This was embarrassing. It doesn’t matter that Virginia Tech is better than usual and Maryland is young; it doesn’t matter that the Hokies may finish the season in the Top 25.
Maryland lost by 17 points to a football school at home Thursday, falling to Virginia Tech, 74-57.
In a year in which Duke is the only Top 25 team in the ACC, Maryland (11-7, 1-3 ACC) needs to win these types of games. The Terps will be hard pressed to make the NCAA tournament unless they finish with an above .500 record in the conference.
Cliff Tucker led Maryland with 13 points. The Terps ignored their best player, Jordan Williams, most of the night, and Williams finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Erick Green scored 24 points, 15 more than his average, to lead the Hokies (12-5, 3-2).
Virginia Tech scored the first 12 points of the game, and Maryland was a step late on defense all game long.
At least the game was on TV. Maryland football fans had to squint at their computer screens last season to see some of the Terps’ football games.
If Maryland doesn’t watch out, Virginia Tech could get a slice of the local pie. One of the D.C. sports radio stations already thinks Tech is a local team, despite the fact that the university is farther away from D.C. than New York.
For a team that won the national championship in 2002, the Terps have fallen hard. If Maryland fails to make the NCAA tournament this year, it will be the fourth time in the last seven seasons Maryland will go to the NIT.
After Maryland won the national title, instead of challenging Duke and North Carolina for ACC supremacy, Maryland slipped back to the also-rans of the conference, which is to say the Terps have been pretty good but not great. It’s as if the Terps didn’t think they belonged with the ACC’s best.
Instead of capitalizing on increased exposure by getting star recruits, Maryland’s recruiting became worse after the title than it was before, when the Terps had stars like John Lucas and Tom McMillen in the 1970s; Albert King, Buck Williams and Len Bias in the 1980s; Walt Williams, Joe Smith and Keith Booth in the 1990s; and Dixon, Baxter and Blake in the early 2000s.
When Greivis Vasquez was selected at the end of the first round last summer by the Memphis Grizzlies, it was the first time since Dixon in 2002 that a Terp was picked in the first round of the NBA draft. Vasquez, who scored 41 in a win last year over the Hokies, led the Terps to the NCAA tournament in three of his four seasons, but only once, in 2010, did Maryland make the field convincingly.
The lack of talent at Maryland recently is seen in that an eight-year drought without a first round NBA draft pick hasn’t happened at Maryland since the 1960s.
For whatever reason, Maryland coach Gary Williams hasn’t done a great job of recruiting stars to Maryland in the last decade. After inheriting Walt Williams, Gary recruited Joe Smith, Keith Booth, and Steve Francis in the 1990s and the great championship team of Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, Chris Wilcox, Lonny Baxter, and Byron Mouton.
But since going to back-to-back Final Fours, the Terps have had only one All-America player in Vasquez, and the rest of the team has been a bunch of grinders. (Maybe the Caps should look to College Park for some blue-collar grit.)
Blue-collar players are laudable, but teams also need stars to win championships.
Consider this partial list of great players from the D.C. and Baltimore areas that Maryland failed to get: Carmelo Anthony, Michael Beasley, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Ty Lawson, and Delonte West.
And don’t buy into the fake, overhyped “rivalry” that Maryland allegedly has with Duke. Guess what Gary’s record is against Mike Krzyzewski? He has beaten Coach K 12 times in 49 games. Despite a handful of incredible games, that’s not a rivalry – it’s a joke.
One of Maryland’s only impressive wins this season was on the road over Penn State, another football school. The Terps also beat Wake Forest on the road, but Wake is one of the worst teams in the ACC this season.
Gary will once again say that the average ACC teams are better than the best of the mid-majors, but that won’t be true this year. In fact, Maryland usually gets one or two seeds better than it deserves in the NCAAs because of the reputation of the ACC.
Of course, the Terps are in the Washington, D.C. area, so naturally they stink. If it’s not the Wizards (0-20 on the road), it’s another failed season for the Redskins and Nationals, another playoff upset by the Caps, and a lost season by D.C. United. At least 23rd-ranked Georgetown recently won two games in that basketball hotbed, New Jersey, to raise its Big East record to 3-4.
But Terp fans, take heart. At least you’re not Virginia.
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