Monday, January 18, 2010

My Bags Are Packed, I'm Ready to Go . . .

Petey @BasketCases I'll miss u guys but I have to leave town in a hurry!!!!

BasketCases @Petey Where are u going? When r u coming back?

Petey @BasketCases Im afraid to say here on the web but Im leavin on a jet plane dont know when I'll b back again

BasketCases @ Petey But why? We dont understand!

Petey @BasketCases I dont want to be deported to China like my friend Tai Shan!

BasketCases @Petey U didnt come from China. U are 100% American! They cant send you there.

Petey @BasketCases He's not Chinese either! He was born n bred in DC like me! But they're still deporting him!

Petey @BasketCases So I gotta leave NOW! But every place I go I'll b thinking of you BCs. Already Im so lonesome I could die.

BasketCases @Petey O Petey we cant let you go thru this alone. If we cant talk u out of it then...WE'RE GOING WITH YOU!

Petey @BasketCases But BCs youll miss the Miami game -- and DUKE!!! I cant let you do that.

BasketCases @Petey What are friends for? A friend in need trumps a few Bball games any day...even duke. It's decided. We're leavin with you on the jet plane!

Petey @BasketCases But what about your loyal blog readers?

BasketCases @Petey Dont worry they're cool. They'll understand if we cant post abt some games. We have to b there 4 u. We'll post a quick note along the way if we can.

Petey @BasketCases But who knows when youll b back again?!!

BasketCases @Petey Not 2 worry. we r makin some calls. we got Hillarys private #. u will get it in writing that u r NOT goin to China!

Petey @BasketCases BCs u r the best friends a panda could ever have!!!!

BasketCases @Petey It's nothin. lets the 3 of us just treat this like a lil vacation. it'll all get fixed soon. u have r word!

BasketCases @ Petey So, Petey, when dawn is breakin tmrw morn they'll b a taxi waitin blowin his horn and we'll all b on r way.

Petey @BasketCases BCs thanks to u I m dreamin, not dreading, the days to come. c u tomorrow for our "vacation!"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Not Enough Ketchup Catch-up

Maryland's game against UNC this afternoon took place in very unfamiliar surroundings for the young Terps -- no active player on the Terps' roster had played so much as a single game (prior to today) in the newly-renovated and reopened Carmichael Auditorium.

Perhaps the newness of their surroundings had something to do with the team's slow start. Maybe, maybe not. Who knows? In any event, winning on the road is always tough in the ACC. No better proof than today, as the Terps lost to the home team --as did every other visiting team playing in the Conference today -- the Terps by a score of 75-64.

Maryland found themselves in the position of playing catch-up pretty much all game long. Once again, the mostly rookie Maryland team was plagued by turnovers. But today (unlike the previous 2 games . . . and wins) the Terps weren't able to compensate for their mistakes with rebounding, high percentage shooting or solid numbers from the FT line. No, today the Terps' 23 turnovers (ouch!) led to too many easy points for the Tar Heels. And when a team barely breaks 50% from the charity stripe, that just doesn't bode well for the outcome.

In the first half, it looked like UNC was ready to break the game open early. But we have to give a lot of credit to the young Maryland players. Unlike at NC State, when they fell behind early and for good, this time they battled back. Today, the Terps managed to close an 11-point deficit, take a short-lived lead, and head into the locker room at the half all tied up, 33-33.

The second half followed a similar pattern . . . for a while. The Heels went up by double-digits. The Terps fought back, closing UNC's lead to 2. But too many turnovers leading to fast break points by the Tar Heels, too many missed free throws -- and missed opportunities -- by the Terps gave Carolina an insurmountable lead and handed Maryland another ACC road loss.

Maryland was also plagued today by early foul trouble -- 3 of the Terps' starters picked up 2 each (and were parked on the bench) in the first half. As result of the fouls, Lynetta only played 19 minutes in the entire game. Her absence, along with a sub-par night from Diandra, allowed UNC's frontcourt to gain the upper hand. The Terps were forced to rely on their guards to pick up the slack. And there's no doubt they did their best! The only Maryland starter to finish in double digits today was Lori Bjork, who posted a game-high 18 points. And Kim Rodgers, coming off the bench (and playing in her first game since fracturing a bone in her hand) also hit double figures, scoring 11 points with her hand still all wrapped in tape. They did what they could. But, unfortunately, without the frontcourt support, it wasn't enough for a road win.

The Terps now return to (hopefully more friendly) Comcast for a two-game homestand. On Thursday, they'll take on the Miami Hurricanes at 7 PM, and then on Sunday, at 8 PM, they face the Conference-leading Duke Blue Devils.


Game Day: Terps at Tarheels, 5:30 PM

No Need to Remind the Rebounders. A busload of those Maryland boosters is leaving College Park right about now. Destination: Chapel Hill.

But for those Terps fans left behind (which unfortunately includes the BasketCases) . . . fortunately, the game is being shown on the Regional Sports Network (Comcast SportsNet in our local area), so we can still catch all the action.

There's also no need to remind anyone that this -- the only meeting of the regular season -- between Maryland and #10/11 ranked UNC is a BIG and important match-up!

Go Terps! Beat the 'Heels!

Photo credit: DC BasketCases

Thursday, January 14, 2010

And the Beat Streak Goes On

The BasketCases confess we were feeling a little nervous about tonight's game between the Terps and the Boston College Eagles.

One of the BCs used to teach Algebra. So here's a little numerical problem to ponder: Let's say that your team (call it team A) lost to another team (call it team B) a week ago by 28 points. And then, that same team B (who beat your team A by 28) was itself beaten by another team (call it team C) three days later by 17 points. Now, if your team A (who lost to B by 28 points) plays team C (which beat team B by 17 points), which team is most likely to win? The answer should be obvious.

If you say team C will win . . . you're wrong and you get an "F"! The correct answer is team A (the team that was beaten a week ago by 28), of course. Why? Because Basketball does not = Algebra! Which, before the game, we knew rationally . . . but emotionally, we admit we were worried that the Terps' amazing home winning streak -- an incredible 47 games dating back more than 1,000 days to February 2007 -- might end tonight. But it didn't! The Terps (team A) apparently aren't very good at Algebra . . . they had other plans as they beat Boston College (team C) at Comcast tonight, 72-65.

Once again Maryland committed too many turnovers (19!), but the Terps compensated for those (mostly rookie) mistakes with a well-balanced offensive attack that saw four players end up in double figures. Diandra T led all scorers with 18, Lori Bjork put up 15 (including 4 of 6 from outside the arc), and Netta and T-Hawk finished with 12 each. Tianna also pulled down 11 boards, giving her another double-double.

The Terps also compensated for any miscues by shooting more than 57% from the field and 50% from 3-point land. Another key to this important win was the success the young Maryland team had in containing the Eagles' bigger (and far more experienced) frontcourt; holding 6'6" Carolyn Swords and 6'4" Stefanie Murphy to a meager 6 points each. And despite their height disadvantage, the Terps out-rebounded the Eagles, 38-27. Coaches are always saying that rebounding has a lot to do with effort, and the Terps got an "A+" for effort on their report card tonight.

Most of this evening's game could be described as a slugfest (7 ties & 12 lead changes). It wasn't until well into the second half that either team was able to stretch its lead beyond one or two possessions. Fortunately, the team that managed to pull away was Maryland . . . and "team A" never relinquished its late-game lead and notched its second-straight ACC victory of the season. They are now in a tie for 2nd place in the Conference. And, of course, let's not forget that this win means the amazing home win streak (now 48) goes on. La dee da dee dah . . .

* * * * * * *

A side note . . . There was another reason the BasketCases were worried about tonight's game. This afternoon, we read on ESPN sportswriter Mechelle Voepel's blog that she was planning to attend tonight's game IN PERSON. As noted in her post, Mechelle is an admitted jinx -- she writes about a team, and then they lose. So we were kind of hoping that perhaps Mechelle, being from Kansas, might get lost on her way to Comcast. She didn't. But fortunately, the only streak broken tonight was Mechelle's streak of jinxes!

ACC Home Opener

The Terps, who began their ACC season with two games on the road, return to Comcast this evening for their 2010 ACC home opener. At 7 PM, Maryland will face Boston College, currently 1-0 in ACC play . . . their victory a 17-point win at home over NC State.

Unlike the Terps, BC is a team of veterans. Their starters include the formidable frontcourt of 6'6" Junior Carolyn Swords and 6'4" Junior Stefanie Murhpy, Senior point guard Mickel Picco, plus another Junior and a Grad Student. The Eagles' line-up and that of the Terps are about as different as two line-ups can be.

But if you saw the Terps' game on national TV on Monday, then you know Maryland has plenty of young talent, and so we're expecting another exciting, competitive contest. And we're hoping that once again the Terps come out on top.

Go Maryland! Beat the Eagles!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

She's Baaacck!

Earlier today, the Mystics announced that former Washington Head Coach Marianne Stanley will be rejoining the team as an Assistant to Head Coach Julie Plank.

Longtime Mystics fans need no reminder that in 2002, Coach Stanley guided the team to its most successful season ever -- a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. But before that, the BasketCases (and many hundreds of others) got to enjoy what was for us, without a doubt, one of the most exciting -- and fun -- days we've ever had as Mystics fans. We're referring to that memorable day in Charlotte when the Mystics upset the Sting to advance to the Conference Finals.

In the intervening years, Coach Stanley has served as an Assistant Coach at Rutgers and, most recently, for the LA Sparks.

The BasketCases are very pleased that Marianne is returning to Washington. Welcome back, Coach Stanley!

Monday, January 11, 2010

"What a Win!"

That's how ESPN announcer Bob Wischusen signed off from tonight's nationally broadcast game between the underdog Terps and host UVA on ESPN2. A game that Maryland WON, 61-60!

You saw it! We saw it! The young Terps beat the #19-ranked Cavs in Charlottesville, on network TV (in a game in which the Cav's Monica Wright broke Dawn Staley's all-time Virginia scoring record), and we can't say it any better than Bob did: What-A-Win!

After their embarrassing loss at NC State on Thursday, the Terps were a different road team tonight: they came out focused and composed. They held the lead for most of the game, not allowing themselves to get rattled by a slew of travel calls, nor by a half-time Hail Mary 3, nor by Cavalier runs, one of which gave the home team an opportunity for a winning shot with 3.1 seconds left on the clock. No, the young Turtles held their ground, made shots and got stops when they had to, and left Charlottesville with their first ACC victory of the season . . . by virtue of a 1-point nailbiter.

Coach B and her assistants deserve a big round of cyber-applause for the way they prepared their players for tonight's game and helped them regroup after Thursday's depressing loss.

And, of course, all of the Terps players also deserve congratulations. But 3 Maryland players in particular had huge games tonight: Senior (but MD newbie) Lori Bjork nailed 6 of 10 three pointers (!), finished with 20 points (tying Monica Wright for game high scoring honors), and really brought some much-needed veteran leadership into tonight's contest.

Meanwhile, last season's ACC ROY Lynetta Kizer added a double-double (19 pts and 14 rebounds), as did Freshman floor general Dara Taylor (10 points and 11 assists). Dara may have fouled out in the waning minutes of the game, but she left no doubt that she's a force to be reckoned with as her career progresses through this and the 3 seasons to follow. The only Maryland player who may board the bus for home somewhat less-than-happy might be Diandra T. Tonight, Diandra was the victim of so many traveling calls (including several very questionable ones as we watched the game in HD), that her offensive game was virtually shut down, not by the team in white, orange & blue, but by the team in black & white stripes.

We have to say that we are really proud of the effort and the performance of the young ladies from College Park. Thursday's loss had to be so much harder on them than it was on their fans . . . and we know the fans took it hard. But the way they started tonight's game . . . and the way they finished tonight's game -- in full view of a national TV audience -- tells us a great deal about their character. We've said it before, and no doubt we'll say it again, we expected this season to be a bumpy ride. We saw that in Raleigh. Tonight, in Charlottesville, we saw that this team and this season can also be very exciting.

What A Win!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It's no secret that the young Terps haven't yet played well on the road. Something about being outside the familiar comforts of the Comcast Center seems to have rattled this team, causing them to lose focus and play below their potential. So it's with some trepidation that we look ahead to Monday's match-up against the Cavaliers in Charlottesville. Tomorrow's game not only brings the pressure of playing against a good Virginia team -- in the John Paul Jones arena, in front of what is likely to be a large, loud, orange-clad crowd of Wahoos . . . but it's also being broadcast on national TV.

We can only hope that between Thursday's rout in Raleigh and tomorrow evening, Coach B and her assistants have been able to help the young Terps get past their ACC-opening-night jitters and realize that a basketball game is still just a basketball game -- whether it's played in College Park, or Charlottesville or wherever.

We believe this young Maryland team has talent; and we certainly believe they are capable of a better showing on the road than they displayed against NC State. We'll be watching. And a better showing is what we're hoping to see . . . tomorrow (Monday) at 7:30 PM on ESPN2.

Go Terps! Beat the Cavs!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

You Don't Want to Know.

Trust us. You really don't want to know.

The BasketCases spent the $5.95 to watch the live webcast of Maryland's game tonight at NC State. It may have been the worst game we've ever seen the Terps play. So, really, you don't want to know how bad this game was.

But if, despite our warning, you still do want to know, the box score is here and the Washington Post story is here.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Big Debut

At long last, Maryland's ACC season debuts Thursday night, with a game on the road against NC State at 7 PM.

Tomorrow's game not only kicks off the ACC season for Maryland, but it's also the ACC coming out party for half of Maryland's coaching staff (new Assistant Coaches Adkins and Chin) and it's also the ACC coming out party for 6 of the 11 players on the Terps' roster . . . including 4 of the 5 players who started Maryland's last game! The one veteran among those 5? That would be sophomore Lynetta Kizer. To say that this team is young and untested in ACC play is beyond an understatement.

As fans, we have no delusions about the difficulty -- night in and night out -- that the young Terps will face playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference. We've witnessed it . . . year after year. Tomorrow will be the first day of on-the-job training for newbies Dara, T-Hawk, Diandra, Lori, Jackie and Essence. They came to UMd for an education and, now that the real season is about to get underway, they're about to get one! We can't wait to see how this youth movement responds to the upcoming challenges (beginning Thursday), and we're excited about following their progress through conference play as they're tested and as they grow.

Tomorrow's game is also the ACC debut for new Wolfpack Head Coach (and former Lady Vols star) Kellie Jolly Harper. It's never an easy task to follow a legend. It's a difficult assignment to assume the head coaching duties of a team led and inspired, for so many years, by the dearly-loved and now departed Kay Yow. But that's the job facing Coach Harper. And though we wish Coach Harper well in her coaching career, we obviously won't be rooting for her in her ACC home opener. Obviously what we're hoping to see tomorrow is the young Terps come out on top at their 2010 ACC debutante ball in Raleigh.

For those fans hoping to watch the game online, don't bother looking for ACC Select. This season, instead, any live webcasts will be left to the individual host school. Fortunately, NC State is webcasting tomorrow's game live, at a single game price of $5.95. The web link to sign up (and pay!) for the webcast is here. (BTW, if you need a refresher course on how to connect your computer to your TV so you don't have to watch the game on a little itty bitty screen, check out our how-to post, here.) If we look under the sofa cushions, the BCs might just find the $5.95 we need to follow the Terps' ACC debut!

7 PM Thursday . . . Let the games begin! Go Terps! Beat the Wolfpack!

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Unflappable!

video

Most teams these days don't bring their mascots on the road; indeed, the BasketCases can't recall the last time we saw an opponent's mascot at the Comcast Center for a non-tournament game. So we were pleasantly surprised this afternoon when the St. Joe's Hawk fluttered out onto the court during warmups. Why? Because the Hawk's appearance gave us the chance to do an empirical study of something we'd heard . . . that the St. Joe's Hawk flaps (at least one wing, in most cases, both) during the ENTIRE game! That includes warm-ups, introductions, time outs -- every moment of the game, whether the clock is running or not. Could this really be true? Well, as excited as we were about the game, the BCs were also excited to see this for ourselves!

So for the duration of today's match-up of the Terps against St. Joe's, one of us had her eyes glued to the Hawk at all times! We don't recommend this as an ideal way of following a game, but for the sake of science -- and accurate blogging -- one of the BCs had eyes like a on the Hawk. And thus, we are able to report to our readers with 100% confidence that, indeed, the Hawk flapped away the entire time. (We've even supplied a little video above as evidence to support our claim.)

We have to hand it to the Hawk . . . neither rain, nor snow, nor extreme cold -- nor ushers -- kept her from her appointed flapping. As you might guess, having a Hawk flapping away in the stands (or in front of you) during the game was pretty distracting to people actually interested in watching the game. So, not surprisingly, the Terps Hosts were constantly telling the Hawk to move her flapping elsewhere. Which she did, without so much as a squawk of complaint, while never missing a beat and flapping away all the while. In short, the Hawk was unflappable! And today, as it turned out, so were the Terps.

After a first half in which Maryland took a 12-point lead into the locker room (36-24), the Hawks came flying back, closing the gap to 3 about halfway through the final period. But the Terps remained unflappable, getting stops and big baskets when they needed to, finishing with a 10-point win, 79-69.

Diandra T had a huge game (except from the foul line), putting up 25 points to lead all scorers and adding 5 (clean) monster blocks. Anjale Barrett, coming off the bench, scored 20 points, and deserves an enormous shout out for nailing key buckets and hitting big FTs in the second half to stop the Hawks' runs . . . more than once. Lynetta Kizer, who struggled a bit today offensively, still nearly finished with a double double (10 board and 8 points), while Lori Bjork again hit the double figures, rounding out the Terps's double-digit scoring with 11.

And so now the Terps' home win streak -- an AMAZING 47 games long -- has been extended into a 4th calendar year. It began in 2007, and today's win means it's made it into another decade, 2010! Unbelievable.

Also with today's win, Maryland has completed its non-conference schedule this season. The toughest and most important games of the year -- ACC conference play -- begin on Thursday when Maryland faces NC State on the road in Raleigh. After that, Maryland plays a nationally televised road game in Charlottesville against the Cavs (on Jan. 11), before returning to Comcast to host the BC Eagles on the 14th. We wish the Terps the best on Thursday in this important opening stretch of the ACC season.

Go Terps! Beat the Wolfpack!

* * * * * * * * *

Injury report: as our readers know, Kim Rodgers injured her left hand during last week's game against UNC-Wilmington. We learned today that Kim fractured a bone in her hand, and it's expected to take about 4 weeks to heal. Kim was suited up, wearing a hard cast (with a color-coordinated Maryland red wrapping) and, we've heard, could play if she needed to. But we were also told (unofficially) that playing might be painful for her, so let's just wish Kim a speedy recovery and hope that she will not need to volunteer to play in pain.

Video Credit: DC BasketCases

Friday, January 01, 2010

Farewell to a Sports Section . . . and a Sportswriter.

Generally speaking, the Basketcases are not big fans of the Washington Times. However, when it comes to its Sports Section, we've always thought that the Times has done a very good job. Indeed, our loyal readers know that we've regularly linked to Times stories.

And so it was with great sadness that we heard the reports over the past few days that the Times, suffering from the same economic problems that have beset so many employers -- newspapers in particular -- was about to eliminate its Sports Section and lay off its sportwriters. Indeed today, January 1, 2010, the Times published its last Sports Section, and we here in our nation's capital are the worse for it.

There's a great deal being written right now about what a loss this is for coverage of the Redskins and the other "big" (read: men's) sports. But that's not what the BasketCases will miss. What we'll miss the most is Mike Fratto's writing about the Mystics and about Maryland women's basketball.

The BasketCases read a lot of sports stories. All too often, particularly when it comes to "minor" (read: women's) sports, the journalists assigned to write about teams don't have a very good grasp of or respect for the sport or the team they are covering. Mike Fratto was not one of those writers . . . he absolutely "got" the Mystics. His coverage of women's basketball for the Times, and particularly his coverage of the Mystics, definitely enriched the scope of women's basketball reporting here in the Washington, DC area. The coming WNBA season simply will not be the same without him.

When we first starting reading Mike's reports, we were impressed enough with his writing and his knowledge that we assumed he was an older, seasoned sports reporter. What did we know! Someone pointed him out to us at a game last summer and it turns out that Mike doesn't look old enough to have had a Bar Mitzvah. In other words, Mike is talented . . . and young.

We don't know what's in store for Mike; however, we hope his considerable talent will work to his advantage and help him land on his feet in a job doing what he wants to do. But no matter what the future holds for Mike, the BasketCases want to express our personal thanks for his reporting, wish him all the best, and just say how very sorry we are to lose his coverage.