a symptom of their big men's deficiencies on the offensive end.

The Terps had their own problems on offense, committing a season-high 24 turnovers and making only 10-18 free throws. A few more makes at the foul line would have put more pressure on Florida State and set up a very interesting finish.

Jamar Smith led Maryland with 11 rebounds, but had his worst offensive game of the season. He scored only 8 points on 4-12 shooting and committed 4 turnovers. He was also 0-4 from the foul line, dropping his percentage for the season to an astonishing 39.6%. When the player that your entire offense is calibrated to send to the foul line is shooting that poorly, you team has a major problem.

Caner-Medley, McCray, and Gilchrist shared scoring honors for the Terps with 15 points. McCray had only two in the second half. Caner-Medley also contributed ten rebounds. Alexander Johnson came off the bench to lead Florida Sate with 14 points. Pickett added 13 points on 4-14 shooting.

Afterwards, Coach Gary Williams said, “We've just got to get tougher. Florida State played harder than we did today. I was disappointed in some of our veterans. We didn't do a good job today; the coaches didn't do a good job today. But hey, it's only one of sixteen games in the conference.”

That's a good perspective after losing to a good team on the road. This Maryland team showed its resiliency by bouncing back after losing both games at the BB&T Classic to knock off #1 Florida on the road. They will have another important test coming in their next ACC contest, a home game against North Carolina. School may not be in session, but rest assured there will be plenty of teaching going on during the Terps' upcoming practices.

Maryland's next game will be at Comcast Center on Saturday, January 3 vs. Mount St. Mary's. The Mountaineers are in their first season following the retirement of legendary coach Jim Phelan. They are struggling under new coach Milan Brown, posting a record of 2-8 so far. The game will be carried at 2 PM on Channels 20 and 54 locally by the Raycom/Jefferson Pilot network.

Notes from Under the Shell
Maryland had won 15 of the previous 16 meetings with Florida State. The only loss came in the infamous Valentines' Day loss at Cole Field House in 2001. The Terps had won six straight in Tallahassee. Their last defeat there a 74-70 loss in January 1997.

Maryland had won 30 of their last 36 ACC games dating back to that home loss to the Seminoles
in 2001.

The Terps had won their last three ACC openers, two of them on the road.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Maryland Rolls Over UNCG

Originally posted on "TerpTown" on the network and syndicated to Yahoo

The break for exams did not dull the Maryland Terrapins' recent deadeye shooting accuracy. The Terps shot 53.8% and played their usually stifling defense Tuesday night, rolling over UNC-Greensboro 85-58 at Comcast Center.

Coach Williams had been concerned about this game coming in, “This is always the game, coming out of exams, that coaches worry about the most.” The fact that the Spartans had lost a shootout at Missouri by only 106-98 last weekend added to Williams' concerns.

Maryland (7-2) did not come up with their usual number of turnovers against the Spartans (4-6), forcing 14, but got their transition game working off defensive rebounds. UNC-Greensboro shot a miserable 35.9% from the field, and leading scorer Jay Joseph, harassed by Chris McCray's defensive effort, made only 5 of his 15 attempts.

Nik Caner-Medley, who made 8-15 shots and scored 19 points while also handing out 4 assists, led the Terps in the scoring column. Jamar Smith, who was plagued by foul trouble, missed a double-double for only the second time this season. Smith scored 6 points and grabbed 8 rebounds in only 23 minutes of playing time, but freshman Ekene Ibekwe picked up the slack.

Ibekwe played his best game of the season, scoring 13 points in only 15 minutes on 6-9 shooting. He also pulled down 6 rebounds and came up with 2 steals and a blocked shot. Ibekwe scored both inside and outside and looked very comfortable in the flow of the offense. Coach Williams said, “I think tonight was big for Ekene.”

John Gilchrist ran the Maryland offense very efficiently, dishing out eight assists while committing only one turnover. D. J. Strawberry made all three of his shots (now 10 of his last 11) and had two steals, and Mike Jones knocked down both of his three-point shots while grabbing four rebounds in his best outing of the season.

The Spartans stayed with the Terps for a while, trailing only 16-15 with 12:26 remaining in the first half. Maryland then went on a 13-2 run over the next 4:12 to open up a 29-17 lead. Caner-Medley got the Terps started by following a Smith miss, then fed Smith for a layup and knocked down a three-pointer. Ibekwe threw down a dunk following a Strawberry steal then dropped in a smooth jump shot. McCray ended the run with a great individual effort, blocking a Joseph jump shot and finishing with a breakaway dunk.

Maryland could not sustain this momentum, largely due to the effort of UNC-Greensboro forward Jelani Lawrence, who came off the bench to score eight points. Six of those points came on putbacks after Lawrence had grabbed offensive rebounds. As a result, the Terps led by only 42-32 at halftime.

The Spartans gave Maryland fans a few nervous moments early in the second half, cutting the lead to 46-38 moments after Smith went to the bench with his third foul. A furious Coach Gary Williams called a time out, and his team responded with a 17-2 run that put the game away.

McCray started this game-clinching burst with a conventional three-point play following an offensive rebound, then Travis Garrison took a great outlet pass from John Gilchrist and finished a fast break with a thunderous dunk. Ibekwe, filling in for Smith, came up big during this run. He had a breakaway dunk after a steal, a putback following a Gilchrist miss, and knocked down a three-pointer. Before the Spartans knew what hit them, they trailed 63-40 with 11:36 to play. During this stretch, UNC-Greensboro had missed three shots and committed five turnovers.

Coach Williams was pleased with the leadership Caner-Medley showed tonight, “(Leadership) comes from how tough you play, and Nik has given us that several games this year.” Caner-Medley said about his team's effort, “You've got to do what you've got to do. You can't make excuses. Everybody has finals.” He also took some time to look ahead, “Right now, I'm thinking about spending a day with my family to celebrate the holiday and then getting ready for Florida State.”

John Gilchrist added, “I'm proud of the team. I think we're ready for the ACC."

Maryland's first ACC contest comes up on Sunday night at Florida State. The Seminoles are 10-1, having lost Monday night at Pittsburgh. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net at 5:30. We'll get our first indication whether the Terps are ready for the ACC, and if the ACC is ready for them.

Notes From Under the Shell
In keeping with the holiday theme of families coming together, several former Maryland players were in attendance and received warm ovations when they were shown on the video boards during timeouts. Drew Nicholas, Ryan Randle, and Byron Mouton, all members of the 2002 National Champions, were on hand as was Obinna Ekeize, who played from 1996-99.

Gary Williams is now 100-2 in non-conference home games as head coach of Maryland.

Caner-Medley sure loves to start the game by taking the ball to the basket. We'll see if teams start playing off him and force him to pass or make outside shots early, hoping to prevent him from getting into his rhythm.

This was only the second time Maryland has ever played UNC-Greensboro. The Terps also won the first game by a similar 84-55 score at Cole Field House in February, 1992.

I am submitting another entry in the stupid promotion category for Comcast Center games. A local bank gives away money to one fan that is selected when everyone is asked to hold up a check card from that bank. That's fine, but following around Maryland mascot Testudo during this contest is a life sized walking check card. How does a person even put a job like that on their resume? I suppose that would fall under “on-site marketing” or some such description. I just hope the check card mascot does not wander into a frat party late one night. It could get very ugly if a group of students try to jam him into an ATM machine.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Christmas in the ACC

Originally posted on "TerpTown" on the network and syndicated to Yahoo

Hear ye, hear ye, court is back in session and it's time to peek under the Christmas trees of some ACC personalities. After interviewing inside sources at the North Pole, I have information on some of the gifts that will be unwrapped Christmas morning.

Roy Williams, North Carolina: A crying towel, just in case.

D. J. Strawberry, Maryland: A mute button where he can silence the knuckleheads that have something to say about him and his infamous father Darryl.

Oliver Purnell, Clemson: A case of his favorite antacid. He'll need it as his Tigers get into the ACC schedule.

Isma'il Muhammad, Georgia Tech: A new TIVO machine with a DVD recorder so he can record Sports Center every night and edit them down to his highlights. That's a DVD I'd buy!

For seniors like Virginia's Majestic Mapp, Duke's Chris Duhon, Clemson's Chris Hobbs, NC
State's Marcus Melvin and Scooter Sherrill, Georgia Tech's Marvin Lewis, and Florida State's Michael Joiner a dozen roses and the chance to stop and smell them on their last trip through the ACC.

For transfers Michael Thompson from Duke, Andre Collins from Maryland, and Dominick Mejia from NC State, the greener pastures which they are seeking.

For all students and fans at ACC schools, a diagram showing where the line between supporting your team and being either a hooligan or just a stupid jerk is. Hopefully everyone will open this precious gift, take it with them to their favorite ACC arena, and use it wisely.

Greatest Players
Street & Smith's, who puts out one of the best annual college basketball previews, has recently published its “100 Greatest College Basketball Players.” Here are the ACC players they ranked:
7-David Thompson, NC State
13-Michael Jordan, North Carolina
16-Ralph Sampson, Virginia
17-Christian Laettner, Duke
25-Phil Ford, North Carolina
28-Tim Duncan, Wake Forest
39-Len Bias, Maryland
45-James Worthy, North Carolina
46-Shane Battier, Duke
58-John Lucas, Maryland
61-Bobby Hurley, Duke
63-Charlie Scott, North Carolina
70-Grant Hill, Duke
74-Jason Williams, Duke
75-Billy Cunningham, North Carolina
78-Art Heyman, Duke
89-Sam Perkins, North Carolina
92-Johnny Dawkins, Duke
94-Danny Ferry, Duke
98-Kenny Anderson, Georgia Tech
100-Antawn Jamison, North Carolina

In total, 21 of the greatest 100 players of all time in this ranking played in the ACC. The Big 10 was a distant second in representation with 13 players. Totals by school were Duke 8, North Carolina 7, Maryland 2, NC State 1, Virginia 1, Wake Forest 1, Georgia Tech 1. The #1 player overall was UCLA's Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abduhl-Jabbar) and #2 was Bill Walton, also from UCLA.

I have long felt that David Thompson was the best college basketball player I have ever seen, and that holds up well in this ranking. No one thought Michael Jordan would develop into the best player ever when he left college. Remember, he was only the third player taken in the 1984 NBA draft. The players were rated solely on their college careers, which is how Duke could exceed North Carolina's total.

Ralph Sampson at #16 strikes me as too high. One key aspect of greatness for an athlete is playing your best when the stakes are the highest. Thompson and Jordan clearly did that, but Sampson did not. At times, he played his worst in big games. Phil Ford, the best college point guard I have ever seen, might be a bit low at #25. Anyone who ever saw him run Dean Smith's old four-corner offense knew just how great a player he was.

I am surprised to see Jason Williams at #74 and Maryland's Juan Dixon not ranked at all. Other players who merited consideration for this list from my experience are; Len Elmore from Maryland, Mark Price from Georgia Tech, and Len Chappell from Wake Forest. As you can tell, I'm a bit partial to four-year players.

Question for the Jury— Who do you think was omitted from this list that should have been included? Who on the list do you think was underrated or overrated? Send me an e-mail at .

Court will be in recess until after the holidays. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. I'll be back in 2004.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Terps Roll Over Waves 96-72

Originally posted on "TerpTown" on the network and syndicated to Yahoo

So you think Maryland doesn't run it's half court offense well or make very many three-point shots? Tonight they did both better than they have so far this season and ran away to a 96-72 win over the Pepperdine Waves at the Comcast Center.

Terrapin point guard John Gilchrist had the biggest offensive game of his short career, leading Maryland with 24 points. He keyed an 11-0 run shortly after halftime that gave the Terps a commanding 55-36 lead. In that run, Gilchrist nailed an outside jumper, scored on a driving layup, led Chris McCray with a long pass that resulted in a three-point play for McCray, scored on another driving layup, and laid yet another shot in after a feed from McCray.

Gilchrist made 10-18 field goal attempts, including 3-4 from three-point range. He also dished out seven assists and grabbed five rebounds. Asked after the game about his increased offensive production, Gilchrist said it was part of a process, “Each game is a building block; every day, every practice.”

Maryland also unveiled a new offensive weapon against the Waves … D. J. Strawberry. Most of his contributions in previous games had come on defense, but Strawberry scored a season-high 17 points on 7-8 shooting and made both of his three-point attempts (he came into the game 0-5 from beyond the arc). He looked very comfortable in only his second game as the Terps' backup point guard. Strawberry understood what he needed to do tonight, “ Our team looked a little flat when I came into the game so I wanted to bring energy and knock down a couple of shots early, it got me going."

Maryland Coach Gary Williams had been concerned about how his team would come out for this game following their win at #1 Florida Wednesday, and with exams looming on Monday. His worries appeared to be well founded after the Terps made only 3 of their first 12 shots. Pepperdine Coach Paul Westphal (the former NBA star and coach) had his team concentrate on smothering Jamar Smith every time he touched the ball, and they succeeded in harassing Smith into missing his first five shots.

Showing a maturity they may not have displayed even two weeks ago, Maryland stayed with the offense, working the ball inside at every opportunity. The Waves continued to drop two and three men on Smith, leaving the Terps with open shots on the perimeter. As the game progressed a funny thing happened, for the first time this season, Maryland started knocking down their outside shots.

In a textbook example of taking what the defense gives you, the Terps made 6-11 three-point shots in the first half and finished 10-16 for the game (a season-best 62.5%). This also gave Gilchrist room to work and, instead of forcing the ball into traffic or just dribbling the ball waiting for someone to break open, he took the initiative and demonstrated good shot selection with his 18 attempts.

Pepperdine took a 16-14 lead with 12:03 left in the first half, but Nik Caner-Medley quickly answered with a three-pointer. This began a 9-0 run that put Maryland out to a 23-16 lead, and they would never trail in this game again. The Terps led 44-32 at halftime.

The Waves had a brief rally, trimming Maryland's 57-36 lead down to 59-46 with 14:31 left in the game, but Strawberry got the Terps off to a 12-0 run of their own to make the score 71-46 with 11:41 left. Strawberry started it by knocking down a three, then driving around his defender from mid-court to score on a layup. McCray added a three in that stretch.

Maryland put on an offensive clinic in the second half, making 21-31 (67.7%) of their shots. The Terps also committed only ten turnovers and demonstrated they could win without frequent transition baskets fueled by their opponents' mistakes. Maryland forced only 10 turnovers from the Waves but held them to 38% shooting.

Junior forward Glen McGowan single-handedly kept this game from being an embarrassment to Pepperdine. He scored 36 points in only 28 minutes, making 11-21 shots from all over the court. He received little help from his teammates, who combined to make only 15 of their 46 attempts (32%).

Jamar Smith made it six out of seven games with a double-double by scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. McCray added 11 points and Caner-Medley scored 10.

Travis Garrison didn't exactly build on the momentum from his game-winning shot at Florida. He picked up two quick fouls at the start of the game and wound up playing a total of only five minutes in the game. Ekene Ibekwe and Will Bowers picked up the majority of the extra playing time. Ibekwe had his usual strong defensive effort, but struggled on offense. He made only 1-5 shots and didn't really seem comfortable at that end of the court, although he was active enough to pull down four offensive rebounds. Bowers looked more comfortable on offense and also grabbed four rebounds.

Mike Jones saw some extended playing time, scoring eight points and handing out an assist. Coach Williams seemed encouraged by Jones' performance after the game, “ I think he did a pretty good job too coming off the bench. He was alive. He showed a little bit, besides being a very good shooter, just how quick he is to the ball, and that's what we're trying to get him to do. In other words, we all know he's a good shooter, but there's more to it than that.” Jones seems to be getting it, “I felt a lot more comfortable out there. Not just scoring but playing defense well and getting my team involved to help them score as well."

Williams was pleased with his team's overall effort. “I think we were all curious just how we'd play after the Florida game, and I think it took us awhile to get playing, but once we did I thought we played at a pretty good level. We handled that halftime situation well right before the half, and that seemed to carry over into the second half. We looked like we had some guys who couldn't move out there early, so we had to go through the lineup and see who was ready to go.”

Williams obviously found the right combinations. The Terps improve to 6-2 on the season. They break for exams next week and return to the court Tuesday, December 23 when they face UNC-Greensboro at the Comcast Center.

Notes From Under the Shell
Apparently a few fans, still smarting from his late-game turnover against Florida, shouted some less than encouraging things in Mike Grinnon's direction when he entered the game tonight. Coach Williams was very upset by that, addressing it in his post game remarks to the fans. After thanking them for coming tonight, he said, ”Hopefully everybody rooted for ALL of our players.”

Georgia State dedicated their new basketball court to former Maryland coach Lefty Driesell Friday night. Driesell coached for four years at the school before abruptly retiring early last season. On his way to receive that honor, he attended the funeral of friend and former NC State Coach Norm Sloan, who died last week.

Troy Wainwright, Maryland's Director of Basketball Operations since 1996, is hospitalized following a surgical procedure. We all hope for a speedy recovery and return to work for Troy, an important part of Terrapin basketball behind the scenes.

Maryland fans should make sure to pick up this week's issue of Sports Illustrated. There is a piece in the magazine titled “The Next Straw”, featuring D. J. Strawberry and his father Darryl. There's a bit too much Darryl in it for my taste, but it is a good piece nonetheless and definitely worth reading. Is D. J. Strawberry becoming the face of Maryland basketball?

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Terps Chomp #1 Gators in OT, 69-68

Originally posted on "TerpTown" on the network and syndicated to Yahoo

It's okay to come in off the ledge now, Maryland fans. The Terrapins are just fine, thank you, after a 69-68 upset of the #1 ranked Florida Gators Wednesday night. In a game that fluctuated between exhilarating and excruciating for fans of both teams, it was Maryland that made the clutch plays to decide the game.

After their disappointing showing last weekend in the BB&T Classic, it was critical for the Terps to get off to a good start tonight, and they did just that. Florida led 4-3 early in the game, but Maryland then embarked on a 12-0 run that made the Gators “House of Horrors” crowd sound like a gathering at the campus library.

Nik Caner-Medley scored five points and grabbed four rebounds during that stretch. Florida's leading scorer, sophomore Matt Walsh (who enrolled at Florida over his second choice, Maryland), had just the opposite kind of start to his night. It seemed for a while that he couldn't take a shot without someone in red knocking it back in his face.

Walsh did manage to bring his Gators back within four points after knocking down a three-pointer and scoring on a drive where he used an assortment of moves to finally get past the Terps' DJ Strawberry. That hoop cut Maryland's lead to 22-18, and Florida Coach Billy Donovan switched his team from a man-to-man into a zone defense. This was the first coaching decision that did not work out in this game, but it wouldn't be the last.

Maryland, with point guard John Gilchrist clearly in charge, ran their half-court offense far better than they had at any point so far this season over the next few minutes and gradually extended their lead. Back-to-back three pointers by Chris McCray gave the Terps a 34-21 edge late in the first half and a 39-27 lead at halftime.

Caner-Medley had already put in a good night's work at the break, scoring ten points and pulling down ten rebounds. Gilchrist led all scorers with 12 points at the half. Maryland was efficient at the offensive end in the first half, shooting 48% and making 5-8 three-point attempts. They were stifling on the defensive end, forcing the Gators, who came into the game shooting 51%, to miss 27 of their 36 attempts.

On the way in to talk to his team at halftime, Coach Gary Williams told ESPN reporter Doris Burke, “We're keeping it simple and executing very well. It could go out any minute, though. It's like a ticking time bomb.” Don't say the man doesn't know his team.

After Gilchrist opened the second half scoring with a layup, Caner-Medley had another burst where he scored the team's next eight points with two three's and a runner in the lane. This gave the Terps a seemingly comfortable 49-32 lead with 16:27 left in the game. The balance of the contest would be anything but comfortable for Coach Williams and Maryland fans, however.

At this point, Coach Donovan took the Gators out of the zone defense, and his team began to execute their half-court offense and make a few shots. The Terps, on the other hand, stopped making theirs. Maryland, so effective in the first half, made only 7-29 shots in the second half (24%). Florida warmed up somewhat to 41% in the second and started making up ground.

A driving layup by the Gators' center David Lee cut Maryland's lead to 55-44 with 7:57 left and got the Florida crowd engaged again. Lee would make only that lone shot for the game, finishing 1-12 from the floor. After a pair of Christian Drejer free throws made the score 55-46, Coach Williams dropped his team back into a 3-2 zone, in part to protect John Gilchrist from picking up his 4 th foul.

Gator guard Anthony Roberson quickly took advantage of more room than he had seen all night to knock down back-to-back three pointers, and Drejer threw down an unchallenged dunk on a baseline drive to draw Florida within 57-54 with 4:48 to play.

At this point, both teams appeared somewhat spent and the game became quite ugly. In fact, there were no more field goals made in regulation. After Florida's Roberson had tied the game at 57-57 with two free throws, Jamar Smith made 1-2 and Gilchrist made 2-2 from the line to give the Terps a 60-57 lead with 1:05 left.

Drejer got the Gators back within a point by making two foul shots, and Gilchrist missed at the other end (while being mugged). D. J. Strawberry made a huge defensive play (what else is new) by drawing a charge on Matt Walsh and giving Maryland a chance to run out the clock.

Gary Williams proved that even great coaches are capable of making bonehead moves during the pressure of a close game. Inexplicably, he inserted junior Mike Grinnon into the Maryland lineup with 18 seconds left and a one-point lead on the road. Grinnon is a fine young man and, so I understand, an excellent student. Unfortunately, he has been in that situation about as often as I have and, predictably, reacted like I would have—he caught the ball, was pressured, and traveled.

In a game where nothing came easy, Florida would not accept this gift. Gilchrist fouled out, but Drejer made only one of the two free throws to tie the game. The Terps got a good look at a game winning shot, but McCray missed a short fadeaway jumper and the game went to an extra period.

Caner-Medley again started a period on fire, knocking down a running jumper and driving the lane for a layup that put Maryland ahead 64-63. Florida quickly answered with a deep three-pointer by Roberson and a breakaway dunk by Walsh that gave the Gators a 68-64 lead with 1:49 remaining in overtime. At that point, Florida was on a 28-9 run over 12 minutes.

Then the game, and perhaps even the season, turned around. Caner-Medley knocked down a jumper and ran back down the court with an Elvis-type sneer on his face that would have been comical if his eyes had not been so intense. He was clearly feeling it, and his teammates picked up on that sweet vibe. Coach Williams said afterwards about Caner Medley, “That's where we want Nik to be as a basketball player.”

Strawberry made a free throw that cut Florida's lead to 68-67 and then, after a Walsh miss, Travis Garrison squared up without hesitation and knocked down the game-winning jumper with 18 seconds left. That was Garrisons' only hoop of the night but, as Coach Williams said after the game, “Travis hitting that was just tremendous.”

Caner-Medley led all scorers with 22 points on 9-16 shooting. Gilchrist added 18. Anthony Roberson was the Gators' leading scorer with 20 points. It was an outstanding defensive effort for the Terps, holding Florida to 31% shooting, forcing 18 turnovers, and blocking 10 shots.

After the game, Williams was justifiably proud of his team's effort. When Maryland radio color analyst Chris Knoche asked him about those fans who were ready to bury the Terps after losing two games this past weekend, Williams defiantly said, “I hope after 15 years people shut up and realize that we're NEVER dead.”

Good advice.

Notes From Under the Shell
It was announced on Wednesday that junior guard Andre Collins has left the team and intends to transfer to another school. Reports are that this was an amicable separation. I never thought Collins looked happy this season, and he was not effective in the point guard role he had to play on this team. Hopefully Collins will find a program where he can play his natural wing position (a challenge given his 5' 10” height in heels) and be successful. Good luck, Andre. Boy, you missed a hell of a game!

This was the ninth time in school history that Maryland has defeated a #1 team, second only to UCLA's 10. For Williams, it was his sixth, five coming at Maryland, one at Ohio State.

This was Williams' 300 th win as head coach at Maryland. Congratulations Coach!

Darryl Strawberry drew the television cameras' attention again tonight as he watched his son play. Strawberry was attired in a Maryland sweatshirt and cap. That's two national TV games for D. J. and two appearances for dad.

D. J. Strawberry has assumed the backup point guard duties following the departure of Collins.
This was the second time that Florida had been ranked #1, and the second time they immediately lost. That also happened last year. There's nothing like catching a team at the right time.

Free throw shooting continues to be a problem for the Terps, who came in at 56.7% for the season and made only 8-18 (44%) tonight. If it does not improve, this deficiency will cost them at least one game at some point in the season.

The Terps' next game is Sunday night at the Comcast Center vs. Pepperdine. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net at 5:30 PM as part of the national “Sunday Night Hoops” package.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Terps Lost Weekend at BB&T Classic

Originally posted on "TerpTown" on the network and syndicated to Yahoo

The Maryland Terrapins entered into their first losing streak of the season over the weekend, falling to Gonzaga 82-68 and dropping a 78-77 overtime decision to West Virginia in the 9 th annual BB&T Classic at the MCI Center. Is this a step back or is it merely another lesson for Coach Gary Williams' young team to learn?

When it comes to lessons, perhaps the most important one the Terrapins learned this weekend was the importance of defending the three-point shot. It hardly seems a coincidence that both Gonzaga and West Virginia set season highs for three-pointers vs. Maryland. The Zags were 13-23, led by Blake Stepp's amazing 7-11 performance. The Mountaineers followed up on Sunday by making 13-26. The latter number has to be particularly frustrating for Coach Williams since West Virginia connected on only 36% of their two-point attempts, which theoretically are more difficult than shots behind the arc.

Another thing the Terps learned was not to get drawn into a three-point shooting contest. Maryland tried at times to match Gonzaga's three-point shooting on Saturday, but we were all reminded that this is not a strength of the Terrapin squad. Maryland made only 4-20 of their shots from behind the arc. Their 6-13 performance Sunday is more indicative of what we can expect from them this season. Chris McCray's three three-pointers in that game were a season high for any Terrapin.

Another point illustrated about this Maryland team is that they will not win many games without forcing a lot of turnovers. The Terps led Gonzaga 34-30 at halftime on the strength of turning the Zags over 16 times. Forcing only 8 turnovers in the second half was not enough to offset Gonzaga's 60% shooting or make up for Maryland's 31% from the field.

The Terps only forced 13 turnovers against West Virginia, 5 of those coming in their 14-0 run over 5 minutes in the second half that cut the Mountaineers' lead from 16 to 2. Maryland was hurt by the 19 turnovers they committed and are going to be hard pressed to win any game this season where they go –6 in turnover differential. Gonzaga won with a –7 differential, but look at their three-point shooting. A 13-23 game beyond the arc can cover up a number of deficiencies, a margin of error Maryland does not have at this point.

Another issue Coach Williams needs to address is the lack of scoring from the bench. D. J. Strawberry has been a defensive terror as the sixth man, and Ekene Ibekwe has been very active at both ends of the court, but no one is scoring on a consistent basis. The Terps' bench combined for only 18 points in the two games this weekend, a disappointment considering Maryland's depth was supposed to be a major asset this season.

Perhaps the biggest letdown so far has been freshman Mike Jones. Over the summer, many fans assumed he would walk in and win a spot in the starting lineup from day one. As it turns out, he's not even the first guard off the bench. Coach Williams was asked about him in a recent chat. Williams said, “As soon as he gets comfortable doing things other than shooting” is when he would start seeing playing time. Jones looked pretty comfortable shooting against Gonzaga, launching three 3's in only five minutes of playing time, making one. He only played one minute against West Virginia, going 0-1 from the field. It is hard to imagine Maryland making a run for the top of the ACC without a stronger contribution from its bench, particularly Jones.

Among notable individual performances this weekend, Nik Caner-Medley led the Terps in scoring against Gonzaga with 16 points, and Jamar Smith, who missed a double-double for the first time this season against the Zags, came back strong with 23 points and 13 rebounds against West Virginia. John Gilchrist scored 15 points and dished out 7 assists against the Mountaineers, but turned the ball over an alarming 8 times. Chris McCray also contributed 16 points and a career high seven assists in that game.

After the West Virginia game, Coach Williams said, "We have to prove which team we are. We have to prove if we are the team that beat Wisconsin, or the team that was down 16 today. We have to decide which team we want to be."

Now all the Terps have to do in order to end their losing streak is visit the new #1 team in the nation, Florida. The game will be on ESPN at 7 PM Wednesday. The Gators, led by Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson, love to shoot the three-pointer. We will get an early indication of how quickly this Maryland team can make adjustments in their defensive rotation on Wednesday night.

Notes from Under the Shell
This was the first time Maryland has finished fourth in the nine-year history of the BB&T Classic. The Terps also failed to place any player on the All-Tournament Team for the first time.

Maryland and Gonzaga met for only the second time in history. Their first game was an 87-63 Terrapin victory in the 1995 NCAA Tournament.

This was the first time Maryland had played West Virginia since dropping an 86-72 decision in Morgantown on December 5, 1992. The Mountaineers lead the all-time series 23-14.
Maryland will be holding a collection for Toys for Tots before the Pepperdine game on Sunday, December 14 at 5:30 PM at the Comcast Center. Packaged toys and/or a cash donation are welcome.

Maryland has defeated #1 teams eight times, seven of them at home (most recently Duke last year). The only Terrapin victory at a #1 team was in February, 1986, a 77-72 win at North Carolina many fans will remember as the game Len Bias simply refused to let Maryland lose.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

The CourtMaster Rates the ACC Benches

Originally posted on

Hear ye, hear ye. Court is back in session, and it’s time to look at some of the unrecognized but very important contributions of reserves on ACC teams. Here’s how I rate the benches so far this season.

9-NC State-There’s not much good news here for Wolfpack Coach Herb Sendek. Freshman point guard Mike O’Donnell has provided an occasional spark, and another freshman guard, Engin Atsur, may do so after he gets his feet wet following his three-game suspension for European club play. The Pack gets Jordan Collins back after the first semester which will give them a flexible six-man rotation, but that doesn’t leave them much room for injuries or foul trouble unless O’Donnell or Atsur step up big-time.

8-North Carolina-Jackie Manuel has been very solid off the bench for Coach Roy Williams, and the Tar Heels have received a surprising contribution from big man Justin Bohlander. Freshman Reyshawn Terry could still be an important player in Carolina’s rotation later in the season, he has the physical skills to be a good player in the ACC. Nothing against Bohlander, but if he’s the second best reserve on your team, you don’t have a lot in reserve. Coach Williams should have David Noel back for most of the ACC schedule and will have a strong seven-man rotation at that time.

7-Clemson-Guard Shawan Robinson and forward Akin Akingbala, both sophomores, give Coach Oliver Purnell two talented players to bring off his bench. Junior wing Lamar Rice could develop into a contributor later in the season. While the Tigers are at a talent disadvantage with their starting lineup, their bench matches up relatively well with the rest of the teams in the ACC.

6-Maryland-Depth was supposed to be one of the strength’s of Coach Gary Williams’ young Terrapin team this season, but that has not been the case so far. Only freshmen D. J. Strawberry (the least touted player in Maryland’s five-man freshman class) and Ekene Ibekwe have made significant contributions off the bench for the Terps. Mike Jones, who many fans felt would earn a starting job, is not even in the regular rotation. Jones is the most likely candidate to help solve the problems Maryland is having scoring from the perimeter, and they need him to step up sooner rather than later.

5-Duke-Coach K is going with a seven-man rotation but has yet to lock into a starting lineup. Most recently against St. John’s, J. J. Redick came off the bench for the second game in a row along with Sean Dockery. In their win over Michigan State, it was Redick and Daniel Ewing as the first substitutes in the game for Duke, while in the loss to Purdue it was Dockery and Randolph coming off the bench. Any way you look at it, the Blue Devils are generally getting good production from only six players. Dockery showed some signs of life with 12 points vs. St. Johns, but it is looking like Coach K will have to work with a shorter bench that he is used to. I think he’ll be able to adjust.

4-Virginia-Cavalier Coach Pete Gillen has settled into an eight-man rotation with most of the bench minutes being divided between point guard Majestic Mapp, and freshmen Donte Minter (forward) and J. R. Reynolds (guard). Bringing a veteran point guard like Mapp off the bench is a luxury few college coaches have. Minter has been very efficient in his playing time so far, while Reynolds needs to improve his 36% shooting. This is a well-balance group of reserves that, with Minter and Reynolds’ youth, has a lot of upside.

3-Wake Forest-The Deacons’ bench only scored eight points in their most recent game, an 81-66 victory at Richmond, but that appears to be the exception and not the rule. With Vytas Danelius and Trent Strickland in reserve, Wake has an outstanding bench. Continued improvement from freshmen Kyle Visser, Todd Hendley, and Jeremy Ingram could allow Coach Skip Prosser to go ten players deep into his rotation and give him a leg up on the rest of the conference when league play commences.

2-Florida State-Coaches often talk about going nine or ten players deep into their rotation, but Seminole Coach Leonard Hamilton has actually done so this season. Ten of his players are averaging over 13 minutes per game, and five of their top eight scorers do not start. Freshmen Alexander Johnson and Von Wafer are the most explosive of the bunch, but guard Todd Galloway also makes important contributions at point guard. Veteran forward Al Thornton and Adam Waleskowski are also seeing quality minutes for Florida State and help give them the deepest bench in the conference.

1-Georgia Tech-The play of Ismai’l Muhammad by himself could qualify Coach Paul Hewitt’s bench as the best in the ACC, but he also has help from forwards Clarence Moore and Robert Brooks. These three give the Yellow Jackets a strong eight man rotation which will grow to nine when guard Will Bynum, a transfer from Arizona, soon becomes eligible. CBS Sportsline’s Gregg Doyel recently wrote, “Ismai’l Muhammad is a lock-down defender and spectacular scorer who provides emotional lifts every time he scores, because every time he scores he's hanging from the rim.” Muhammad so far has been one of the best sixth men in the nation and been a huge reason Tech is one of the biggest surprises of the early season.

Question for the Jury:
Who do you think I neglected or overrated among reserves in the ACC? Let me know by e-mail at

In response to my previous question before the ACC-Big 10 challenge regarding positive impact players I may have overlooked, the overwhelming leader in your responses was Jamal Levy of Wake Forest. He is a player I have not written much about, but his 12.4 points and 9.0 rebounds per game make him difficult to overlook. Good choice folks.

CourtMaster’s Briefs
It was disappointing to hear the Cameron Crazies chanting “Fire Mike Jarvis” during Duke’s win over St. Johns on Saturday. For a group of fans known for being original and clever, this was neither. It was merely gratuitous, kicking a man while he’s down. Come on Crazies, you can do better than that!

Four ACC teams are in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll Top 12 this week. Duke is #5, North Carolina #8, Georgia Tech #10, and Wake Forest #12. Maryland, Florida State, and NC State also received votes. The rankings were similar in the AP Poll, Duke #5, Carolina #7, Tech #10, and Wake #15. Carolina and Tech received first place votes in both polls. What would have been the odds before the season against Georgia Tech receiving a single first place vote in either poll this season? Humongous, enormous, even quite substantial. Once again, truth is stranger than fiction.

Tim Brando is a nice upgrade as play-by-play man for Fox Sports’ ACC Sunday Night Hoops. He is knowledgeable and has a very pleasant voice. He and former Duke star Mike Giminski, entering his second year with Fox’s coverage, should make a very good broadcasting team.

I enjoy college football, but I was reminded again Sunday why college basketball is still the best. Can you imagine a scenario (excluding NCAA probation) where the #1 team in the nation in both polls would not have an opportunity to play for the national championship in basketball? Fortunately, neither can I, but it will happen in football this season. What a travesty.

That’s what I think. Let me know what you think on the message board or by e-mail at

Next week, I’ll update the progress of this season’s highly touted ACC freshman class. Also, I will give you my thoughts on the recent released Street & Smith’s 100 Greatest College Basketball Players.

Until then, court is adjourned.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Inside the BB&T Classic with John Feinstein

Originally posted on "TerpTown" on the network and syndicated to Yahoo

Maryland continues a recently established tradition on Saturday and Sunday by participating in the 9th annual BB&T Classic at the MCI Center. The Terps take on Gonzaga at 3:30 Saturday and will face either George Washington or West Virginia on Sunday.

This tournament has quickly become one of the premier early-season college basketball events in the nation. John Feinstein, the noted sports author, is one of the driving forces behind it. He took a few moments recently to share some of the behind-the-scenes details regarding the creation, staging, and future of this event.

Without realizing it at the time, Feinstein laid the foundation for this concept with a piece he wrote for the Washington Post in 1984. Shortly after Georgetown had won the National Championship, he wrote a column encouraging the major college basketball programs in the Washington, DC area, primarily Georgetown and Maryland, to resume playing each other on an annual basis.

At that time, the Hoyas and Coach John Thompson were at the height of their power and placed their basketball program above local rivalries. There had been bad blood between Thompson and Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell since their last regularly scheduled meeting early in the 1979-80 season, and Thompson would never agree to play Driesell's Terps again. The two schools did not schedule another game until the opener of the 1993-94 season. Gary Williams was now the Maryland coach, and his team won an overtime thriller over the more highly regarded Hoyas on Georgetown's home court, the US Air Arena. This was also Joe Smith's first college game and, as it turned out, his coming out party.

There were no more games scheduled between the two schools because, according to Feinstein, “Gary is still waiting for Georgetown to return the game in his building.” In 1994, Pete Teeley a man Feinstein calls “the single most important person associated with the (BB & T) tournament” saw a copy of Feinstein's 1984 piece on local rivalries and gave him a call.

Teeley, a former ambassador to Canada for George Bush the first and currently a vice president for AMGEN, the pharmaceuticals company, suggested to Feinstein that they put together a tournament featuring the local schools. Feinstein said, “I thought it was a pipe dream, but I said if it can be done, they should give all the money to charity.” Peely put together The Children's Charities Foundation, of which he is chairman of the board, to do just that.

Peely, Feinstein, and other well connected businessmen got together to organize this event. Putting together an eight-team tournament was initially discussed, but the final plan was to match two local schools and two major out-of-town schools in an early season event every year at the US Air Arena (and later the MCI Center). Maryland and Georgetown were approached as the two DC-area participants. Feinstein called Gary Williams, who bought in right away. Calls to John Thompson were not returned. Eventually, according to Feinstein, Thompson's aide Mary Fenlon called and said Georgetown “had no interest whatsoever” in participating. George Washington, a school that Coach Mike Jarvis had recently led to the NCAA Sweet 16, was contacted and quickly agreed to be the second local team in the event.

The first Classic was held on December 2 nd and 3 rd , 1995 at the US Air Arena. The marquee matchup was Maryland vs. Massachusetts, a game the Minutemen won 50-47. This put the Terps into the consolation game against GW, who had lost to Florida in the first round. Maryland beat the Colonials 98-81 to claim third place in the inaugural tournament.

The Terps have won four BB&T Classic championships, defeating George Washington in 1996 and 2000, DePaul in 1998, and Connecticut in 2001. GW upset Maryland to win the 1997 and 1999 titles, UMass won the 1995 event, and Notre Dame claimed the championship by knocking off #2 Texas last year. Keith Booth (1996), Steve Francis (1998) and Lonny Baxter (2001) are Terps who have claimed Tournament MVP awards.

Perhaps the two most memorable games in this event were Maryland's wins over #2 Kansas in 1997 and #5 Stanford in 1998, both coming in nationally televised games.

Putting this year's tournament together was a challenge for Feinstein, who with his vast contacts in the college basketball community is the driving force for bringing top teams in every year. He originally had Michigan State and Kansas lined up for this year, but Michigan State landed a national TV game vs. Oklahoma on the same weekend. New Kansas Athletic Director Lew Perkins (yes, the same Perkins that hired Gary Williams while the AD at Maryland) also backed out, wanting a better financial deal.

Feinstein was able to land Gonzaga under the unusual condition that they play Maryland in the first round. “It's usually the other way around,” according to Feinstein, who also said that Michigan State has already committed to next year's Classic.

So what about Georgetown? Feinstein told me “They weren't interested in the beginning; if they want in for a year as a visiting team, we'll consider it. They apparently haven't realized that Patrick Ewing isn't on the team anymore and think they can still dictate to people.” There's no love lost there, folks.

The future of the tournament is very solid. Feinstein says, “Maryland and George Washington will be in as long as they want.” Several of the Maryland games have been picked up by ABC television, and they have a contract with Raycom to broadcast all four games this season.

Even more important than the exciting basketball the BB&T Classic has provided is the way the community has benefited. The tournament has generated nearly $5 million for charities in the Washington D. C. area, distributed by the Children's Charities Foundation. In addition to the games, there is “The Basketball” Gala held annually the night before the tournament. This year's event will be on Friday, December 5 th at the new Washington Convention Center. There will be a silent auction, reception, dinner, and Al Green will provide the entertainment. You can call (410) 448-0700 for information regarding individual tickets or a table.

Tickets are still available for the games through TicketMaster. Prices range from $20-$75 for a four-game package. This is a wonderful opportunity to see some exciting basketball and help others in need. What a great way to get into the holiday spirit.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Maryland over Wisconsin in OT

Originally posted on "TerpTown" on the network and syndicated to Yahoo

Who would step up for the Maryland Terrapins when it finally got down to crunch time this year? Would it be senior Jamar Smith or point guard John Gilchrist? Would Nik Caner-Medley or Chris McCray make the key plays, or would one of the freshmen come up big? Tonight, the answer was all of the above in the #25 Terps' 73-67 overtime win over the #13 Wisconsin Badgers.

Maryland held a 30-22 lead at halftime despite not making either a free throw or three-point shot. They did score 18 points in the paint and force 9 turnovers, more than the Badgers averaged per game coming in. The Terps closed the half with a 14-6 run, but could not sustain that momentum past halftime.

With Maryland still leading 35-28, Wisconsin's leading scorer Devin Harris woke up. Harris had scored only four points in the first half while being shadowed by Gilchrist, but he knocked down three three-pointers within 1:36 to draw the Badgers within 40-37. At this point, the battle was on.

In a game with an intensity level to match an important ACC contest, the younger Terps did not lose their composure while Wisconsin rallied. After the Badgers took a 43-42 lead, Caner Medley blocked two shots on the same defensive sequence and then sank a fadeaway jumper to put Maryland back in the lead 44-43.

Sandwiching another Harris three-pointer and a Mike Wilkinson jumper, McCray made two nice entry passes to Smith, who converted a layup and a turnaround jumper from the baseline to tie the score at 48-48 with less than seven minutes to play.

With Maryland ahead 54-50, McCray knocked down a three-point bomb to stretch the lead to seven with 3:30 to play, but the veteran Wisconsin team would not go away quietly. Six points by Harris, who would score 18 in the second half, put the Badgers within 59-56 with 1:33 to play (McCray had scored during Harris' run). The Terps turned the ball over on their next possession, but blocked shots by Caner-Medley and D. J. Strawberry gave the ball back to Maryland nursing a three-point lead.

Inexperience in tight games showed on the Terps' next time down the court, when Caner-Medley missed three-pointer with 20 seconds left on the shot clock and only 27 seconds left in the game. Smith fouled Mike Wilkinson going for the rebound, and Wilkinson's two free throws put the Badgers within one with 25.6 seconds left.

Jamar Smith made one of two free throws to make the score 61-59, but Wilkinson knocked down a three despite Smith flying out at him to put Wisconsin ahead 62-61 with 12.5 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Gilchrist missed but Caner-Medley was fouled on his follow shot. He missed the first free throw, but tied the game with his second. Maryland Coach Gary Williams said after the game about the second free throw, “I didn't look. I just waited for the crowd to tell me if he made it.”

The Badgers inbounded with only 2.4 second left, and D. J. Strawberry almost went down in Terrapin history when he stole the pass and lauched a three-point shot at the buzzer from past midcourt that went just off the front rim.

Wisconsin moved out to a 65-63 lead in overtime, but Maryland then took control with a nine-point run. Gilchrist got it rolling by making a floater from the lane. Smith then backed Wilkinson down and scored on a layup, Strawberry made one of two free throws after rebounding a Badger miss, and Smith converted two free throws rebounding Strawberry's miss. Strawberry then iced the game with a steal and layup to give Maryland an insurmountable 72-65 lead with 19 seconds remaining in overtime.

The Terps won the critical battle of turnovers, forcing a season high 14 from Wisconsin while committing a season low 11. Maryland made eight more baskets than the Badgers, but Wisconsin's 10-23 three-point shooting kept the game close.

Jamar Smith had the most impressive game of his career, scoring a career-high 25 points on 10-18 shooting and pulling down 12 rebounds in 40 minutes of action. He thinks the best is yet to come, "I'd say this is the best game I've played at Maryland so far, but there is more to come. It's hard for big guys to defend me because of my quickness. It is a lot of trouble for our opponents."

John Gilchrist approached his first triple-double, scoring 12 points, dishing out a career-best 9 assists, and grabbing 7 rebounds. Chris McCray also had his best scoring night as a Terp, adding 16 points. Caner-Medley, quiet offensively, contributed a career-best 4 blocked shots. D. J. Strawberry, although schooled at times by Devin Harris, still came up with 4 steals.

Coach Williams, while far from satisfied with his team's execution on offense, was pleased with something more important; their heart. “ My guys' competitiveness in wanting to win that game really showed me something because this was our fist game where it was really on the line. They made a great run at us and took the lead and we had to really suck it up to win the thing. I think we really showed some things tonight.”

Williams also singled out Smith and Gilchrist for praise, "I was really proud of Jamar Smith, our only senior. He really stepped it up when we needed it. I thought John Gilchrist in the second half, really got us into the offense. As a point guard, that's the most important thing that we do. We've had it for the last three or four years; we need it this year, and John really did it for us against a very good guard tonight."

Gilchrist saw this victory as a true group effort, “ I want to say thank you to all my teammates and everybody that helped contribute to this win, even the people who didn't play. Just by practicing hard, we were...really prepared tonight."

Maryland was indeed prepared to dig deep tonight, and they demonstrated that their balanced team effort could beat an impressive one-man show. The education of this young Terrapin squad continues with another important lesson learned and a difficult test passed.

Notes From Under the Shell
Tonight was Maryland's first overtime game in the Comcast Center.

Maryland is now 3-2 in all-time ACC-Big 10 Challenge games. Oddly, this was their third overtime game in the series, having previously lost to Wisconsin in 2000 and Indiana in 2002.
This was only Wisconsin's second visit to College Park, their only previous trip resulting in a 22-13 win on December 22, 1932. No, I wasn't there that night either. I had a company Christmas party to attend.

Wisconsin made 10-24 three-point shots tonight (43.5%) after converting only 17% through their first three games.

Tonight was the first appearance of D. J. Strawberry's father, the famous (or infamous) former major league baseball player Darryl Strawberry. Am I just being cynical, or is it a coincidence that he showed up for D. J.'s first nationally televised college game. Of course, the cameras found the elder Strawberry several times throughout the evening.

Maryland's next game is in the first round of the BB&T Classic at the MCI Center in Washington DC vs. Gonzaga at 3:30 PM on Saturday. The Raycom network will televise the game locally. Check your local listings for the channel carrying the broadcast.