Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Don Markus and editor Matt Bracken weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
Can Maryland recover from its disappointing performance against Virginia to beat Duke Saturday at Comcast Center?
Don Markus: Usually coaches fear their teams – especially young teams such as the Terps – having an emotional hangover after a big win.
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It happened last month for Mark Turgeon’s team when it beat North Carolina State at home on a last-second tip-in by Alex Len and then came out flat three days later at North Carolina. In that game, the Terps were down by 22 at halftime and outscored in the first half by Reggie Bullock before playing better in the second half and losing by 10.
Coming back after the kind of loss Maryland suffered last Sunday at home against Virginia is much different. After the 80-69 defeat, Turgeon said a tough schedule that saw the Terps return to campus at 4 a.m. Thursday morning after a late game at Virginia Tech and long delay getting out of Blacksburg factored into the equation.
If there is any time Maryland should have an advantage this season over an opponent in terms of being rested, it’s Saturday. This was the first “bye” week for the Terps in the ACC, something that Duke had before it played Maryland at Cameron Indoor Stadium last month. This time, the Blue Devils will be coming off an emotional comeback win at home over arch-rival North Carolina Wednesday night.
But given Duke’s style of play – a more talented version of Virginia – I have a hard time seeing Maryland getting its game together this week in practice to beat a team that won by 20 in Durham despite the Terps playing fairly well for long stretches. I actually thought the Terps had a better chance beating the Blue Devils down there a month ago than they do at Comcast Center Saturday.
That being said, I think Turgeon will have his team a lot more ready to play Duke than it was against Virginia. There’s no excuse for being too tired, or for that matter, too young. The player who killed Maryland in the first matchup was freshman Rasheed Sulaimon. Duke’s point guard, Quinn Cook, is a sophomore, just like Nick Faust. Ryan Kelly is still out.
This game is the season for the Terps, short of winning the ACC tournament next month in Greensboro. Win and they’re back in the conversation – though not quite on the bubble – for an NCAA tournament bid. Lose and we’re probably looking at an NIT bid – if that. This might be Turgeon’s biggest test to date since coming to Maryland, but I’m not sure his team is ready to help him pass it.
With Maryland fans gearing up for Duke on Saturday, what are some of your favorite fan antics from recent years?
Jeff Barker: The oversized “Scheyer Face” posters were cute, documenting the contorted expressions of the former Duke guard.
There was a “Scheyer Face” blog and a “Scheyer Face” Twitter handle (@scheyerface).
“Wow, that was a hell of a scheyer face on that layup,” said one of many Scheyerface tweets that were all kind of the same.
I used to enjoy the Cameron Indoor Stadium fans’ relationship with Maryland’s Greivis Vasquez.
They would needle him in Spanish and try to engage him in discussions about the politics of his native Venezuela.
The thing is, Vasquez thrived on the banter, which may not be the response that the Cameron Crazies were seeking.
"I just love the stuff they do when I get there,” he said in 2009. “I know they were talking about my president back home.”
You’ve got to have the sort of personality that can rise above the taunts, even tap into the energy.
I’m not into fans simply shouting profanities. That doesn’t really distinguish you.
This isn’t specific to Duke-Maryland, but I like the originality displayed by the Turgeonites – the group that dresses to resemble Terps coach Mark Turgeon.
What’s inspired about the Turgeonites is the trademark gray patch they sport in their hair. It’s baby powder, right, Turgeonites?
You’ve got to own a role like that, and they clearly do. I also like that the Turgeonites are not all men.
I hope the Turgeonites don’t get as sad as the coach does after hard losses. In his postgame remarks, Turgeon will sometimes lower his head as he replays difficult moments.
Sometimes you think he’s just going to lay down behind the podium and curl into the fetal position.
If he thought about the Turgeonites in those moments, maybe that would cheer him up.
What else is happening in the world of Maryland men’s basketball and football?
Matt Bracken: Markus and Barker have the Terps-Duke game covered above, I wrote about new rankings for UM basketball targets in the weekly recruiting roundup, and we recapped football Signing Day extensively last week. So now seems to be as good a time as any to catch up on some random Maryland-related basketball notes, most of which are happening away from College Park.
A rough recent stretch for Alex Len doesn’t appear to have hurt his draft status. NBADraft.net projects Len to be selected with the No. 8 overall pick in June’s draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. DraftExpress.com is even more optimistic about Len’s draft status, pegging the sophomore to the Phoenix Suns at No. 5. ESPN.com’s Chad Ford, meanwhile, has Len ranked as the No. 6 prospect in this draft.
Len would be the fourth former Maryland player in the NBA if all goes as planned. The New Orleans Hornets’ Greivis Vasquez (13.9 ppg, 9.4 apg, 4.6 rpg), the Los Angeles Lakers’ Steve Blake (5.0 ppg, 3.3 apg, 1.8 rpg) and the Boston Celtics’ Chris Wilcox (4.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg) are the others.
Remember Martin Breunig? The 6-foot-8 forward from Leverkusen, Germany committed to the Terps during Gary Williams’ last season, but Maryland parted ways with the three-star prospect once Mark Turgeon took over. Breunig, now a sophomore at Washington, has appeared in just eight games this season, averaging 0.1 points and 0.8 rebounds.
We’ve saved the most obscure note for last. Two former Maryland forward commitments that never actually suited up for the Terps are teammates on the Iowa Energy of the NBA D-League. Terrence Jennings, who pledged to the Terps in the summer of 2007 but ultimately signed with Louisville, is averaging 4.9 points and 3.2 rebounds for the Energy. He has appeared in 26 games, making one start. Gus Gilchrist, who spent a semester at Maryland as a redshirt before transferring to South Florida, has seen action in six games, averaging 0.7 points and 0.7 rebounds.