Sunday, February 24, 2008

Terps need to turn it around

If the Maryland Terrapins fail to make the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years, it won’t be hard to point to the game that doomed their season. Wednesday’s 69-65 loss to Virginia Tech at Comcast Center was one of the ugliest games that I can remember. The Terps jumped out to a big lead early, then inexplicably stopped scoring. The game was so disgusting that guard Dorenzo Hudson actually vomited on the floor in the first half. On Saturday, they lost to Miami.

It seems like a lot of fans seem quick to blame the team’s struggles on guard Greivis Vazquez. Early in the game, when the Terps were jumping out to a double digit lead, Vazquez had 11 quick points. He then tried a risky pass and threw it out of bounds.

“Get him off the court, Gary!” yelled a fan, who continued to curse at Vazquez every time he missed a shot.

I know that the guy has more turnovers than a pastry shop, but if not for his play this season Gary would be calling MSG every night begging for NIT consideration. Not only does Greivis lead the team in scoring (17.5 ppg) and assists (6.7 apg), he is the only player that can create a shot. Imagine the offense with Adrian Bowie and Eric Hayes running around for 35 seconds? Vazquez has also had a knack for knocking down the big three pointer.

The biggest problem that the Terps have is their lack of production from the bench. Braxton Dupree, who was supposed to come in and play right away, looks like he is a long way from making any contributions. In fact, if Gus Gilchrist is not the next coming of Elton Brand, the team might have to beg Hassan Fofana to come back. Bowie had a couple big games in January and looked like he was becoming a dependable guard for the Terps. Now, he rarely sees the court.

The bench has been abysmal all year, but with Vazquez, Gist, and Osby dominating Maryland was still winning. The past couple games, Gist has struggled and Maryland was not able to replace his offense. One watching Wednesday’s loss had to wonder if Gist had somehow forgotten how to use his hands, as he not only turned the ball over five times but couldn’t hold onto countless rebounds that were in his grasp. He has seven and 10 points respectively in his last two games, his lowest and third lowest total since ACC play started. Gist has been one of the ACC's best players all season, and the Terps badly need him to step up in the last few games.

The Terps, at the very least, need to split their next two games. They have three games left before the ACC Tournament, and will probably need at least 20 wins to get in. If they win three more games this season, it puts them on the bubble with a decent chance of making it. Four more wins pretty much punches their ticket. Two wins, and Gary can all but book his flight to New York for the NIT.

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