No. 3 Maryland men’s basketball continues to impress in 2019, most recently with a 72-51 win over Notre Dame in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge Wednesday night.
With the victory, the Terps are off to a 9-0 start for the first time since 1998-99. That team, led by former coach Gary Williams, was ranked No. 2 at the time and won its ninth straight game on Dec. 6, 1998, taking down No. 5 Stanford, 62-60.
Let’s take a look at world looked like the last the Terps got off to this good of a start.
Gas cost less than a dollar
If you were driving to go see the Terps play — which would have been at Cole Field House and not Xfinity Center — it wouldn’t cost you much to get there. While the national average is currently at $2.58 per gallon, on this week in December 1998, it was only $0.95 dollars per gallon, per the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Mark Turgeon was coaching at Jacksonville State
Back in December 1998, the Terps’ leader was in the midst of his first season of his first head coaching job at Jacksonville State. Turgeon had just spent a year as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers under Larry Brown, whom he played and coached with at Kansas.
Turgeon went 8-18 in his first year with the Gamecocks, but made a huge turnaround to go 17-11 the following season. He then went on to lead Wichita State and Texas A&M before landing the gig in College Park.
Neither Maryland basketball program had won a national championship
The men’s team brought the university its first basketball national championship in 2002, while Maryland women’s basketball won it all in 2006. The men’s side hadn’t even been to a Final Four yet, with the program’s first appearance in 2001.
The 1998-99 Terps — which included the likes of junior Steve Francis, sophomore Terence Morris, freshman Juan Dixon and freshman Lonny Baxter — finished second in the ACC with a 13-3 record, but lost in the conference tournament semifinals to No. 15 North Carolina, 86-79.
Maryland then advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, where it suffered a 76-62 loss to St. John’s.
The country was in the midst of Bill Clinton’s impeachment proceedings
President Bill Clinton was in the midst of a major scandal and impeachment inquiry, though no formal decision had been made as of Dec. 6, 1998. The House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment on Dec. 19, but the Senate trail didn’t commence until January 1999.
John Elway was still slinging it
Hall of Famer John Elway was still active in the NFL in December 1998. The quarterback was in the midst of his final season of his career, in which he led the Denver Broncos to win Super Bowl XXXIII. Elway was named the MVP in that game, leading the Broncos to defeat the Atlanta Falcons, 34-7. He then announced his retirement in May 1999.
I was only a few months old
The last time a season started this well for Maryland, I surely wouldn’t have been able to write about it, as I couldn’t even talk at the time. I was born in August 1998, so I was just a few months old at the time the Terps took down the Cardinals to start 9-0.
And many of the players that have helped Maryland get off to this hot start in 2019 weren’t even born yet. In fact, 11 of the 16 players on the roster weren’t yet in existence.