Hoyas, Terrapins Meet at Long Last
Sunday, November 30, 2008; Page D03
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Nov. 28 -- Shortly before the first Model T rolled off the assembly line, Georgetown and Maryland suited up for their first basketball game against each other.
But for the better part of the last 27 years, Washington's storied college rivalry has been shelved -- a casualty, depending on who's talking, of pride, pressure and self-interest.
Sunday's consolation game of the Old Spice Classic delivers the long-awaited next installment -- one that will be played 850 miles from home, in a 5,000-seat arena that will boast more orange T-shirts than red or gray.
Tennessee, with hordes of Volunteer faithful in tow, takes on No. 9 Gonzaga in the evening's championship game. But in the Washington area, the undercard matters far more.
"It's about bragging rights in the area," says ESPN analyst Len Elmore, an all-American at Maryland in the early 1970s, when Lefty Driesell's Terrapins dominated the rivalry. "And it ought to be fun, with two well-coached, quality teams."
Sunday's game comes on the heels of the first loss of the season by each team. Both were by double-digits margins, with Georgetown (3-1) falling to 12th ranked Tennessee, 90-78, and Maryland (4-1) dropped by No. 9 Gonzaga, 81-59, in the tournament's second round.
While the rosters of Georgetown and Maryland are stocked with local players who know one another's games intimately, it will mark the first meeting between coaches John Thompson III and Gary Williams.
And though fans may see the outcome as crowning a king of Washington area hoops, Thompson and Williams are playing down the hype, denying there is any dynamic at play Sunday other than an opportunity to improve.
"From where we sit, we are trying to prepare ourselves for conference play," Thompson said. "This is another game against a very good team that will prepare us for conference play."
Hoyas sophomore guard Chris Wright, who is from Bowie, echoed the sentiment.
"I'm going to approach it like any other game: a game we have to execute," Wright said. "In terms of it being important because it's a Maryland-Georgetown game, I'm really not into that."
Said Williams: "You know, we both have our rivalries. They have great rivalries in the Big East; we have great rivalries in the ACC. Those are two of the best basketball conferences in the country. For the fans, I know they like the local rivalries and things like that, but you know, we just happen to be located close to each other."