Every Monday, Baltimore Sun blogger and reporter Matt Vensel will rank the most significant athletes and events in Baltimore sports that week based on accomplishments on and off the field. Because, well, why not?
The Maryland men's basketball team begins a critical four-game stretch to end the regular season tonight at Georgia Tech. The Terps are sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference and have a 19-8 record overall, but they must make a statement the next two weeks to prevent their NCAA tournament bubble from bursting.
It was a September day in 2007 and Seth Allen was riding his bicycle around his suburban Virginia neighborhood the same way he now plays basketball for Maryland — with speed and flair, but also a hint of youthful recklessness.
This had all the makings of the day after the day after New Year's, when the hangover is still lingering. In Maryland's case, it was getting over the memories from Tuesday's deflating loss at Boston College that followed what had a chance to be a season-defining win over then No. 2 Duke.
During the three weeks since their last loss, the members of the 10th-ranked Maryland women's basketball team rolled through five opponents with an eye toward a rematch against the Atlantic Coast Conference rival that beat them.
Maryland's recent slump has not been a total shock to second-year coach Mark Turgeon. When he looked at the schedule before the season, Turgeon saw how difficult the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference slate might unfold for a young team.
Maryland will take a 12-game winning streak into Saturday¿s ACC opener against Virginia Tech at Comcast Center. The Terps, who have not lost since a three-point defeat to then-No. 3 Kentucky in the seaon opener in Brooklyn, N.Y., are a confident bunch.
On a November night in 2007, Maryland recruit Joe Vellano sat in the Byrd Stadium stands as a high school senior and watched the Terps upset Matt Ryan-led Boston College to gain its second win of the season over a Top 10 team.
Despite a three-game losing streak and a seemingly never-ending string of depth-sapping injuries — the latest including the team's top offensive and defensive playmakers — Maryland enters the toughest stretch of its 2012 schedule with something it lacked a year ago: cohesion.
Wes Brown, the Terps' leading rusher, carried nine times for 38 yards in the 33-13 loss to Georgia Tech, and he was the central figure in a new "Wild Crab" package Maryland developed last week in practice.
After having four quarterbacks suffer season-ending injuries, Maryland has turned to freshman linebacker Shawn Petty to not only play in a college game for the first time on Saturday against Georgia Tech, but to switch positions and lead the team at quarterback.
Maryland switched kickers on Saturday for the first time this season after Brad Craddock missed another short field-goal attempt. One week after missing a potential game-winning field goal from 33 yards, the freshman was wide left on a 35-yard try in the first quarter of the Terps' 20-17 loss at Boston College.
As Maryland prepared for No. 8 West Virginia, it might have comforted Terps fans — but only a little — that there have been other occasions in recent seasons in which the team entered games as a multi-touchdown underdog and came away with its dignity intact, if not with a win.
Obviously, 3-0 would have been a nice way for Maryland to start the season before heading into a buzz saw at West Virginia next weekend, but that can¿t be helped, so the Terps are going to have to concentrate on getting home safely and opening their ACC season successfully against Wake Forest two weeks after that.