Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Maryland

Here is a tournament preview I wrote for deadspin, along with some fun facts about the school:

1. Fear la Tortuga. An impressive ACC Tournament performance negated the bad losses to Morgan State and Virginia to send #10 Maryland to face the #7 California Golden Bears in Kansas City on Thursday. The two teams met this past season in football, where the Terps beat the Gatorade out of Cal, 35-27. Junior guard Greivis “Arantxa S├ínchez-Vicario” Vasquez, the only player in the nation to wear eye black, leads the team in points (17.2), rebounds (5.5) and assists (5.1) per game. The fiery Venezuelan played high school ball with Kevin Durant at Montrose Christian in Rockville, MD. Eric Hayes, Maryland’s other starting guard, always looks like he’s about to turn the ball over, causing me to yell at my TV and out my window. But then he’ll knock down a big three, and all is forgiven…for now. Oafy, yet lovable Dave Neal, whom Terp alum Scott Van Pelt dubs “The Mayor” for some reason, holds his own despite looking like a cross between Paul Blart and Kevin James. The lone senior leads the team in 3-point percentage and SABs (Smiles After Buckets). He’s the Jimmy Fallon of basketball. Interchangeable parts Landon Milbourne, Adrian Bowie, Sean Mosely, Cliff Tucker and Dino Gregory have had their moments, but the team’s success is dependent on the play of Vasquez. In Maryland’s 20 wins, Vasquez averaged 19.3 ppg; in losses, he averaged just 11.5.

2. Fun Gestapo. Best known for burning couches, Scheyerface, and throwing batteries at Carlos Boozer’s mom, Maryland’s fans can be a little rambunctious. But at least we do it in unison! So it was sad to see our Commie utopia disrupted when the university shot down the contest-winning nickname for the Comcast Center student section. Campus buzzkills deemed the name “Red Army” offensive to Eastern Europeans, proving once again that Native Americans are the only people colleges can still publicly disparage.

3. Midnight Madness. On October 15, 1971, Maryland coach, Lefty Driesell, began the tradition of Midnight Madness in an effort to build up hype around his squad. At midnight, which marked the beginning of the first official day of team practice, Coach Driesell had his players run laps around Byrd Stadium’s track. Reflecting on the day, Lefty said, “I got the word around campus and 500 or 600 people showed up. We didn't have (stadium) lights, so the guys ran by car lights.” Not to be outdone, current coach and R.J. Bentley’s frequenter Gary Williams has carved out his own Madness staple by entering the arena floor in increasingly ridiculous vehicles. A tank is considered a vehicle, right?

Here’s Gary in a Lambo; on a motorcycle; in a tank!

Bonus: The Wikipedia entry on Midnight Madness has redefined laziness in fact-checking:

According to legend, Lefty Driesell, who was the head coach for the Maryland Terrapins men's basketball team, began the tradition in 1970 or 1971.


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