Monday, March 30, 2009

A Great Run

The Terps had quite a run this season. Truth be told, after those early losses at TCU and Pitt, how many fans thought that Maryland would go on to be undefeated at home, share the regular season ACC title, win the ACC Tournament, and play in the Elite Eight? Not many.

But this team continued to surprise . . . giving all of us a great deal of fun, excitement, and, yes, joy. Unfortunately, tonight, the great run ended in Raleigh, as the Louisville Cardinals simply outplayed the Terps, winning 77-60.

And, even more unfortunately, tonight's loss ended an incredible era of Maryland basketball, as the last remaining players from the 2006 National Championship team played their final game in Maryland uniforms. Both Kristi and Marissa left the court in tears. Marissa literally collapsed in Coach B's arms. For those of us in the arena, it just broke our hearts to see these two remarkable young women sobbing on the bench. Thankfully, though, this will not be the end of basketball for Kristi and Marissa, as they will both, most certainly, be playing in the WNBA this summer.

Another player we'll also be seeing in the WNBA very shortly, Angel McCoughtry, tonight led her Cardinals to their first Final Four appearance. We congratulate her, her teammates, and Coach Jeff Walz for the outstanding game they played . . . tonight, they were definitely the better team. Good luck to the Cards in St. Louis.

But above all, Thank you Terps! Thank you Kristi! Thank you Marissa! Thank you Coach B and the entire coaching staff! It's been a helluva run! (And we're already looking forward to next season.)

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

* * * * * * *

Media links: Camille Powell, Washington Post, here; Mike Wise, Washington Post, here; Mike Fratto, Washington Times, here; Mechelle Voepel,, here; Rick Maese, Baltimore Sun, here; Neil Amato, The News & Observer, here; Jody Demling, Louisville Courier-Journal, here; and Eric Crawford, Courier-Journal, here.

Return to Raleigh!

The BasketCases are headed back to the RBC Center (the latest Comcast South) in Raleigh today for the 7PM Elite Eight Regional Final match between the Terps and the Cardinals. Happily, Petey was able to get away from work and will be joining us for the trip. And doesn't he look swell in his new Maryland hoodie? (Petey says many thanks to Rebounder Marni for the outfit!)

There's a great deal of emotion surrounding tonight's game, and not only because a trip to the Final Four is at stake. As Camille Powell reports in today's Washington Post, both Maryland and Louisville are led by two senior stars, Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver, and Angel McCoughtry and Candyce Bingham, respectively. Unfortunately, two of these extremely talented seniors will have their illustrious college careers end tonight, while the other two head west to St. Louis to play again. There's more about the "stars colliding" in USA Today here, more about Kristi and Marissa here (the NY Times!), and more about Angel here and here.

And it looks like the BasketCases weren't the only ones distressed at such a tiny crowd (under 3,000) at the RBC Center for the regional semi-final games on Saturday. Mike Wise of the Washington Post didn't like it either, and has some advice for the NCAA about attendance here.

Finally, the media of course can't resist pointing out that Coach B will be squaring off against her former Associate Head Coach, Jeff Walz, tonight (we couldn't either). No doubt there's a lot of emotion there as well. But as Coach B told the Associated Press, "when the ball tips, it's Maryland vs. Louisville. It doesn't have anything to do with the two coaches. It's all about two teams."

And what great teams they are.

Go Terps! Beat the Cards!

Photo Credit: Traveling Panda Photos, Inc.

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

Raleigh Here We Come!

If you are watching on TV, look for us. We'll be the ones wearing red. Today's articles are here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Go Terps! Beat the 'Dores!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Last Team Conference Standing

There's more riding on the outcome of tomorrow's [Saturday's] Sweet Sixteen matchup in Raleigh between Maryland and Vanderbilt than simply advancing to the Elite Eight. Not that advancing isn't important enough! In fact, that's the most important thing, of course -- for each individual team and its fans. But beyond that, conference pride is on the line for two of the nation's true power-conferences.

To almost everyone's great surprise, Maryland is the only ACC team to have advanced beyond the first two rounds of this year's NCAA tournament, and Vandy is the only SEC team still playing this weekend. No Duke, no UNC, no Florida State, no UVA no Georgia Tech, no Tennessee, no Auburn, no LSU, no Florida, no Mississippi State, no Georgia . . . all gone.

The SEC has never before, in its 28-year history, had only a single team still dancing in the Regional Semifinals. (Last time it happened in the ACC was 2004.) And the SEC hasn't missed a Final Four in the last 7 years!

So when the ACC Champion Terrapins take the floor tomorrow against the SEC Tournament Champion Commodores, Maryland will be looking to make some history . . . as well as end some for its opponent.

Go Terps, Beat the 'Dores!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Let's Play . . . Jeopardy!

Final Jeopardy Category: Women's College Basketball

Answer: They are the only non-twins in the same lineup to have each scored 2,000 points since twins Pam and Paula McGee at Southern California back in 1984.

(Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo, doo, doo doo doo doo doo . . . )

Contestant Number One, Joanne: "Who are Abby Waner and Chante Black?"

Alex: "Wrong! How much did you wager? All $500. You now have zero."

Contestant Number Two, Sherri: "Who are Courtney Paris and Ashley Paris?"

Alex: "No, sorry, please remember the question. Let's see, you had $16,000 and you wagered $15,001. That leaves you with $999."

Contestant Number Three, Markus: "(That's easy.) Who are Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman?"

Alex: "That's right! Hey, little guy, you sure know a lot about basketball. How much did you wager? All $30,000? Wow. Gutsy. That brings your total winnings for today to $60,000!!! Congratulations, you are headed for our Tournament of Champions!!"

* * * * * * * * * *
Many thanks to Dick Patrick of USA Today for suggesting our Final Jeopardy Answer and Question [and thanks also to Jeopardy consultant and RebKell poster Pilight for pointing out that Patrick overlooked Kelly and Coco Miller at Georgia in 2001]. Don't miss reading the rest of Patrick's otherwise great article! Link here.

And though we posted links to these two columns yesterday, in case you missed them amid the flood of linked articles, these are two -- both also focusing on Kristi and Marissa -- that the BasketCases put in the must read category . . . or if you didn't miss them, in the must read again category: Graham Hays writing for (link here) and Mike Wise writing for the Washington Post (link here).

And thanks (!) to an anonymous commentor on our blog, here's the url of an ESPN Sports Center countdown you don't want to miss (be patient, you'll really like Number 4!) :

* * * * * *
A little Mystics news . . . According to Greg Bibb's blog post today, with the WNBA draft taking place at 3PM on a Thursday (April 9), the Mystics have opted not to have a draft party this year, but instead will hold a "meet the draft pick" event, now "tentatively" scheduled for the evening of April 14. An evening event will of course allow more fans to attend, but the BasketCases will definitely miss the shared experience of being among a whole group of fans as Donna O announces, "with the second pick in the 2009 WNBA draft, the Washington Mystics select . . . "

* * * * * *
And a little pre-Terps news . . . in the last week or so, the Baltimore Sun's Matt Bracken recapped the seasons of two of Maryland's incoming recruits: McDonald's All-American, H.S. senior Dara Taylor (arriving in College Park this Fall, 2009) and nationally ranked H.S. small forward, Alyssa Thomas (debuting in College Park, Fall 2010).

Friday AM Update: Yesterday, Matt Bracken added a season recap for Essence Townsend, a 6'6" shot-blocker extraordinare, who, along with Dara, will be arriving in College Park this Fall, 2009.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"I'm Sad"

Tonight Kristi Toliver spoke for all of us when she was asked at the post-game press conference how she felt about having just played her final game at Comcast Center. "I'm sad," she replied. And that sadness was shared by the more than 10,000 fans in attendance, who not only saw KT's final home game, but Marissa Coleman's as well.

Of course, this evening's game wasn't all sad. Quite the opposite. For the fans -- and obviously the players and coaches -- a decisive win that advances you to the Sweet Sixteen was . . . well, sweet! And Marissa and Kristi made a point of leaving Comcast with a bang. Rissa scored 18 points and grabbed a career high 18 rebounds! KT added 17 points . . . and, as she proudly pointed out at the press conference, she also had 2 boards! LOL! Though the Utes had a couple of prolific scorers of their own, the Terps simply had more weapons, including Dee Liles, who, like Marissa, had a double-double (12 points and an astonishing 17 boards), plus strong supporting performances from several other teammates.

With a little over two minutes left in the game, as the two seniors left the floor and headed to the bench, they were honored with a thundering, standing ovation by the five-figure crowd. It was a bittersweet moment. We all knew that during the past four years, we had witnessed something very, very special. And though it was a week night, scores of fans stayed after the game and gathered around the TV monitors to watch and listen to the press conference. We saw many a teary eye as the seniors talked about what it was like to play their last home game. When Kristi said, "I'm sad," you could hear a collective sigh from the fans watching.

Fortunately for them -- and for us, Terps fans -- while it was the seniors' final home game, it was definitely not their final college game. Their victory over Utah tonight, 71-56, sends Maryland, as we said, to the Sweet Sixteen in Raleigh on Saturday, where they will play Vanderbilt, the SEC Tournament Champions.

And so, for the second time in three weeks, the Red Sea will once again flow down I-95 to North Carolina, and (we expect) turn the RBC Center into another Comcast South. For now, though, we are still reflecting on the joy -- and privilege -- of having watched two seniors whose record at Comcast (North) in four years was an unbelievable 65 and 3, without so much as a single home loss in the last two years! It may be a long time until we see anything like that again. So, yes, we are happy tonight, but we are also, like Kristi, a bit sad.

Good night . . .sea see you in Raleigh!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Love Pizza and Basketball

With nearly 11,000 fans in the stands for the First Round games on Sunday at Comcast, Maryland easily topped the attendance charts for all the NCAA Tourney venues. In fact, Comcast was the only arena in five figures. But that wasn't good enough for Coach B . . . she'd like to see more Maryland students at tonight's Second Round game against Utah.

So, according to Marissa Coleman's latest blog post for Sports Illustrated, Coach B has devised a strategy to lure more students -- free food (and student tickets are free, too)! That's right, the first 100 students at Comcast tonight get free pizza courtesy of Coach B! (The rest of us will have to fend for ourselves. Chicken tenders, anyone? Definitely no "kids" on the menu . . . at least not for the fans!)

And not that any Maryland fans need reminding, but tonight's game is against the team that nearly stopped the Terps' championship run dead in its tracks at the Elite Eight in 2006. (Remember the night Kristi Toliver scored 28 points while battling the stomach flu?) Not only that, but Maryland Assistant Coach Daron Park was on the bench that night as a Utah Assistant Coach. So it'll be an interesting "rematch" all around, as Camille Powell reports in today's Washington Post. As Coach Park told Mike Fratto of the Washington Times regarding his mixed emotions about playing his former team, "When the ball is thrown up, they're just a team that's in the way of a goal that we want to accomplish, and I know they feel the same way about me and our team."

Finally, and not that anyone might forget this either, but tonight's game is the last one at Comcast (North) for Kristi and Marissa. Thank you, thank you, for four amazing years!!!

Go Terps! Beat Utah!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Round One!

Grilled sausage, peppers, and onions at 10am? Why not? The Rebounders never miss an opportunity for a tailgate party! It was a great way to get fortified for a double-header of basketball!

The first game on the card today was a #8/#9 seed match-up between Villanova and Utah, followed by the #1/#16 game between the Terps and Dartmouth.

Lest old acquaintances be forgot . . . prior to the first game, Maryland (and former Utah) Assistant Coach Daron Park greeted Utah Head Coach Elaine Elliott's Mom. Considering the distance, the Utes had a good showing of loyal fans on hand. And since we were already wearing red, the BasketCases decided to join them.

If you're going to sit with the Utes, you'd better learn the cheers!

Swoop, the Utes mascot (no relation to Sheryl), made the trip from Salt Lake City!

And Will D. Cat came down from Pennsylvania to support Villanova! The antics of the two mascots turned out to be about the most exciting moments of the first game. When the #8 and #9 seeds play you expect a competitive game. Nope, not today. Villanova was completely overmatched by Utah; apparently, their offense was left behind in the Keystone State. By halftime, the Wildcats had managed to put up only 16 points (ouch!). In the second half, they managed to score 14! (Double ouch!) The final score: Utes 60, 'Nova 30.

A great crowd turned out for today's game . . . nearly 11,000 people!! But one person beer keg was surely missed: Keggy! That's right . . . our biggest disappointment of the day was learning that Keggy the Keg was M-I-A! But he wasn't the only Dartmouth no show! See that big, empty, blue bordered section -- in the photo above -- full of empty chairs? No Dartmouth BAND and no Dartmouth cheerleaders either! The Big Green was left to drown in the Red Sea without so much as a life preserver!

With no Dartmouth band in the house, the Maryland band had to do double duty. Fortunately, they were up to the task.

Testudo had to do double-mascot duty as well. He too was up to the task!

Here's a sight rarely seen at Comcast Center. . . the Senior Superstars (along with other starters) parked on the bench for a good bit of today's game . . . and none of them in foul trouble! With the game well in hand (or foot, or hair . . .), Coach B used the opportunity to give the reserves significant playing time. Everyone who was suited up played, and everyone scored. Making the most of her penultimate appearance at Comcast, Kristi Toliver lit up the scoreboard, scoring 23 points by halftime, equaling Dartmouth's total at the break all by herself! Kristi finished with 27 points in only 26 minutes!

82-53, a fairly predictable final score when a #1 plays a #16. Next: the Terps face the Utes on Tuesday at 7 PM.

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

In case you woke up early this morning and have some time to kill before heading off to Comcast, here's a little reading to fill the spare minutes: the Washingon Times's Mike Fratto has a nice article about Kristi Toliver, Terron Hampton in the Gazette writes about Marissa Coleman, the Washington Post's Camille Powell has a feature on a Terp who hasn't received quite as much ink (yet), redshirt freshman Kim Rodgers, and in Marissa's latest Sports Illustrated blog, Yemi gets a "dancing" lesson.

Go Terps! Beat the Big Green!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The last time the Terps played was March 8th (when they won the ACC Tournament), so we weren't the least bit surprised to learn from this morning's Washington Times that they are getting a bit tired of waiting. (So are we! Two weeks is a long time to go without a basketball fix!) Fortunately, the wait is almost over. Maryland plays its first round NCAA Tourney game tomorrow, Sunday, at 2:30 PM against Dartmouth, at Comcast Center (North). That game will be preceded by a 12 noon match between two "offensive" powerhouses Villanova and Utah (just kidding . . . these are teams whose average scoring is in the mid-50s and low 60s, respectively).

But for those who can't wait till tomorrow for their baskeball fix, there are first round Tourney games today at other venues that you can watch on ESPN2's whiplash whip-around coverage starting at noon.

If you live in the home-protected market of one of the teams, you will get to see a game in its entirety. But if not, these whip-around broadcasts are great, particularly if you suffer from attention deficit disorder . . . you'll be treated to a few minutes of a game here or a snippet of another there before the producers decide to fling you off to another arena. [By showing at least 30 seconds of each game, ESPN gets to claim that it's televising every game of the Tournament!]

Of course, if you're not suffering from ADD, but are suffering from basketball withdrawal, a better option would be to head on over to Comcast today for the (free!) open practices of the four teams that will be competing tomorrow. The open practices start at noon. Villanova is up first, followed approximately an hour later by Utah, then Maryand, and then Dartmouth. That schedule is here. See you there -- or tomorrow for sure!

Go Terps! Beat Dartmouth!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

We Want Keggy!

Be honest now. How much do you really know about Dartmouth, Maryland's opponent in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament this weekend?

We suspect that, like most of us, your knowledge is on par with Kristi Toliver's. Here's what Kristi told the Washington Post about Dartmouth Monday night: "They're in the Ivy League, so I'm sure they're intelligent people, and that's about all I know." (Well, KT, they're definitely not as smart as Princeton students, but otherwise we don't disagree.)

We bet that, like many of her team's fans, Kristi didn't even know Dartmouth's nickname! In case you're wondering, for the record, Dartmouth is known as the "Big Green" . . . kinda like the Stanford "Cardinal." (Only green, not red, and not as good at basketball and definitely not as well known.)

Of course, with Big Green as a nickname, that begs the question: "What could their mascot possibly be?" A golf fairway?? Obviously, this was a task for the BasketCases' Research Department! And, thanks to our researchers, we now have an answer.

After many hours of intensive investigation, using every research tool at their disposal, our intrepid sleuths informed us that . . . Dartmouth has no offical school mascot! We repeat -- no official school mascot! How can that be? How can you play sports without a mascot? Even the Cardinal has a Tree, albeit an unofficial mascot and a sometimes tipsy one, but a Tree nonetheless! There had to be more to this story, so once again we sent the BasketCases' Research Department out in search of more answers . . .

Apparently, the Dartmouth mascot used to be "an Indian," until school officials fired him in 1971 (no doubt on grounds of political correctness). This left the Big Green without a mascot. And so they remained mascot-less for several decades. However, in 2003, the Student Assembly conducted a student survey to select a new mascot, and the winner was . . . "DartMoose"!! But in a second poll, DartMoose lost out to "No Mascot." That's sort of like when former Attorney General John Ashcroft lost his Senate race to a dead opponent. (Strange, but true.) But we disgress. So, no new mascot.

But not having one didn't sit well with the staff of Dartmouth's student humor magazine, Jack-O-Lantern, so they invented . . . Keggy the Keg -- an anthropomorphic keg of beer!! Well, why not? What better symbol of college life than a walking, performing beer keg! Brilliant!

Take a look at his picture. Keggy has a pretty cool costume, and don't you think he's kinda cute? Unfortunately, life hasn't been all happy hours for Keggy. Since he's not an official mascot, he's run into a bit of "institutional resistance." According to Wikipedia, school officials have banned him from some games. And there was that unfortunate keg-naping episode. Apparently not everyone at Dartmouth likes Keggy, but we do! And we certainly hope that he shows up at Comcast on Sunday to help his team get pumped for the Big Dance.

Keggy, please come this Sunday . . . beer kegs always receive a warm welcome in College Park! Last year at this time, we saw lots of great mascots at the first round games. It just wouldn't be the same this weekend if the Big Green came without a mascot of their own.

We Want Keggy!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The March to the Arch . . . begins

Sometimes ESPN's Selection Monday Show is a nail-biter. Tonight's . . . not so much. Ever since the Terps won the ACC Championship, a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament was pretty much guaranteed. Thus, there was little drama (though still great excitement) when ESPN revealed that (no surprise!) the Terps were named the #1 seed in the Raleigh Region. Congratulations to Coach B and the entire team!

The Terps kick off their NCAA Tournament run right here at Comcast Center this Sunday afternoon. Maryland will face the #16 seed in the region, Dartmouth, winner of the Ivy League. Then on Tuesday evening, that game's winner (our money's on the Terps . . . and we're giving great odds!) will play the winner of the #8/#9 match-up between Villanova and Utah. If Maryland and the Utes win their first round games, this would set up a replay of the 2006 Elite Eight match-up . . . only, in that meeting, Assistant Coach Daron Park was an Assistant Coach on Utah's bench. Small world.

Regardless of Tuesday's opponent, a win would send the Terps to the Sweet Sixteen game at the RBC Center in Raleigh (road trip!) on Saturday, March 28th. If the seeds in the region's first two rounds hold up, Maryland would be playing SEC Tournament Champion Vanderbilt, followed by an Elite Eight game against the Raleigh Region's #2 seed, Big 12 Champion Baylor (ironically another team in the Terps' bracket in 2006). But if #2 Baylor falters, Coach B and the Terps might have to slug it out with former Maryland Associate Head Coach, Jeff Walz, and his #3 seeded Louisville Cardinals for a trip to the Final Four in St. Louis. The plot thickens!

But we're getting waaay too far ahead of ourselves here. . . As the Terps well know, there's no looking past any team at any time, particularly during March Madness.

In the other parts of the bracket, UConn (the overall #1 seed) will be headed for the Trenton regional. Perhaps the only real suspense of an otherwise excruciatingly dull ESPN Selection Show would have have been learning the identity of the other two top seeds. But earlier today, stepped all over that possibility by putting up a poll on its website (later taken down) containing questions that actually named the four Number 1 seeds: Connecticut, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Duke. So much for the Selection Monday Show!

So congratulations again to the Terps on an incredible season, their ACC Championship, and their #1 seed! Let the games begin. Go Maryland! Beat Dartmouth!

Thanks to RebKell poster Rothum for the quick eye on that poll

* * * * * *

Tuesday Morning Observation . . . Last week, an editorial in the Baltimore Sun wondered why the public does not pay sufficient attention to women's sports. Well, we have at least part of the answer: Monday's Washington Post devoted an entire, separate, 14-page section to the men's NCAA Tournament. Today's paper give's the women's Tournament a few pages inside the sports section. As we said last week, the Sun's editorial made no mention of the role that the media play in this disparity, but it should have.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Supplement Surprise!

On her personal blog, sportswriter Mechelle Voepel discloses today that her vote for Coach of the Year goes to . . . drumroll please . . . Brenda Frese! Here's Mechelle's explanation:

Yes, [Coach Frese] has two great players in Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver. But she also has incorporated a freshman and a junior-college transfer as starters, replacing stars Crystal Langhorne and Laura Harper.

Frese’s team doesn’t have a lot of depth, and she’s had to nurture, teach and encourage younger players. The Terps tied for the regular-season ACC title with Florida State and then won the ACC tournament. They have locked up an NCAA No. 1 seed. Did many people expect that from them when the season started?

As Mechelle reminds her readers, she had ranked the Terps Number 12 (!) in her preseason poll. With Maryland having far exceeded Mechelle's expectations for this season, Mechelle (quite sensibly) credits Coach B! Mechelle Voepel watches a lot of basketball, and there are many great coaches for whom she could have voted, so this is high praise coming from Mechelle. Congratulations, Coach B!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Friday, March 13, 2009

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Like the Terps, the BasketCases took a few days off from basketball -- in our case, basketball blogging, in theirs, basketball playing -- after that exhilarating, but exhausting, long weekend in Greensboro. So we figure it's about time we got caught up.

First, some additional reflections about the ACC Tournament . . .

In the four years we've been road-tripping to the ACC tournament, the number of Maryland fans has grown by leaps and bounds -- from a modest river to a veritable Red Sea! Greensboro will never be a truly neutral court for the non-Carolina teams, but this year, the large, loud and enthusiastic contingent of Terps fans did make the Coliseum feel pretty close to Comcast South.

One of the things that really impressed us last weekend was the play of the underclassmen. Some particularly memorable moments: Kim Rodgers, who must have ice water running through her veins, nailing free throws in the final seconds of overtime, as well as hitting big shots from the floor when they were needed the most. Also memorable was how our rookie frontcourt managed to limit the damage from Duke senior and All-ACC first-teamer, Chante Black. And who can forget Marah nailing those consecutive threes! Even Yemi found a way to put the ball in the basket. LOL! We could go on and on. All the underclassman were instrumental to winning the Championship and added to the fun and excitement of the Tournament. (And those seniors did a pretty good job, too!)

We also want to say how much we appreciated being one of the recipients of Coach B's message of thanks to the "Red Sea" and all Maryland fans. The content of her message just reinforced for us just how very special the Maryland program is, and how much the fans truly are appreciated. Thank you, Coach B! And, thank you to all of the other wonderful people associated with the Maryland program.

And now turning to post-Championship media coverage . . .

How great was it to pick up our Washington Post on Monday morning and see that huge picture of Kristi and Marissa on the front page? The answer: VERY! And that was the real front page -- the news section, not the sports section.

And when was the last time a newspaper ran an editorial about a women's basketball team? That's right, an editorial! We don't know the answer to that question, but we do know that on Tuesday morning, the Baltimore Sun ran an editorial gushing about the Terps' ACC Championship . . . and wondering why women's sports don't get the attention from the public that they deserve. (Uh, perhaps the disproportionately small amount of media coverage might have something to do with it. We're just saying.)

Speaking of the Baltimore Sun, former Sun sportswriter Milton Kent has a must read Press Box article about the Terps' superduper post duo of Liles and Kizer here. And Aaron Kraut of the DiamondBack writes about Maryland's time off between the ACC and NCAA Tournaments.

And now looking ahead to the Big Dance . . .

In winning the ACC Tournament, the Terps punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. But as far as the Big Dance goes, the team and their fans won't find out till this Monday where Maryland will be seeded or who they'll be playing. The one thing that is virtually certain is that the Terps will play the first two rounds at Comcast (North), of course. However, by virtue of Maryland's winning the ACC Championship, most observers, including ESPN's official "bracketologist," Charlie Creme, see the Terps as a lock for a number one seed, and expect them to be placed in the Raleigh Region. (Road trip!) All will be revealed on ESPN's Selection Show this Monday at 7 PM. (If you're a Rebounder, you've probably already received your invitation to join the team in Heritage Hall to watch the show. Very cool!)

Finally, looking forward to looking back . . .

If, for whatever reason, you forgot to set your DVRs last Sunday to record the ACC Championship game, Comcast SportsNet has come to your rescue! Comcast SportsNet will be replaying the game this Sunday at 12:30 PM. Ready, set, record!

* * * * * * * *
Saturday Morning Update . . . Drinking the Kool Aid Gatorade . . . Thanks to Matt Bracken's Recruiting Report in the Baltimore Sun, we learn that Maryland commits Dara Taylor and Tianna Hawkins have been named, respectively, the Delaware and Maryland Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, joining such distinguished company as Marah Strickland, Monique Currie, Nikki Teasley, and Elena Delle Donne. Congratulations to Dara and Tianna! (Not surprisingly, when they were in high school, Marissa Coleman and Kristi Toliver were also Gatorade Players of the Year, for D.C. and Virginia.)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Championship Sunday!

Behind Every Hotel Room Door . . . an early-rising Terps Fan Who Did NOT Come Here to See Her Team Lose!

A quick breakfast, then the fans head over to the Doubletree to wait for the Team to come down!

The Doubletree Lobby turned into a veritable gauntlet of cheering Terps fans!

Assistant Coach Park ran the gauntlet with ease . . . and with a smile!

Drey Mingo (and Kim Rodgers behind her) were among the first players to be greeted by the fans in the lobby.

In Carolina country, Terps require a police escort!

Following Lamont's advice, before tip-off, the Terps scuff mark their territory . . . the Greensboro Coliseum is now known as Comcast South!

Before the game, the Dukies are all smiles.

During the game, not so much. And after, well . . .

When the final buzzer sounded, the "Red Sea" stood and cheered, the cheerleaders and Testudo ran onto the court with flags, the players hugged and jumped for joy . . . while the camera-operators recorded it all!

And then the balloons fell

And confetti rained down!

And players (Lynetta Kizer) hugged friends and family, and cried tears of joy!

Then trophies were handed out to each member of the Championship team.

The nets were cut down!

To the victors go the spoils!

One very happy (and very special) Terps fan looking good in the Championship cap her former teammates climbed into the stands to give to her . . . along with plenty of hugs!

The Championship Pose.

Yemi: "I say, this is all very interesting. But could someone please explain what purpose does it serve to tie a piece of the net to my cap?"

Netta: "This is my balloon . . . and nobody's gonna take it away from me!"

Peggy Toliver: "I got a balloon for Kristi, too!"

"Coach" Wallace with the Championship Trophy.

Time to head home and check up on those toddlers!

A happy Marah spots (and hears!) the fans above her, waving and cheering her all the way to the bus.

And Terps Secret Weapon, Kim Rodgers, finally gets to remove her knee brace.

MVP and MVMom

And the smiling ACC Player of the Year acknowleges the love from the fans, and is one of the last to board the bus.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases