Never Say Die Terps Win Again!

2/24/2010 11:17:27 PM These are actual text messages I received during the game. To protect the embarrassed, I will not name names!!!

"This game was over before it started."
"Can you ruin a season with one game?"
"[We will] lose by 30"

I can't say that I knew the boys would come back in this one, after all they have had quite an emotional run in the past few weeks and a bad night can happen, even at home. But I never lost faith that they had the ability to come back and win. I am so glad they got the job done. So proud of this team. So proud.

I read a lot of the negative posts as the game was going and I think most of them were just frustrations of a team that did not seem to be playing the kind of basketball we have been used to seeing. Some are quick to jump off the bandwagon and to address those people, it's a shame that you can't enjoy what a special season this has become. No matter what happens from here on out (and we all wish for a lengthy run in both tournaments), this has been a season to remember and a sign of positive things to come for this program.

This team showed a lot of heart not wilting under the pressure and lights-out shooting from Clemson early on. The Tigers were good and they were nearly unstoppable on offense early on. I will get to the players and how I thought they did, but first I want to congratulate the person responsible for this win.... Gary Williams.

Our coach stuck to a gameplan that looked ludicrous in the first half. They decided to keep the ball out of Booker's hands as much as possible and take our chances with Clemson's outside shooting. In the first, it looked like a horrible idea as the Tigers dropped in 8 three pointers and made us pay time and time again. At halftime it would have been easy to throw away the game plan, but GW made the necessary adjustments. He still doubled down at times, but he gambled with allowing JW and DG to take it to Booker as well. They may have paid a little more attention to the perimeter, but the Tigers still had plenty of decent looks from 3. Gary gambled that there was no way Clemson could continue to be that good from long range. That gamble also worked as they went cold from the outside and we took advantage.

Players of the game:

Sean Mosley - My goodness. Mosley had more points at the first TV timeout than he had in any ACC game so far this season. In 5 minutes he proved what we've all hoped.... that Mosley does have the ability to shoot the ball and shoot it well. Yes, he passed up some shots later in the game, but his 3 pointer to tie the game at 63 was as big a shot that we hit all night. Mosley should have the confidence after this one to continue to help us out on the offensive end the rest of the season and beyond.

Jordan Williams - What a beast! He may have had only 5 rebounds, but he's got some sweet hands and a touch around the basket we haven't seen since Lonny Baxter. And this kid is only a freshman. That bucket and foul midway through the 2nd half was amazing, but the play he made with a few minutes to go, tapping a loose ball into the hoop to silence a Clemson run was even bigger. He will improve his rebounding position and free throw shooting, but for now he is giving us everything we could have imagined and more. Just think about the big men he has had to defend in the conference season.

Greivis Vasquez - Further proving his evolution into a smarter player, GV did not have the best shooting day of his career, but his 13 assists and 2 of the biggest shots of the game let us all know that this is our star and he's going to lead us somewhere special. His 3 pointer off a screen that put us in front, and his jumper late in the shot clock in the final minutes were superstar shots. Earlier in his career, an off shooting night spelled disaster, now it's not as big a deal. Plus, GV apparently had stomach issues early on and had to take some medicine. That may have contributed to his struggles in the first half.

Eric Hayes - One of the things that hasn't been discussed as much in regards to Hayes this season is his ball handling improvement. Earlier in his career, Hayes would be a liability when pressed. Now he brings calm to the team and handles the defensive pressure much better. His ability to knock down big 3's is something we also haven't appreciated. He was 3-3 in the game and all 3 of them were huge. Great job EH!

Tucker showed some ballhandling issues, but hit some big shots and showed that he's got one heck of a first step to the basket. He has a chance to be a solid contributor next year (he's gonna have to be!!). Bowie was Bowie, Gregory missed a 3 incher, but his defense was pretty darn good again. Milbourne had another tough game and we are going to have to deal with the shooting woes against teams that he does not match up with well with. But LM still had a couple of big time blocks and rebounds and he does not let the misses get him down when it comes to the defensive end.

To recap, this was another in a long line of gutsy efforts this season. We may not look great all the time and we may not get away with playing only 20 good minutes in March, but for now this team is 20-7 and 10-3 in the ACC. After that loss to W&M, nobody could have forseen this. Let's congratulate these guys for what they have accomplished so far.

A guy I work with who witnesses me losing my mind during these games, said that after seeing the Terps early in the year, they now have to be considered one of the biggest surprises in college basketball other than UNC's collapse. He was amazed at what they have done and we need to have some perspective. I know the team has issues and we are not perfect, but I am enjoying every moment of this special season and I am looking forward to giving the Hokies all they can handle on Saturday night!!!
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