Terps lose to Wake. It’s gettin dark in here, maw! I can’t see nothin!

Well, if we was pitchin horseshoes, it would have been enough. It would have been like a leaner. But as it is, after losing 65-63 to #10 Wake Forest on Big Dave Neal’s senior night (more on him later), the 18-11 Terps must win their regular season finale this Saturday at Virginia and then make some noise in the ACC tournament, or else their postseason hopes are dead and buried.

The Terps played with a lot of heart and a lot of focus, but Wake was just better. In the second half, Wake locked down on defense, used their size, got into the lane, and just put it to us. A lot of fans love to say the Terps can lose to anyone and beat anyone. But I don’t think that’s true this year…yeah, we caught UNC, but we’re 2-6 against teams with a top 25 RPI.

What can you say? This is an easy team to solve. Every close observer knows the team goes as Vasquez goes. He played great in the first half, but overall shot 7-24. Every observer also knows we are overmatched in the post. Wake outrebounded us by 18. You can’t win that way.

It’s kind of sad, though, that the gaudy rebounding stat and a few highlight reel plays overshadowed the inspired effort of one Big Dave Neal. Big Dave, who scored a team-high 19 points, hit a three at the end of the first half to put the Terps up by seven, and who could forget those three straight threes in the second half. If the Terps had won, that performance would have made Big Dave Neal a folk hero. (Well, more so.) Big Dave was never supposed to be a D-1 starter. He was forced into duty this season and has performed admirably. He has been outplayed, but never outworked. He has been bloodied, but never bowed. He knows he’s fortunate to have done this, and he had fun with it. Whatever path he takes after basketball, I believe he’ll do something good with himself.

I love you, man

I love you, man

But his storybook Senior Night wasn’t to be, and now the Terps are in a big hole. They’re better than UVA on paper, but they’re also 2-5 on the road, and UVA always gets up for Maryland. They know they can spoil their rivals’ season. It’s all the more important considering that the selection committee likes to see you play well in your final 12 games, and Maryland is 5-6 in their last 11.  It’s not dark yet, but it’s gettin there.

(Photo credit:  UMTerps.com)


6 Responses to “Terps lose to Wake. It’s gettin dark in here, maw! I can’t see nothin!”

  1. March 4, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Maybe I’m showing my ignorance, but does the selection committee look at the fact that we came damn close to beating Duke and Wake, two top-ten teams?

  2. March 4, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Maybe a little…the at-large bids are ultimately human decisions, and there’s no definitive mathematical formula like in college football. In the end, though, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. These “good losses” probably only come into play as a kind of tiebreaker in case two teams have very similar credentials in all other phases.

    More specifically, if they factor in that we came close against Duke in the second game, they will also factor in that we lost to them by 40 in the first meeting. If they factor in that we got close against Wake, they will also factor in that we got beaten soundly by Clemson, Gonzaga, and Georgetown. And then there’s the Morgan State loss. We’ve got some nice wins, and we’ve been competitive, but as it stands, it’s not enough.

  3. 3 TheDymond
    March 4, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Tough loss. Sucks that Neal got dunked on like that on his Senior night. That was ridiculous.

    I still think a win against Virginia and one ACC tournament win should get us in.

  4. 4 Mr Realistic
    March 4, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    As has been the case in many other games, MD got dominated on the boards. They’re simply too small to compete against the upper echelon teams. It would have been nice to see Vasquez show up to play in the 2nd half.

    There goes any chance of making the NCAA at large. And, the chances of MD making it to the ACC Championship game, let alone win it is virtually nil. Let’s just hope the Terps come to play when the NIT starts instead of bitching and moaning about the selection committee. The Terps had 30 games to prove they belong in this years NCAA tournament. By getting blowout by upper echelon teams (Gongaza, Georgetown, Duke, UNC and Clemson), collapsing against marginal teams (BC and Miami) and getting embarrassed at home by Morgan State the Terps proved yet again they don’t belong. Most unfortunate.

  5. 5 rdclutch
    March 4, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    The Maryland team has improved allot since those early season blowout loses. Whether they make the tournament or not, I’d like to see them continue to play hard and perserve. Recruitment has to be addressed for Terps basketball to be in the top. Screw Duke and UNC. We’re the UCLA of the East! Don’t forget that. Lefty was a genius.

  6. 6 terphed
    March 4, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    The Terps have made things hard on themselves, but here is my two cents:

    Lose to UVA and we’re out
    Beat UVA and lose in first round of ACC Tourney and we’re out
    Beat UVA and lose in second round of ACC Tourney and we’re on the bubble (20 wins, 9-9 in ACC conference play sounds bubbly)
    Beat UVA and win two ACC tourney games and we’re in (21 wins, 10-9 conference play means in for an ACC team)

    Don’t fret, there are still some lifelines here. If I were a betting man I’d lay 2-1 odds on the Terps making the tournament. Now that doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Look, you already feel better.

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