The Maryland Terrapins basketball team is soaring to new heights on the back of its star senior forward. An NCAA tournament bid is a certainty, and a trip to the Final Four is not a stretch.
OK, who just did a double take? Can this really be about Maryland? The team whose bubble nearly burst after a humiliating home loss to Clemson?
No, no, I am referring to the other Maryland Terrapins basketball team, the Maryland women.
The Maryland women’s basketball team may be the lesser known of the two teams, but it has become the preeminent basketball program in College Park.
The women and the men both lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament last year. Both count on a senior forward for leadership. But the similarities end there.
The Lady Terps, only two years removed from their first national championship victory, have a 29-2 record and a number two-seed going against Boston College in the first round of ACC tournament Friday at 6 p.m. The team has far surpassed its male counterpart this season, yet it still does not get the recognition it deserves.
The Terp men have been a disappointment. The team seemed to have so much potential, and even flashes of greatness, like its win vs. UNC Jan. 19. They may attract fans, but erratic play has doomed them and has left them grasping for one last chance at a tournament berth.
The men have been on a downward spiral ever since their second loss to Duke on Feb. 13. The women have not lost a game since Jan. 26.
Senior Crystal Langhorne was named ACC Player of the Year on Wednesday. This season, she averaged 16.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game on her way to breaking Len Elmore’s school rebound record with 1170 rebounds.
On the men’s side, senior James Gist’s play has been inconsistent at best. He inspired the team in the win at Wake Forest, but in the three losses before that, he averaged only 8.7 points a game—hardly the contribution you’d expect from a senior.
The women have played in many close games this season, four of which went into overtime, but they have shined because of an ability to put away their opponents in the final minutes.
The men cannot close out games. Against Clemson, they blew a 20-point second half lead.
The list goes on and on, the women holding the upper hand in almost all categories… except one: the fan base.
The men played in front of huge crowds at the Comcast Center for every ACC game. The women played to a nearly full house for only two.
Thousands of fans could discuss in depth the various postseason scenarios for the Terp men. How many could do the same for the women?
It may not be right or fair, but men’s basketball gets more publicity, more money, more interest, and more fans than women’s basketball.
On Sunday, the Maryland men will play Virginia at 8 p.m. to end their season.
The same day, the Maryland women could very well be playing for the ACC Championship at 1 p.m.
Tens of thousands will tune in to watch the men. But I urge all those Maryland fans, or anyone just looking for a good game of basketball, to watch the women as well.
The Lady Terps are a world-class team. It’s about time they were treated like one.
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