Monday, January 10, 2005


On January 22, 2003, Maryland gave UNC one of their worst losses in recent history when they administered a 99-59 ass-beating at the Comcast Center. Well, apparently Saturday Maryland's bill came due because the Tarheels throttled the Terrapins 109-75. This was UNC's first victory against a ranked ACC opponent (Maryland was 21st), but the outcome wasn't all that dissimilar to the four creampuff games UNC played over the holiday break.

If there's a bright spot for the Terrapins, it's that they should be able to take solace in the fact that they're five points better than the William & Mary team that got spanked six days prior (a special shout out to my junior high algebra teacher, Mrs. McLamb, for the transitive property on the UNC-to-Maryland-to-William & Mary connection on that one). And as long as I'm giving out back-handed compliments, I think Nik Caner-Medley leads the NCAA's in flagrant fouls against players getting ready to dunk on him via alley-oop. He was whistled twice Saturday, which I think brings his season total to 300. So congrats to him on that distinction.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Reyshawn Terry's performance (although I'm guessing he'd probably like to forget the picture on the right; I found it at, and it's wrong on a number of levels). If Roy Williams had played Terry the whole game, he was on pace to score 40 points. Instead he scored 11 points, had a big three in the first half and a nice alley-oop and block in the second half.

After Saturday's game, Melvin Scott was asked about the 99-59 loss from two seasons ago and his comments sounded familiar:
...many of the same players who suffered with that humiliation -- which seemed "light years away," according to reserve guard Melvin Scott -- helped humiliate the Terrapins.

"It was all worth it," Scott said. "We went through that for a reason."
To be honest, I'd all but forgotten (or maybe blocked out is a better term) that game -- along with the other 20 from the season before (you know, the dark days of the Adam Boone and Brian Morrison era). Anyway, what's really encouraging about this season is that this is the same starters from a 2003-2004 team that finished 19-11 and were .500 in the ACC. Except now it seems that they trust each other, play better defense, run the fast-break more effectively, and are playing unselfishly -- basically everything Roy Williams hoped to do when he arrived in Chapel Hill in 2003.

Of course the News & Observer's Caulton Tudor makes an obvious but important point -- and he makes it using a Hollywood comparison:
For those North Carolina basketball fans who are thinking that nothing can possibly go wrong with this superstar team, I implore you to remember these five vitally important words: Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt.
I don't know what it says about me that I have to get my E! gossip news from a newspaper that is the geographical center of the Bible-belt, but Tudor's right. If it sounds familiar (the sports stuff, not Pitt and Aniston rumors) it should -- it's the same point Bill Cowher's been telling anyone who'll listen all season: games during the regular season are important, but if you let that obscure your post-season goals, it won't matter.

Speaking of the Steelers, it looks like Curtis Martin will get his wish and the Jets will get to play in Heinz Field on Saturday. And given how well the Colts played yesterday, I'm ecstatic about New York coming to Pittsburgh and Indianapolis going to New England.

Quick aside: I've grown weary of commentators still extolling the greatness of the Patriots -- even after losing to the Dolphins -- but like I mentioned to my buddy Andy the other day, if you want people to quit talking about the Pats, you've got to beat them in the playoffs. But before that happens, the Pats need to beat the Colts and the Steelers need to beat the Jets. And if the Patriots, sans CBs Tyrone Poole and Ty Law, and with a rookie free agent and a backup linebacker starting in the defensive backfield, are able to beat a Colts team that can seemingly score at will, then I'll keep my trap shut, at least until the AFC Conference Championship game -- if the Steelers can get past the Jets.

As long as I'm talking about the Jets, I didn't watch all of the San Diego game, but I saw enough to know that Pennington's arm still looks weak. Couple that with the fact that Deshea Townsend, Chad Scott, Kendrell Bell, Clark Haggans, Duce Staley, Jerome Bettis and Plaxico Burress should all be ready to go -- and that Bell, Burress, Staley and Haggans (for most of the game) didn't play in the first matchup -- and I'm looking forward to next Saturday (as long as Plax can go a week without having to deal with burglars or beat up relatives).

Oh yeah, one more thing: Smack! Pow! Crank! Biff! That's the sound of me getting donkey-punched Batman-style after my week 18 picks. Stay hot.