Archive for the 'College Basketball' Category

CAN YOU HANDLE THE MADNESS??

Greetings. It is the eve before the real part of the NCAA Tournament begins. I know the TV networks want you to believe these “first four” games are part of the tournament but c’mon, who are they trying to kid? These are play-in games. The good stuff starts tomorrow.

The Thursday and Friday of the what used to be the 1st round (it is now called the 2nd round because of the play in games which makes things more confusing) are up there with Super Bowl Sunday as my favorite sports days of the year.

I have wonderful memories of coming home from middle school and high school on these two days and there waiting for me was the madness! Already in progress! Yes! No waiting ’til primetime to see how my bracket is faring. I get to see it NOW!

See ya later soap operas. For a few days in March, NCAA hoops rules the daytime airwaves and cause a dip in production in workplaces around the country. I love it.

One aspect of the big dance the lures me and so many others to watch countless hours of it, is the sheer unpredictability of the whole thing. Granted, there are only about 8-10 teams each ear who have a real shot at being the national champion. However, the chaos that ensues in the early rounds is exciting and people want to see it. Cinderella’s knocking off the big dogs. The favorites hanging on. It is as sure a thing as the sun rising tomorrow that there is gonna be some tight games that involve overtime and buzzer beaters.

And amazingly, is almost always a sure thing that CBS’s Gus Johnson will be calling those games! And that is a great thing as well.

Johnson’s memorable calls over the past 5 years have made him as much a part of March Madness as the players and the teams. The excitement in his voice is so much fun to listen to. He can make any game feel that much more important.

But back to why these next few weeks are so great and why they lure so many to watch. It is simple really. The tourney as a whole lives up to the hype. We expect great finishes, and we get ’em. We expect teams winning games they shouldn’t. Check. We expect those who know nothing about college basketball to win their respective office pools. Check. Lastly, we expect uncontrollable emotions from the players. Shock, grief, and the agony of defeat show themselves in full force during this tournament. On the flip side, the excitement, pure joy, and relief of surviving to play another day can be seen on the faces of the victors every year.

So follow me this month (not always a smart plan) and forget your worries or troubles. Sit back, relax, and let the wonderful thing that is the NCAA Tournament overwhelm you with more basketball than you can handle. They say too much of a good thing is bad and that moderation is key. But I liken this to Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone eats too much on that night, and it is certainly not a bad thing at all.

So stuff yourself with some hoops baby!

Happy holidays!!

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Conference Tourneys Underway…March Madness Looms

-I’ve been hooked to Championship Week and its only Wednesday. Monday night I watched a fantastic CAA Championship Game between VCU and Old Dominion. The CAA is no slouch, I think George Mason assured all of us that back in March of 2006. But I still think the conference is flying under the radar to most. Do not be surprised if Mason or Old “D” get past two or three opponents in the dance.

-Yesterday and today I’ve taken breaks from studying to catch some the Big East tournament. The top seeds don’t even play until Thursday! But that doesn’t mean there isn’t exciting basketball being played at the Garden in rounds 1 and 2. Seton Hall and Rutgers provided quite a show in the “battle of New Jersey” yesterday afternoon. Hall’s Jeremy Hazell drained a last second three pointer to send the game into overtime. But the underdog Scarlet Knights were too much in OT and moved on to play St. John’s on Wednesday.

-South Florida upset Villanova after being down 16 in the second half. That’s right…South Florida! Nova’s season has taken an absolute free fall. At one point they were ranked sixth in the country. Since Jan. 17, they own a record of 15 and 5, capping that with their fifth straight defeat Tuesday night. I believe they have kissed their at-large bid goodbye.

-Throwing away at-large bids is something the Maryland Terrapins know all about. The Terps couldn’t win on Senior Day against Virginia, which was just sad. The good news is, the loss didn’t change much for Maryland’s situation. The Miami loss already screamed IGNORE ME to the selection committee. So they UVA loss was more of a downer for the Seniors than anyone else. There is still hope for the Terps…albeit a dim light of hope. They play their opening round of the ACC Tournament on Thursday against N.C. State.  They only shot the Terps have of making the NCAA Tournament is to flat-out win the ACC’s. Their path to the title should they beat the Wolfpack? Duke, most likely Florida State, and most likely UNC in the final. Yikes! Once again…they have to win their first game to even think about the others.

Terps Handle ‘Noles 78-62

(AP) COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Freshman Terrell Stoglin scored 17 points, and Maryland used a strong second half to beat Florida State 78-62 Wednesday night and severely damage the Seminoles’ pursuit of their first Atlantic Coast Conference title.

The Terrapins (18-10, 7-6) had five players score in double figures. Jordan Williams had 11 points and 11 rebounds, Dino Gregory scored 14, Adrian Bowie added 12 and Sean Mosley chipped in 10 in Maryland’s eighth straight home win over Florida State.

It was the 21st double-double of the season for Williams, who became the seventh sophomore in ACC history to collect at least 600 rebounds in his career.

Derwin Kitchen scored 16 and Deividas Dulkys had 14 points for the Seminoles (19-8, 9-4). The loss dropped Florida State three games behind first-place Duke with three games to play.

Thoughts on the win:

-Dino Gregory was key for the Terrapins in the second half. He bailed out their stagnant offense several times. From 10:57 to play to the 2:10 mark, Gregory was the only Terp to make a field goal as he connected on four. Dino finished 6 of 10 overall for 14 points.

-Terrell Stoglin can play! After back to back 25 point performances, the freshman point guard added another 17 on Wednesday night. He looks more and more comfortable running the offense and has no fear taking and making shots from beyond the arc, shooting 3 for 4 from downtown. He has truly earned his spot in the starting lineup.

-Gotta cut down on the turnovers. 16 turnovers may be OK against Florida State (who had 17 of their own). But it won’t get it done against the tougher teams of the ACC.

-Much better from the charity stripe. Over the past two games, Maryland has shot 80% from the foul line. This is a big positive for the team as it was clearly their weak spot for the better part of the season. Whether or not they can get to the line often and convert will be one of the key determining factors in this final stretch run.

-A bit of concern against the zone. The Seminoles zone on ‘D seemed to frustrate the Terps on quite a few offensive possessions. Maryland was able to hit some tough shots, take advantage on fast breaks, and draw fouls to rack up some points. However there were some stretches in the second half where the zone looked quite effective. And that was without the Noles’ top player Chris Singleton. It will be interesting to see if UNC, Miami, or Virginia try a similar style in the next three games when they face the Terps.

Virginia Tech Outlasts MD; Completes Season Sweep

(AP)—Malcolm Delaney scored 22 points to help Virginia Tech rally past Maryland 91-83 on Tuesday night.

The Hokies (17-7, 7-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won 13 of their past 16 games, trailed 76-75 after a basket by Maryland’s Jordan Williams with 5:21 remaining. But behind Delaney and Erick Green, Virginia Tech went on a 9-0 run to take control of the game. Green hit a 3-pointer in that run, and Delaney hit six free throws, including two with 1:14 left that gave the Hokies an 84-76 lead.

Maryland (16-10, 5-6) stopped the run with a 3-pointer by Dino Gregory with 1:09 left. The Terps cut the lead to 87-83 with 33 seconds left on two Terrell Stoglin free throws.

But Delaney hit two free throws with 28 seconds left push the lead back to six, and after Stoglin missed a 3-pointer, Delaney added two more with 14 seconds to go to account for the final margin.

 

Ahh a very tough defeat for the Maryland. They hung in there for most of the game and showed some very positive signs on offense. They led at the half and generated a handful of nice fast breaks. But they could not finish once again, dropping their record to 2-8 in games decided by single digits.

Virginia Tech’s seniors – Delaney, Jeff Allen, and Terrell Bell – were calm and clutch especially in the final minutes as collectively they made 7 of 8 free throws. The Hokies only had two turnovers in the second half, compared to the Terps’ eight.

A bright spot for Maryland however was the play of freshman guard Terrell Stoglin. He posted a career high 25 points coming off the bench and added six assists. Fellow freshman Pe’Shon Howard added ten points.

Maryland has four days off before hosting N.C. State late Sunday afternoon at Comcast Center.

 

Terps Visit Hokies Tonight; NCAA Tourney Hopes On The Line For Both Squads

It is hard to believe it was almost a year ago (2/27 to be exact) that Maryland toppled Virginia Tech one of the more memorable games I can recall as a Terps fan.

The tip time was originally scheduled for 4:00 pm, but a beer truck ran over a nearby fire hydrant hours before the game, fracturing a water line that led to the Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg.

The game was delayed nearly three hours, but once it got going, it was ACC basketball at its finest. It featured 24 lead changes, 15 ties, and two overtimes. Greivis Vasquez dropped 41 and Malcolm Delaney added 28. When all was said and done, Maryland came out on top with a 104-100 win, and a NCAA Tournament berth was all but secured.

Fast forward to tonight’s game where the Terrapins (16-9, 5-5) need a win much more than they did last year when they visited Tech. But the Hokies (16-7, 6-4), even with seniors Delaney and Jeff Allen, are not where they would like to be record-wise at this point in the season. They need this game just as bad as the Terps do if they want to make a run at the big dance, especially after getting snubbed by the selection committee a year ago.

Delaney has been a fantastic player in his four years as a Hokie, however, it has been Allen that has carried the load in the last few weeks. In the past five games, he hasn’t scored less than 15 points or grabbed fewer than 11 rebounds a single time. Over that span, he’s averaging 20.2 ppg and 13.2 rpg.

Maryland’s Jordan Williams has similar numbers for the season in 17.1 ppg and 11.8 rpg. It will be interesting to watch these two go at it and fight for boards. Allen has the edge at the foul line (66%) shooting a full ten percentage points higher than Williams (56%).

Back on January 20 of this season, the Hokies came into College Park and dealt the Maryland their worst loss ever in the Comcast Center, a 17 point defeat. You know that game is still fresh in the minds of players from both teams. Across the board, Tech is the more talented team. But if the Terps can play a complete game tonight, I really believe they can pull this off.

And a complete game means the following:

Sean Mosely finally stepping up. 7.7 ppg in ACC games this year?? He has more than that in him. He knows this offense and can attack the rim well. I don’t see any reason why he can’t finish with 15 tonight.

Hitting free throws. UMD is shooting 65.2% as a team…tied for 281st in the country. It has been said since those 2K Sports Classic games back in November against Pittsburgh and Illinois, the foul shooting have to improve.

Cutting down on Turnovers. One stat that was critical to Maryland’s win in last year’s thriller against Tech was the turnovers, or lack thereof. In the entire second half (including both OT’s), they only committed two turnovers. Two! Possessions are so valuable, throwing them away with careless passes, charges, and moving screens cannot happen tonight if the Terps want to win. 13.6 is their season average. Keeping that number below double digits will would help immensely tonight.

Should be fun!! Tip is at 8:00 on ACC/Raycom

Peace

Halftime: Duke 33 – Butler 32

Wow what a first half from Indianapolis!

Here are some quick observations as we await the seconf half of tonight’s championship game:

-I’m very impressed with Butler’s ability to hang in there with Duke despite the fact that they started out REALLY cold. They have a 10 to 3 advantage on the offensive glass thus far.

-Avery Jukes, who averages 2.4 ppg, leads all scorers at the half with 10. I’m looking for Butler to try to get Gordon Hayward more involved. He has been efficient in grabbing 7 first half rebounds. But he averages 15.6 a game and he’s got to score some more points for Butler to have a shot. 

-Duke’s big three of Smith, Singler, and Scheyer looks comfortable and balanced. They have combined for 26 points. If Smith and Scheyer get hot from beyond the arc it could be the difference in the second half

A Look Back: Greivis Vasquez

How do I begin to describe this young man??

It keeping with the theme of the other two posts of Hayes and Milbourne, I’ll describe him the way he was introduced for four years at Comcast Center…a 6’6″ guard…from Caracas, Venezuela…#21…Greivis Vasquez!!

I’ve seen countless nicknames for him. Tim Brando called him the Vivacious Venezuelan. Others have called him the Venezuelan sensation. There are signs and posters that say VIVA VASQUEZ.

Whatever you call him, you have to respect his game and the mark he left on the Maryland basketball program. Let’s take a look.

It was evident from his freshman year that Vasquez had very real talent. He was an extension of coach Gary Williams while on the floor: Emotional, passionate, and hard-working. At times he took ill-advised shots and made careless turnovers, which was a cause of concern for some. But he contributed a great deal as a freshman and helped Maryland reach the second round of the NCAA tournament.

In his sophomore year he increased his numbers across the board in rebounds, points, and assists. However his turnovers per game nearly doubled and the inconsistent Terps failed to make the Big Dance.

In Vasquez’s junior year, he once again put up very solid numbers. Although the team fell to Duke three times, including a 40 point loss in Durham, the high point of the season came on Feb. 21, 2009.

Facing the third ranked (and eventual National Champion) UNC Tar Heels, Greivis placed the team on his back and put up one of the most impressive single game performances in school history. He dropped 35 points, grabbed 11 boards, and had 10 assists: The first Maryland triple-double since 1987.

Maryland went on the reach the second round the NCAA’s once again. But just like in his freshman year, Vasquez couldn’t do enough as a talent filled Memphis squad rolled over the Terps 89-70.

There was much speculation as to whether or not he would forgo his senior year and turn pro. I inaccurately predicted (see last paragraph) that he would go pro. It seemed inevitable. There had been some tension between him and the fans earlier in the season…and if you are good enough to go professional, why wouldn’t you?

Vasquez went to a few pre-draft workouts to see how he stacked up against the competition and how high he might get picked. He never signed an agent which meant he was still eligible to come back and play his senior season if he wanted to. And once the workouts were over, that is exactly what happened. There would be a senior year for Mr. Vasquez after all.

And what a senior year it was. In averaging 19.6 ppg, 6.3 apg, and 4.6 rpg, he never scored below 10 points in any of the team’s conference games. He led the team to seven consecutive victories to close out the season including two memorable games: at Virginia Tech and senior night vs. Duke.

The game at Blacksburg was wild for many reasons. The start time of the game was delayed nearly three hours because a beer truck ran over a fire hydrant and broke a water main. The game itself was thrilling. Back and forth with numerous ties and lead changes in the second half. It took two overtime periods to decide this one. But the Terps emerged victorious behind a career high 41 points from Vasquez.

The Duke game was big as always because Maryland fans just despise the Blue Devils. But for the first time in almost a decade, the stakes were high…a share of the regular season ACC title was on the line. Just like the Tech game, this one had a great flow. Back and forth it went in the second half. And with 39 seconds left to play, with his team up by two, Vasquez hit an extremely difficult fall away runner that helped seal the win for Maryland.

Just like in ’07 and 09′, the Terrapins’ 2010 season ended in the second round of the NCAA Tourney. Against Michigan State, Vasquez put the Terps up by one with 6 seconds to play, but a buzzer beater by the Spartans’ Korie Lucious ended Greivis’ season, and his career.

The career numbers for Vasquez are quite amazing. He is the first Maryland player to ever record 500 rebounds and 500 assists and the only player in ACC history to amass 2,000 points, 700 rebounds, and 600 assists. In his final game he surpassed the late Len Bias as the Terrapins second leading scorer all-time. Only Juan Dixon compiled more career points.

Greivis Vasquez…A Terrapin Forever…Thank You!!!!!!!!!!!!


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