That loss might well be the loss that leaves Maryland out of the NCAA Tournament.
Some might call that statement “dramatic”, “overblown”, and many other things; but it also might turn out to be factual.
When Maryland was left out of the NCAA Tournament a season ago; their resume wasn’t lacking much. A win at North Carolina sparkled; and playing non-conference games against the likes of UCLA helped their strength of schedule. But when their resume was brought up to the NCAA Tournament committee; it said “18-14”, when it probably should have said “20-12.” The resume also had an RPI of 85; which could have been closer to the 40’s or 50’s. And when it came down to any discussion; there were home losses to American and Ohio on their resume.
Maryland was in a very good position to finish their non-conference schedule with a 12-2 record; win 8 games in ACC play and MAYBE an ACC Tournament game; and have a 21-11 record to finish the season. They will now need to win 8 regular season ACC games and an ACC Tournament game just to finish with 20 wins; and their resume will feature a loss to Morgan State.
And this loss falls completely on the shoulders of this team. They wanted to be the Harlem Globetrotters; but the other team wasn’t paid to take a fall. They wanted to come out and show off; but they hadn’t rehearsed their tricks properly. Greivis Vasquez said after the game that they lost “as a team”; which is completely accurate. Everyone on this team panicked; took bad shots, and failed to run their offense. And the team on the other side of the floor had something to prove.
This Morgan State team was chocked full of players who wanted to come to Maryland; much like American was a season ago. They were chocked full of players who had a chance to make a statement that would get them major recognition in their home town; again much like last year’s American team. Add to that fact that Todd Bozeman has beaten ACC teams before (we remember what Cal did to Duke in the NCAA Tournament), Morgan had already won a game this season at a “BCS” conference opponent (DePaul from the Big East), and the perfect storm was built for Maryland to be in trouble.
Maryland had more chances than a team should have late in the game. Morgan had two late turnovers and missed the front end of a 1 and 1 twice late. But Maryland couldn’t get things back together to just get one more score. It might have helped to have a timeout there (we’ll never know); but a backcourt with two juniors should have been able to make something happen.
The good news for Maryland is that they control their own destiny. The ACC schedule will be DAUNTING for sure; but they can win games; and they’ll have to. They have to play their win INTO the Tournament; because this one might well be the one to burst their bubble if they don’t lock things up themselves.
They’re good enough to do it. They’re good enough to win 10 ACC games. That is; they’re good enough to do it when they play as well as they’re capable of playing. But they have to choose to do that. Gary Williams was banging the “no respect” drum a few days ago; but his team didn’t show the fiery edge that normally comes with feeling slighted.
The passion of this team will determine what happens over the next few weeks. If they show up, care deeply about what happens on the court; and execute the game the way they are coached; they could be in the upper half of this league. Gary says that the team won’t talk about this loss moving forward; but hopefully each and every one of them will think about it.
Otherwise, a stuffy guy in a suit will have the chance to say “Maryland? It says here they lost to Morgan State” in Indianapolis this March.
That’s it for me tonight. Talk to you in the morning.
10:48-Gary opened his postgame press conference by saying “I’m disappointed….but at the same time give Morgan credit for working hard, making big shots.” Gary admitted the team didn’t “run (the) offense properly when (they) got the lead in the 2nd half.” He criticized the team’s decision to continue to take outside jumpers; saying “when you shoot 1-14 (from 3 point range), maybe you should be doing something else.” He was also unpleased with the team’s ability to take care of the ball, saying “when you have 21 turnovers, that’s a lot of times you’re not getting a shot off.”
He did answer my question; saying he “wasn’t concerned” about calling his final timeout with 2 minutes to play in the game, knowing the game situation called for it. I also asked him who was calling the plays in the game’s final minute; and he said that he was calling the plays when the offense was in front of him.
Gary said he “never felt really comfortable” when the Terps took a 14 point lead in the 2nd half. He thought the Terps played at a “good level” during the stretch when they opened the lead; but that was only “five minutes.”
Gary said the team “can’t dwell” on the loss; and must have a good practice tomorrow. He said tonight’s game won’t be discussed moving forward; and that practice will be “all about Georgia Tech.”
10:40-Morgan finished the game 27-69 from the field (39.1%); 8-19 from 3 point range (42.1%); and 4-13 from the free throw line (30.8%). They finished with 10 assists and 20 turnovers; not usually a winning ratio. Reggie Holmes (who I mentioned was likely playing with a chip on his shoulder) lead the Bears with 25 points and 8 rebounds. Rogers Barnes added 11 points and a team-high 4 assists along with a staggering 5 steals. Kevin Thompson contributed 10 points and 13 boards.
Maryland finished 26-73 from the field (35.6%), a DREADFUL 1-14 from beyond the arc (7.1%); and 12-15 from the free throw line (80%). They finished the game with 15 assists and 21 turnovers. Greivis Vasquez lead the way with 19 points and 9 rebounds, but shot just 5-21 from the field. Dave Neal added 18 points and 9 rebounds; Landon Milbourne chipped in 15 points and 7 rebounds. Milbourne and Eric Hayes each had a team high 3 steals; while Adrian Bowie turned the ball over 6 times.
10:38-Somehow the same guy who champions the “They should build a statue of Gary outside Comcast Center” is also a guy who is overly critical of him. When I asked Gary if he was concerned about calling his final timeout with 2 minutes to play, he responded by telling me “Your criticism at every press conference is noted”…….I will admit that I had no idea I was so critical. But it’s nice to be recognized? How can I be Gary’s biggest defender AND his harshest critic? Maybe I should have known better. At least this wasn’t the Orioles; or I might have had to hand in my press pass on my way out the door.
10:05-If anything else; I imagine we can expect to not see Morgan State on Maryland’s schedule for a while. With this loss; Maryland falls to 11-3 and will have to go 9-7 in conference play to get to 20 wins. Morgan improves to 6-8. Maryland will DRASTICALLY fall RPI-wise; and the conversation about being a Top 25 team will totally end. It will once again be a VERY uphill climb to a potential NCAA Tournament berth; which looks very bleak.
9:59-Gary says “I didn’t get the message across in practice” to let the team know they’d need to have energy to beat Morgan State. Says the Terps “got happy” with a big 2nd half lead. I’ll be back with more shortly after what will almost certainly be a contentious press conference.
9:58-Gary will be forced to second guess calling his timeouts and having none left in the final minute. He needed to get his team’s attention; but he was unable to get a play called late; and his veteran backcourt couldn’t settle down to get a winner. Gary is waiting to do his postgame radio interview; and his face doesn’t look good.
9:56-Holmes BACK to the line with 3.7 seconds to play. He misses the front end; but all Greivis can do is loft a shot from midcourt that BADLY misses. Morgan State has STUNNED Maryland! 66-65. TERRIBLE home loss for Maryland; HUGE home win for Morgan. Terps players are clearly dejected leaving the floor; but we don’t particularly hear any booing.
9:55-Holmes misses the front end of a 1 and 1; but Maryland loses the ball after getting the rebound. 11 seconds to play. Greivis MISSES a floater!
9:54-UNTHINKABLE! Milbourne’s free throw attempt hung on the rim and Vasquez is called for interference. Maryland trails 66-65; but will get the ball back after Morgan can’t inbound the ball. Hayes misses a jumper; Morgan saves an attempt by Bowie to get the ball back inbounds; and Holmes goes to the free throw line with 20 seconds to play.
9:53-GREAT ball fake by Holmes; who knocks down a 3. On the other end Greivis misses his 3 point attempt; but Milbourne puts it back and is fouled!
9:52-Neal connects on both; he has 18. Morgan has the ball with a minute to play.
9:51-ANOTHER offensive rebound for Morgan; as Holmes puts back a miss. 63-61 Morgan with less than a minute and a half to play.
Thompson fouls Neal as he moves to the basket; the senior will shoot 1 and 1.
9:50-The Terps have scored just 5 points in the last 12 and a half minutes. They lead 54-40 with 12:34 to play in the half.
Barnes got a bit eager on a steal attempt and fouled Vasquez; who hit both free throws. We’re tied again at 61 with under 2 minutes to play.
9:47-Morgan continues to hurt the Terps inside; as Thompson pulls down an offensive rebound AND scores over Dave Neal. 59-58 Maryland.
UNBELIEVABLE-Bolden knocks down a 3 from the top of the arc; and Morgan State has pulled ahead 61-59 with just 2:06 to play. Maryland will have to dig deep for a response here as Gary takes his FINAL timeout.
9:46-Intelligent decision by Greivis; pulling down the 3 point attempt and working for the floater in the lane. He has 17 and the lead is 3.
9:44-Once again; no reason for Greivis to be jacking up long 3’s with his team in a VERY dangerous situation. Terps get bailed out when the ball bounces off a Morgan player on the way out of bounds. We hit the final official timeout of regulation; with Maryland clinging to a 1 point lead. This is a VERY dangerous time for Maryland; knowing Morgan has all the momentum in the world. They DESPERATELY need to go back inside; and it has to go through the more reliable hands of Milbourne. Just one timeout remaining for Gary Williams; Todd Bozeman still has two. The Terps have the possession arrow once more.
9:41-The Terps are smart to have these offensive possessions go through Milbourne-their most athletic weapon. But he can’t settle for jumpers. He HAS to be inside getting buckets and/or drawing fouls.
The Bears tie up the Terps; and Holmes drains ANOTHER 3-he has 20, and Morgan is within ONE at 57-56. Gary calls a timeout with 4:11 to play in this one; and the Terps do not look good. They absolutely need this crowd to stick with them the rest of the way.
9:40-Milbourne and Vasquez with more missed jumpers for the Terps; then Milbourne picks up Maryland’s sixth team foul of the half (but just his first personal on the game). Morgan has the ball with 5 and a half to play trailing by just 4.
9:39-Dave Neal misses a baseline jumper; and Bolden gets a hoop on the other end. The small Morgan contingent is rocking right now; as they’re within 4 at 57-53. Maryland has been awful tonight; and it is not surprising to see them in this position.
9:38-Good ball movement gets Landon a look at a jumper in the lane; but he misses. However, Milbourne is true on a layup off a steal; he has 13. Holmes adds another hoop on the other end-he has 17 and Maryland’s lead is 57-51.
9:36-ANOTHER turnover……and Thompson gets the hoop but misses the PLUS one after being fouled by Dave Neal. Maryland can’t control the rebound; and Morgan gets the ball back trailing just 55-49.
9:34-Mosley gets a good look from outside and can’t knock it down. Just 7:50 to play in this one; and I’m in danger of having to stick around for Gary’s press conference if this remains a close game. Doesn’t anyone understand that we hit the airwaves at 6AM?!?!?!
9:30-Holmes nails another 3; and Morgan is back within single digits at 55-47. Holmes has 15; and you can tell how badly the Terps want to give the Bears the “Washington Generals” treatment, but they just don’t know the same tricks as Curly and Meadowlark Lemon.
Greivis with another unneccesary long 3 miss; but Mosley is in position to make a nice play defensively. Gregory picks up his 4th personal foul…..he goes to the bench. No points for Gregory thus far.
9:27-Not sure why Sean Mosley would have taken that shot. I thought he might settle down a bit after his performance against Charlotte; but I guess he feels the need to force things still. Milbourne fouled inside; that’s Morgan’s 5th team foul of the 2nd half. Dupree with ANOTHER point blank miss. The bigs on this team are BRUTAL to watch. And Greivis’ pass off Adrian Bowie’s hands in transition was brutal to watch as well.
9:26-Morgan stops the bleeding thanks to one of two free throws from……Troy Smith? I cannot confirm that he drew the foul on a “Wildcat” play. Milbourne goes 1-2 from the line on the other end, he has 11. Holmes drills a 3 after a sloppy outlet pass; he has 11 and Maryland’s lead is 55-44.
9:25-Thanks for that Rich. Exactly what I need. An inauguration to affect my ability to blog. Maybe I’ll blog that one from home???
9:22-A flurry of turnovers for Morgan in the 2nd half lead to a hoop from Neal and a nifty stuff from Bowie. Bozeman is clearly incensed with his team’s play in the 2nd half; and his emotions on the bench have been somewhat humorous. 54-40 Maryland with 11:55 to play as we reach the 2nd official timeout of the half.
9:20-What is Todd Bozeman wearing tonight? It’s a sweater and light colored slacks with what appears to be a rain jacket overtop. While’s he’s never been the type to dress like Pat Riley; you’d have to think that a coach who is getting a miracle 2nd chance might want to do a bit more to show he seriously wants to get back to a high level again.
9:18-Greivis lobs a pass at the last minute instead of shooting a 3; and Adrian Bowie is fouled at the hoop. I’m not sure what he had to argue about; but Todd Bozeman-or the “Morgan State bench” was called for a technical foul. Greivis made both technicals; while Bowie went just 1-2. Maryland’s lead is 50-40.
9:17-Off a steal; Eric Hayes with the nice reverse layup for his first points of the night. Maryland’s lead is 47-40. The Terps continue to struggle with interior defense and rebounding; which is not a good sign against their MEAC foe-who is known for their quickness more than their size.
9:15-In case you didn’t hear; Terps Junior WR Darrius Heyward-Bey is forgoing his senior season and entering the NFL Draft. DHB has the size and skills to be a first round pick; and the Terps are fortunately VERY deep at WR. Likely a good decision by DHB; and the Terps should be able to survive his departure.
9:13-Terps can’t convert an inbounds steal; and Holmes nails a jumper to stop the bleeding for the Bears. Holmes has 9 on the game; and we hit the first official timeout of the 2nd half with Maryland leading 45-40.
9:10-Milbourne cleans up a missed layup by Bowie and Maryland has a 45-38 advantage. Bozeman calls timeout with 15:55 to play; and the Terps finally start to show some emotion.
9:07-Barnes hits a 3 to give Morgan a momentary lead; but Milbourne responds with a long 2 to tie things up again. Vasquez FINALLY hits a 3; an open look from the corner, and Maryland leads 41-38. The crowd that is here is TRYING to get pumped after having been pretty silent for both of the first 23 minutes of this one.
Dave Neal with a turnaround hoop inside; he has 14 and Maryland’s lead is 43-38.
9:05-Thompson gets Morgan on the board in the 2nd half; and they’re within 1 at 36-35. Greivis misses ANOTHER 3-an open look from the wing; he needs to be working towards the hoop for Maryland’s offense to maintain control.
9:03-Sean Mosley had Maryland’s only bench points Rich with the one put-back. Maryland was 16-38 (42.1%) from the field in the first half; 0-6 from beyond the arc (0% for the math majors); and 4-5 from the free throw line (80%-Bowie again had the miss)
Morgan was 14-39 from the field (35.9%), 2-7 from outside (28.6%), and 3-8 from the free throw line (37.5%).
8:57-Is it really possible for this country to be in a recession when an arena can charge $4.25 for a water?
Morgan State is quick to return to the floor; choosing to take some extra time to work on shooting drills.
Elsewhere in the ACC……
Boston College has officially given away any advantage it might have gotten with the win at North Carolina by losing at home to HARVARD; 82-70. And in ESPN’s “College/NBA switcheroo”; Mike Tirico is seeing Duke lead Davidson 71-61 with two minutes to play. North Carolina and Charleston are about to tip.
8:47-Kately tips home a THIRD chance hoop; and the Terps will hold for the final shot of the half with just a 1 point lead. Dave Neal makes a HUGE outside jumper to close the half; he has 12 and Maryland will take a 36-33 lead to the intermission. I get the feeling we might have heard some boo birds if Neal’s shot hadn’t gone down. I’ll be back shortly with more.
8:46-Mosley redeems himself y bringing down a rebound of a missed 3 by Landon Milbourne and putting home the 2nd chance hoop. Hayes misses ANOTHER 3 on the Terps’ next possession, and it’s 34-31 as Morgan calls timeout with under a minute to play. Brutal basketball.
8:44-Mosley is a bit too aggressive defending the inbounds pass; and he draws a foul. That’s Maryland’s 7th team foul of the half, and Kately hits one of 2 at the line. Gary normally praises Mosley’s aggressiveness; but that was not the place to pick up a foul and put your opponent in the bonus. To make matters worse; Mosley missed another inside basket; and Greivis missed a 3-a miss he was clearly frustrated about afterwords.
8:42-Kately with the hoop inside over Milbourne, then Vasquez blocked the next time down. Vasquez draws the charge on the Terps’ following possession, and he hits both attempts at the line. 32-30 Maryland with 2:51 to play.
8:40-Rich, I guess the one difference tonight is that the Terps COULD look past this game to something upcoming. When they were playing Elon; there was nothing to look TO if they were looking past the Phoenix. But knowing that ACC play opens Saturday; it is conceivable the Terps could be guilty of looking towards Georgia Tech. If that’s the case; hopefully they won’t let the Bears take any sort of lead before the half; and will get a nice wake up call at halftime.
8:38-In times of trouble, Greivis continues to be the player this team counts on; as he slides into the lane for two more. But Barnes drills a jumper on the other end; and Bowie is called for a player control foul going to the hoop. The Terps are clearly pushing a little nursing just a two point lead. Gregory is called for a player control foul himself; that’s his 3rd personal of the game already. Things aren’t good as we hit the final official timeout of the first half.
8:36-Greivis gets a hoop and a PLUS ONE; but Eric Hayes rushes a jumper the next time down. Kevin Thompson puts back an offensive rebound; then Neal and Barnes trade hoops. It’s 28-26 Maryland with 5:02 to play and Gary wants another timeout. As Drew often says, “You can’t just roll the ball out there and expect to win….”
8:32-With 6:27 to play in the half; Maryland is clinging to a 23-22 advantage at the 3rd official timeout. The Terps are certainly lacking spirit thus far; and save a short stretch, the Bears have been particularly crisp. Lazy shooting is again to blame for Maryland; and Gary certainly wasn’t happy as they his this official timeout. They can’t afford to let a team like Morgan stick around to halftime and/or beyond.
The danger of playing local teams like Morgan is that the players often play with a chip on their shoulder because they weren’t recruited by Maryland. Reggie Holmes graduated from St. Frances during Sean Mosley’s sophomore year; and it has to burn him a little bit to see that Mosley was so hotly pursued while he wasn’t.
8:30-Lazy stretches of basketball here by the Terps; as a Dave Neal hoop is sandwiched by a 3 from Kately and a layup by Holmes. Myles adds a hoop; Milbourne misses a layup, , and Morgan has the ball trailing by just a point.
8:26-Just as I mention him; Tucker enters and misses his first shot. Thompson responds by getting his first points for Morgan State; and they pull within 6 at 21-15. Dupree worked his way inside but was blocked and then missed a short hoop. Gary goes back to his original starters.
8:22-It’s funny how you can buy a new computer to fix your computer problems; but yet STILL have computer problems. Let’s catch up, as the first eight minutes have certainly been fast paced.
The Terps lead 21-13; thanks to 6 points each from Landon Milbourne and Dave Neal. Sean Mosley, Dino Gregory, and Braxton Dupree were all early entrants; and Cliff Tucker has yet to see the floor despite solid play vs. Charlotte.
The Bears have gotten up and down the floor well, and saw Marquise Kately quickly replace Rodney Stokes. Rico Mylse has also checked in. They have attempted to set their own press; but haven’t been able to have much success with it, nor has it been particularly consistent. We’re at the 2nd official timeout now; and I think I have all of our troubles behind us.
8:05-Morgan’s lineup has three guards: Reggie Holmes, Jermaine Bolden, and Rogers Barnes. They play with two forwards: Rodney Stokes and Kevin Thompson.
The Terps stick with the Dave Neal-Landon Milbourne-Greivis Vasquez-Eric Hayes-Adrian Bowie lineup that has been working.
7:58-Apparently I wasn’t the only one who didn’t enjoy his drive to College Park tonight; as a number of fans are dressed as empty seats tonight at Comcast Center. Gary Williams’ Terps bring an 11-2 overall record into their final non-conference game of the regular season (they open ACC play Saturday with a visit from Georgia Tech); Todd Bozeman’s Bears bring a 5-8 record into tonight’s game; including wins over UMBC, Coppin State, and DePaul.
Tonight’s game can be seen on Comcast SportsNet; Maryland alum Chick Hernandez and Ron Thompson are on the call.