UM-Va. game postponed until Monday

February 09, 2010|By Jeff Barker | jeff.barker@baltsun.com | Baltimore Sun reporter

The Maryland Terrapins, who have won their four Atlantic Coast Conference games at Comcast Center by an average of 19points, finally encountered an insurmountable foe in their backyard: the weather.

Maryland's game with Virginia, originally scheduled for tonight, was postponed until Monday because of the second powerful winter storm to hit the region in the past five days. The postponement means Maryland (16-6, 6-2 ACC) must play three games in five days, beginning Saturday at first-place Duke, which leads the Terps by a half-game.

It's worse for Virginia. Not only do the Cavaliers also face three games in five days -- a situation that does not normally occur in the ACC schedule -- but Virginia also traveled three hours to Maryland by bus only to return without playing a game.

Because of the short turnaround between games, the Terps are expected to rest today and practice Thursday and Friday. A news conference with coach Gary Williams was postponed because of the weather, and other basketball officials could not be reached for comment.

Trying to beat the storm, the Cavaliers came in Monday, spent the night at a Greenbelt hotel, then headed back to Charlottesville, Va., late Tuesday morning after the postponement decision was made by Maryland, Virginia and the ACC.

"The challenging thing now for both teams is three games in five days without as much preparation time, but you make the best of that and look at it as another challenge," Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said.

Maryland managed to play its game against North Carolina on Sunday after one of the biggest snowstorms ever in the region.

But university officials said the combination of two storms in such a short span made playing the Virginia game even more problematic.

It's not only that many roads, parking lots and sidewalks remain snow-covered or only partially cleared. It's also the timing. The new storm could still be over the region until the originally scheduled game time of 7p.m.

"We didn't anticipate the storm being finished before we were out there trying to get people into the game," said Mark Sparks, the university's interim chief of police. "All the local governments are reeling from this [earlier] storm. A lot of the major thoroughfares are reduced down to one lane."

Maryland said it needed to make the decision early rather than wait until Tuesday afternoon to see what developed.

"We needed to make a decision this morning because we needed to stop UVa. from traveling here, which they were about to," said Frank Brewer, Maryland's associate vice president for facilities management.

But it turned out Virginia had already arrived.

"It's really an unprecedented situation. I've worked for the university for 38 years and never faced 2 feet on the ground and another 12 or more inches predicted," Brewer said.

"I'd like to play the game, too, but just wanting to play it is not enough."

Tickets for the Virginia game will be honored Monday. The start time was still being determined.

Maryland plays at Duke on Saturday, hosts Virginia two days later, then plays at North Carolina State two days after that.

ACC basketball official Karl Hicks said earlier in the season that the league is trying to avoid having teams play two league games in three days.

The Terrapins are one of just three schools in the conference this season to play an originally scheduled league home game followed by a road contest two days later.

Miami and Duke are the others.

Now, Maryland -- which opened the conference season with a similarly quick turnaround -- will be doing it again.

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