Other than the fact that they won the game, which is good, there really wasn't much to celebrate. It wasn't pretty. Minnesota's best player, Vincent Greer, was out with an injury, and the team only dressed EIGHT guys overall! Two days before, they lost to freaking Gardner-Webb. That's right, Gardner-Webb, the Baptist school, not that there's anything wrong with that!
But that didn't stop the Gophers from getting out by 15 in the first half. That's this Terrapins team for you, though. Unless it's the Duke game, they either play down to the level of their competition, or they come out tight. Head Coach Gary Williams yells at them during the first time-out, and afterward they play with their heads down. They finally straighten out and play ball in the second half, but most of the time that's not going to be enough. In fact, unless you're USC or the Shaq-and-Kobe Lakers, that never consistently works. They need to start playing every game like it's the Duke game - every possession, every point, every rebound, important and contested. If I could give this Maryland team one piece of unsolicited advice, it would be that - play every game like it's the Duke game.
This is not to say there weren't any bright spots. Mike Jones (WHO?) played like the go-to guy I think and hope he can be (sooner rather than later, maybe, Gary?). Chris McCray was steady as always.
However, there's one guy I'm not going to praise. And I hate to rain on the parade here, but let's not get all in a tizzy over Travis Garrison, huh? News flash: he's a tomato can. After the game, he said this:
"I took that personally when they got a lot of put-backs and offensive rebounds. That really hit me to the heart." Awwwwwwwwwww.
Well, instead of walking around with your heart all hurting as you watch yourself get outplayed, Travis, why don't you try doing what you're supposed to do on the basketball court? I know, 18 and 10 is good statistically, but he had a LOT of gimmes and a lot of his stats came as they pulled away. When they needed a spark in the first half, he was shooting balls off the side of the backboard and traveling in the lane and standing with his sneakers screwed into the floor while Minnesota out-jumped and out-hustled him for boards. Not exactly senior leadership. You know when a broadcaster praises a player by saying "what he does for this team doesn't show up on any stat sheet"? Well, the same goes for how Garrison harms this team. I'm sure Garrison is a great guy, and I root for him and wish him all the luck in the world, but he should be coming off the bench, with James Gist or (the much-improved) Ekene Ibekwe starting instead. That's one of the reasons I think the Terps will improve again next year due to addition by subtraction. But that's another story.
Hey, nice uni! Is that duct tape?
But onto the big news - what's the deal with those god-awful uniforms? I hate that "modern" angular tank-top look, plus it looked like the shoulders were literally held together with duct and electrical tape. Sharp! Well, I was so upset I vowed to get to the bottom of this, especially after I saw Michigan State wearing the same style and grew suspicious. So I did some digging, and it turns out those uniforms were indeed for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge only. So for the next game, they will be back to their old unis. Whew! Hey - I just broke some news! And I did it all for you - the readers who don't appreciate me. And now back to your regularly scheduled programming.
P.S. On another Terps basketball note, last night was the NBA homecoming for Juan Dixon and Steve Blake, who were traded from the Wizards to the Blazers in the offseason. According to Wilbon's column, they were concerned about getting booed. No way will that ever happen. Dixon and Blake and all the other guys on the 2002 team will always be royalty around here, especially to Terp students and alumns like myself. Getting love in D.C. is the last thing those guys should ever worry about. Welcome home, Champs.
(Photos Credit: Greg Fiume/www.umterps.com)