Good win last night for the Terps, avenging two consecutive road losses to the Miami Hurricanes on that most special of nights...Senior Night. Unfortunately for me, Bobby Sue McGee already had herself a date, but luckily my boy Gary had a ticket for me.
A few observations from the Comcast Center:
1) The senior night ceremonies themselves were markedly subdued. But kudos to the crowd for being classy about the whole thing and not punishing the players for their underwhelming college basketball careers (or punishing senior and disgraced team member Chris McCray in absentia for his mistakes). All the seniors still on the team got standing ovations, but as someone who attended the deafening senior nights of Keith Booth, LaRon Profit, and other more beloved players, I can say this one felt unenthusiastic and even perfunctory by comparison. It reminded me of a girl who gets cheated on, then graciously forgives the guy - but never lets him touch her again. It was awkward, but they made it work.
2) In the first half, Ikene Ebekwe had a highlight reel-caliber dunk, skying over two Hurricanes for an offensive board and crunching it in from above the rim. Brought the house down. When Ebekwe gets serious about playing inside and dismisses the notion that he's some kind of shooter, he's arguably their best player right now.
3) When Miami took over midway through the second half, you could feel the air go out of the building. The crowd starting throwing up their hands and shaking their heads in helpless disbelief, as Nik Caner-Medley coughed it up in the lane, Mike Jones missed the broad sides of several barns, and Travis Garrison (not to be outdone) openly traveled - unguarded! - right in front of the ref. There was a "here-we-go-again" feel to it, with fans quickly growing restless and irritated. And who can blame us? We've put up with a lot of garbage over the past couple seasons. A rebuilding or physically overmatched team is one thing - mental softness despite ample talent is quite another. Anyway, I don't remember the last time I heard 18,000 people (the place was only about 70% full) collectively groaning. It's kind of like listening to a Mack truck idling on the side of the Beltway during rush hour with your windows up. But there was a good outcome this time - the Terps gutted it out with good defense, good free-throw shooting, and some timely scores. Good show.
4) If it wasn't for J.J. (and with apologies to Justin Gray), Guillermo Diaz might be considered the best shooter in the ACC. He put on a clinic, draining deep shots, contested shots, clutch shots, it didn't matter. Impressive performance.
5) Speaking of Duke, the Comcast Center folks seemed to deliberately avoid mentioning the Duke loss - possibly to "avoid unrest" or some such. They showed it once in small type on the Jumbotron with the rest of the night's scores, then removed it altogether. Great win for giant-killing FSU. Nice to see Leonard Hamilton thriving again in college, after that nightmare 2000-2001 season with the Wizards, when MJ hired him and then threw him under the bus for Doug Collins.
6) After last night, Al Thornton gets my vote for All-ACC first team. I'd say J.J. and Sean Singletary at the guards, Thornton and Tyler Hansbrough at the forwards, and The Forehead at center.
7) I think the Terps have to handle Virginia and make the ACC tourney finals to have a good shot at the dance, but they've got a little fight left. Not a lot. But a little. And we'll get Bobby Sue to notice us! One day, we'll screw up the nerve we need. And we'll go dancing. Goterps.
Maryland Basketball, Sports, College Basketball