Saturday, January 31, 2009

Duke D.C.?

While the BasketCases were on their road trip last night (coincidence?), the Mystics announced that they have acquired former blue devil guard Lindsey Harding and some late draft picks from the Minnesota Lynx in exchange for D.C.'s 9th pick (first round) and 15th pick (second round) in this year's draft.

Yes, the Styx can use a point guard; and, yes, Lindsey is talented; but, THREE dookies (all likely starters) on a roster of only 11 players? For the record, we wouldn't want 3 TERPS on the roster at one time . . . we like to keep our pro team and college experiences somewhat separate. Hmmmm.

However, since this is our blog, we reserve the right to change our minds . . . if Lindsey helps lead us deep into the playoffs. And then, because it's our blog, we could boast: Didn't we tell you that acquiring Lindsey was a brilliant move?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Backing Up

With a three hour drive facing us following tonight's game against the Hoos, a different outcome would have made the miles go by much faster.

Had the Terps won, we would have spent the trip reliving the highlights and excitement of the game. Unfortunately, the highlight of our trip to Charlottesville today took place before the game, in the parking lot of the John Paul Jones Arena, as we waited in our car for the Arena doors to open. Sitting there, we watched in amazement as a mature driver in a huge Chevy pickup attempted to back into one of about 600 empty parking spaces. We stopped counting after her 10th try -- including one where she backed up over a curb. But, finally, the driver got it right. Or so we thought. Apparently, she felt she was too close to one of the lines. So she pulled out and did it all over again . . . and backed up over the curb.

That's pretty much how tonight's game felt to us. The Terps did a good deal right --for awhile --- and took a 39-31 lead into the locker room at the half. But after the break, they backed up over the curb (turning the ball over, flubbing out-of-bounds plays, giving up easy transition baskets . . . allowing the Hoos to score 58 points in the second half!) and took themselves right out of the game, losing 81-89.

And in some respects, that's what tonight's loss did to the Terps' ACC standing. A win in Charlottesville would have kept Maryland tied with Duke and Boston College for second in the conference. Instead, after the big move forward of Sunday's win over the 'Heels, the Terps shifted into Reverse and backed up. Hopefully, the team will regroup this weekend and shift back into Drive on Monday when they face ACC-leading Florida State on the road in Tallahassee.

Not A Trip to Be Cavalier About

The Terps hit the road today for two games against ACC rivals that will surely test their mettle. First up is Virginia at 7pm tonight in Charlottesville. The Hoos are always a tough opponent, particularly in the John Paul Jones Arena, where they are 10-1 this season.

Let's hope that the busload of Rebounders heading down for the game will make the atmosphere somewhat friendlier for Maryland. (The BasketCases will be driving down too!) If you aren't among our merry band of traveling Turtle fans, don't worry . . . you can still watch the game on Comcast SportsNet Plus. (The Wizards game is being shown on the regular CSN channel, so be sure to look for CSN Plus.) The game is also being shown via the web on ACC Select (PPV), and you can always listen live (for free) via the Terps' web site.

WNBA fans in particular should keep their eyes (or ears) on Virginia seniors and pro prospects Aisha Mohammed and Lyndra Littles.

Whatever happens tonight, the Terps head to Tallahassee on Monday, where they will square off against Florida State, which last night stunned Duke in overtime, 82-75! (Way to go, FSU!) That's right, the 'Noles are now at the top of the ACC, and the only team undefeated in ACC conference play! Going into this season, who woulda thunk it that the 'Noles would be in this position at the end of January?!

A BasketCases "Plus": Yesterday, the Diamondback ran an article on Dee Liles' "Quiet Athleticism", and today (imitation being the greatest form of flattery) the Washington Times has a feature on Dee as well. Both good reads!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Sunday, January 25, 2009

ACC Prime Time!

Tonight's game between Maryland and UNC was preceded by a moment of silence in tribute to Kay Yow.

ESPN in the House! Wouldn't surprise us if the network decided to show nothing but match-ups between ACC rivals for the rest of the season . . . we always deliver in prime time!

Lots of (loud, enthusiastic) Turtle fans in the House!

An ACC Classic! Of course the Terps and the Tarheels players were there as well . . . treating nearly 13,000 fans and untold numbers in the TV audience to a classic battle.

Although Maryland raced out to an early lead, the Tarheels came back, and the teams headed to the locker room at the half tied at 34. In the second period, Kristi Toliver helped the Terps regain the lead, a lead that they never relinquished. KT led all scorers with 23 points (including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc), and Marissa (star of the first half) was right behind with 22 (as well as 10 rebounds, for a double-double). Dee Liles cleaned the glass for the Terps once again, pulling down 15 boards; she also added 12 points for another double-double. Dee's rebounding down the stretch really frustrated the Tarheels' efforts to make a late-game comeback.

T on the Bench! UNC's uniforms may have been pink, but their coaches' tempers were red hot!

The Streaks are Alive! Maryland's home win-streak lives on (now 29!); meanwhile the 'Heels' losing streak stretches to 3. It was a fun 40 minutes and a great night to be a Terps fan!

The Mystics Brain Trust! Not everyone in the House was a fan . . . some were WNBA coaches and GMs, busy scouting the top seniors. We didn't ask, but we're certain they would agree that at least 2 of the young ladies wearing white will be early first-rounders in April's draft.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Kay Yow

March 14, 1942 - January 24, 2009

Rest in Peace, Coach.
* * * * * * * *
Read here, here, here, here and here.

Sunday Morning Update: Coach B's statement here; more here, here, here, and here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20, 2009

A Special Section of the Washington Post to enjoy with breakfast (but no coffee . . . gotta limit those fluids!)

With all the bridges from Virginia closed to non-commerical traffic, well, that limited our options . . . and we decided to walk to the Mall.

It's a long walk, especially in the cold, but it's a pretty one . . . we never tire of this view of Memorial Bridge and the Lincoln Memorial.

We weren't alone . . . Memorial Bridge turned into a pedestrian walk-way.

Some folks chose the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as the place to follow today's historic activities. (They could hear everything, but unfortunately, couldn't see much of the jumbotron.)

Even so far from the Capitol, the crowds were large . . . and happy.

The Historic Moment.

Flag waving and cheering were in plentiful supply.

A Monumental Day!

Out with the old . . . in with the new.

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Are You Kidding Me???!!!

It was Kids Day at Comcast this afternoon, and in honor of the occasion, The Twins, who of course have already attended many Maryland games in The Big Chair, made their official game debut ex utero. TV Broadcaster Debbie Antonelli was on hand to interview them, though Markus was having none of it, insisting he had an exclusive contract with the BasketCases.

But it wasn't Markus, or Tyler, or any of the rest of the kids at today's game who provoked the question "Are you kidding me?" That honor was reserved for Kristi Toliver.

In today's game against Virginia Tech, KT put on a three-point shooting clinic, nailing 8 of 10 from beyond the arc. You read that correctly -- 8 of 10!! (8 . . . a career best.) Kristi threw in a couple of two-pointers and a free throw for good measure, finishing with a game-high 29 points, as the Terps defeated the Hokies, 96-79. Kristi also had 7 assists, 1 steal, and only 2 TOs. Are you kidding me?

The clinic was a little late in opening for business. The Terps led by only a single point at the end of the first ten minutes. KT hit her first 3 at 13:30. At half-time, the lead was stretched to 8. Kristi opened the second half with a quick three, and Maryland simply ran away from the Hokies after that.

Four other Terps finished in double figures, including RS freshman Anjale Barrett, no slouch herself when it comes to treys; AB hit 4 of her 6 three-point attempts, putting up a total of 14 points coming off the bench. Normally, 4 of 6 would send the fans into a frenzy, but today, with Kristi's performance, AB only merited a "supporting actor" nomination. And the young and fast-improving power-post duo of Kizer and Liles had double-doubles once again, 12 points and 12 boards each. Oh, and veteran Marissa Coleman? She chipped in 21 points, 3 steals, 5 assists and 4 rebounds. No kidding.

What a fun day at Comcast! The team had fun, the kids had fun, the oldsters had fun, and the tweeners had fun, too. If only the Ravens had won, the day would've been perfect.

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Alive and Well!

Sa'de and Marah

The BasketCases, along with quite a few other Maryland fans -- as well as most of the Maryland team itself -- spent the afternoon at McDonough Arena on the Georgetown campus today, watching Louisville defeat the Hoyas, 74-58. For most of the Maryland faithful, the primary reason for the visit was to support former Terps Associate Head Coach Jeff Walz, now in his second year as the Head Coach of Louisville. But for many of us, including the WNBA scouts in attendance, this was another stop on this year's Scouting the Seniors tour, as Jeff just happens to be coaching Angel McCoughtry, one of this season's most highly-touted seniors, and someone likely to be picked quite high in April's WNBA draft.

Among the Maryland players in attendance was Marah Strickland, who, we are happy to report, told the BasketCases that she is fine and expects to play tomorrow when the Terps take on Virginia Tech at Comcast at 4PM.

Angel McCoughtry shooting a technical. She finished with a game-high 28 points

With the second overall pick in the WNBA draft (and 4 other picks as well), Mystics Head Coach Julie Plank and GM Angela Taylor are spending the winter watching quite a lot of college ball! Indiana Fever Assistant Coach Jim Lewis had his eye on McCoughtry today as well.

And Some Important Reminders:
Not only is tomorrow a Game Day, but it's also the day this season's Under the Shell series premieres on Comcast SportNet . . . at 10:30 AM! This is Must-See-TV. If you're sleeping in tomorrow . . . fire up your DVR tonight! Also, the Rebounders will be holding their second social of the season following tomorrow's game. Forget the Ravens (only kidding!), this will be a lot more fun!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Operator: "Basketball-to-Go, how may I help you?"

Caller: "I'd like to order one ACC win."

Operator: "Is this eat-in or take-out?"

Caller: "Carry-out, please."

Operator: "We're having a special tonight. If you select from the bottom half of the menu, for no extra charge, you get double the usual 3-point misses and an extra order of rebounds."

Caller: "Sounds good. I'll take the Clemson Combo to-go."

* * * * * *
Even watching a grainy webcast, it was pretty easy to see that this evening's game against the Clemson Tigers wasn't one of Maryland's best efforts. But despite that, the Terps added another conference win to their record, 65-56.

The nerves, the intensity, the energy, the hustle . . . in other words, all the excitement that marked Monday's game in Durham, seemed to be lacking in this evening's contest. Instead, tonight's matchup had the feel of one of those games where a more talented team phones one in against a lesser opponent. To say the game lacked pace is an understatement. Several minutes into the second half, one of the webcast announcers remarked, "This game is moving at the pace of a snail." That about sums it up.

Marissa Coleman led the Terps with 19 points, including a 3-pointer with just under a minute left, which extended the Terps' margin to 7 points and effectively slammed the door on Clemson's efforts to pull a come-from-behind upset. Two other Maryland players, Lynetta Kizer (15 pts) and Kristi Toliver (11 pts), also finished in double figures.

Following this two-game roadtrip, the Terps return to Comcast on Sunday to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies at 4 PM. (By the way, we apologize to any readers who may have missed the first portion of tonight's webcast due to the incorrect game time in yesterday's post. For the record, the start time we reported was contained in the pre-game feature yesterday on the Terps' web site [since corrected]. We suspect, however, that those of us who tuned in late didn't really miss very much.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

1. The Terps travel to South Carolina tomorrow (Thursday) to take on the Clemson Tigers in a game beginning at 7:30 PM. Clemson is 1-3 in ACC play (10-6 overall), having beaten Miami and lost to the #2 ranked Tarheels and #24 ranked Georgia Tech.

2. This game isn't televised, but there is a webcast available on ACC Select . . . for a price. $5.95 for a single game; or, you can follow the BasketCases' example, and sign up for the $12.95 monthly service, which allows you to follow every ACC webcast during the month. But a word of caution: your credit card will be charged $12.95 every month until you cancel! (Would that we had seen that fine print last season!)

3. If ACC Select isn't in your budget, you can listen to the game on the Terps Sports Network (WMUC) for free!

4. New topic . . . did you read Marissa's latest blog on Sports Not yet? Well, here's the link. Her post is great! We particularly liked the closing line: "Oh and by the way: 'Let's Gooooo Maryland' sounds much better than 'Let's Go Duke, Let's Go Duke.'"

5. We're happy to see Milton Kent (formerly of the Baltimore Sun) resurface on PressBox. He's got an excellent (as usual) feature on Kristi and Marissa's "growing pains". Link here.

6. Thursday Morning Update: Camille Powell reports in the Washington Post that Marah is still ailing and will miss tonight's game at Clemson. Get Well Soon, Strick!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Just a Little Short.

The Terps began tonight's game against Duke a little shorthanded, with Marah Strickland back in Maryland . . . according to ESPN, she was "under the weather." And they finished tonight's game shorthanded, as Marissa Coleman was felled for much of the second half with severe leg cramps. At one point, Rissa even had to be taken back to the locker room for treatment . . . by game's end, she could barely stand, let alone play. With those handicaps, it would be tough to play anywhere, let alone at Cameron Indoor. But despite that, Maryland battled for a full 40 minutes, only to come up just a little short, losing 65-68.

Maryland put up a valiant effort against the higher-ranked Blue Devils. For much of the first half, the teams traded leads on nearly every possession. But a scoring drought by the Terps late in that period sent them into the break down by 11 (29-40). They regrouped after the half, and fought back hard, getting closer and closer until they were up 55-54. But try as they might, the shorthanded Terps just couldn't pull off the upset.

Kristi Toliver, who played 38 minutes, scored 12 points, all in the second half. Rookie Lynetta Kizer, facing the Cameron Crazies for the first time in her career, showed why she was a McDonalds All-American, posting a big double-double (12 points and 13 boards). With Marah ailing, Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood and Anjale Barrett were called upon to play extra minutes . . . and both stepped up and hit huge three-pointers at critical moments.

We're not happy about the loss, and we're sure the coaches and players are disappointed as well. But we are happy about the heart the team showed tonight. We are happy about the balanced effort we saw. We are happy about the way the veteran players and the younger players are showing signs of coming together. As Beth Mowins of ESPN points out, there are plenty of positives to take away from this game -- and there are plenty of reasons to be proud of the Terps.

Duke Day.

7:30 PM on ESPN2: #14 Terps vs #5 Blue Devils from Cameron Indoor Stadium. Need we say more? This is Must See TV!

And in this morning's Washington Post, Camille Powell (Sports Section, page 1!) writes about the most athletic Terp, Dee Liles. Dee's pretty excited that Duke Day has finally arrived.

"I've been waiting for this for two years," said Liles, who committed to Maryland while at Riverdale Baptist but spent the past two seasons at Gulf Coast (Fla.) Community College. "There's just something about [the Blue Devils], I want to beat them so badly."

You're not alone, Dee. This is A Must Read feature!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Wake Forest: Check!

The Terps did exactly what they needed to do tonight in their ACC season opener. They started strong . . . slapping a 20-0 run on the Demon Deacons before Wake Forest even knew what hit 'em. And then Maryland won decisively, 92-65.

After looking up at that 20-to-nothing scoreboard, we doubt there was anyone (including Wake's players and fans) who ever thought the Deacons had a chance to pull this one out. The Terps players certainly had no doubts. They dominated Wake from start to finish. If Coach B hadn't kept all 5 reserves on the floor for the last 5 minutes, Maryland would likely have finished in the triple digits. The comfortable margin allowed everyone who was suited up to get in the game for significant playing time, and that experience may pay dividends later this season.

Tonight Kristi Toliver again showed why she's on everyone's All-American watch list (and why we spotted at least one WNBA scout in the house). KT scored pretty much at will against Wake, posting a game-high 22 points (along with 5 assists, 1 block, 1 steal, and NO turnovers) in just 29 minutes. A pretty good stat line, doncha think? Rookie Lynetta Kizer, who played only 19 minutes, made very good use of that time, adding 17 points. Three other Terps also scored in double figures, including Drey Mingo, who had an excellent outing off the bench, scoring 10 points, including 2 high-arcing beauties from beyond the 3-point line. And while Dee Liles just missed the double-figure-club with 8 points, she made up for that by being a virtual rebounding machine, pulling down an impressive 13 boards. Her vertical leap and her athleticism are simply amazing!

With the conference opener behind them, the Terps now have several days to prepare for what undoubtedly will be a much tougher test. On Monday, they travel to Durham to meet #5 ranked Duke in a 7:30 PM game that will be televised nationally on ESPN2. The last time these two teams played at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Coach B had just given birth . . . and Maryland played inspired basketball. While we very much doubt that Coach B will be going into labor on Monday, hopefully the Terps will find inspiration somewhere -- to pull off the upset -- and send an early Happy Birthday to (BasketCases guest analysts) Markus and Tyler.

Friday Morning Extra: Here's more on Vicky Bullett joining the Mystics coaching staff . . .link here. (Thanks to message board poster Stever for pointing us to this terrific article!)

Getting Real.

Tonight, the Terps' 2009 ACC season gets underway as Maryland hosts the 12-1 Demon Deacons of Wake Forest. The Deacons will be looking to rebound from their loss on Tuesday to the Richmond Spiders . . . the same team the Terps played in their last game; but, in that one, unlike Wake, Maryland came out on top.

The Terps, however, cannot afford to focus on that, as there are no easy games or easy teams in the ACC this season, including Wake Forest. As Camille Powell reports in this morning's Washington Post, Maryland will face a number of
" . . . athletic and talented squads . . . in the ACC. Five conference teams -- North Carolina (No. 2), Duke (No. 5), Maryland, Virginia (No. 15) and Georgia Tech (No. 22) -- are in this week's top 25, and Wake Forest (12-1) also received votes. On Monday, unranked Florida State upset third-ranked and undefeated Texas A&M."
Seniors Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman are doing what they can to prepare their younger, inexperienced teammates for the rigors of ACC play. Mike Fratto, in today's Washington Times, tells us that
Toliver is confident the Terps are mentally ready for the upcoming grind. The point guard said the only way for her teammates to get used to the heightened competition is to play in it.

"They've asked, and you can't really explain. They just kind of have to experience it for themselves," she said. "[The ACC is] one of the best conferences in the country, and the players are all athletic and physical and really talented. The best of the best go to the ACC. They'll figure it out pretty soon."
"Soon" starts tonight vs Wake Forest. 7 PM at Comcast.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A Legend Returns!

Ask any longtime Mystics fan for the short list of her all-time favorite players, and you can bet that Vicky Bullett will be on it. (And no doubt that's true of Terps fans as well.) Vicky's certainly right up there on the BasketCases' list!

Well, Vicky's back! That's right. The Mystics announced this afternoon that Vicky has been hired as one of Coach Plank's three new Assistant Coaches!! Vicky will be joined on the bench by Vanessa Nygaard, a former Stanford star (hmm, the Mystics are getting "redder" all the time!) who played for six seasons in the WNBA before entering the coaching ranks, and by Lubomyr "Luby" Lichonzcak, a longtime coach at the college level who has also worked as a scout in the WNBA for the Fever and the Lynx.

Welcome to Vanessa and Luby, and welcome back Vicky!!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Bug Off!

The BasketCases, along with dozens and dozens of other Maryland fans -- including a bus full of Rebounders -- made the traffic-laden drive down I-95 to Richmond this afternoon (not to mention the bumper to bumper drive back!) to cheer on the Terps as they took on the Richmond Spiders.

The Spiders, who entered today's game 11-2, have been known to inflict a nasty sting on unsuspecting victims. Fortunately however, Maryland's always-prepared coaching staff knew to pack plenty of bug spray (see picture above), which helped keep the bugs at bay early in the game. However, once the Bug Off! wore off, the Spiders jumped out to a modest lead (they were up 43-38 at the half) and forced the Terps to play catch-up well into the second period. But with about 11 minutes remaining and the scored tied at 58, the Turtles proceeded to squash the bugs with a closing 25-7 run, as Maryland recorded its 12th win of the season, 83-65.

Kristi Toliver led all scorers with 21 points. Four other Terps finished in double figures, including the power-post duo of Lynetta Kizer and Dee Liles, who each put up 12 points and also notched double-doubles by pulling down 10 and 11 boards, respectively. Marissa Coleman nearly had a double-double with 14 points (including a few key buckets down the stretch, helping to spark the Terps' big run) and 9 boards (and all this in only 22 minutes, due to some foul trouble). Marah Strickland was once again our not-so-secret weapon off the bench, adding 12 points and keeping her double-digit streak alive for yet another game!

The Maryland fans in attendance did their part too, drowning out the Spider fans with loud chants of "Dee-Fense!" and "Let's Gooooo, Mary-land!" Truly the "team behind the team." And the BasketCases want to give a big shout out to the Spiders' scoreboard operator, who managed to be at least five minutes behind every player substitution (for both teams!) in getting the players' numbers up on the scoreboard. However, during the second half, he totally redeemed himself by repeatedly putting up a big "Dee-Fense" graphic on the not-quite-jumbotron during the Spiders' possessions (!) . . . probably discombobulated by the Maryland fans' loud enthusiastic Dee-Fense chant! (Either that or he's a closet Terp fan.)

Today's challenging, but highly successful, contest ended the Terps' non-conference schedule on a very high note, both for the team and their fans. A good prelude to the always-tough ACC schedule, which tips off this Thursday when Maryland takes on the currently undefeated Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Comcast. This is when the season really gets interesting! See you Thursday.

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases