One more game until the Terps are champions
Who would have guessed that Maryland would be up on Kansas by 20 points with about six minutes to go in the game? Who would have guessed that Drew Gooden would be held in single digits until late in the second half? Who would have guessed that Maryland could beat Kansas with Lonny Baxter scoring only 4 points? No one… at least not me.
This Maryland team is an awesome of example of what a deep bench and excellent senior leadership can bring to a team. The Maryland Terrapins beat the Kansas Jayhawks 97-88 Sunday night in Atlanta Georgia in front of thousands of screaming fans. The game was not won by a buzzer beater, it wasn't a fight to the last minute, and in fact the game was well in hand at halftime.
The Jayhawks came out the gates strong, opening the game with a 13-2 run. The Terps responded with a flurry of three's and excellent frontcourt work. The greatest leaper in the collegiate ranks, Chris Wilcox helped Maryland compete with Kansas for boards, which ultimately helped Maryland take the lead.
Wilcox also helped shut down Gooden, forcing him into foul trouble early. Jeff Boschee was Kansas's only consistent player and he was on fire all night. But no one player can beat this team of Terrapins.
With Baxter also in foul trouble early, he was limited to only 14 minutes in the entire game. Juan Dixon took over the game and hoisted the team onto his 160-pound frame. He led the Terps the entire game, scoring 33 points.
The Jayhawks couldn't find anyone to stop Dixon, they tried three different defenders and he torched them all. Eventually they switched to a zone, and he torched that too.
The other key to Maryland's success was the superb bench play. With Baxter in foul trouble Tahj Holden picked up the slack, easily having his best game of the season. Kansas's bench comprised of three freshmen couldn't match up with the Maryland's more experienced bench. Drew Nicholas, Ryan Randle, and Holden played huge roles in the victory.
On Monday night in the championship game Maryland will be the heavy favorite and rightfully so. They shouldn't have too much of problem beating Indiana.
Physically Maryland's frontcourt should pound the much smaller Hoosiers. The four Maryland studs that make up the best frontcourt in the nation should give Jared Jeffries and company a hard time. Jeffries has talent, he's tall, and is a proven player, but he is also skinny. And so are his backups George Leech and Jeff Newton. All of Maryland's forwards and centers are beefy and will be able to toss the much lighter frontcourt around.
Indiana is far less talented than the Terps, but they make up for it with heart. They play with passion, leaving everything on the court. Every night they come to win and that is why they have been successful in beating two teams that have beaten Maryland, Duke and Oklahoma. But neither of those teams have a frontcourt like the Terps.
Indiana however has excellent guard play. Led by the injured Tom Coverdale the Hoosiers backcourt is something to be reckoned with. All of the players that make up their backcourts can shoot and when they're on they're on.
Against Kent State they were able to go 15-19 as a team behind the arc. On Sunday night they were a perfect 6 for 6 in the second half against a tough Oklahoma defense. Stopping the trifecta will be key for the Terps, if they are going to beat this Cinderella squad.
The only way I can see Maryland losing to Indiana is if the Terps get comfortable with a fifteen-point lead in the closing minutes and start to slack. Against a team like Indiana, that can shoot the ball this could be deadly. Honestly, I can't see Gary Williams or Juan Dixon for that matter letting it happen to games in a row.
Cal's Call: The Terps will win by 8 on Lonny Baxter's back. The final score will be 92-84.
Calvin Anderson. Calvin Anderson was born in Washington D.C. on January 3rd 1986. He now lives with his mom in Takoma Park Maryland. Calvin is the man behind the infamous column Cal's Call. In addition to writing his column he enjoys playing sports including lacrosse and basketball … More »