Thursday, February 21, 2008

Great Performance

I saw a fabulous performance by a Maryland team at Comcast Center last night; one that had Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, new head coach John Harbaugh, and D coordinator Rex Ryan on their collective feet, high-fiving the athletes and reveling in the moment. The Maryland student athletes came ready to play, put on an amazing show, and left the crowd buzzing.

Unfortunately, I am talking about the Maryland "Gymkana" team, the high-flying gymnasts who vaulted their way to a standing O at halftime. I am not kidding either, these guys were great. Inspiring and acrobatic, they had everyone transfixed, always do.

Check out Gymkana on YouTube:

As for the basketball playing Turtles, blech. Greivis and Osby showed up to play, the rest put on a disinterested performance to match the energy level of the crowd. Losing to Va. Tech, at home, during the stretch run of the ACC is a bad loss. Gary's teams almost always bounce back after situations like these, so let's not throw them under the bus and forget about the great games of the past 6 weeks.

But I can tell you from a first-person perspective, that attending last night's game (aside from the company of good friends) was the least fun live sports experience I've had in a long time. Here's a list of things would have been more fun than attending last night's game:

Cleaning the kitchen - at least you feel like you accomplished something.
Having your car stolen - at least you learn a little something about the insurance system.
Watching "the girls" on American Idol.
Not going to last night's game.

A few game notes:
Not having Cliff Tucker, the sometimes scintillating freshman, hurt. On a night when Maryland needed some "pop" off the bench, they got Dave Neal, who looks like he graduated three years ago and has packed on 15 pounds of beer weight, and Jason McAlpin, a feel-good walk-on story who actually gets playing time but never does anything with it. Gary actually trusts this guy, lets him play in real situations, but he doesn't appear to have the goods in game situations, tightens up, as evidenced by two horrendously bricked free throws before and during the Va. Tech player puked on the court.
Never seen that before by the way. Student fans were pretty funny afterward with a few chants including, "That's Dis-gus-ting," and "M-V-P" for the lady who came out with a mop.
Not sure why it took 15 minutes to clean up some puke by the way. You'd think he laced the court with arsenic the way they went over and over the area.

I am bummed about this loss. Losing to Va. Tech is very annoying. They are not a particularly strong program, they have a young team that had just lost by 39 at UNC and were on a 3-game losing streak. They were so ready to lose.

And Maryland loses to them, at home, when a win is crucial this time of year. Hate to say it, but this year's squad cannot be trusted. The Terps could still go 11-5, of course, and make this loss a distant memory, but they could also go 7-9. Who knows? Anyone who thinks they do know, is kidding themselves.

I guess this is just another reminder of what it means to be a Maryland basketball fan. After the "gone in 60 seconds" game at home to Duke in 2001, I told a friend that I could no longer invest emotionally in the program. It was a lie. Later that same season, I traveled to Anaheim to watch Maryland beat Georgetown, then Stanford to go to the first Final Four in school history. The next year, Maryland won the national championship.

Much as we might want it to be ture Maryland basketball is not a super-power that dispatches teams with ease, a thoroughbred like Duke, Carolina, or Kansas. Never really have been. No, the Terps are more like a lovable family dog, who provides many moments of heart-warming inspiration, but, once in a while, takes a giant shit on the carpet.


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