Terps-Blue Devils rematch promises to be 4-star entertainment

  • Mike Krzyzewski discusses a call during the last Maryland-Duke game.
Mike Krzyzewski discusses a call during the last Maryland-Duke… (AP photo )
March 01, 2010|By Kevin Cowherd

The rematch of Maryland vs. Duke was always going to be big. Now it's a Hollywood blockbuster. Playing Wednesday at Comcast Center: "Maryland-Duke II: Revenge of the Red-Hot Turtles."

I see Harrison Ford as the explosive Gary Williams. Diego Luna as the mercurial Greivis Vasquez. Fred Armisen from "Saturday Night Live" could play the evil Coach K and pick any five young guys to play the Blue Devils starters - at least that's how Terps Nation would cast it.

Then grab your $12 tub of popcorn and trash-can sized Pepsi, sit back and enjoy. This one promises to be a doozie.

If you're a Maryland fan, you have to love how the Terps are playing heading into this second meeting with Duke.

For starters, they've won five in a row, including that thrilling 104-100 double-OT win over Virginia Tech on Saturday night. And they've had different players step up big in different situations.

Sure, Vasquez, their sensational senior guard, was lights out - again - against the Hokies (41 points, seven rebounds, six assists), making big play after big play down the stretch.

But sophomore guard Sean Mosley finished with 17 points, including six in the second overtime. And senior guard Eric Hayes was money from the free-throw line in the second extra period, too, hitting four huge free throws at game's end.

You've got to love the Terps' collective mind-set now, too, and their steely resolve to just win, baby.

It would have been easy to lose focus after all the craziness that followed the broken-water-main fiasco at Cassell Coliseum the other night.

Let me get this straight: A van carrying beer for a pre-game party backed over a fire hydrant and caused a pipe to rupture? How do you back over a fire hydrant?

But through all the hassles and delays - the repairs kept going south; there was talk of canceling the game, then of playing it in an empty arena; the 4 p.m. tip-off was eventually pushed back three hours - the Terps kept their poise.

Now they get to focus on Duke and a new holy grail: A win Wednesday night would tie them with the Blue Devils for first place in the ACC.

"It's great to be locked in the second position in the ACC," Mosley said after the Terps' win in Blacksburg. "The ACC's been up and down. But going against Duke on Wednesday is going to be tough."

The smart-aleck Dookies at Cameron Indoor Stadium like to taunt the Terps and their fans by chanting, "Not our rivals!"

This, of course, implies that Maryland isn't worthy of being considered a true rival, and that the Blue Devils' true rivals are the perpetually tanned Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels.

And the fact is, with Maryland having lost the past six meetings to Duke, the rivalry between the schools isn't what it used to be.

But who cares about all that now? A win Wednesday would move the Terps into first place in the ACC. And it would give them a higher seed in the NCAA tournament, too, as if they needed extra incentive.

To prepare for Duke, what the Terps should do now is remember that 77-56 beat-down Duke gave them in Durham a couple of weeks ago.

What the Blue Devils did was pretty simple: They keyed on Vasquez wherever he went and extended their perimeter defense to neutralize the outside shooting of Hayes, Mosley and Landon Milbourne.

And the taller Blue Devils dominated the boards, too, with 7-foot-1 center Brian Zoubek, 6-8 Kyle Singler and the 6-10 Plumlee brothers, Miles and Mason, who play with all the finesse of dockworkers. So long, Maryland fast break.

Sure, it didn't help that Zoubek turned into Bill Walton that night and scored a career-high 16 points and ripped down 17 rebounds. And that senior guard Jon Scheyer shredded the Maryland defense for 22 points.

But the Terps came out flat - how do you do that with all those screaming Cameron Crazies rocking the place? - and Duke took Maryland out of its offense after that.

This time, the Terps probably won't worry about a slow start - not with all that's at stake.

"We're going to be playing at home, and we've got a lot of support," Mosley said. "But we've got to maintain game control and stop the players that are scoring a lot.

"It's going to take everything again - same as in the Virginia Tech game. We've got to play hard for 40 minutes. We can't come out the first five or six minutes playing slow. We've got to come out fired-up like we have in the second half the last two games."

Should be a terrific game.

Terps Nation can't wait.

Listen to Kevin Cowherd on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. with Jerry Coleman onFox 1370 AM Sports.

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