Looks like another Valentine's Day Massacre for the Maryland Terrapins. At the risk of sounding like a negative nelly, last night's loss to Clemson - their fourth consecutive loss to the Tigers - could be the beginning of the end. This is the same Clemson Tigers team who lost to Elon earlier this season. Elon! The Elon Phoenix! And not only did the Terps lose, they lost by 12!
Of course, this conjures images of the fabled Valentine's Day Massacre of 2001, when Maryland lost at home to then-last-place Florida State. The only thing is, that loss woke up those Terps, and catapulted them on a late-season run that ended in the Final Four. The result of this year's Valentine's Day Massacre remains to be seen. But I'm not holding my breath.
Last night's game almost made me physically ill. The Terps did just about everything wrong. So to that end, here's a list I drew up of all of Maryland's faults. Pull up a chair. In no particular order:
1) Primary scorers disappear for long stretches of games.
2) No discernibly consistent execution of any offensive game plan.
3) Don't capitalize on turnovers or convert fast breaks.
4) They hang their heads and get discouraged when they're down. (Note to James Gist: Eeyore called. He wants his sunny resilient disposition back.)
5) They seem unable and/or unwilling to exploit another team's weaknesses.
6) They take unnecessary risks on both ends of the court.
7) They panic easily.
8) They celebrate prematurely.
Yeah, dog! We just cut the lead to five! What!
9) No viable Division I-caliber point guard.
10) No discernible substitution patterns or set lineups.
11) ZERO interior toughness. (See Shelden Williams, Sharrod Ford last year, etc.)
12) They can neither make nor catch passes. It's true.
13) No strong ballhandlers, guard, forward, or otherwise.
14) They think they are more talented than they are.
15) Lack of consistent defensive presence in all phases.
16) Inability to beat full- and half-court traps.
17) Generally little demonstration of a true competitive spirit.
That's about it. Other than that, they're a great team! Don't get me wrong here, I still love the Terps and I'm going to continue to root hard for them and hope for the best. I'm not throwing in the towel - I think it just might be time to recalibrate the expectations. I'm no longer sure if my previous predictions of a Sweet Sixteen berth or a Mike Jones-led resurgence after Chris McCray's loss are in the cards. It might just be time to cut our losses and turn the page on this maddening season, and this wildly underacheiving team.