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Monday, March 3, 2008

Bubble Just Got Popped

I was working at an event today, watching some middle-aged guys schmooze around before things got going. All they were talking about was the Clemson Clobbering, as some are now calling it. They talked about all the things I routinely discuss in these columns - turnovers, the freshmen in the rotation, Vasquez, missed shots and even Jerome Burney.

I didn't say a single thing.

It was simple: I didn't have the heart to say anything because I was at that game. I still don't understand exactly what happened last night, and I probably never will. This is what I felt like last night:

Today? I just don't know. It actually humiliating to thing we choked with a 20-point lead in hand. We got the lead at 11:21 in the 2nd half. We scored exactly one point all the way until 6:44, when Clemson had shrunk the lead down to 7 points. Also, from 4:48 left to 1:30, Maryland didn't score once. By then Clemson was down only by four, which became two, which became a tie, which became a 3-point lead with 2.3 seconds to spare.

By the way, most effective full-court press I've ever seen. We could not break it at the end of the game. Instead, our strategy was to play kind of badly, or at least that was the strategy we executed.

It stinks to get all the negative press just after we got on the radar. We were being talked about as an "in team." Now, what are we? Uhh ... well in this projection, but for how long? Do we really want to be among the last four in? ESPN pundits yesterday were saying Maryland is the team that is saying, "Please, take us out of the tournament!" Kinda sorta, we speak with our play.

I know Gary calls out the fans every once in awhile, and I'm for trying to have positive outlooks, but the truth is that sometimes the fans deserve better. When I was looking around, it looked like there wasn't an empty seat in the house. The crowd came out, and they did their job, and they cheered when they were supposed to. Some people on the court did not do their job, and I think the players would likely agree with that sentiment.

It's a harsh reality to face, but let's face it:

- One win against ranked teams
- A mediocre 18-12 record (we'll have to reach for 20 wins)
- A mediocre 8-7 conference record in a muddled conference
- Weak final opponent before ACC tournment (UVA)
- Probably a weak first ACC tourney game, followed by a hard one

That's not NCAA material. Bottom line. Period. Finito. I can't put anymore emphasis on that.

If we want a partner at the dance, I would advise the team to start winning. We can do this by:

- Making more than 2 three-pointers
- Limiting our opponent's offensive rebounds (The Tigers had 17)
- Not turning the ball over 21 times

But I'm not sure that we can do those things. I'm going to be honest: the thought that the Tigers could actually win didn't even enter my mind until they cut the lead to 4. Even the last shot, I didn't think would go in (and it was a fantastic shot, to Oglesby's credit, plus he was fouled). But the letdown after ... something I have trouble describing.

JEROME BURNEY WATCH: Burney played a solid 16 minutes and ended up with 6 points, 3 rebounds and a stunning 4 blocks. Good overall effort, but I thought that he could've rebounded better and that his blocks typically led to a Clemson offensive rebound. Still, he played just as well as Boom, who had a bad night for his standards.

Extra notes:

I know everyone is down now (except other ACC team fans), but I thought maybe some things would brighten up your day.

Some of you are aware that Hank Steinbrenner recently denied the existence of a national Red Sox fanbase. ESPN got his take on some other franchises as well.

Also, an interesting story and a cautionary tale about why you should never let your players take too many liberties with their bios.

That's it. Let's regroup and crush UVA.

Photo Credit: Baltimore Sun

1 comment:

Sam said...

Good work summarizing what many of us in the Terp faithful are feeling. Couple of things:

*We're 18-12
*This wasn't the final game before the ACC Tournament (I assume that's what you mean by weak final game, in that it was weak of us to lose to Clemson in that fashion)
*Clemson is #1 in the ACC with steals and o-rebs, not a great excuse, but a big reason why we had so many turnovers and allowed so many offensive boards.