Archives for posts with tag: Back to School

Heading into Maryland’s National Semifinal game with UConn, one felt that it was possible for the Terps to beat the Huskies–but the path to victory resembled bringing Apollo 13 back from space.  We were talking about a 40-point checklist-and if one item was amiss, Tom Hanks was going to burn up in the atmosphere or float away into space (one would also have accepted a “Back to School” reference where Thornton Mellon faced a 1-question exam–in 29 parts).  The Terps actually took an 8-7 lead and were playing a one-possession game (down 22-19) against the Huskies with 9 minutes left in the first half…until the checklist began to toll against coach Brenda Frese’s team that resulted in an 81-58 loss.

Sunday’s Keys—

1-Keep Brionna Jones active inside and out of foul trouble– the sophomore sat most of the first half with two personal fouls.  Minus their low post meal ticket (she picked up foul #2 with 16:04 left and the score tied at 10), the Terps shot 6 of 14 and turned the ball over 5 times over the next 11 minutes.  UConn went on a 24-13 run to take the lead for good.

2-Rebounds and Turnovers– the Terps were outrebounded 35-28 and committed 13 turnovers (8 in the first half). One cannot give a team like UConn extra shots and/or possessions.  Breanna Stewart & Morgan Tuck outrebounded the Terps starting bigs 17-6.  Ouch…

3-Transition Team– the fast break never got in gear against a very quick UConn team that gave the Terps very few chances to run for easy baskets.  Facing a halfcourt Huskies defense, their size disadvantage was amplified.

4-Boost off the Bench– Brene Moseley shined in a reserve role…notching 12 points and 4 assists in 21 minutes.   Unfortunately, the Terps needed another monster effort or two from their subs– especially with Jones in foul trouble and the Huskies handcuffing senior Laurin Mincy (1-5 shooting, 6 turnovers).


Senior Sayonara– sad to see Mincy not have her best game on her final night playing for the Terps…but what a career for the guard from Newark, NJ.  Despite suffering two torn ACL’s (wiping out her senior year of high school and most of her junior season at Maryland), Laurin scored 1,379 career points and provided the necesary leadership with a very young team this past winter (3 starters were sophomores).  Best wishes to Laurin–as it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to cover her since she walked on Campus in 2010.


Next Year–  the bar has always been there.  It’s UConn (and Notre Dame to a lesser degreee).  How does an elite program like Maryland scale the “super-ultra-premium-elite” wall?  It’s tough for a program that’s made two straight Final Fours and just wrapped up an unbeaten conference season to say to itself in the mirror, “we need to get even better”.  It’s a challenge for a squad with three returning All-Big Ten players to the starting lineup to remark, “we have deficiencies that need to be addressed”.  To get to UConn’s level, the Terps need athletic size inside and more consistent shooting on the perimeter.  Can those needs be met with the players returning this fall?  Unless either of the 5-star recruits Kiah Gillespie and Brianna Fraser rock the world from day one on campus, it’ll have to be.  The road to Indianapolis begins today…

He was told to slide… but instead leading with his feet, Robert Griffin III dove head-first. And the semantics of the slide when it comes to a quarterback in the NFL is that feet first means the play is dead immediately while head-first the play plays out. And a fumble is definitely a fumble. And a slide is definitely underway at 0-3 and last in the NFC (we did the quickie math on the tiebreakers). Is there that big of a difference between 0-2 and 0-3? Looking at the NFL stats: 8.8 percent of 0-2 teams reach the postseason while 2.6 percent of 0-3 teams eventually get to the playoffs. While 0-2’s make it more than three times as much as 0-3’s… you’re still under 10%. Great time for a cross-country flight to a stadium with a nasty fan base and nastier plumbing.

Turnovers new to the RG3 menu– yes, the face of the franchise threw for 326 yards (his third 300+ yard effort to open the season)…but a red zone interception pulled at least 3 points off the board. You could argue the semi-slide fumble cost them 3 more. And he recovered two more of his own fumbles: while they only had time for one more play at the end of the first half….his fumble in the fourth quarter that turned a 2nd and 10 to 3rd and 20 was disastrous. He had 5 interceptions all last year– and now RG3 2.0 has 4 picks after three weeks.

Mr. Morris needs to fill up at the Max– It’s an effect and not a cause of the Skins averaging a 15 point halftime deficit. After three games the Zak Attack on the ground has just 40 attempts. Alfred’s 30-yard scamper for a touchdown was the team’s first TD in the first half this year…and they need more early opportunities and production from #46 if they’re to turn things around. Otherwise it’s like dining out on a caesar salad at the Max.

Receiving and Giving– while Pierre Garcon (8-73) averaged less than 10 yards a catch, #88 provided RG3 with his money outlet on third down– three of the six converted third down passes went to Garcon. Santana Moss (7-77) is turning into a moving-the-chains machine this fall; 12 of his 15 grabs have moved the markers. If only Aldrick Robinson had held onto that deep shot in the fourth quarter…

In a Tight Spot– with Fred Davis sidelined due to injury, Logan Paulsen and Jordan Reed combined for 9 catches and 101 yards. As the final member of the legendary triumvirate (Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly continue to provide late-era Vinny memories)…one wonders if with his injury and suspension issues over the years if Davis is done.

Third and…what happened?– After not converting a third down in the first half over the first two weeks…the Skins moved the chains 4 of 6 times before intermission Sunday. After halftime, a different story: 2 for 7. RG3 threw 12 passes (completing ) while scrambling once. The yardage breakdown: 2-4 on 3rd & short (1-3 yards needed), 3-4 on 3rd & midrange (4-6) and 1-5 on 3rd & long (7+).

D earns a C– you could say they’re getting better…allowing less than 30 points and 450 yards for the first time all season is nice, but those are not standards you want to shoot for. DeAngelo Hall’s pick six was nice… but it was the team’s first interception-period-of the season. One sack for the defense on an afternoon where Matthew Stafford threw 42 passes. And let the record show that although the defense is ranked last overall, they’re 30th against the run and the pass. Fuzzy math, indeed.

Safety Concerns– Brandon Merriweather played! The silver bullet after dealing with post-concussion and league-fine syndrome notched 7 tackles and 2 assists. Shame he can’t play more than one position in the secondary.

Tracking the Triumvirate II– Good thing Merriweather was able to play a full four quarters…because Bacarri Rambo’s day ended in the first quarter due to cramping up. David Amerson tallied 2 tackles and an assist whle defending a pair of passes. Chase Minnifield remains on track to earn the Malcolm Kelly award as he was inactive again. I’ll set my alarm clock…

Cobra Kai– John Potter filled in again this week at kicker as Kai Forbath’s groin injury resembles Zabka’s cramp during the Great Lakes University’s big diving meet in “Back to School”. While kicking 21 and 43 yarders is far from the Triple Lindy… the longer Forbath’s on the shelf the more the easier it becomes for Murray to pass the one-question test (in 27 parts).

Flying Flags– only 6 penalties for 45 yards this time…but it’s the quality of as opposed to the quantity of infractions that hurt this team. Both defensive penalties resulted in first downs for the Lions… while two offensive flags wiped out first downs made by the Skins and another (Chester False Start) turned a 3rd and 6 into 3rd an 11. With a team that needs every break, every flag hurts all the more…

Dissecting the Division– Dallas takes the lead at 2-1 thanks to a 31-7 rout of St. Louis while Philadelphia holds down second place despite looking like a mess the last two weeks. The Giants (0-2 in the NFC) have a marginal tiebreaker over the Skins (0-3) for third place in the division. But this is the same team that was a weak fourth place after nine weeks last year.

NFC Least– when is it no longer too early to look at the division’s composite record? I’d even say three weeks is too soon…but the NFC East is 3-9…1-7 against the rest of the league. The AFC East (9-3) owns the early lead… but let’s wait a little longer for the Bills and Jets to prove they aren’t blatant dumpster fires before we turn them into the SEC.