A Phoenix From the Ashes

2/18/2007 11:30:14 PM 7 days ago, the Terps were a talented team that had woefully underacheived, squandered an impressive start, and seem destined to destroy the program. After today's gi-normous victory at Clemson, the Terps are riding a three game winning streak, have won four of five (including three straight road wins) and have reached the upper-division of the ACC. What a roller coaster!

How did we get here? Yahoo Sports and all of the other popular websites that produce the box scores will list DJ Strawberry as the star of the game. After all, he did score the most points. Those of us who watched the game know different. Greivis Vasquez played the best game of his short Maryland career today. He finished with 11 assists (which explain 3/4 of DJ's points). It was a virtuoso performance. Aside from Strawberry playing the role of finisher to perfection, Gist and Hayes also played well. I love what Osby gave us when our bigs got in foul trouble (although, I could have done without all of those Clemson offensive rebounds he was letting up). It was a team effort today.

7 days ago, who could have imagined this? It begs the question, how far can this team go? I'm not ready to go there, but what I am ready to talk about is the talent that is beginning to come out of its shell. Pun intended.

There are three guys on this team that I could see in the NBA one day. Vasquez, Gist, and Hayes. The reasons for Vasquez and Gist are obvious, but Hayes makes the list simply because if Stevie Blake can dish out 7 dimes a game for the Nuggets; why can't this kid? In some ways, he is further developed than Blake at this stage. He will be great by the time he is done in CP.

But let's get back to Vasquez and Gist for a moment. Did you see these two in the first half? Gist was draining 15 footers and dunking. Vasquez was just dominant. Playmaker, scorer, defender-- he did it all. Vasquez is the best freshman in the ACC not wearing Carolina blue and Gist has made a case for All-ACC honors (not first team, but likely second team).

It's hard to criticize on a day like today, but I still don't trust our seniors and here's why:

-Ibekwe: there was one sequence that sparked Clemson's comeback when the following happened: Ibekwe got the rebound, hurried a pass that got intercepted, and then let up an easy basket. Where is the leadership? He is constantly in foul trouble, and I don't think he has ever finished a three-point play
- DJ: Clemson was in the midst of their run, Strawberry received a pass, stepped back, and promptly airballed a three point attempt. Not exactly what I would call a good shot.

- MJ: Did you see that insane baseline turnaround that missed the hoop by about three feet? Yeesh.
- Bowers: Overall he played well but he gets no respect from the officials. I mean ZERO. Maybe it's his two left feet, or his concrete hands; but the guy is incapable of getting a charge call on defense or get fouled in the act of shooting. It's as if the officials refuse to believe a guy that unathletic could possibly get to the spot early or miss a shot that badly because he was hacked. It's the anti-Jordan rules.

As you can see, the underclassman, have been and must continue to carry the day. FSU is reeling, but gave UVA a serious test over the weekend and will not go quietly. The Terps need to carry their competitive fire over to Wednesday at Comcast. A win will virtually assure a .500 conference record and will in all likelihood seal an NCAA bid. It does not get much bigger than that, so Greivis and the boys need to treat it as such.

From what I have seen over the last 7 days, I'm inclined to expect it. If we stop FSU, then Terp Nation can contemplate a Tournament run. We are peaking at the right time. Can you believe it?
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