College Basketball: Next Challenge for Terps: Duke
By David Ginsburg
COLLEGE PARK, Md. ó Crushed by 41 points in its first encounter this season against Duke, resurgent Maryland carries momentum and the thirst for revenge into the rematch tonight.
The Terrapins rekindled their NCAA tournament hopes Saturday with a stunning 88-85 overtime upset of then-No. 3 North Carolina. The afterglow hadn’t faded Tuesday, when the players spoke about parlaying that uplifting victory into another against the despised Blue Devils.
How can Maryland (17-9, 6-6 ACC) possibly expect to pull off a complete reversal against a team that permitted only 15 first-half points in an 85-44 laugher just one month ago?
“We’ve gotten better since that game,” coach Gary Williams said.
And the Blue Devils?
“They’re extremely beatable,” Maryland center Dave Neal declared. “They’ve shown that the past couple games. They got a big win against Wake Forest (101-91 on Sunday), but I think if we come out and execute our offense ó which we didn’t do last game ó we have a better chance of winning.”
The Terrapins have won three of four, and Duke (22-5) is 3-3 in its past six games and 8-4 in the ACC after starting 5-0. That’s why Neal and his teammates are confident things will be different this time.
Against Duke, Greivis Vasquez scored four points on 2-for-10 shooting. On Saturday against the Tar Heels, Vasquez had a career-high 35 and became the first Maryland player in 22 years to record a triple double. The junior guard hopes to play similarly against Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils, not for personal reasons but because the Terrapins usually take their lead from their spirited floor leader.
“It was an amazing game for me, but the season isn’t over yet,” Vasquez said. “We’re trying to make it to the tournament so we’ve got to win games. This is going to be a huge game for us, even more important than the UNC game.”
There is nothing a Maryland fan wants more than to beat Duke. The players feel the same way.
“People don’t hate UNC around here, but there’s a big hatred against Duke in the state of Maryland,” Neal said.
Said Vasquez: “The whole campus hates Duke, so they (students) are going to be fired up. That will help us to get into the game and go crazy and play with a lot of emotion and a lot of passion.”
Williams did not strap his players into their seats this week and make them watch the first Duke-Maryland game from the opening tip to the final buzzer. He opted to simply show them how things might have been different if the Terrapins didn’t allow Duke to take them out of their offense.
“I think if we’re any good, we remember what happened without looking at the video,” Williams said. “In terms of the X’s and O’s and things like that, it wasn’t about that. It’s just us being a better team now, being able to handle situations better.”
And this time they’re at home, with a decent chance to wipe out the memory of the school’s fourth-most lopsided loss.
“We pretty much got humiliated last game,” Neal said. “This is our chance for revenge.”
It’s also an opportunity for the Terrapins to move one victory closer to earning an NCAA tournament berth that not long ago seemed out of reach.
“This is not a regular game, but a game that will help us be in a better position,” Vasquez said. “Obviously we want the payback.”