I used the title of victory because I feel like that was the best word to sum up this season and being able to prove everyone wrong and make it to the NCAAs. As a team that was picked to finish 11th or 12th by most ACC writers (note, most of those writers come from the great state of North Carolina and are the same ones who have the lover affair with North Carolina players when All-ACC selection time comes around), this team has over come a lot.
1. They've overcome being undersized. When your biggest guy on the court most nights is 6'7"-6'8", it's not always easy to win. But Maryland was able to some how overcome this weakness this year, for the most part, and able to get enough key wins to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Credit Gary a lot for this. When people told him he couldn't do it, I think he took it personally and showed that yes you can.
2. Gary-gate. After a 3 part series on Gary and the state of the basketball program by the Washington Post in which the paper printed the most words about a person since Richard Nixon and Watergate, Gary and his team rebounded to criticism about this year's team and the program in general to make a final push at the end of the season and in the ACC tourney to capture an at-large bid. They also did so amid a scuffle between Gary and the Athletic Department (the result of bad reporting by the Sun and the Athletic Department making assumptions) and repeated criticism by people.
3. Pressure to prove everyone wrong. This team had to come out and give 120% on most nights, just to prove their critics wrong, and was constantly under the microscope from not only local media, but national media, and that can wear on a team. I think this team could be one of Gary's best coaching performances. His coaching has made players on this team, often under-sized and not as athletic, perform better then anyone ever expected them to. He's gotten the best out of Neal, Hayes and others all year. If you really think Gary needs to step down, I hope you realize that there are about 5 other coaches in the nation that could have done what Gary did this year. Sometimes you don't realize what you have until it's gone, but I sure as hell know we have one of the best X's and O's coaches in America.
4. Never panicking. After loses to Morgan State (not as bad now since the Bears are also dancing) and to UVA, this team never panicked and often used a tough loss to fuel a good, big win (see UNC and NC State/Wake).
We'll get a preview of Cal up here ASAP.
WE'RE DANCING BABY!!!
What are your thoughts about this season? Is this one of Gary's best coaching jobs ever?