"Missed it by that much," as Maxwell Smart would say, has become the much too common theme for this year's Maryland team. But despite their improved play of late, only losing to Duke and Syracuse by a combined four points, last night's loss was effectively the nail in the coffin for this year's team in terms of their NCAA hopes, which were a long shot before the game. If they want to dance in 2014, they're going to need to become Maryland circa 2004 and have a somewhat miraculous run through the ACC tournament. And while I'm sure no team wants to face Maryland in the ACC Tourney right now, it would still take an epic performance by Maryland to pull something like that off.
After last night's loss, there were some interesting moments in the post game press conference. After yet another close loss to a very good team, you sensed head coach Mark Turgeon was frustrated.
"The disappointing thing tonight is that Syracuse was ripe to be beaten," Turgeon said following his team's loss Monday night.
"They just had an emotional game Saturday and [Jerami] Grant got hurt. It was right there for us and we just couldn't get it going. I think we are better than them in this building if we play the way we are capable and don't turn it over the way we did. They won the game. Give them credit."
Turgeon's frustrations also showed when he spoke about Nick Faust's last shot not drawing a foul call.
"I thought Nick got fouled. And I think the replay showed that. But it's been that kind of year for us.They didn't call it and they win the game."
I don't think Turgeon was complaining about the officiating in general, but rather was frustrated by a close play that could have allowed his team to tie the game.
After Turgeon's press conference, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim was asked what he thought about the Faust play, after a reporter began a question asking what Boeheim thought about the play that Turgeon believed should have been a foul. Boeheim didn't take too kindly to that, interrupting the reporter mid-question.
"First of all, let me tell you this; they shot 27 free throws," Boeheim said. "If anybody is going to complain about the officiating, I'm going to complain and I think I did enough of that Saturday. I don't think I have to repeat that again."
That got a lot of the press in the room laughing, but Boeheim wasn't finished.
"But there were five times when we saw them going to the basket that there was no foul and there was a foul called. Five times. So you want to talk about one play, I'll talk about five times. If they didn't turn it over 18 times, they wouldn't have to worry about that. Complain about that call, [you've got] to be kidding me."
Boeheim was clearly annoyed that Turgeon would say anything about that play and then took the opportunity to complain about the officials himself. I personally don't understand his lashing out at Turgeon and Maryland because he was upset the officials only sent his team to the line six times.
Boeheim was clearly frustrated himself, but I don't see the necessity to attack Turgeon and Maryland like that in the process, whether he was right or wrong about what he said.
The other takeaway from last night was Dez Wells' reaction after the game. Dez is never someone who will say something negative about anyone on his team. But you get the sense that he's frustrated and that he might try to put this team on his back, especially during the ACC Tournament.
"We have bad plays, we have good plays, it's all part of the game," Wells said Monday night. "They're a good team, we're a good team, we could have won this game just like we could have won against Duke and Virginia and all the good teams we have been playing really close. Something has to happen and that's something me and Coach Turgeon are going to talk about and I'm just going to put it on my shoulders to figure out what we need to do and what needs to happen for us to take that jump."
Wells said he and his teammates are going to have to just continue to try to get better, noting that their season isn't over yet.
"We just made bad passes. I mean you guys saw the game. We've got to do better, watch film tomorrow morning, work out, and build off of this. It's not the end of the world. Our season is not over until the ACC tournament is over. We still have a chance, I'm ready, my teammates are ready and were going to go on a run."
For Maryland, going on a run will need to involve winning the ACC Tournament. Maybe they can recapture the magic of 2004 in what will be their last trip to Greensboro. But if this season so far is any indication, they'll miss it by that much, yet again.