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Friday, February 29, 2008

Thanks For the Birthday Surprise

I got pretty nervous at the end of regulation, but the Terps pulled it out last night, much to my relief. It was actually probably the most exciting part of my birthday until we ended up going to IHOP (if you want to consider that an endorsement, that's fine - it's an endorsement).

Anyway, so my favorite part besides the first made alley-oop all season (out of 167 attempts) was watching the Terps make the crucial rebounds and Gist sort of closing out the game with free throws ( a harrowing 2-4 at the end). But good job.

That said, we were SOOOOO lucky that Wake Forest cannot shoot a basketball. They ended up with a 37.9 FG% and a disgusting 25.0 3FG%. It was surprisingly only Wake's second loss at home this season, and in other facets of the game, they were very good: They had 10 steals, matched us in rebounds and had 7 less turnovers. The rising force known as James Johnson had a 25-point and 14-board night.

Unfortunately for Johnson, he still lost the battle of big men: James Gist came out of hiding where he's been for the past four games or so and decided to dominate. The result? A new career high of 31 points and a very solid 11 rebounds, including a few at the end of the game that helped but the Demon Deacons away for good. As if that wasn't enough, he also had two blocks and three steals (and the completed alley-oop from halfcourt) for good measure.

Greivis Vasqeuz also had a "sneaky good" night - 24 points, 4 rebounds and 8 assists. It's only "sneaky good" because it was in James Gist's shadow - it's a great night on any other day. Everyone else wasn't too good. We don't need to mention individual performances because only the W matters, right?

Anyway, we did just about as much as we had to to win, and that matters. But that doesn't mean we can let the Terps off the hook, specifically one Terp: If James Gist can play like that, why doesn't he do it every night?

The evidence has shown that when Gist does badly, the team does badly. When Gist disappears like he does for a few games at a time, we lose - bottom line. The fact that he plays well against guys like James Johnson, J.J. Hickson and Tyler Hansbrough indicates that he should at least be pulling in 18 and 8 EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. But he doesn't, he's streaky.

There is no time like the present to take control of this team. In fact, I'd be willing to argue that the team needs Gist more than any other player on the roster (and we'll bear painful witness to this fact next season). There are only two more regular season games left, and after that only the ACC tournament will help us get off the bubble and into the big dance. We can't afford to lose his contributions any more this season; every game from now until the postseason should be considered must-win ... if we want a meaningful postseason.

Well thanks Terps for the win and good luck on Sunday against a tough Clemson team. We'll be watching.

Photo Credit: Baltimore Sun

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