Sunday, January 20, 2008

Carolina Boo-Hoo-Hoo

Well THAT was new and different.

Maryland 82, UNC 80.

What a win for the Maryland basketball program.

What a great, great, program-uplifting, confidence-restoring win.

What a win to make you feel good about caring about Maryland basketball.

What a win for Gary and Greivis, the coach and point guard who have heard from their share of doubters this season.

Our boy GV deserves a few more "mucho gustos" on the poll to your right. After UNC went up 78-74 with 2 and a half left, with Brent Musberger saying the words, 'it's getting away from Maryland right now..' Vasquez went to the hole for a deuce and then after a Maryland stop, GV got fouled on a drive and made both free throws to tie the score. Like I've said earlier, Maryland is going nowhere without Vasquez making plays. Loved it when color man Steve Lavin said something to the effect of, "this Vasquez has quite a bag of tricks."

My favorite moments:
  • When the buzzer sounded. The Tar Heels had 4 shots to tie or win the game in those last 20 seconds and Maryland survived. Finally. Barely.
  • When Gist came from the weak side and rebounded a miss and dunked it on Hansbrough's head. First half I think. I rather enjoyed that.
  • When Hansbrough, who is great, but is also a bully, was called for an offensive foul for lowering his shoulder into Dave Neal along the baseline in the first half. (quick aside: My brother Eric, who is a much better basketball player than me, has perfected this move since the early 80s; it's the one where you create space by leaning into the defender, especially if he's back-pedaling, which drives him back, and gives you a shot at the basket; and if you're really good at it, like Eric is on the level of a pick-up game on Monday nights at Pikesville High School, and Tyler Hansbrough is on the level of the ACC, then you not only make lots of baskets, you also get lots of calls, and piss off many of the people who play against you. Eric.) Anyway, after Hansbrough got whistled for the foul, of course he responds with the requisite palms-to-the-air, eyes wide maneuver like "who me?"; and Roy Williams throws his hands down from shoulders to waist at the refs like "Puh-lease." That was my favorite call of the game. I liked that call much better than the call with 10 seconds left when UNC knocked it out of bounds down by two, and even their students were upset because they knew it was Maryland's ball, but the refs decided to give Carolina one more chance, perhaps because Roy Williams is a swell guy and Tyler Hansbrough is just a hard working, blue collar type who we all admire. Or maybe they just blew it, I'm not sure.

Back to favorite moments:

  • Loved Cliff Tucker in this game. The Maryland freshman played great, showed signs again of being a big-time ACC player by taking the ball to the basket against UNC defenders in the open court and converting on several occassions. This guy can play.
  • When my wife came home from grocery shopping so I could properly pace and spaz out while watching. She left me with both kids (ages 3 and 5 months) and it is very difficult to maintain proper viewing intensity while attempting to be a responsible parent. On the other hand, dealing with the kids is a good way to ratchet down your boorish, psycho fan level. You can't exactly scream, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!" and "YES!!!!" with a fussy 5-month old in your hands. If you do, he will freak out, you will feel bad, and that will markedly diminish everyone's enjoyment level, even when Maryland is about to win at #1 ranked and previously undefeated North Carolina.
  • One minute left. Tie score at 78. Gist at the line shooting two and every Carolina fan visible on the screen is sitting down, hands at their sides. I guess that's the alumni section. I would hope that even Robert Novak would whistle or something.
  • The start of the second half. Lavin says the first five minutes of the second half are huge for both teams and Terps come out confident and firing, extend the lead to 8, and ultimately 11, which gave cushion for the UNC run that you knew was coming.

Other notes:
Loved Musburger and Lavin on the call. Any game that Brent Musberger calls just feels like a big game doesn't it? And Lavin has that perfect mix of hoops knowledge combined with sense of humor and credibility that makes you feel like you're listening to a very cool, smart guy. I may have a man crush on Steve Lavin. Or maybe just his hair. Who is picking Brent's ties by the way? Hideous.

When Osby or Gist gets in foul trouble, Gary brings in Dave Neal, who is, well, Dave Neal, or Shane Walker, who is English. When Roy Williams goes to the bench for a big man, he brings in that dude Stepheson, who looks like Julius Peppers but probably a better ball player. (though Peppers could really play)

A few female Carolina fans were in tears after the game. TEARS? Are you serious? It was a regular season game in January. What are you going to do if/when they lose in the tournament? Cover the mirrors with black cloths and order deli platters?

Reality Check:
Of course it was a great win, but this Carolina team wasn't going undefeated, whether they lost to Maryland Saturday or not. They are very good, have much more talent than Maryland, but the Heels shoulda lost to Clemson, almost lost to Georgia Tech, and finally gave one up.

We do know one thing for sure - Maryland will not suffer through a historically embarrassing season. Following the home losses to Ohio and American, we all worried if we might be in for a losing season and something like 3-13 in the ACC. It happens to programs once in a while. Not going to happen to this bunch. There's enough talent and desire to go 8-8 or better. Heck if they don't blow it at Va. Tech, they're 3-1 in the league and riding a 7-game winning streak.


bl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bl said...

Completely disagree on the Musberger comment. If I never heard another Musberger play-by-play that would be fine by me. Lavin's color commentary is very good - pair him with someone else. Please.