Sunday, February 24, 2013

White Out Wiped Out

There's no way to sugar coat today's game.  Duke was the far better team this afternoon.  The Blue Devils played very well, and the Terps did not.  Duke won, 75-59.  It wasn't much fun for the BCs and the nearly 16,000 other Maryland fans who packed Comcast on a beautiful afternoon.  We were hoping for a different kind of game. Sigh.

If the stars align, the Terps might get a third shot at Duke this season in Greensboro, and perhaps the third time will be the charm.  The second certainly wasn't.

Next up for the Terps is their penultimate regular season game, on Thursday against Florida State at 7pm.  The game will be shown on ESPN3.

Go Terps! . . . Beat the 'Noles!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

We Hate to Admit It, but we kinda missed "watching" games on Gametracker.  It's been quite a while since we've "seen" one.  Those little triangular icons -- shooting, rebounding, committing turnovers -- have a way of keeping us on the edge of our seats.  Sometimes minutes go by without any "action" . . . so we get anxious about what's going on (live) that we're missing. Gametracker engages our imaginations in a way that real action doesn't.  Weird, we know, but true.

For example, the Terps were playing Boston College tonight on the road in Chestnut Hill.  After seeing an early 10-point lead reduced to just 4 with a little less than 6 minutes left in the first half, Maryland called a time out.  We stared at our laptop, but nothing, nada, zip was happening on Gametracker.  So the BCs had to imagine what we were missing.  In our heads, we "saw" all those little triangular Maryland players sheepishly heading for the bench.  Then we "saw" a little triangular figure with blonde hair, wearing a suit, going berserk telling the players, in a very animated fashion, what she expected them to do once they returned to the court.  And, whatever the little blonde figure said, the players must have heard -- loud and clear -- because when Gametracker next updated (6 seconds after the time out), Alyssa Thomas had begun an 18-4 Maryland run that sent her team to the locker room at the break up 43-25.

The second half wasn't exactly a nail-biter . . . the Terps increased their lead, played their entire bench (short as it is), and cruised to a 25-point win, 86-61.

In truth, the BCs wish we could've really seen AT play tonight.  Her stat line was amazing: 30 points (a career high), 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks (with only a single turnover and a single personal foul).  AT is such a special player, we never get tired of seeing her play.  Other Maryland players in double figures: T-Hawk finished with 15 points (and grabbed her 1,000th career rebound, making her only the 3rd woman and 4th player in Maryland history to join that special club), Malina had 11, and Alicia had 10.  In other words, a solid all-around team effort. 

And with Duke coming to Comcast on Sunday (3 PM), the Terps will need an exceptional all-around team effort if they want to split the regular season with the Blue Devils.  That game, unlike tonight's, should be a tough, 40-minute battle.  We can't wait!

Go Terps . . . Beat the Devils!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Happy Valentine's Day

The last time the BCs saw Maryland play Clemson, we were watching on our netbook via wi-fi in our hotel room in Buenos Aires . . . some 5,000 miles and an entire hemisphere away.  The wonders of modern technology!  Even better, although the wi-fi in our hotel was supposedly behind a paywall, a wormhole opened up for us, and we were able to watch the Terps for FREE!  Does it get any better than that?

Well, yes it does -- getting to watch the Terps in person (something for which we gladly pay).  And tonight, in their second game this season against the Tigers, the Terps bounced back from their loss on Monday to Duke by crushing Clemson at Comcast, 75-45, in the annual Play4Kay Breast Cancer Awareness game. 

T-Hawk, who didn't have a particularly good outing on Monday, was back in form this evening, leading all scorers with 30 points, and notching another double-double with 12 boards.  And despite spending much of the first half on the bench with two fouls, Alyssa Thomas finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Two other Terps were also hard at work around the glass, as Alicia DeVaughn pulled down 11 boards and freshman Malina Howard grabbed 10.

The first half of the game left a bit to be desired, as fouls, turnovers, and low scoring percentages combined for a very long 20 minutes, and saw the Terps only 8 points ahead at the break. But things picked up in the second period, as the Terps kicked it into to a higher gear and rolled to a lop-sided win.

Some post-injury good news: Katie Rutan was finally playing without her face mask tonight, and Tierney Pfirman, recovering from her dislocated patella, was dressed and warmed up with the team.  We hope this means Tierney is working her way back into the lineup and that we'll see her in action again very soon.

And in other good news: the Terps were so far ahead in the second half that Caitlin Adams got more than three minutes of playing time, and, last but not least, Coach B was not ejected.

Next up for the Terps: UVA in Charlottesville on Sunday.

Go Terps . . .  Beat the Cavs!

Monday, February 11, 2013

We Hate It when Maryland loses to Duke, as they did this evening at Cameron, 71-56, in a game nationally televised by ESPN.

Tough night for both Tianna and AlyssaT-Hawk was held to just 6 points.  And though AT finished with a double-double (14 points and 12 boards), she was only 4-19 from the floor.  Tougher night for Coach B, who was ejected for picking up two technicals during a second half timeout -- while ESPN was on a commerical break, so we can't tell you exactly what happened there, but it couldn't have been pretty.

In any event, the Terps lost by a fairly substantial margin.  And though we give credit to the Devils for being the better team tonight, we can't keep from wondering . . . what if, if only, Maryland, like Duke, had been at full strength -- and healthy.  What a game this would have been.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Not Enough Superlatives

In case you’ve been wondering just what the BCs – and Petey – have been up to for the last couple of weeks while taking a break from the blogosphere, the short answer is that we headed South (way, way South) for a bit of “Summer” vacation. And was it ever amazing! Actually, it was more than amazing. Some things in life are really hard to convey in words – just too spectacular – and the trip we just returned from was one of those. We’re truly at a loss to come up with enough superlatives to describe what we saw and experienced in . . . Antarctica!

That’s the short answer as to where we were. The long answer is that after spending a couple of days touring the hot, sunny, and very pretty city of Buenos Aires (our interim destination) and enjoying the sights, food, and wine of Argentina’s capital, it was finally time to meet up with our expedition companions and board our charter flight on LAN even further South – to Ushuaia. (Oosh-why-ah.) Surrounded by the stunning, snow-capped peaks of the Andes Mountains at the tip of South America, Ushuaia is the southern-most city on earth, aptly nicknamed Fin del Mundo. . . the End of the World.   However, for the BCs, Petey, and about 140 other intrepid travelers, it wasn’t the end, it was the just the beginning of an indescribable adventure!

There in Ushuaia, we boarded our ship at last, the 300-foot National Geographic Explorer, and headed out into some of the roughest waters in the world, the Drake Passage. The infamous Drake, which separates Cape Horn at the southern tip of South America from the Northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, is where the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Southern Oceans come together.  That typically makes for a very turbulent mix, especially since there is no landmass to block the winds that constantly circulate around Antarctica.  Handrails in cabins and corridors kept us more or less upright as we walked around the ship, while heavy ropes strung in the restaurant area (serving as grab lines) allowed us to navigate to a table without tumbling headfirst into furniture, buffet stations or other passengers. Fortunately, all the chairs in the dining room were strapped to the deck, so when the inevitable big waves hit, you only needed to grab the liquids on your table to keep them from launching themselves into space or, worse yet, onto someone else’s lap. But as long as you were seated, your chair couldn’t slide more than about eight inches before the strap stopped your motion.  A scopolomine patch was the accessory of choice for BC Eileen and many of our shipmates, while a few on board, including BC Judith, were born with sea legs and enjoyed the rough crossing, spending a great deal of time up on the bridge getting photos of waves breaking over the bow.

After about a day and a half of rockin’ and rollin’ (accompanied along the way by majestic birds, including Wandering Albatrosses and Giant Petrels), we got our first glimpse of “The Ice” and its many fascinating inhabitants . . .

Icebergs!  Everywhere.  Astounding beauty!

No two alike.  Some just floating chunks a few feet on a side.  Some the size of city blocks!

On closer inspection, they are simply more fantastic!

Our ship was an ice class vessel, and our Captain loved nothing better than steering into massive sections of sea ice . . . creating cracks, then using the bow to push the ice away, forming a channel for the ship to pass through.  We loved it, too.  Endlessly entertaining!
Sometimes, though, smooth sailing and calm waters were just as breathtaking.
There was even more to see on land.  Here, on one of our many landings via zodiac boats, the penguins welcomed us ashore.  (In truth, we happened to pull into one of their favorite beaches, and they were simply going about their business . . . heading out to sea to stuff themselves with krill.)

Petey tried to make friends with the Gentoo penguins, but they were too busy to stop and chat.
On another landing, more penguins going about their business.  These are Adelies . . . all black faces with white around their eyes.
Chicks chasing an Adelie parent. "Feed me!"

Another chick in the colony gets its wish . . . a feeding from Mom or Dad (it's nearly impossible to distinguish the genders from a respectful distance).

A quiet moment for a Gentoo family on their nest.
And another quiet moment as this molting Gentoo enjoys the falling snow.
Sometimes we observed a rookery from land (where we also experienced the unforgettable "aroma" of large quantities of slimy, pink penguin guano).

Other times, we spotted the colonies while cruising in the zodiacs (and if we happened to be downwind of the penguins, we were also treated to their unmistakable "aroma").
On land, penguins are slow and waddling, but surefooted.  In water, they are sleek, porpoising speed demons!

The seabirds who followed our ship were also fascinating, graceful creatures.  Here's a Black Browed Albatross. This bird has a wing span of nearly 8 feet!

. . . here, a Wandering Albatross, with a wingspan of up to 11.5 feet.
. . .  and some Pintado Petrels.
We spotted many seals of several varieties. In the water, they are hard to photograph. But napping on ice floes, they are much easier to capture.   Here's the much-feared (by penguins!) Leopard Seal -- a ferocious mammal with long sharp teeth, weighing more a thousand pounds.  Since humans in red parkas are neither his prey nor his predator, he allowed us to bump right up against his iceberg -- for our photo op -- with nothing more threatening than a few stares and a yawn or two.

Did we mention we saw whales?  So many, we lost count!  Here's a breaching Humpback.

And Minke whales swimming around and under our zodiacs. The naturalist driving our zodiac that day told us that she had rarely seen such a playful display from Minkes.  We saw many Minkes on our expedition, including [cue music from Jaws] . . .

. . . the morning the ship got a 5:30 AM wake-up call that a pod of Killer Whales was spotted off the bow.  Two of the world's leading Killer Whale researchers, John Durban and Bob Pitman, were on the Explorer with us, so, with the Captain's assistance, our ship followed the whales.  The Killer Whales (approximately a dozen) zeroed in on a lone Minke -- breakfast! -- and began the chase.  Experts Bob and John gave the Minke a slim chance of escape.  But, sometimes the underdog -- or underwhale -- wins.  And after 13 miles and 2 hours of open sea chasing, the lone Minke managed (against all odds) to elude the Killer Whales.  Watching this life-and-death contest play out was truly one of the highlights of our trip!

The Minke's unexpected success provided a major opportunity for the Killer Whale research team.  The defeated Killers were tired from the long chase, and in no rush to leave the area around our ship.  So the researchers took to a zodiac, wielding cross-bows fitted with arrows bearing tracking transmitters.  Bob and John managed to "tag" 3 Killer Whales in this pod . . . the first time this type of Killer Whale had ever been tagged with depth-dive transmitters!  Now the researchers can follow the whales' movements and learn more about this species. 

Of course, no "southern" vacation would be complete without water sports.  Here, BC Judith is kayaking in her fashionable Arctic Muck Boots.

And naturally, all that beautiful blue water meant  . . . swimming!  Or at least a "polar plunge."  If you packed your swimsuit and had the nerve, you could jump off the ship's platform into the 29-degree water.  How refreshing!  BC Judith "took the plunge"!  BC Eileen wimped out (and took the picture).  By the way, the woman in the blue parka in the left zodiac is the ship's doctor, a specialist in emergency medicine.  (We're happy to report that all the plungers survived without need for her services.)

After all we saw and did, it was sad to say goodbye to the wildlife.  (These penguins, though, don't seem too broken up about our departure.)

And sad to say goodbye to this incredible continent, more beautiful than we could have imagined.  Words aren't enough.  These photos don't do it justice.  This wild, unspoiled place is, hands-down, one of the most spectacular places on this planet.  The BCs will never forget it.  And we will always feel so very fortunate to have been there.

Photo Credits: DC BasketCases