Thursday, February 26, 2009

Despite Strong Effort, Terps Fall to Duke 78-67

Honestly, it's very difficult trying to come up with a coherent analysis for this loss. Maryland seemed to play the better game last night for the most part, but Duke pulled away at the end with the help of some key miscues and questionable calls. I know, this is sounding very partisan (it is), but generally the heart of the student section is not where one wants to be for an unbiased view of the game.

Regardless of the fouls and minor controversies, Maryland has to be heartened by how the team played last night. Unlike the UNC game in which one player (Greivis Vazquez) had a transcendent performance, Maryland's success against Duke came from a wide range of contributors. Even with Vazquez out for nearly all of the second half, Maryland continued to play with poise and distributed the ball well across the board. No, Maryland couldn't pull it out, but they once again played far over their heads (quite literally) against a bigger and more talented Duke team. From an individual player perspective, Landon Milbourne is the Terp that sticks out for his scoring and blocked shots, but I for one was impressed with the play of Eric Hayes throughout the game. He played very sound basketball, taking care of the ball and making smart plays from the point. Given Mosley's rough outing, Hayes might have a case to be re-inserted into the starting lineup in the coming games.

Speaking of the coming games, what now for the Terps? Well, don't panic, disgruntled Terp fans. There is still hope for the Terps as they now go on the road to face NC State, then home against Wake Forest, and finally end the season at UVA. Maryland absolutely has to win two of those games, but they most likely will need to take all three. If they only take two, Maryland will need to make a significant splash in the ACC tournament to make it, given that they only have two truly impressive wins (MSU, UNC). It's very possible, but Maryland is going to have to bounce back strongly from last night's game.

The game last night is the sort of game that hurts in the worst kind of way. Your team plays their best, the atmosphere is electric, but everything just slips away at the end. For the Terrapin players and fans alike they need to look past the disappointment and see the positive; even in a defeat, they played like a tournament team. If Maryland keeps playing like that for the next few weeks they won't just look like a tournament team, they'll be a tournament team.

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