These are desperate times for the Maryland Terrapins.
This season has been turbulent to say the least.
The road to earning a NCAA bid will be a challenge for the shell-shocked Terrapins.
With all the talk focused this week on long time coach, Gary Williams’ inability to land top area high school prospects, this Saturday’s game versus Virginia Tech was in danger of becoming secondary.
Much to the delight of the capacity crowd gathered for this contest at Comcast Center, the home team delivered a dominant performance.
Today’s leading scorer was junior forward and steady hand, Landon Milbourne.
His 23-points, capped off by a late, second half, tomahawk one-handed slam dunk, kept his team from succumbing to a late offensive spurt, by the hot shot Hokies.
Maryland (16-8, 5-5) has won three of their last four games.
The Terps like to be in friendly territory and are 4-1 at the Comcast Center.
On the road, they are 1-4.
Milbourne provided more than a great game; he provided hope that this was not the last of Maryland’s best on the 2008-2009 campaign.
They will need a total team effort, as they go up against three straight beasts of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Maryland has to face No. 12 ranked Clemson, then the No.3 ranked North Carolina Tarheels and finish up the swing with No. 6 ranked Duke Blue Devils.
Terp fans are still having nightmares about the 85-44 drubbing the Blue Devils leveled against them in the first meeting.
Despite the tough schedule Maryland showed they have some fight left in them and then some.
Maryland never relinquished the lead and made 24 of 26 free throws to seal the 83-73 win in College Park.
Wearing the old school yellow uniforms with red lettering, the Terps mixed up their defensive packages, and forced Virginia Tech into foul trouble.
One of the Hokies’ big men, Jeff Allen, was limited to eight-points and was caught by a courtside camera flipping the sea of red- clad, t-shirt wearing, turtle supporters the ”bird.”
Perhaps fouling out with 3:15 minutes still left on the game clock put in him a bad mood.
Allen finished the game making only 3-of-9 of his field goal attempts, but was a key loss for his squad as he grabbed nine rebounds.
The lack of defensive presence hurt the Hokies down the stretch as Maryland stretched their lead into double digits.
216 lbs. shooting guard, A.D. Vassallo, led the Hokies (16-8, 6-4) with 20-points.
When the Hokies executed a play, Maryland was right there with a better answer.
Maryland took 41-32 lead on a three-point basket by David Neal with 17:31 left in the second half.
Virginia Tech Coach, Seth Greenberg, had seen enough, and threw his jacket to the ground in anger.
He called a quick timeout, so his players could get an earful.
The hardest thing for a player not to do when the tempo of the game is not in his favor is to start to press.
When you force shots, you are not playing smart basketball.
It makes preventing a team that likes to run like the Terps do, that much more difficult to stop.
Maryland had to maintain its focus as well, when Greivis Vasquez fouled out of the game.
He was whistled for his fifth foul with just under four minutes and thirty seconds to go on the clock.
Dino Gregory was called upon to give Maryland a bigger body down on the block.
Coach Williams was not going to get beat by offensive rebounds and second-chance shots from the Hokies’ long-range bombers.
His supporting cast had to continue to run the Terps’ offense without hesitation.
Stay aggressive, and stick to what Gary Williams has asked you to do.
Protect the basketball!
Virginia Tech went on an 8-0 run, with the score reading 48-37 Maryland ahead.
Terps guard Eric Hayes buried a three-pointer, and Milbourne connected on a free throw after being fouled in the act of shooting, to push his team’s lead back to nine points.
Virginia Tech’s main scoring threat, Malcolm Delaney finished the game with 16-points, 11 of which were scored with under five minutes left to play.
He extended his scoring streak in double figures to an ACC-high of 29 games.
Too little too late for the Hokies to draw even and force overtime.
Every turning point in the game was won by the Maryland Terrapins.
Sometimes no matter what happens, the ball bounces your way.
I am rocking my Maryland pride today, because for a fan, it is all about the team getting the “w.”