Saturday, March 28, 2009

42 Points!!!!

42 points! Unbelievable!! Except . . . believe it! By now, you surely know that's how many points Marissa Coleman scored (along with 15 rebounds) in the Terps' Regional Semi-Final win over SEC Tournament Champion Vanderbilt this afternoon, 78-74.

We have to conclude that this morning, when Marissa woke up and checked her Blackberry, she found no entry on her calendar that said "play last college basketball game." Such an event was simply not on her schedule. So when the Terps were down by 18 points in the first half, and 11 in the second, Marissa simply put the team on her back and refused to lose. "Refused to lose"? Yeah, it's a well-worn cliche. But what can we say? That's exactly what happened.

Marissa was not prepared to have her college career end this afternoon at the RBC Center, and fortunately she had the skills . . . and, most important, the heart, to ensure that it didn't. When things looked the most bleak for her struggling Terp teammates, that's when Rissa found a way -- any way -- to drag her team back into the game. She scored and scored, and rebounded, and scored some more.

The BasketCases drove 540 miles roundtrip to see this game in Raleigh today, and it was worth every mile! Marissa's performance was simply one of the most astonishing things we've ever seen. It was a Maryland school record -- but it's not like it came against some over-matched out-of-conference opponent. It came in the Sweet Sixteen, against the very tough, formidable, never-give-up SEC Tourney Champs, from Vandy. In other words, Rissa choose a Big Stage for a Big Record! Congratulations, Marissa . . . and thank you for giving the BasketCases and other Maryland fans another chance to see you and KT (who today had a mere 17 pts) play another day.

The Red Sea turned out in force to support their Terps, even though the game was being televised nationally, in its entirety, on ESPN.

The Terps came out of the blocks this afternoon a bit discombobulated, not playing like themselves at all. Perhaps it was the scoreboard's fault . . . prior to the game, it said that some team called "Dermaryla" was playing "Ylavander".

It's a pretty long drive from Nashville to Raleigh, so there were far fewer 'Dores fans in the house . . . more like a Yellow Stream than a Red Sea. But the Vandy fans who did make it to the RBC Center should be very proud of their team. The Commodores played a really tough game, representing their school, their fans and their Conference very well!

All afternoon, Coach B encouraged the Terps to hang in there, and they did. These players are not quitters. They were down, but not out. And they never, ever, gave up.

With 29 seconds left in the game, Marissa hit a jumper to break the tie, putting the Terps up for good, then grabbed a defensive rebound on the other end, was fouled, and iced the win by nailing both free throws (she was 10 of 11 for the game).

Marissa's 42 points were 3 more than the entire Baylor team scored this afternoon against Louisville in the first Regional Semi-Final, a rather uninspiring affair that the Cardinals won, 56-39. (In the second game, Maryland and Vandy more than made up for the lack of excitement. Maybe a little too much!) Now Louisville and Maryland will meet in the Regional Final on Monday night at 7 PM, with a trip to the Final Four in St. Louis on the line.

This will be quite a matchup. The country's consensus top two wing players (who many consider to be the nation's top two seniors at any position), Marissa and Louisville's Angel McCoughtry (#35 above . . . a Bal'more native), will be going head-to-head against each other for the first time as collegians. And, speaking of firsts, Coach B and her Terps will be going head-to-head against her former Associate Head Coach, Jeff Walz and his Cardinals.

We all love Jeff, but not so much on Monday. Go Terps! Beat the Cards!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases


At 9:13 AM, Anonymous Stewart said...

Doris Burke made a VERY interesting comment during the game -- during which I had about 20 heart attacks in that second half! Anyway, Burke commented that she would make Marissa Coleman her first pick in the WNBA draft. We'll see what happens!

At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Moni said...

Another GREAT article about Marissa!

At 12:42 PM, Blogger BasketCases said...

We agree, Moni, Mike Wise's excellent column is among the pieces linked in our post above!

-- BC

At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my basketball Goodness!! What a performance. At the end we were not sitting in our chairs but standing, jumping up and down, holding our hearts and screaming at the TV! Congrats to both teams, that was a great, great, great game and all Terps fans know we really dodged one!!!!

At 3:27 PM, Anonymous Charles said...

I flew round trip for the game Saturday. I have to admit to being mentally and physically exhausted after one of the most gut-wrenching games I've ever attended.

Brenda Frese often talks about players carrying a team on their backs. Not only did Marissa carry the team on her back, she lifted herself to new heights with the rest of her team on for the ride.

This performance was truly "jordanesque", evocative of the way Michael Jordan could impose his will on a game.

At 3:30 PM, Anonymous Charles said...

I had the fortune of being on the same flight as Angel McCoughtry's dad. I think he was the only Louisville-clad passenger back to Baltimore. Needless to say he was very proud of her daughter's performance and getting the chance to play for the Final Four.

We also were fortune to have Lamont Jordan on the flight as well. He's been a huge supporter of the women's program at Maryland.

At 8:28 PM, Anonymous Charles said...

I had the pleasure to talk to Angel's dad briefly and we both agreed that the "X factor" in this game will be Walz' inside knowledge of the Maryland system during his tenure as assistant coach under Brenda.

I'm sure he has made his players cognizant of every tendency of the Terps' players, many of whom he recruited.

For the sake of Kristi and Marissa, I hope this team gets another Final Four. They have the heart of champions.


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