At some point, the Maryland Terrapins are going to have to figure out how to win on the road. Unfortunately, it increasingly seems like it won't happen this year.
The Terps once again disappointed in a winnable road game, dealing another blow to their fledgling momentum and quickly-deflating postseason hopes. This time it was at 10th-in-the-ACC Georgia Tech, with Maryland putting up another lackluster display that's become commonplace for games played out of the cozy confines of the Comcast Center. They were out-shot, going 42% from the floor (and a heinous 4-19 from three) to GT's comfortable 51%; they were out-executed, losing in both the assist and turnover battles; they were even out-rebounded, with GT's Daniel Miller and Robert Carter dominating the boards and combining for 19 rebounds.
It was a game lacking in much intensity and even more lacking in execution. Georgia Tech went on a 10-0 run in the first half to jump out to a 10-point lead, one which they'd hold the rest of the game, with Maryland only ever making moderately dangerous runs. Another GT run, this time a 7-0 burst in the second half, gave the Yellow Jackets a 14 point lead with just over twelve minutes to play, and things never again got genuinely close. They would see things out from there, coasting home with a 78-68 victory - a scoreline that may actually flatter Maryland a bit, and will certainly frustrate them.
It will frustrate their fans, too, and virtually anyone who watched the game. Maryland has had more than a few opportunities this year to notch wins that would build momentum and build their resumé, wins that were far from unrealistic - and, in fact, expected, in some cases. They've dropped most of those games when they've come on the road, mostly because they lack composure and they lack execution every time they take to the road.
We've already come to the conclusion that this team isn't as good as we hoped and thought they would be, something that became obvious midway through the year, and nowhere is that fact more obvious than on the road, where they continually underperform.
Of course, that underperformance does make sense, in some respect. I'm generally unsympathetic to the "young team" argument, but there's no questioning that it makes road games - already a difficult proposition in college basketball, where it has an eight-point effect compared to playing at home - even more difficult. And when Maryland seems to be making such great strides at home, where they're 5-1 in their last six, yet continually struggling on the road ... well, it at the very least helps explain things. And it's at the very least a mitigating factor when it comes to assessing the Terps' wider progress from a game like this or Boston College.
That doesn't make this any less frustrating, mind you. It's borderline infuriating, in fact. And plenty of questions - about Mark Turgeon's substitution patterns, about Pe`Shon Howard's poor showing, about Nick Faust's six turnovers, about Maryland's complete lack of a shooter, about the Terps' shockingly inconsistent defensive outings - are as salient as ever.
But then these are the same questions that have been salient virtually all year long. Just like the Boston College game, the only thing tonight really taught us is that Maryland hasn't grown up in the last week and has not turned any kind of corner; they're still young, they're still inconsistent, and they're still just plain not as good as we want them to be.
We'll have more, but let's get the obvious out of the way before we leave you: if Maryland still had NCAA Tournament hopes after the loss to Boston College, and I think they did, it's really tough to have them now. Anything short of winning out and adding another two victories in the ACC Tournament will probably put them on the outside of the bubble. And it's just not realistic to expect that.
Always nice to leave on a happy note. (And as always after a loss, please be rational; anger is fine - hell, after a display like that, it's encouraged, but random rants aren't.)