Johns Hopkins has dropped three of its past four contests and fallen to No. 15 in The Sun’s rankings. But the Blue Jays team that has struggled to a 6-4 record is not the one that No. 4 Maryland (8-1) is anticipating for Saturday’s showdown at Byrd Stadium in College Park.
Coach John Tillman pointed out that John Hopkins sprinted to an 11-1 advantage en route to a 15-8 demolition of No. 16 Virginia on March 23 and owned a 10-9 lead with less than two minutes left in regulation before falling, 11-10, in overtime to No. 3 North Carolina.
“My expectation is that every time we go on the field, we’re going to play a team that is talented and well prepared and well coached with a high sense of urgency. I would expect this weekend’s opponent to be the same,” Tillman said Tuesday morning during his weekly conference call. “Johns Hopkins had a great tradition, they have great players, and we have a lot of respect for their institution and their players. And it’s Maryland-Hopkins. That’s a game that kids are excited about and they want to win that game, and we know how hard they’re going to play and how well they’re going to play. That’s just something that we’re expecting, and we’ve got to make sure that we prepare to play our best game. We know how good they are. I watched that Virginia film and that was a pretty darn impressive first half. When you look at the North Carolina game which is a team that beat us, that game could’ve gone either way and they had the lead late, which is something we didn’t have. We know how talented this team is and how much potential they have. So we’ve really got to have a good week of practice to put ourselves in a position to have a chance to win.”
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After the Blue Jays’ 10-9 loss to No. 14 Albany last Friday night, senior defenseman Tucker Durkin said the team planned to treat the four remaining games on the regular-season schedule as playoff contests. Tillman said that approach doesn’t surprise him.
“The toughest thing with this time of year is you know that everyone’s got a strong sense of urgency,” he said. “It’s April, and everyone’s trying to play their best game. I think every team right now realizes the importance of every game that’s being played. My anticipation would be regardless of what has happened record-wise, down the stretch here, everybody realizes that with four games left or so, you’re really going to try to play as well as you can with a heightened sense of urgency, and if teams don’t do that, it’s going to be tough to be successful.”