March 16, 2004
By Brian Litvack
Team Of The Week
Def. #14 Wake Forest, 87-86
Def. #20 N.C. State, 85-82
Def. #4Duke, 95-87
John Gilchrist looked for an opening at the top of the key as the final seconds ticked away. Even before he could make his move he was bailed out by a touch foul on Wake Forest. Gilchrist stepped to the line and hit the game-winning free throw that allowed Maryland to make it out of the first round of the ACC tournament and probably secure a bid to everybody's favorite collegiate gala.
Gilchrist and Maryland seized the opportunity the rest of the weekend by engineering stunning comebacks to shock both NC State and Duke. The Terps came back from a 19-point halftime deficit against the Wolfpack by dropping 59 in the second half. The comebacks came back the next day against Duke as Maryland forced overtime, and eventually were crowned champions after being down 12 with three and a half minutes left.
Maryland's team is extremely young and at times inconsistent, but they played with the tenacity and passion of a team that can be great. John Gilchrist is turning into a leader and a star and carries himself on the court with the edge of a pre-2003 Gary Payton.
The Terps' remarkable week started with them squarely on the bubble. After three thrilling victories over top 15 teams, Maryland has catapulted to a four seed in the Phoenix region and is considered to be one of the most dangerous teams in the tournament.
Player Of The Week
Ben Gordon, UConn
Gordon was sensational this week in leading UConn to the BIG EAST Championship. His three game total of 81 points broke Allan Iverson's tournament record. With Emeka Okafor's back keeping him out of the lineup, Gordon became the focal point of the UConn offense. He delivered with two 29-point performances to help advance UConn to a championship showdown against Pittsburgh.
Although Okafor was in the lineup, Gordon's performance was the difference in defeating the Panthers. Gordon's huge second half rallied UConn back from an 11-point deficit.
In the three wins Gordon averaged 27 points and 7.6 boards while draining nine threes. If he can sustain this play, and if Okafor is healthy, UConn comes home from San Antonio with some new hardware for the trophy case.
Line Of The Week
Not even the unveiling of a new Ben & Jerry's flavor or a rendition of the national anthem by Phish could outshine the performance of Vermont's Taylor Coppenrath in the American East final. Coppenrath, the two-time conference player of the year was putting together another stellar season when he cracked his wrist in mid-February.
Coppenrath's first game back was last Saturday in the conference final. Only four days after having his cast removed, and with only a few practices under his belt, Coppenrath did the Green Mountain state proud with this ridiculous state line:
The March To Danger
The Shot Heard 'Round Greensboro
Early in the second half of Friday night's quarterfinal between Wake Forest and Maryland there was a loud bang. It wasn't a shot clock violation, a Caner-Medley slam or a Gary Williams tirade. Rather, it was off-duty police officer and spectator Darren I. Sanders who managed to accidentally shoot himself in the behind with a .40-caliber Glock.
Why Sanders was carrying a gun is not exactly clear, and is something that he better have an explanation for in the courtroom if he wants to beat a misdemeanor charge.
Sanders stood to cheer a play and as he sat down he went to adjust the gun. Perhaps it was a wardrobe malfunction, but Sanders came a little too close to paying the ultimately price, especially for merely admiring a Chris Paul lay-up.
Go figure, but Sanders has been tied to Baltimore Raves owner Steve Bisciotti and football player Ray Lewis, who were taking in the tournament from nearby seats.
The Shots Heard 'Round CBS
During CBS's selection show Billy Packer was adamant that Saint Joseph's did not deserve the No. 1 seed. Packer believed that Oklahoma State was the more deserving team and stated, "I don't think St. Joseph's can beat Oklahoma State, Texas and Pittsburgh."
Packer's strong comments were called out only minutes later by St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli, who was interviewed on the very same program. Martelli challenged, "All the doubters to line up and play" and questioned (we hope rhetorically) "Is Billy Packer playing for a team?"
It is now official; Phil Martelli has worn out his welcome.
For much of the year Martelli and his team were a breath of fresh air in the college game for the way they played, conducted themselves and how they upheld the ideals of college basketball. But as the season has progressed Martelli has continued to yap away, and now he doesn't only look like James Carville but he talks like him as well. Hey Phil, your job is too coach and Packer's job is to analyze. Let's keep it that way.
John Gilchrist led Maryland to an improbable ACC title.