Cancun, But No Vacation.
Any moment now, the Terps
relaxing on the beach
hard at work in Cancun (is that an oxymoron?
) preparing for their three upcoming games at the 2008 Cancun Caribbean Challenge
On Wednesday, they face their first opponent, the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State.
This one has all the makings of a classic tortoise vs hare match-up! (Sorry, we couldn't resist.
) We were hoping to tell you what time the game will be taking place, but we can't . . . because the time's not yet available. That's right; at the moment, the times for all three games are "TBA" on the Terps' website. From what we understand, it depends on what time all the players and coaches from the two teams return from snorkeling. Then, of course, they'll need to change out of their bikinis, shower, dress, grab some Gatorade and head over to the gym. So tip-off should be about two hours after the tender pulls up to the dock, give or take 30 minutes.
But just because the Terps are meeting SD State in Cancun doesn't mean the game will be any vacation. Sunday, when ESPN.com commentator Graham Hays
wrote in his blog
about "upsets," he referred to the Jackrabbits as a team "under the radar," suggesting that they are a candidate capable of surprising a higher-ranked opponent. SD State heads to Cancun packing a 4-0 record, along with their bikinis. They've played -- and beaten -- 4 "states" already: Missouri
and, most recently, Oregon
. They'd like nothing better than to add a 5th "state" to their list of wins, so the Turtles need keep an eye on the Rabbits if Maryland wishes to avoid a second upset of this young season.
Next, on Thanksgiving Day, Maryland is scheduled to play the University of Montana
(aka the "Lady Griz"). Though perhaps "scheduled" is not the right word. We understand that after brunch, both teams are signed up for spa treatments. When those are done and they wake up from their naps, the game should get underway an hour or so later. We're guessing early afternoon, Cancun time. No later, because obviously they need to finish in time for the big Turkey Day feast!
Despite taking place on Thanksgiving, the Terps' game against Montana should be no holiday. The Lady Griz have been picked as the overwhelming favorite to repeat as the Big Sky Conference regular season champions. Their roster consists of 9 returing players, including 4 starters, and they are coached by Robin Selvig
, who has a very impressive 699 wins to his credit (and is, no doubt, looking for #700, 701 & 702 in Mexico). Montana is also undefeated this season, having knocked off 2 "states" themselves, Wyoming
, and would love to add an east coast "state" to their resume. So the Terps will need to stay focused on the Griz and not on the gravy.
And finally, on Friday, after fueling up on turkey dinner the night before, the Terps will play their 3rd game in 3 days, this one against the University of Illinois Fighting Illini
. The Illini arrive in Cancun 3-1, with an unblemished record against "states" (they beat Missouri
), their only loss coming to Temple
on Sunday. Illinois is coached by Jolette Law
, former assistant to C. Vivian Stringer
. Coach Law
is in her second season and is trying to do what Coach B
has already done . . . return a former powerhouse to prominence. Despite the Temple loss, this is not a team or a program that the Terps can afford to take lightly.
We don't have the time of this game yet either, but we're guessing it'll be late. Remember, this is the day after Thanksgiving. The teams will be waking up (like their fans everywhere) with that "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" feeling, then onto some holiday shopping, sunbathing by the pool or maybe 18 holes of golf. That's a full day already. We suspect there'll be no time until evening at the earliest to squeeze in another basketball game! But whatever time they decide to play it, we're hoping the Terps will return to College Park with a 3-0 Challenge record.