Maryland once again walked the thin line between victory and letdown. Dave Neal may have inspired victory by returning to the game midway through the second half with a nasty cut above his eye. His return to the floor may have been the reason that the Terps eventually snapped out of another sleepwalk after yet again building a big first half lead. In fact, Neal had to recite the months of the year backwards and pass other concussion tests before doctors would let him return to the floor. This game might be remembered as the “Dave Neal Head Injury Game”.
I will remember this as the “Team Game”. This win was the first time in 2009 that Maryland really gelled as a unit. The Terps had balanced scoring with six players scoring eight or more points. I have cited the importance of Milbourne’s role as the big man under the basket. I’ve also cited the importance of point guard play in the Gary Williams offense. Milbourne (17pts 5rb) and Hayes (10pts and a career high 11 assists) both stepped-up yesterday. Eight Terps were on the floor for more than 10 minutes last night. Maryland’s baseline-to-baseline style of play requires everyone to contribute, otherwise the team runs out of gas. Against UVA, the Terps moved the ball around and got everyone involved, and that was a recipe for success.
After the game, Gary Williams told the Baltimore Sun, “There are a lot of demons you have to get out of your head after what happened at Miami.” Last night’s game ended with the Terps fending off a big run by an inferior opponent, and with Greivis Vasquez icing the game by hitting a couple big free-throws in front of the home crowd. One could make the point that Maryland should have never let the Cavaliers back in this game, but I believe this game should help slay those mental demons.
Let’s hope so. Dave Neal and the rest of the team is going to need a clear head if we’re going to beat Duke in Raleigh this Saturday. Fuck Duke!