Sunday, March 01, 2009

Solid W over the Wolfpack, this Might Just Happen

Drink it in. That's the refreshing taste of a satisfying road win in the ACC. Just feels refreshing, doesn't it?

GREAT win at N.C. State Sunday night on the back of a vintage Good Greivis performance. How does 33 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and one turnover sound? Pretty good? You gotta give it to Grevis, when he is good, he is real good and can carry a team on his back like no one in a Terps uniform since a guy who wore #3, people. You know who I'm talking about. The guy currently riding the pine on the Wizards, which is a travesty for discussion on another day.

But I digress ... At 7-7 in the ACC with two challenging but winnable games left on the docket -- home vs. Wake and at UVa -- Maryland might just do it. And wouldn't that feel good Turtle fans? My thought is they have to win both and go 9-7 in the league, 20-10 overall to nail down a bid. If they go 1-1, I think Maryland has got to win at least one ACC tournament game, and even then they're not a shoe-in. But go 9-7 in the ACC and Maryland can't be ignored.

Here then, are a series of thoughts and observations following Sunday night's 71-60 win:

If there is a Dave Neal fan club, I would like to join it and if there is not, I would like to be president, so long as being president of the Dave Neal fan club does not require any actual commitment of time. I got lots of man love for Dave Neal. I mean this is a guy whose career in College Park could easily have been made up of a series of Mike Grinnon-like mop-up minute appearances.

But here is the beefy, lovable Neal in his senior year, playing big minutes and making big shots on a team that might just sneak into the tournament. Remember that Gary started the year starting Braxton Dupree at the center and probably hoped to use Neal for 10-15 minute a game, if that. But as the season evolved, it's been Neal who has seized the starter's role and given Maryland a consistent and, dare I say it, entertaining boost. What's better, I ask you, than watching DN pull up for a 3-point set shot and knock it down? Or take a pounding in the lane and get up off the deck full of red-faced intensity? Love that guy.

I'm liking the rotation that Gary has finally settled on -- starting Greivis at the point with the ball in his hands as much as possible (not the 2 or 3), Bowie at the two, Mosley at the 3, Milbourne at the 4, and Neal at the 5. Then at the 15-minute mark, Eric Hayes checks in and plays 30-35 minutes the rest of the way at point and 2-guard. Hayes has been very solid the last few weeks. Confident and clutch. The other rotation guys are Cliff Tucker on the wing, Dino Gregory up front, and Braxton Dupree buried on the bench.

We know Maryland can win at UVa next Sunday night, but can they beat Wake Tuesday night? Well, it won't be easy but it's not exactly impossible either. Wake is a solid 22-5, but before winning at UVa Saturday (70-60) they had lost their last four ACC road games, including Ls at Ga. Tech, Miami, N.C. State and Duke. So there you go, they ain't all that on the road.

After its three-part rectal examination of a series into the state of Maryland basketball last month, the Washington Post saw fit Sunday to run yet another enterprise story about Gary's program, this time with a focus on the recruitment of NY hoops hotshot, Lance Stephenson. Apparently Stephenson is being recruited not just by Maryland, but also by Under Armour, to potentially wear their moisture-wicking basketball shoes if he makes it to the NBA and they make basketball shoes.

Now, Under Armour is the official provider of athletic gear for Maryland teams, and founder Kevin Plank is on the university's Board of Trustees, so the Post went a diggin, and as far as I can tell, didn't find anything too scathing. Here's a link to the story, which I didn't read because I didn't feel like reading another 2500 words about the gross underbelly of college basketball, because it makes me not want to watch the games, and I really wanted to watch Maryland-N.C. State on Sunday night.

Before Kevin Plank named Under Armour, Under Armour, do you think he considered: "Polyester. Who knew?"

I really think Maryland will win its next two games and go to the tournament. We're doomed.

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