Before getting to the links, a quick note on the NIT. As everyone's already said by now, it can be a great thing for a program, what with the added playing time and a chance for a young team to get more experience in a single-elimination format. Can be. The last two champions show both the possibilities and the dangers: Wichita State won it in 2011, and the next year they went 27-6 and were a 5 seed in the NCAAs. Stanford won it last year, and were expected to be a tourney team this year; instead, they're right back there this year.
Here's hoping Maryland can take advantage of the added time - more time for Dezmine Wells to cultivate his go-to-guy persona, more time to Pe`Shon Howard to continue his rehabilitation, and more time for Nick Faust to find himself off the ball. If this gets approached right, and handled right afterwards, it can be quite useful.
Throwback: Maryland met Niagara in the 1972 NIT title game
And Maryland won, 100-69. Len Elmore had a triple double with 16 points, 15 boards, and a ridiculous 11 blocks. Guessing Dez Wells will summon the spirit of Elmore for this one.
Dez named to ACC All-Tournament team
The other four players all were in the title game. He more than deserved that recognition; it was an insane three games from him. Obviously he seemed to run out of steam, physically and mentally, against Carolina. But if he can bring that same intensity every game next year, with rest in-between games, he's going to be a monster.
Feinstein: Maryland came up short, but has come a long way under Mark Turgeon
I'm wary about making any sort of pronouncements about progress; I think it's a fool's errand until the progress is evident in results. We've seen false dawns here, and we see them in every sport. But it's damned tough not to be hugely encouraged by those past three games. And it's good to see a semi-national type like Feinstein, loathsome though he may be, recognizing as much and giving Turgeon some positive pub.
Turgeon sums up the difference in atmosphere this year
A few weeks ago: "I'm not sure I wanted this season to keep going. These guys were tough to coach." Now? "I'm just having a blast coaching them. I'm having so much fun. ... What this group's done in the last three weeks is pretty amazing."
We kept looking for wins as the turning points. Maryland beat State? This is where they turn the corner. Nope. Oh, they beat Duke, surely now they've grown up. Nope. Truth of it is that teams don't grow up when they win; they grow up when they lose, when they have to face adversity. And for this team, it took going on the road to Georgia Tech and getting pasted, then regrouping as as one, to finally mature. But, judging by those three games, mature they did.
Or so I hope, at least.
On that final Logan Aronhalt shot
Yes, it was by design. Not sure why anyone would even question that; Logan had an absolutely great look if he just curled off the screen a little tighter. Instead, he took it too wide and ended up 25 feet away from the basket, panicked and unbalanced. Shame, too, because with 10 seconds left it's not a shot he had to take.
Get your NIT tickets for $25, right here
Or you can get the NIT package, for all three theoretically possible home games. Usually I don't shill for tickets, but with the students on spring break people who can get to the games really should go. Getting to watch this team play more basketball will be a treat, and they deserve some support after the showing they put on in Greensboro.
Vasquez on Turgeon: "I know we're going to be okay"
Vaz was around quite a bit that year when Gary was still in town; I'd like to see him back near the program as much as possible in the future, too, which has been something Turgeon's pushed anyway with the family initiative. As the last major Gary player, he'd definitely help to bridge the gap between the two coaches. And his love for Maryland, well, it's tough not to love the guy.
By the way, dude's still killing it in the league.
Testudo Times bracket challenge instructions
Head over and get a bracket up.