Mike Wise: Overachieving Maryland Was Simply Overmatched Against Memphis

Maryland begins its NCAA tournament run with an 84-71 win over the California Golden Bears, but the Terps fall short just two days later, overrun by No. 2 seed Memphis, 89-70, in Kansas City.
By Mike Wise
Sunday, March 22, 2009


Greivis Vasquez would like to revise his opinion about those evil AAU forces commandeered by John Calipari, the team he said would have a losing record in his team's conference.

On second thought, Memphis might finish .500 in the ACC, no?

"Definitely," said Maryland's star junior guard -- and the lifeblood of this majestic, month-long run -- after his season ended amid a barrage of three-pointers from the guys in blue and white. "They'll never play in the ACC, so we'll never know. But they proved me wrong. They're such a good team. I give them credit."

Indeed, when Vasquez said Friday that Memphis could not crack 8-8 in the ACC, you have to wonder what he was talking about.

NBA Internship U. 89, We {heart} Our Coach State 70.

Not all the grit and perseverance Gary Williams transferred to Vasquez, Dave Neal, Landon Milbourne, Adrian Bowie, Sean Mosley, Eric Hayes and the rest of these overachieving Terrapins could fend off either the three-point accuracy or up-tempo pace of Calipari's impossibly talented team, whose blue-clad fans derisively chanted "A-C-C! A-C-C!" toward Vasquez with about four minutes left.

Not all the obstacles Maryland encountered this season -- that 41-point drubbing at Duke, infighting between the athletic department and its once-embattled coach, and certainly the petri-dish scrutiny of the program Williams has overseen the past 20 years -- could help the Terps against one of college basketball's most potent programs.

Fifteen years after Williams led Maryland past Calipari's U-Mass. team in the second round of the 1994 NCAA tournament, the Terrapins were the modern-day equivalent of the Minutemen, all right -- that's all they lasted, a minute.

There was no Exree Hipp dunking maliciously over Marcus Camby this time; no, Maryland's season disappeared early in the right corner, a few feet from the baseline. The Tigers took turns puncturing holes in the Terrapins' 3-2 zone, unleashing a bevy of three-pointers six to seven feet in front of Johnny Holliday and Chris Knoche, the team's awestruck radio announcers. Knoche surmised at halftime what most observers thought: "Wasn't Memphis's weakness that they supposedly couldn't shoot?"

Doneal Mack killed that myth immediately, hitting three of Memphis's eight three-pointers in the first half from that very spot, each one putting Maryland further into a hole that grew to 20 points by intermission.

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