Sunday, December 02, 2007

Maryland vs Rutgers. #3 vs #4/6. Offense vs Defense. Old School (Coach C Viv) vs New Wave (Coach B . . . coaching against her teenage idol). 2006's #1 vs 2007's #2. ACC vs Big East. USA Basketball teammates going head-to-head (Lang, Harp & Marissa meet gold-medal teammates Matee Ajavon, Essence Carson and Kia Vaughn). A wonderful raison d'etre . . . to raise money and awareness for the cancer-fighting V Foundation. All played out in front of a large and most likely loud Rutgers home crowd on national television (Monday, 7 PM on ESPN2). If you can't get excited about this game . . . well, you'd better check your pulse.

When Maryland boards the bus today, they'll be packing an offense that averages more than 80 ppg. We don't need to remind our loyal readers that the Terps are known for their wide-open, fast-paced, score from any position, fun fun fun-to-watch offense! When they play tomorrow night in New Jersey, it will be against a Rutgers team known for its stifling, pressing, in-your-face, smothering defense. The Scarlet Knights' opponents (including LSU) have been averaging under 48 ppg.

Except for the fact that the two teams share Red & Black as their school colors, these two teams couldn't be more different. The Best of Offense vs the Best of Defense. Forget Pat and Geno's messy divorce. This game could end up being the new classic out-of-conference rivalry of women's basketball. If you can't be in Piscataway, then tune in to ESPN2 at 7 PM Monday . . .

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"Don't Give Up, Don't Ever Give Up." Tomorrow's game, the Jimmy V Classic, is one in a series of events to raise money for the V Foundation, a charity started in partnership with ESPN by NC State Coach Jim Valvano, who died of cancer in 1993. Another NC State coach, Kay Yow, has herself been battling cancer since before Jimmy V was diagnosed with it. Perhaps you've seen or read Kay's remarks about what a supportive friend and inspiration Jimmy V was to her. She isn't alone . . . Jimmy V has been an inspiration to many. If you've never seen or read his famous ESPY Awards speech, take the time to check it out.

Jim Valvano graduated from Rutgers and launched his coaching career there; thus it's appropriate that the Scarlet Knights will be hosting tomorrow's game. Jimmy V is perhaps more famous for being a natty-winning coach at NC State. But before NC State and before Rutgers, Jim starred for the Vikings of Seaford High School on Long Island . . . a school that just happens to have another famous basketball-playing alumna, BasketCase Eileen. As a schoolmate, BC Eileen remembers Jim as not the most talented athlete, but one who maximized every ounce of talent God gave him -- and never gave up. Even back then, senior Jim Valvano was somehow larger than life and someone not easily forgotten . . . not even by a then young Jr High student. It's an honor for the Terrapins to be invited to participate in the Jimmy V Classic and BC Eileen can't think of any other team she'd rather see play in a game honoring a former Seaford High Viking, Jimmy V.


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