Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!!!!

The BasketCases (and Petey, of course) wish all of our readers a very happy, healthy . . . and sparkling New Year!

However, before we close the book on 2010, we thought we'd pass along a few recent odds and ends about some people of interest:

Angela Taylor. Yesterday, former (and best ever) Mystics GM Angela Taylor officially launched her new sports marketing and consulting firm, NetWorks Sports. She also announced one of her firm's first major projects: working with former Stanford star and WNBA player Candice Wiggins on Candice's new business venture, The Candice Wiggins Overseas Experience.

Next October, in the first of what is expected to be an annual "experience," Candice will host a 50-person tour of some of the major cities in Spain, mixing visits to the traditional tourist sites with culture . . . and some basketball! Candice has played in Spain, so she brings to the experience a special familiarity with the country. During the tour, the lucky 50 fan-tourists will have the opportunity to see one of the best teams in Europe, Ros Casares, play in beautiful Valencia. Pricing and other details are here. It sounds very exciting (and very tempting to the BCs, who definitely love both travel and basketball). We certainly hope to be able join Candice on one of her trips! We wish Angela and Candice all the best with their new ventures in the new year!

Kristi Toliver. While we're on the subject of travel, former Maryland star and WNBA player Kristi Toliver has just agreed to join the Turkish team, Samsun, and will be playing in Turkey this winter.

Laura Harper. Unfortunately, Kristi's former Maryland teammate, Laura Harper, has had to cancel her own plans to play overseas. Harp had been recuperating from the knee injury that kept her out of the WNBA last season, but recently needed to undergo microfracture surgery on her knee. She's on crutches right now, and will be for a few more weeks; after that she will need several months of additional rehab. So in the new year, we wish Harp a full and speedy recovery. We hope to see her playing again when the WNBA season rolls around this summer. (And, of course, all the best to Kristi in Turkey.)

Crystal Langhorne. As Kristi heads to Eurasia, Maryland and Mystics star Crystal Langhorne has just returned from a very successful few months playing for UMMC in Ekaterinburg, Russia (in case you're wondering, Ekat is located just west of Siberia). Lang is planning to stay stateside in the new year, working out and getting ready for the upcoming WNBA season.

Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood. Last but not least, we have some news about another former Maryland Terrapin, Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood. Sa'de, we learned recently, has now embarked on a career in coaching. The BCs were delighted to learn that Sa'de (whose college playing career was plagued by injuries) is now the girls' basketball coach at Mission Bay High School in San Diego. We think those young athletes are lucky to have her, and we hope that Sa'de has a long and successful career as a coach.

Undoubtedly there's much more news out there, but it's time for the BCs to sign off for 2010. . . Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful, happy, healthy, successful and sparkling 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On A High Note

The #18/20 Terps finished up the 2010 calendar year on a high note, beating the #17/17-ranked St. John's Red Storm today at Comcast in the title game of the Terrapin Classic, 66-60.

The first half of today's midday game was tightly contested, despite the fact that St. John's did not hit a field goal until nearly ten minutes into the period. But thanks to turnovers and fouls by the Terps, SJU managed to hang around, even though they struggled from the field. At the break, Maryland took a 31-26 lead into the locker room.

In the second period, the Terps appeared to take control . . . opening up a lead that grew to as many as 16 18 points. However, as often happens when one team is trying to protect a lead while the other team is fighting desperately to come back, that comfortable double-digit margin didn't hold up. St. John's chipped away at the Maryland lead, forcing the Terps to really work to hold on and secure the win. We weren't expecting the nation's #17 ranked team to allow the Terps to roll to an easy victory . . . and the Red Storm didn't. They fought hard, but the Terps hung on. Whew.

Two Terps finished in double figures today, Diandra T with 19, and Lynetta Kizer, with 13 (including her 1,000th career point. Congrats to 'Netta!). For the first time this season, the Terps were outrebounded by their (noticeably smaller) opponent. Fortunately, it was not enough to give St. John's the victory.

While this game didn't have the hype of a meeting between Maryland and one of their traditional ACC rivals, it was still a very important game -- and a very important win -- for the 2010-11 team. To date it's their only victory (in two tries) over another nationally-ranked team. Not only should this win provide the Terps with some good momentum going into ACC play, but it should also be a plus for the team next March with the NCAA selection committee.

And Maryland will need all the momentum it can muster, as conference play kicks off next Thursday with as difficult a game as any team can play in the ACC -- a game (on the road) against Duke in Cameron.

Before that, however, the Terps have one more game to play -- on Sunday, in Philly, against St. Joe's at 2 PM. And then it's next stop, Durham!

The Terps were all smiles after being awarded the Terrapin Classic Trophy

Go Terps . . . Beat the Hawks!

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

As the BasketCases Drove up to Comcast this morning for the noon start of the Terrapin Classic, we were hoping that the Terps would not be looking past the (4-6) La Salle Explorers to the expected game tomorrow against #17-ranked St. John's. We were also hoping that the Maryland players wouldn't be exhibiting signs of post-holiday lethargy after a nine-day layoff. Instead, what we were hoping for was to see Maryland come out strong, decisively put away their opponent and advance to meet the winner of the 2nd half of today's Maryland Classic double-header.

We're happy to report that sometimes wishes do come true. Today we got our wish. The Terps came out of the blocks focused and determined, and before you knew it, Maryland was ahead, 18-2, and the game was all but over. During the early minutes of the first half, we thought the Explorers probably could've used MapQuest to help find the basket. At the break, the Terps were ahead, 43-21.

During the second half, the teams playing the second game of today's double-header, St. John's and Liberty, were in the stands watching their potential Wednesday opponent. Neither team, however, got to see much of Maryland's starters . . . all of whom spent at least the last ten minutes of today's game on the bench. But they did get to see a very good second-half performance by Maryland's reserves, who picked up where the starters left off, and helped the Terps cruise to an easy 83-45 victory.

Playing only 17 minutes, Lynetta Kizer led the Terps with 15 points (and 9 rebounds). Rookie starter Alyssa Thomas put up 14 points in 19 minutes, and Diandra T rounded out Maryland's double-digit scoring with 11 points in 20 minutes. The star of the second half was crowd favorite Yemi Oyefuwa, who played 9 minutes and scored a career-high 7 points!

With their game already in the books, it was then the Terps' turn to wait to see who they'd be playing tomorrow. Every Maryland coach and player watched the entire St. John's/Liberty game. Each player was equipped with a pad and pencil and was busy taking notes throughout the game. What was notable by their absence were cell phones, iPads, and ear buds. Clearly, the Terps were given a message -- loud and clear -- that watching tomorrow's opponent was serious business, not a time for social networking.

As the Terps no doubt anticipated (and the BCs certainly hoped), a match against the higher-ranked St. John's Red Storm of the Big East was only a day away. Yet until the last couple of minutes of the second game, it was still up-in-the-air who the winner would be, as St. John's and Liberty slugged it out, neither team able to create any real separation. Finally, a late game rally by the Red Storm got St. John's the win, 81-66. The final score does not reflect how close this game really was for 35 minutes or thereabouts.

So the BCs got our wish: a match-up between #18/20 Maryland and #17/17 St. John's tomorrow morning at (the ridiculously early) tip-off time of 11:30 AM. Two closely ranked teams from BIG conferences squaring off in an out-of-conference contest just days before both teams begin conference play.

Don't miss this one!

For the record, the only one of our wishes that didn't come true today . . . BC Eileen really wanted Dara Taylor to have a BIG game for the Terps today. Don't take this the wrong way . . . Dara played very well. 4 assists in only 10 minutes of playing time is outstanding! But BC Eileen really wanted Dara to be the star of today's game. That way we could have titled today's post Dora Dara v. The Explorers. (Oh well, maybe next time the Terps play La Salle . . . )

See you tomorrow at 11:30 AM.

Go Terps . . . Beat the Red Storm!

* * * * * * * * *
Some additional reading . . . St. John's uber fan (and BCs reader and fellow blogger) Rebecca was in the house on Tuesday, having made the trek from snowcovered New York to see her Red Storm in action at Comcast. For Rebecca's truly unique recap of both games, see her Game Notes of Doom, here and here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The BasketCases Wish One and All

A very Mary(land) Christmas!

Follow the Link...and turn up the volume!

It takes a minute to load...but we think it's worth waiting for.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Maryland vs Delaware State. This was not a game that was even supposed to be close. The Terps entered the game at 9-1; the Hornets had a 1-6 record. And one of DSU's losses was to Syracuse by a score of 87-17. Ouch.

So when the DSU Hornets took a 1-point lead on the Terps with about 2-1/2 minutes left in the first half, the BCs (following the live stats online) were slapping ourselves upside the head, trying to figure out what was going on up there in Dover. Had the late night studying and the stress of exams made the Terps forget everything they knew about playing basketball?

Well, those final 2-1/2 minutes of the period answered our question with a resounding NO! As in, no, the Terps did not forget how to play. They closed out the first half on a 10-0 run; they opened the second half with a 20-2 run, at which point they had doubled up the Hornets (54-27); and they finished with a 30-point margin, 79-49. So despite the slightly bumpy beginning, this game turned into the one we had expected.

Four Terps finished in double figures: Alyssa Thomas led all scorers with 17, Lynetta Kizer was close behind with 16, Tianna Hawkins finished with 15, and Alicia DeVaughn added 13 points off the bench. And once again, the Terps outrebounded their opponent (40-25).

Having just concluded a 9-day break for exams, the Terps now face another 9-day layoff for the Christmas holiday. Next up, the Terrapin Classic on December 28 and 29. The Terps tip off against La Salle at noon on the 28th, with Liberty vs St. John's following in the second game of the double-header.

Go Terps . . . Beat the Explorers!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thank You, Mystics

The Mystics haven't given the BCs much to be grateful for this offseason. In fact, in the last couple of months, they've caused us nothing but unmitigated grief. But we believe in giving credit where credit is due, so we have to admit that, today, at least, it was good to still be on the Mystics' mailing list.

And that's because tonight, thanks to the Mystics' email, as we entered GW's Smith Center to buy tickets for the Colonials' game against Auburn, we knew the magic words to repeat at the ticket window: "I'm a Mystics fan." This got us $6 off the regular $9 ticket price. Wow, a game ticket for only 3 bucks! What a deal! At least that was what we thought before we watched the game.

This past week, we've been feeling the need for a little college hoops fix, having missed the most recent Maryland games while BC Eileen was on injured reserve. And with the Terps not playing at home until December 28, we figured why not take in some action within walking distance from our offices.

We hate to say it, but truthfully, this was a $3 game at best. Neither team could hit water from a boat shot well at all. In fact, for most of the game, both teams were shooting under 30%, which is pretty bad however you slice it. When the final buzzer sounded, Auburn had won, 52-45. We have the feeling that both of these teams may struggle a bit this season in conference play. (We hope we're wrong.)

Now although our evening was kinda disappointing from a basketball perspective, we did learn some interesting sports history. Having noticed that the Auburn players had the words "War Eagle" rather than their own names on the backs of their jerseys, we were puzzled . . . the Auburn mascot is a tiger, isn't it? Not a bird. Hmmm.

Fortunately, the BCs spotted some genuine Auburn fans (from actual Cash Cam Newton territory). How did we find these fans, you're wondering? Being the keen observers that we are, we scoped out a few folks down the row wearing orange jackets and shirts that said "Auburn." (Was this a clue?) So we asked them why a team called the Tigers wear jerseys that say "War Eagle." "Well," they answered, "it goes back to the Civil War." The Civil War? (Wow, we thought, this might just be worth $3 after all.)

These genuine Auburn fans then proceeded to tell us the entire story, beginning with a wounded Confederate soldier on a battlefield, and a baby eagle. BC Judith, being a history buff, found the tale fascinating. We won't go into the details, but you can read the story here. Was it true, we asked them. Well, perhaps not, they confessed. But it makes for a good story, and it was certainly more interesting than the game.

Also more interesting than the game was the GW Dance Team, which performed at half time. Since tonight was GW's "holiday game" (who knew?), the dancers were wearing Santa hats and glittering short red dresses. They performed a Rockettes-style routine to a jingle bell song, and they were, in fact, very well-rehearsed and entertaining. We'd also like to give a shout out to the male members of the GW Cheerleading Team . . . one in particular, who was able to hold a female cheerleader in the air using just one hand. We have to say, that's impressive.

On second thought, we got our three bucks worth. Maybe the evening would've even been worth $4. So we'll say it: Thank you, Mystics.

Cell Phone Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Friday, December 10, 2010

All Terp Systems Go

Tonight's game at Comcast featured the basketball programs of two campuses of the University System of Maryland -- College Park, and Baltimore County. Whatever the schools may have in common academically, they're a bit different when it comes to basketball, and the Retrievers of UMBC were no match for the Terps of College Park, who cruised to a 71-45 victory.

Although the Terps were at full strength tonight with Alyssa Thomas back in the lineup, BC Eileen is still sidelined, and so once again we were not able to see this game live. But we did "watch" those cute little red and white Terp figures run and jump on Gametracker's virtual court (what fun!) as they scored the first 15 points of the game, and never looked back (actually the little figures can't . . . they don't have eyes).

Alyssa not only played tonight, but was one of three Terps finishing in double figures (she had 10 points); T-Hawk led all scorers with 16, and Anjale Barrett added 12 points (including 2 of 3 from beyond the arc). Anj also dished out 6 assists, and the team as a whole had 21 assisted baskets. The Terps also cut down on their TOs (12), and totally dominated the Retrievers on the glass (30-19).

The Terps now have a long layoff for exams. They won't be tipping off again until Sunday, December 19, when they travel up I-95 to take on Delaware State in Dover. And they won't make another appearance at home until the Terrapin Classic (**Time Change Alert, link here**) that starts on December 28th, by which time BC Eileen is virtually certain to be back in action.

Congratulations, Terps! Go Ace Those Exams!

Go Maryland . . . Beat Delaware State!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Deep Bench

This evening in Baltimore, the Loyola Greyhounds did what greyhounds do . . . they raced out to an early lead. In fact, it was nearly halfway into the first period before the heavily-favored Terps managed to catch them from behind. But once Maryland nosed ahead at the 9-minute mark, it seems the Greyhounds learned the hard way exactly what it means to face a team with a deep bench.

In those remaining 9 minutes of the first half, the Terps dominated every facet of play and returned to their locker room with a 20-point advantage.

The second half (based on what we could garner from Gametracker) seemed somewhat similar to the first. The Greyhounds took off again, closing the gap on Maryland (a bit), only to have the Terps stretch out the lead again, to a 20-point cushion in the final minute. Loyola scored once more; the Terps ran out the clock. Final score: 79-61, Turtles over Greyhounds.

Lynetta led the Terps with 21 points. Ti-Hawk notched a double-double (17 points, 12 rebounds). The Terps outrebounded the Greyhounds, 51-26. 19 of their boards were on the offensive end, contributing to Maryland's scoring a remarkable 48 points in the paint! And we're pleased to report that Maryland's 3-point shooting, for a change, was a positive: 50% (4 of 8) from behind the arc.

We should mention, too, that Maryland's easy win came without Alyssa Thomas in the line-up. Presumably, the coaches are giving her a little more healing time for that gash she sustained on her left leg during the last game.

Since we weren't there, there's not much more we can say about tonight's game . . . except, Congratulations Terps! Woof!

Next up for the Terps: a game at home this Friday at 7 PM against UMBC.

Go Terps . . . Beat the Retrievers! Woof! Woof!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Unfortunately, one of the BCs ended up on injured reserve this weekend, so we couldn't make it up to College Park for Maryland's game today against Appalachian State. But that didn't keep us from following along on Gametracker.

Of course, that's not the same as live action . . . so many of you reading this who were there in person already know (better than we undoubtedly) what happened. That the Terps led but couldn't gain any separation against the Mountaineers during the first half, taking a mere one-point lead into the locker room after 20 minutes. But after the break, Maryland pulled out to a comfortable, double-digit lead, and cruised to an easy 81-65 win.

Four Terps ended up in double figures, including rookie sensation Alyssa Thomas, who scored 13 points, all in the first half. Late in that opening half, Alyssa ended up on the bottom of a pile-up and suffered a gash (above her left knee) that required 9 stitches. So for the 2nd 20 minutes, she joined BC Eileen on injured reserve, which explains why she was "scoreless" for the remainder of the game. A reliable source (thanks, Joan!) reports from speaking with Alyssa afterwards that AT was ready to return for the final period (had it been left up to her, which it wasn't). The Maryland coaches and trainer decided to keep Alyssa on the bench rather than risk a more serious injury. We certainly hope to see Alyssa back playing in the next game.

Of the remaining three Terps who finished in double figures, two recorded double-doubles, Lynetta Kizer (12 points, 10 boards) and rookie Alicia DeVaughn (10 points, 13 boards). But it was Diandra T who grabbed game-high scoring honors with 17 points. Although these are all positive stats, there's one negative stat that is still of great concern: the Terps' lack of 3-point shooting. For the second game in a row, Maryland shot 10% from beyond the arc; with the ACC season looming on the horizon, this is getting more than a little worrisome.

The Terps will have a chance to break out of this long-range shooting slump on Tuesday when they take on the Loyola Greyhounds on the road in Baltimore at 7 PM. The BCs made that trip from downtown DC during rush hour on a weekday evening for a game at Loyola several years ago. It took more than two hours in stop and go traffic (mostly stopped) to cover the 40-some miles; suffice it to say that once was enough, so expect another Gametracker report from us on Tuesday.

Go Terps . . . Beat the Greyhounds!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Still Perfect

It was definitely an imperfect game. Heck, some would describe it as downright ugly. But tonight in Mackey Arena, the Terps pulled out a last minute win over the Purdue Boilermakers, 56-55, to remain perfect in ACC/Big Ten Challenge play. 4 years . . . 4 wins!

We don't know about you, but we'll take an imperfect win over a near-perfect loss anyday. So the long drive here (and a long return trip awaiting us tomorrow) was definitely worth it. Just getting to sit in "The Pit" at Old Mackey was pretty cool. Of course, The Pit is so named because it is literally below the court; we couldn't see a thing when the players and coaches on the Maryland bench jumped to their feet . . . time and time again. (And you can't exactly yell "Down in front" to Coach B.) We're not complaining; that was part of the experience. Sometimes we couldn't see the action, but we could always tell from the bench's reaction whether something good, or something not so good, had happened on the court for the Terps.

And this evening there was plenty of both . . . good and not so good. Too many turnovers, too many fouls, not enough outside shots falling, and the Terps found themselves down by double digits -- 11 points -- with about 5 minutes left in the game. But the Terps never gave up; they fought back, pressing the Boilers, and with 52 seconds remaining and Maryland down by one, rookie Alyssa Thomas nailed a layup that put the Terps ahead for good. Purdue was unable to score, the final buzzer sounded, and the small group of Maryland fans packed in the pit went wild! Just how did the Terps manage to pull this one out?

Last-minute hero Alyssa was one of three Terps to finish in double figures, with 12 (and an impressive 9 boards). Lynetta Kizer led all scorers with 20, and Diandra T also had 12. Another noteworthy stat was Maryland's domination of the glass (the Terps outrebounded the Boilers 40-27), which helped keep them in the game even though they squandered so many of their possessions.

And we feel good knowing that the Terps did their part in helping the ACC to again remain perfect against the Big Ten in the Challenge, as the ACC prevailed for the 4th straight year, 6-5 (the closest yet).

Our evening at Mackey ended well, and it began well too, as we ran into Drey Mingo's Mom in the lobby and got to hear first hand how well Drey is doing. Thank goodness! And then we got to see this for ourselves, as Drey returned to the court tonight, escorted by her teammates, hooked up to an IV for her antibiotics, and beaming her 1,000 watt smile. Everyone in the arena stood and cheered -- Drey's former Maryland "family" and her current Purdue "family" -- united in the joy of seeing Drey walking back onto the court after being struck by such a frightening, life-threatening illness. It's not known yet whether Drey will be able to play again this season, but she's such a fighter, we wouldn't bet against it!

Finally, after all the cheering and excitement, the BCs needed a good meal, and we found it at the Triple XXX. No, not an adult bookstore, but Indiana's "oldest drive in restaurant," where their claim to fame is great burgers and Triple XXX root beer. We each had a Bert's Burger and a big mug of Triple XXX, and can safely say that the restaurant's reputation is well-deserved. (Our server suggested we try the special burger that they make with a layer of peanut butter, but we didn't feel quite adventurous enough for that this evening.) A big thanks to BC reader Jill for suggesting the Triple XXX to us!

We have a long drive ahead of ourselves tomorrow, so that's it for our quick midwestern road trip. Petey says hello from West Lafayette! But early in the AM, it's Goodbye Lafayette . . . Hello Columbus and points East, home sweet home.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Goodbye Columbus

How do you separate the truly die-hard fan from a wannabee? Just tell her when she wakes up on the morning of a planned road trip that the forecast includes a Tornado Watch, drenching rain for the first hundred miles or so, and then snow showers the rest of the way (~300 miles). If the first question out of her mouth is "Have the State Police closed the roads?" And when you answer, "No," she says, "Great . . . let's go!" That's when you know you're in the presence of a real fan.

So this morning, Petey and the BCs hit the road for the first leg of our drive to West Lafayette, Indiana, where the Terps will be playing Purdue tomorrow. We loved driving in snow on those mountain roads in Western Maryland and West Virginia that twist and turn . . . you know, the ones with runaway truck ramps about every quarter-mile. What fun! (Not.)

But we made it to Columbus, Ohio, by late afternoon. And this being the home of Ohio State, we figured we might be able to get the Big Ten Network on cable (and indeed, we could), so we made this the pit stop for this leg of the race roadtrip.

Of course, a successful roadtrip requires rest and refreshment. A Hampton Inn off the highway took care of the first; the second, finding a good place for a relaxing meal, we thought might be a bit harder. For some reason, that's often hit or miss for us when we're in an unfamiliar city.

But this time, did we ever hit the jackpot! We happened upon a cafe/pizzeria in the historic district of the city with an interesting name, Plank's Cafe. Plank's? A restaurant with the same name as the most successful coach in Mystics history? Was this an omen? Perhaps, but a little research never hurts. So BC Judith googled it on her smart-phone and learned this is a popular family-owned business dating back to 1939 . . . a virtual institution in this part of Ohio. The menu looked appealing. We huddled with Petey and decided to give it a try.

We walked in and immediately felt at home. Spacious brick and barn-wood decor with a large bar and plenty of tables to accommodate groups of all sizes. But the best part was that the walls were filled with hundreds of college pennants and pictures of great sports teams, stars, and memorabilia. Our kind of place.

And that was even before we met Julie Plank's Mom and one of Julie's sisters, Jane, and discovered that, indeed, this warm and inviting cafe was owned by members of Julie's family. Our first clue was when we spotted Mom and Sis sitting by themselves near a GIANT photo of (you guessed it) Julie herself (from her Stanford Double-Natty-Winning Assistant Coaching days). The family resemblance was obvious. So introductions were made and they invited us to join them for a lovely evening.

Cold beer (of the root and especially the non-root varieties) was consumed in generous quantities, and delicious pizza (with a slightly-sweet, secret recipe crust) was consumed, also in large quantity. But the company was the best part. A friendly, fun evening for a few road-trippers. What good fortune we had today -- stumbling upon one of the best known-eateries in all of Columbus, established by Julie's grandfather and now run by the third generation of pizza-making Planks. Would that all of our road-trip stop-overs were this enjoyable!

We had such a nice time, we almost hate to leave. But the ACC/Big Ten Challenge beckons, so reluctantly, tomorrow morning we will hit the road again and bid Goodbye to Columbus . . . and Hello to West Lafayette.

More tomorrow after the game.

Go Maryland/ACC . . . Beat Purdue/Big Ten!

Photo Credits (excluding Map): DC BasketCases