One might think that seventh-seeded Duke’s 16-10 rout of top-seeded Syracuse in last week’s NCAA tournament final at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia would not sit well with the Blue Devils’ Atlantic Coast Conference rivals – especially a Maryland squad that had lodged a 16-7 thrashing that was Duke’s worst loss since May 23, 2009 when the team was manhandled, 17-7, by Syracuse in the Final Four that year.
But Terps coach John Tillman said he harbors no ill will towards the Blue Devils for capturing their second national crown in four seasons.
“No, we’re very happy for the Duke guys,” he said. “I think they’re a class act, and we have so much respect for coach [John] Danowski and their staff. They do a great job, they do everything the right way, and they’re classy guys. So in our league, we want to see our league do well. That’s something we all take pride in. So if somebody else is going to win, you don’t mind seeing someone from your league do it. I think it’s good for the league.”
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But that does not gloss over how Maryland’s season ended – three losses in its last five games and a 16-8 setback to unseeded Cornell in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It was a disappointing conclusion for a team that had been 8-1 after an 11-8 victory over Navy on April 5, but finished 10-4.
Tillman said that finish should linger with the players without any prompting from the coaches.
“I think we really won’t have to remind them of that,” Tillman said. “I think those guys know. I think everyone was pretty disappointed. We understand that we were pretty fortunate over the last few years to go as far as we did and that’s not lost on us. We know how hard that is to do. But when you’ve gotten that close, it’s something that drives you to get back there.”