Sniffing at Competency

1/2/2008 10:52:24 PM 2008 began in the same way that 2007 ended: a blowout win against a cupcake opponent. If this fact was NOT news, we'd all been happier. The four game losing streak that preceded these two wins was unchartered territory for this program.

It sure feels like an eternity since I left for a little winter vacation in sunny Sanibel Island, Florida. In that time, our Terps endured the two most inexplicable losses of my lifetime: Ohio U and American. Am I exaggerating? Look at the history of the last 33 seasons and show me something that compares. At the beginning of the season, the odds of Maryland losing consecutive home games to those two opponents would have been the equivalent of betting on Joe Biden to win the 2008 Presidential election.

Perhaps equally surprising is what has happened in the last two games. Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, the Terps are displaying signs of righting the ship. Has our nightmare ended? Is "normalcy" returning? 25+ point wins are what Maryland teams do to the Savannah States of the world. Have the "bizarro Terps" been put to pasture?

By my measure, the real kernel of hope is what I know about Gary Williams and his teams.

Here's what I mean. Couldn't you see the loss to American coming? The quality of the Terp's performance had steadily declined since the Illinois win. The American loss was the rock bottom moment. Strangely, this is often the place where Gary Williams shines.

Need I remind you of the Florida State loss in 2001? Leaving Cole Fieldhouse to boos and fans yelling "Good Luck in the NIT"; Gary transformed a season on the brink of disaster into, at the time, what was the greatest Maryland season in history.

Are two blowout wins against subpar opponents enough to convince you that this year's squad has the same potential? Me either. But I am encouraged. What's more, just like I could feel a loss to American coming; I felt like Maryland was going to perform well these last two games. Maybe it was Greivis' comment "We stink!" after the American game, but I just felt like something was going to be different this week.

There is no ego left in any of the players. It is all about the team now. At 8-6, it may be too late, but if they can build on these two wins and but together a good start to the ACC (the schedule is favorable!), then it could be possible to salvage the season.

January 5th at Charlotte will be the barometer. Were the last two games the anomaly or the new norm?

More than anthing, I just want the program to be relevant again. When Dickie V finishes his recovery and acceptance speech at the Ironic Illness Awards in February, I want him to be talking about the incredible turnaround in College Park. A dream? Perhaps. But if anyone can make it a reality, it is Gary Williams.
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