Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Clean Sweep!

The Terps dominated the Fighting Illini in Cancun last night right from the start, opening with a 12-5 run. Maryland kept the pressure on, stretching the lead to as much as 27 before taking a 16-point cushion into the locker room at the break (39-23). The second half was more of the same, and the Terps won decisively, 79-52. Four Terps finished in double figures, including reserve Drey Mingo, who hit a perfect 8 of 8 from the free throw line!

Speaking of perfect, last night's win gave the Terps a 3-0 record in Cancun -- which means they'll return home undefeated in games played outside the United States!

In a first this season, Maryland fans, including the BasketCases, were able to follow the game via a live blog on the Terps' web site. It's no substitute for TV, but it was fun to read, and helped keep us involved in the action.

The Terps have a basketball-free day today in Cancun before returning to the States tomorrow. The forecast is for 82 degrees and mostly sunny skies . . . we can guess how they'll be spending the day -- four letters, begins with "P."

We hope they enjoy themselves. They've certainly earned that rest day -- and will need that rest day -- as they play a tough Purdue team in West Lafayette on Thursday as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. (Yesterday, the #19 ranked Boilermakers took #5 ranked Stanford to overtime, before falling to the Cardinal in the extra period.) Then on Sunday, Dec. 7, the Terps travel to Pittsburgh to play the Panthers. Pitt is led by senior Shavonte Zellous, a 5'10" athletic guard (and probable WNBA draft first-rounder) who is currently averaging over 22 ppg. She'll definitely be a tough match-up. So after today's fun-in-the-sun, there's no doubt it'll be back-to-work for the Terps this week.

Friday, November 28, 2008

CANCUN: Game 2

Here's what we know (not a lot, since we didn't see it or hear it -- yes, we know there was an internet radio broadcast, but at 7 PM, we were just sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner, so we didn't listen -- sue us!):

1. Once again playing in the ballroom of the Moon Palace Resort, the Terps waltzed to a victory over Montana's Lady Griz, 71-58. Four Terps scored in double figures, and the team as a whole hit 9 of 17 from beyond the arc.

And thanks to our BasketCases' foreign correspondent (Gerri!) on the ground (when she's not in the pool) in Cancun, we also know . . .

2. Coach B tried out a new play . . . quickly shoot your free throw while your opponent is busy doing her nails. Seemed to work perfectly on at least one member of the Lady Griz!

3. We know the Terps did not forget to pack their bikinis:
4. And we know they cleaned up pretty well for Wednesday night's banquet:

As for tonight's Game 3, here's what we know, so far:

1. The Terps play the Fighting Illini tonight at 9:30 PM ET.

2. According to the Maryland web site, live stats will be available on Gametracker. And there's a "listen" link on the Illinois site (though unclear if this is free).

Good luck to the Terps as they finish out the Caribbean Challenge!

Photo Credits: Gerri Grove (with mucho thanks!)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ballroom Dancing.

Here's what we know about Game 1 of the Cancun Caribbean Challenge (not a lot, since we didn't see it, hear it or have any live stats to follow):

1. Maryland won, 68-56. Story here.

2. The game was played in a ballroom! (Gotta hand it to Coach B . . . that's one way to get your team ready for the Big Dance!)

And here's what we know about today's Game 2:

1. It's scheduled for 7 PM ET. (No more "TBA"!)

2. Maryland's opponent will be the Montana Lady Griz (as in Grizzly Bears).

3. And, according to a very helpful comment below, the game will be broadcast on (thanks Everett!).

Happy Thanksgiving from the BasketCases!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cancun, But No Vacation.

Any moment now, the Terps should be 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 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, Wisconsin, Utah 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 Idaho, 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.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cookin' With Gas!

Today began with the first Rebounders tailgate party of the season . . . an unqualified success! Not a single car was immolated! The boosters clearly took the BasketCases' warning to heart and decided to foreswear charcoal, firing up their gas grills instead. Thus, at the conclusion of the party, no hot coals needed to be disposed of . . . in car trunks or elsewhere. And the gas grill-work was indeed impressive: sausages, peppers and onions, soup, hot chocolate, veggie chili, baked beans, weenies galore . . . plus sides and desserts! (Tomorrow is a treadmill day for sure!) And add to that a chilly but beautiful fall day and the pleasure of hanging out with our fellow Rebounders . . . what a great start to a day of Maryland Basketball!

And the fun continued even after we all packed up and headed indoors. The players and coaches took over where the boosters left off . . . they, too, were cookin' with gas this afternoon! After a slow start by both squads, Maryland's offense -- and defense -- heated up, as the Terps dominated the UCLA Bruins throughout the first 20 minutes, taking a 41-22 lead into the locker room. Maryland gave back a little of that lead early in the second half, but an animated Coach B got her team refocused, as the Terps cruised to a 23-point victory, 88-65.

Kristi and Marissa each had another big scoring day, finishing with 25 and 22 points, respectively. (Marissa also had 9 rebounds, just missing out on a double-double.) Today's was a very physical game (for example, mugging Marissa at mid-court apparently is not a foul!), but KT and Marissa helped the team maintain their composure and fight through the physical play. With each passing game, the senior starters are quietly taking leadership of this team.

Speaking of composure, we're happy to report that Coach B is back to her old "enthusiastic" self! It must've killed her last season to be confined to The Big Chair. Today, she marched up and down the sidelines (note to NCAA: staying off the court and clearly inside the coach's box), waving her arms, calling plays, yelling encouragement to her players, "consulting" with the officials . . . in other words, being the fun, exciting, animated coach we Maryland fans have come to know and love!

The only un-fun part of the day came as we filed out of the arena wishing one and all a Happy Thanksgiving. That's when it hit us . . . not only will Thanksgiving come and go before we see the Terps again at Comcast, but so will Christmas! Too long for Terps fans, and definitely too long for bloggers! I guess we'll just have to go in search of some games at other local venues to fill the time while we wait for Maryland's return.

The Terps travel (unfortunately without the BasketCases) to Cancun for a fun-in-the-sun holiday tournament this week, then they take to the road for 4 games to start December. Finally, they return to Comcast for the annual Terrapin Classic on December 29th. We'll be there, and until then we'll be counting the days.

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases
Sausage Credit: Sharma Wright

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Don't Let This Happen To You!!!

Tomorrow (Sunday) the Maryland Rebounders will be holding their first of several tailgate parties of the season. Outside in the Comcast parking lot, the Terps' loyal boosters will be lighting coals, cooking weenies (hot dogs, not Dukies), and consuming enough liquid refreshment to stay well hydrated throughout the Terps' 2 PM game against the UCLA Bruins. And the good news is that the weather forecast is for sunny skies and temperatures in the balmy 40s! (With such a favorable forecast, just remember . . . no bathing suits, and shirts & shoes are required!)

But for those who think that a pregame tailgate is all fun and games, think again! Check out this recent article from the Washington Post about a Redskins pregame tailgate (link here) . . . where several cars went up in flames! Who knew that these things can be so dan-ger-ous! So, Be Careful Out There! And, just remember . . . no matter how big a hurry you're in to get into Comcast for the tip-off, DO NOT, we repeat, DO NOT put HOT COALS in the trunk of your car!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Changing Gears . . . and Shoes!

The Terps' game against the JMU Dukes at Comcast tonight started out as one of those stop-and-go affairs. Maryland grabbed a narrow lead, JMU responded, Maryland scored again, JMU countered with a 3 pointer. Dukes go up by 1, Maryland scores the last bucket of the half; Terps take a 1 point lead into the locker room. That was the first 20 minutes. Then the second half opened pretty much the same way. A basket here, a miss there, a JMU long-range bomb, a Maryland turnover, a rebound and a layup . . . a tight game, looking very much like the first half. And Maryland still looking like a team trying to find itself.

But then, with about 10 minutes remaining, Maryland found a way out of that bumper-to-bumper traffic. The Terps changed gears, and in a span of only 7 minutes turned a one-point margin into a 17-point cushion, ultimately winning by a final score of 90-76. For a short while, at least, Maryland looked like a team that had found itself!

Kristi Toliver helped spark the Maryland run, attacking the basket and drawing fouls, finishing with a team-high 27 points (and 10 assists). Marissa Coleman also turned her game up a notch in that critical stretch, playing aggressively on both ends of the floor. The newbie frontcourt starters, Lynetta Kizer and Dee Liles, continue to impress us with their energy, enthusiasm, and talent. Dee's athleticism is just remarkable, particularly her ability to catch the ball in mid-air and put the ball in the basket before returning to Earth! Like Kristi, Dee also finished with a double-double (16 points and 10 rebounds), not to mention 5 blocked shots!

Just like last year, Coach Kenny Brooks and his JMU Dukes were a tough opponent. The final score does not reflect how close the game was for most of the match. Dawn Evans of JMU led all scorers with 33 points (that's right, 33!). She was virtually unstoppable. No matter who Maryland put on her, she found a way to score. She's a very talented young lady! But in the end, Maryland's 5 starters (all solidly in double figures) trumped her big night.

Apart from making a statement with their win, the Terps also made a fashion statement, unveiling their new blood-red, yellow-soled Nike sneakers (pictured above). They are now undefeated in their new footwear!

The Terps have one more home game before they head to Cancun for Thanksgiving -- a match this Sunday at 2 PM against a very good UCLA team. Let's hope those new shoes remain undefeated! See you Sunday!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Sunday, November 16, 2008

No Plague! Count us relieved.

After unexpectedly falling victim to Frogs in Texas on Friday, the Terps returned to Comcast to find a team named after swarming, stinging insects on their schedule for the home opener. And it occurred to us that if Delaware State beat the Terps this afternoon, there could be one and one explanation only: Maryland was being visited by the 10 Plagues of Egypt! Frogs, stinging insects . . . plus that meant we still had boils, lice, fire & hail (not to mention pestilence!) to look forward to. Yuck!

Thankfully, it didn't happen. The Hornets of Delaware State were never even close to threatening the Terps, as Maryland recorded its first win of the 2008-09 season, 73-46.

But that's not saying that this was exactly a dominating performance by Maryland. It's clear that this year's team is still getting used to playing together and is still a work-in-progress. Which should hardly be a surprise, given the brand-new-mix on the court resulting from the loss of key players to graduation, the return of injured players, and the influx of freshman. If this weekend was any indication, the ride is going to be a little bumpy for the Terps and their fans -- but what talent there is out there on the court!

For example, after Kristi Toliver picked up two quick fouls to start the game, Anjale Barrett -- forced to redshirt last year due to a knee injury -- saw significant minutes running the point. She displayed impressive ball handling skills, gained valuable experience running the offense, pushed the ball up the court and finished the day with 5 assists and only 1 turnover. Meanwhile, both new frontcourt starters also contributed to the winning effort. Dee Liles, possibly the most athletic player on this year's roster, recorded her first double-double (11 pts & 12 rbs), and Lynetta Kizer added 13 points while providing considerable vocal encouragement to her teammates throughout the contest.

So, obviously, "no plague" wasn't the only positive we took away from today's game. There were other positives too . . . not the least of which was the first Rebounders post-game social of the year! But as much as we loved mingling with the players, their families, the coaching staff (and the other Rebounders), the most important thing we took away from today's game was of a more tangible nature . . . Refrigerator Magnet Schedules!

No boils, no lice, no pestilence, a Maryland win and Refrigerator Magnets! Life is Good.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cowtown Wisdom:

EXPERIENCE, What you get when you don't get what you wanted.

This evening, the Terps arrived at TCU's arena on a bus from Cowtown Charters. And once the game tipped off, they were treated to a little Cowtown Wisdom. If experience is the best teacher, then Maryland should have learned a lot tonight. They were schooled!

The unranked, unheralded TCU Horned Frogs opened the first half in Ft. Worth ("Cowtown, USA") with an 11-0 run, took a 7 point lead into the locker room at the half, scored the first 9 points of the 2nd half, extended the lead to 20 and easily held on to pull off the big upset of the heavily-favored Terps, 80-68.

We couldn't see it (lucky us!), but it was clear from the audio that this was one U-G-L-Y game for Maryland . . . under 35% from the field, 1-7 from behind the arc, 17 turnovers vs a paltry 6 assists, giving up 80 points to the Frogs! In truth, this game was not as close as the final score.

The only thing worse than hearing the TCU announcers repeat "another turnover by Maryland" and "Maryland miss" was their constant repetition of "Maryland, the Number 3 Team in the Country." Well, that distinction will be short-lived. And maybe that's for the best.

Now it's back to the drawing board for the Terps. Time to meld this new group of extremely talented players into a cohesive whole. Time to begin the uphill climb again in the rankings. Time to play Maryland Basketball.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Gerri Grove (Thanks!)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Terps Tip-off at TCU!

Maryland's 2008-09 season officially gets underway tomorrow (Friday) when the Fearsome Turtles travel to Fort Worth, Texas, to face the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University at 6:30 PM EST. (Yes, note that early start time!)

The game is being shown on the Mountain West Sports Network, Direct TV channel #616; but if you don't get that channel (we don't!), you can also follow the action via audio webcast by clicking on And you can keep track of the live stats via Gametracker.

But if that doesn't satisfy your need for multi-tasking, during breaks in the action you can surf the web and catch up on all the important Terps News:

First, go to and VOTE for the nation's top point guard! No secret ballot for the BasketCases . . . we voted for Kristi! (On every one of our computers, every day!) And while you're visiting, don't miss Beth Mowins' great feature on Marissa, or Charlie Creme's preseason take on the major conference races. (Hint: he picks a certain team whose mascot is a reptile with a hard shell to win the ACC.)

Then, stroll over to the Baltimore Sun and check out Childs Walker's article about some great expectations . . . Kristi and Marissa won't be satisfied with anything less than an ACC championship and another Natty! And, as long as you're on the Sun's website, visit Matt Bracken's Baltimore Sun Recruiting Report and get better acquainted with future Terp Essence Townsend. Here's the BasketCases' favorite new factoid gleaned from Matt's Report: Essence's "Best basketball moment: 'My first dunk in a high school basketball game.'" Did she say Dunk?!!!

Now take a moment to read Marissa's blog on Sports . . . who knew that blogging was a competitive sport!

And don't miss this feature by Mike Fratto of the Washington Times on amazing Terp freshman (and preseason ACC Rookie-of-the-year) Lynetta Kizer, or this one by Camille Powell in the Friday morning Washington Post (in which we learn that 'Netta has now replaced Harp as Marissa's official chest-bump-partner).

Of course, things are a little different this season for Coach B . . . no babies on board . . . no big chair! Read more about her changes here and here.

Lastly, our former Terps, Harp, Lang & Shay, continue to post "excellent" performances in Euroleague international competition.

Okay, that should be plenty to keep you busy during the timeouts! But don't forget to check back with us tomorrow night for a post-game report.

Friday, November 07, 2008

What more do we need to say?

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

P.S. Others had more . . . here and here.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Welcome New Mystics Head Coach Julie Plank!

Moments ago, a reliable source confirmed that Julie Plank has been named the 11th (and hopefully the last . . . at least for a very very long time) Head Coach of the Washington Mystics.

Julie brings 24 years of coaching experience (plus 4 years as a college player) to her new job. She spent 10 years as an assistant to Tara VanDerveer at Stanford, coaching (among others) new Mystics GM Angela Taylor! Her tenure at Stanford included those two Natty-winning years plus a couple more Final Four appearances. Julie also served as an assistant coach on the 2000 USA Olympic Team that won the Gold in Australia. So we guess you could say that not only has she seen first-hand what winning programs look like, she's been part of them!

Like Angela, Julie has extensive experience in and knowledge of the WNBA. She joined the Eastern Conference's Indiana Fever in 2000 and helped build that team from a 9-win expansion team into a consistent 20+ win playoff contender. In 2008, she joined the coaching staff of the Minnesota Lynx, working to rebuild that Western Conference franchise by focusing on the development of a core of young players. At Minnesota, now-GM Angela Taylor had the opportunity to observe personally how her former college coach worked with today's professional athletes. Given that she hired Julie, it seems pretty clear that she liked what she saw!

Now we'd like to digress a little, but bear with us, we'll get back to Julie . . . eventually! This morning, the BasketCases were reading an article online from Business Week. Written by Jack and Suzy Welch, it's about the lessons that business leaders can learn from Barack Obama's historic victory. Basically, it says that Senator Obama's win was built " . . . on 3 leadership principles: a clear vision, clean execution, and friends in high places."

Last night at the Mystics' Meet the new GM season ticketholder event, we were once again impressed that Angela appears to have a clear vision of what she wants to accomplish with the Mystics; she also has a plan and, it appears, the knowledge and experience necessary to execute that plan; and, after hearing from COO Greg Bibb that he, Dr. J and Ted Leonsis have made a multi-year commitment to Angela (as well as to the new Head Coach!), we also conclude that Angela has support from some "friends in high places."

So while we don't yet know Julie personally, we believe that Julie must be someone who shares Angela's and Greg's vision for the franchise; her résumé clearly points toward her having the skills necessary to execute the Mystics' rebuilding plan; and, with Angela (and Greg) firmly in Julie's camp and a multi-year commitment from the Front Office, it would seem Julie also has the "friends" and relationships essential for success.

Like the recently concluded presidential campaign, the campaign to turn the Mystics around isn't going to be quick and it isn't going to be easy. It's probably not going to reach a conclusion in a single season, or even two. But the leadership principles are there, so -- finally -- the BasketCases are hopeful that the change we need is indeed coming. With a clear vision, with proper execution, and with support from highly-placed friends, we believe that Dr. J, Greg, Angela and now Julie can (in time) turn the Mystics into winners. Yes, they can!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

* * * * * * * * * *
Friday Morning Update: Katie Carrera's Washington Post article about Julie's hiring is here, Mike Fratto's article in the Washington Times is here, and a really snarky AP story can be found here in USA Today. Plus, features a Q&A with Julie (link here).

Reminder to Terps Fans: Maryland plays its second and final exhibition game at 7 PM tonight at Comcast, this one against Team Evolution, whoever they are. A huge BasketCases shout out to anyone who can name someone on the roster of that team. (We certainly can't.)

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Mystics have scheduled a press conference for 1:30 PM this Thursday at which time they are expected to announce their new Head Coach.

Check back with us for the breaking news!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Exhibition A. We've been spoiled. When you go 3 years with your favorite team returning at least 4 of its starters, you forget why teams need a couple of exhibition games to get ready for the games that count. We were reminded why this afternoon. It takes time, practice -- and games like today's -- to integrate new players and work out some kinks.

Five players who never played a minute for the Terps last season played significant minutes in Maryland's 83-72 exhibition win over Team DT III. Two of the 5 were true freshmen (post players Lynetta Kizer and Yemi Oyefuwa), 1 was a JUCO transfer, Dee Liles, and 2 were players who redshirted last year due to injuries (senior Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood and freshman Anjale Barrett).

The result of all that newness was an uneven effort rife with mistakes and missed opportunities . . . but also with flashes of young talent, real athleticism and plenty of potential.

Not surprisingly, the Terps' senior starters, Marissa Coleman (18 pts) and Kristi Toliver (17 pts, 7 assists), led their less-experienced teammates today. And freshman Lynetta Kizer, making her first start, showed why she was a High School All American. Lynetta finished with a double-double, 13 pts and 12 rebounds.

It was only the first exhibition, the Terps are clearly a work in progress, and we're glad (and they probably are too) that they have another exhibition game, this Friday night against Team Evolution, before anyone starts keeping score for real.

Still and all, after spending this summer in a vortex of doom at the Verizon Center, the BasketCases felt great being back at Comcast. And an added bonus today was getting to see former Terp players Crystal Washington and Kalika France on the court for DT III.