Terps Upset Hoyas 76 -75!

trimble-turgeon

I just watched my University of Maryland Men’s Basketball team come from behind to defeat Georgetown 76-75 in one of the most exciting and exhilarating and excruciating comeback wins ever. They played on the Hoya’s home court, the Verizon Center in D.C.,  in front of a raucous, partisan co-ed crowd. But no worries. With Melo Trimble breaking in the freshmen Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter, the Terps did not quit.

Maryland was down by 11 with one minute remaining. Yet the once in charge, haughty and once heady Hoyas literally lost it and made one mistake after another; and Maryland capitalized and converted when it mattered most. The Terps got a big – no, a HUGE win; one that they would have lost not long ago.

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon told a sports reporter earlier today that the Terps have a ways to go. I watched the entire game, and yes they do. They’re young and youthful and patchy and scratchy. But I’ll take ‘em because they’re my Terps.

They say that a win is a win is a win; that’s true most of the time. But sometimes, some wins are bigger than others. Let’s just say that this comeback win over Georgetown tonight was bigger than life as it will certainly speed up that growth process quite a bit.

It’s great that Maryland and Georgetown are playing again. And it’s even better that my Terps won tonight, when all game they weren’t playing their best. But down the stretch and in the end they found some zest and pulled out an amazing and awesome win.

I told my wife that Maryland is not that good – but they’re not that bad either.

The Pain Of Loss

Sul_Trimb_

I just lost my mom. “Loss” is the conventional, politically correct term you use when a loved one or friend passes away. My mom was sick and she died on March 8th, right in the middle of March Madness. So this March, the madness of March was more maddening for me for so many days in so many ways and on so many levels. So that’s why I haven’t been writing or posting for a while.

A loss hurts. A loss burns and bruises and even barks and bites. A loss can break and bend and twist and curve and swerve and nerve your emotions and affections like nothing else can.

For Christians, when someone we know dies, our loved one is not “lost” per se; it’s just that their presence is lost; they’re physically dead and gone to us. And there’s nothing we can do to bring them back. But they’re not lost as if we can’t find them, because we know where they are. However, it’s still a loss of their face and their embrace and their voice and their visits and their laugh and their love.  

While it does not compare — not hardly – the University of Maryland Basketball Team lost. Actually, my team won and lost. They won 27 games, but they lost 9. They began the season 15-1 and finished 14-8, but in March they were 5-3 and they finished the season a woeful 5-6, dating back to that mind bending, nerve numbing, unexplainable, inexplicable loss at lowly Minnesota on February 18th and the home loss to Wisconsin on February 13th.

According to Joshua Needleman of the Diamondback, the University of Maryland’s student run newspaper, “The sentiment for much of the season was when — not if — the Terps started clicking, they’d be unstoppable. They stormed to a 15-1 start even while working through some kinks.”

“Yet in an odd twist, the Terps didn’t get better or wiser over time — like my mom — or like that bottle of Chardonnay residing untouched in the cellar for years. They slowly fell apart, each loss sapping more and more of the fan base’s confidence. There always seemed to be something going awry, a new question that needed an answer.”

In another excellent article written by Alex Kirshner of the TestudoTimes, Kirshner writes “Maryland’s basketball team existed in a weird space this year. The Terps entered the season as a popular national title pick, and they remained so well into February. Even this March, plenty of people thought they had it in them. In the days leading up to the Terps’ season-ending loss to Kansas in the Sweet 16, I’d come around to expecting Maryland to beat the NCAA Tournament’s top overall seed. The Terps had a tantalizing glow about them, even when they weren’t their best.

The Terps wound up winning three times as many games as they lost, finishing 27-9. That’s really good for most programs, and it’s really good for Maryland. The Terps made their first Sweet 16 since 2003, which is quite an achievement. But in the end, why did the season seem so unsuccessful?”

 That’s a question that begs an answer. As with all of the other teams that lost in the NCAA Tournament, we have the hope of next season, and the high expectations of seeing Maryland players go on to the NBA and doing well (but if the underclassmen just came back for one more run!)

With all loses, we must look back, reminisce and recall to mind the mercies of the Lord. We must savor the good and sift through and sift out the bad. My mom was sick — I mean really sick — for the last six months of her life. I watched as she withered away, and the loss of her health and her strength was as hurtful as the loss of her presence.

But the grandkids and my sisters and I have the legacy of her love, many, many, meaningful memories and the wonderful well wishes and the sweet scented sentiments of our family and friends that will carry us till we see her again one day.

Stone Is A Diamond In The Rough

 

Diamond Stone
Maryland center Diamond Stone stands on the court in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Maryland Eastern Shore, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

How do you explain away a boneheaded, blockheaded, blunder of a blooper? Temporary insanity? Out of body experience? Or do you just use Flip Wilson’s famous line: “the devil made me do it!” Diamond Stone needs all of these and some to explain his actions in this past Saturday’s BiG 10 Conference game against Wisconsin.

Diamond Stone is a McDonald’s All American. Diamond Stone won four straight High School State Championships back in Wisconsin. (Yes he’s from Wisconsin, so how ironic is it that this gaff came against Wisconsin?) Diamond Stone was one of the most sought after basketball recruits in the Country, and he chose to come to the University of Maryland because he wanted to win a national Championship. And yet with slip ups and hiccups like the one he pulled against the Badgers, his home state team, the only thing he’ll win is an asterisk in annals of college also-rans and could-have-beens.

Maryland center Diamond Stone has been suspended for Thursday’s game against Minnesota after the freshman big man shoved Wisconsin forward Vitto Brown’s head to the floor late in the first half of his team’s 70-57 loss on Saturday. Let me put it another way: Stone, the diamond that his name says he is, slammed another player’s head into the floor. INTO THE FLOOR!  And he wasn’t kicked out of the game. He was lucky to be suspended for just one game. The school made the decision, and it was supported by the Big Ten.

Stone, who scored 10 points and grabbed one rebound in the loss, was issued a contact dead ball technical foul but was not tossed from the game. But he should have been called for a Flagrant II, and kicked out of the contest.

“Diamond’s conduct during Saturday’s game was a poor representation of the standards that we have established as a program at the University of Maryland,” Coach Turgeon said.” I have talked with Diamond and he realizes he made a mistake. He felt very badly about what happened and will learn from this experience. I want to sincerely apologize to Vitto Brown and Greg Gard for what transpired Saturday.”

For his part, Stone did issue an apology, although it was a generic, cliché, cookie cutter, uninspired and unmoving canned and carefully scripted, almost sardonic statement. 

Unfortunately, there’s no excuse for Stone’s faux pas. None. There’s absolutely no excusing what he did. He slipped up and messed up and now he’s got to fess up and face up to the fact that you can’t keep dancing when the music stops playing. You can’t march to the beat of your own drum and get away with garbage like that. We all get emotional from time to time. If we didn’t, especially during the heat of a moment, someone might need to check our pulse. But the life lesson here is that you should NEVER let your emotions get the best of you. Never.

So back to Stone, who is a Diamond in the rough. Diamond needs some polishing. And quickly. He’s a kid with a bright future but he could have a dark past if he pulls another stunt like this again. He did something that we all agree was reprehensible and unacceptable. The kid made a mistake. Now hopefully he’ll “learn from this” and grow.

But before we throw Stone under the proverbial bus, we all have committed dumb fouls and made stupid mistakes and wished we hadn’t lost our heads when we blew our cool. I get it. So let’s just hope that Diamond chalks this one up as a “rookie” mistake that should never happen again so he can go ahead and move ahead and look ahead to what should be a positive and promising  career.

Pretty Ugly: We Didn’t Have A Prayer

West Virginia v Maryland
Sports is full of oxymorons. An oxymoron is a figure of speech that juxtaposes elements that appear to be contradictory. Team names like the “Fighting Quakers” comes immediately to mind. And for those that don’t know, Quakers are pacifists, meaning they don’t believe in fighting but instead take “turn the other cheek” quite literally. I went to a Quaker school in Philly (so ask me how I know). And saying we “didn’t have a prayer” is certainly an oxymoron, because there is always hope; but you’re gotta have hope in order for there to be hope. 

Other examples of oxymorons in sports include “boxing ring,” “warming down,” and “forward lateral.” Everyone knows that a boxing “ring” is square, that you warm up when you’re cold, not down, (after a work-out you cool off, but surely I digress) and you can’t go forward and move laterally at the same time. And here’s another one you can add to the list: the Maryland/West Virginia game in the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament last night was pretty ugly.

The Maryland Terrapins Men’s Basketball Team had a great season with an awful ending. By most standards and all accounts, the Terps over-achieved and over-reached and over-performed and had a record-setting season; they won a ton of games, but just came up short at the end. Unfortunately, their season did not match their play last night.

Last night, oxymorons were everywhere and allusions abounded. The Terps played with sharp dullness and tired energy and sloppy efficiency. They turned the ball over 21 TIMES! Twenty-One times! Seriously? And Melo Trimble got hurt, so any hope of winning went out the door when he went down on the floor. Oh well. But even with Melo the Terps were amazingly unexceptional and happily horrible. Last night was painful and stressful and awful and woeful; on the other hand, the entire length of this all of a sudden short season, a.k.a., the season as a whole, was exciting and exhilarating and thrilling and bone chilling. Go figure. And such is life.

In life you learn to take the good with the bad and the ups with the downs and the wins with the losses. You learn to accept the incongruities and the ambiguities of a good team going cold or a bad team getting hot. It’s called living and dying with your team and loving and hating them simultaneously all at the same time. You have to learn to run slow and walk fast and to be nasty with a smile, all at once.

So keep your heads up, Terp Fans. Dez Wells and Melo Trimble are the ones that got us to the Big Dance, and you’re supposed to dance with the girl that you got, not the one you’re trying to get. And she’s still our “girl” even though the dance last night was pretty ugly. But with Mello and the rest of the freshman coming back, we’re actually sitting pretty.

In sports, there are oodles of oxymorons. There’s crying and amidst and alongside the celebration, because only one team can win the last game of the season. Only one team can walk off of the court and say that they went out on top. And only one team can cut down the nets. So far, Kentucky is still the front-runner, with Duke, Wisconsin, Arizona and Gonzaga all close seconds, nipping at their heels.

And so may the Best Team (Kentucky?) win. But that too, can be an oxymoron. And I borrow this clip from Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post:

The thing to remember about Maryland’s season-ending, 69-59 loss to West Virginia on Sunday night wasn’t the final score. It wasn’t the aesthetics, either; West Virginia’s manic style could make the Harlem Globetrotters look sloppy. And it certainly wasn’t the ending — after Melo Trimble was sidelined by two blows to the head, things fell apart, fans in yellow roaring as the typically composed Terps unraveled.

No, the moment to remember came in the first half, when the Terps were still streaking up and down the court with a lineup featuring Trimble, Dion Wiley, Jared Nickens and Michal Cekovsky. That’s four freshmen, for those without a lineup card, and it speaks to the lasting emotion of this Maryland season: renewed hope.

The Thrill Of Victory 2.0

Dez Wells

There’s nothing like the thrill of victory. Nothing. To win the way the Seattle Seahawks won the NFC Championship game is beyond words. And now, here we go again. My University Of Maryland Terrapins came back from being down 11 at halftime and 14 in the second period to stun Northwestern 68 – 67.

Maryland, at 18-3, is having a magical season. They began the 2014-2015 campaign unranked, but are now No. 16 in the Country after being ranked as high as No. 13. in the AP Top 25 Poll. And the Terps were on the verge of losing their second straight as they were stinking up the house, AT HOME, playing mediocre ball, until they mounted a furious comeback. And with 1.4 seconds left on the clock, senior Dez Wells rebounded an errant Melo Trimble three-point attempt and sunk the shot of his life. Wells’ “put-back” basket proved to be the game winner.

Northwestern lead practically the whole way, save a 3-1 lead by Maryland, which turned out to be an ephemeral feeling that faded faster than the memory of a bad first date.

But back to winning. When you win, all of the bad, base, and boorish details are at best belittled and at worst wetted down like dirty water gone down the drain. And if there’s a bad part of winning, that’s it. We still need to learn from our mistakes, and winning sometimes doesn’t allow us to do that.

Nonetheless, there’s still no feeling like winning. None. There’s no sense, no sensation, no taste, no smell, and no sound so exhilarating or exciting as overcoming and overpowering and overriding an enemy or an opponent. None.

So, in order to experience the thrill of victory consistently, we must do the things that are necessary to win. We must do all of the little things, the mundane things, the day-in-and day out things that we don’t feel like doing but must needs do in order to experience the thrill of victory on a daily basis. It sounds easy, but it’s not. But it’s worth it. Just ask Dez Wells.