If Maryland plays North Carolina on Wednesday half as well as it did the last time a monster snowfall hit the region, Mark Turgeon will be a happy man.
With weather forecasters calling for up to a foot or more of snow starting tonight and into tomorrow, it brought back memories of the Terps' famous 92-71 rout of the Tar Heels at Comcast Center in February 2010.
I covered it, and it was the wildest frat-house atmosphere I’ve ever seen at a basketball game.
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They called that storm “Snowmageddon” or “Snowpocalypse.” The roads were a mess, and at first, Maryland officials were actually telling fans not to drive to the game. But some 12 hours before the game, the school was sending out a different message: Fine, if you can get here without killing yourself and backing up traffic for miles, come on down.
I drove down from Baltimore with Sun photographer Karl Merton Ferron. The trip, which normally takes 35 minutes or so, took two hours. I-95 was a nightmare, so we took back routes part of the way.
Gary Williams was still coaching the Terps, and the roads were so bad he spent both nights at a hotel near the school rather than risk driving home and skidding into a ditch.
But it turned out to be a great game for the Terps, their 16thwin of the season and sixth Atlantic Coast Conference victory. And it proved to be one of the most memorable events I’ve ever covered.
With scores of season-ticket holders not coming because of the weather, Maryland officials opened up those seats to the students. And with all those kids sitting courtside -- kids who had been cooped up for two days, kids who were beered-up and doing the wave and torturing the North Carolina players with chants of “NIT! NIT!” -- the energy level was off the charts.
So was the energy level on the court. It turned into a Maryland dunk-a-thon, a game that featured so many no-look passes and flashy moves by the Terps that it looked like an NBA All-Star Game at times.
The Tar Heels seemed dazzled by it all, too. So did their coach. I kept watching Roy Williams’ face sag more and more after each Maryland fast-break until it looked like a forlorn mask of clay by the final buzzer.
After the game, Gary Williams was as drained as I’d ever seen him. In his courtside interview with legendary Terps play-by-play man Johnny Holliday, he grew misty-eyed talking about the Terps’ excellent play and the effort they’d given despite all the snow-related distractions.
But he was jubilant, too. Well, as jubilant as he ever let himself get.
“It was amazing,” he said later of the atmosphere. “So many people said they were coming. If they had to take a dog sled to the game, they were coming.”
Greivis Vasquez, the mercurial senior point guard who scored 26 points with 11 assists to lead Maryland, said it was the loudest game at Comcast in his four years there.
Now we’ll see if history repeats itself, if the snow does anything for Maryland against North Carolina on Wednesday night.
A lot of defense, some inside scoring and a big game by Dez Wells would help even more.