The best way to describe the tumultuous 2008-2009 season for the Maryland Terrapins is by the use of two words that are not often paired together: effectively inconsistent.
There were shining moments: A 84-71 first round NCAA Tournament win over California, an early season rout of national runner-up Michigan State and an 88-85 home overtime win on February 21 over national champion North Carolina.
If not for its wins over North Carolina and Michigan State, Maryland’s 7-9 ACC record probably wouldn’t have been enough to receive an at-large bid. But those victories, coupled with two conference tournament wins, pushed the Terps into the field of 64.
This year’s Maryland team enters Assembly Hall on Tuesday coming off of back-to-back losses in the Maui Invitational to Cincinnati and Wisconsin. And their four wins, much like Indiana’s three, are nothing to write home about: Charleston Southern, Fairfield, New Hampshire and Chaminade.
Here’s what Tom Crean had to say following Saturday’s victory against Northwestern State about the crowd support he’s hoping to have on Tuesday:
“We’ve got to get this crowd just as great as it can possibly be and as nuts as it can possibly be. And tell the fire marshall to stay home that night. We’ll get him tickets right behind the bench, we’ll let him come. Police chief too. We just need them all in here. We need everybody in here to make this place nuts.”
BLOOMINGTON — It was a rough trip to Puerto Rico for Tom Crean and the Indiana Hoosiers. After beginning the season 2-0, Indiana dropped three straight games in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Tip-Off Classic to Ole Miss, Boston University and George Mason.
But after six days off and numerous practices that emphasized defense, Indiana returned to Assembly Hall with a convincing 90-72 win over Northwestern State on Saturday.
“We had a very good week of getting better,” Crean said following the win. “We’ve had a very good week of starting to learn our roles and what’s important.”
Maurice Creek and Christian Watford scored 17 points each for the Hoosiers (3-3).
Indiana shot 48 percent from the field, hit 34 of 44 free throws and had assists on 19 of its 25 field goals, led by 10 from Jeremiah Rivers.
“He took what the game gave him,” Crean said of Rivers. “I was very impressed with him. He really read the game well. I was very proud of the way he played.”
Northwestern State (2-2) cut the lead to nine at 59-50 with 10:37 remaining, but Indiana responded with a 8-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Verdell Jones, to put the game away.
“It just seemed like they were in their rhythm, and to me, they are rhythm players,” Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy said. “I thought they did a good job with that and looked improved from what I’ve seen.”
Up next: Maryland on Tuesday at 7:30 PM for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on ESPN2.
Dumes gets back on track: The 6-2 senior scored 11 points off the bench in 22 minutes. “I felt it was a better effort today. I bring the effort every time. I just played a little better today,” Dumes said. He added that his knee is feeling about 80 to 85 percent healthy.
Elston brings energy off the bench: The 6-9 freshman had 12 points, six rebounds and four steals off the bench in 18 minutes. “I rebounded well today, something that coach has been harping on me about,” Elston said.
This will be a much abbreviated GBU. In fact, it’s just going to be a short list of observations. I only caught the second half, and that was cut short by the Big Ten Network cutting to the Ohio State game with around six minutes left. Some people on the live blog said they had a second BTN for overflow, but after a scan through the channels, I came up empty.
He may have fouled out this afternoon, but Tom Pritchard looked alive on both ends of the floor during a stretch in the second half. He drew a charge, went strong to the hole on a couple occasions, and was active on the glass. In short, at times he looked like Mr. Reliable we remember from last season. Hopefully it’s a sign that if he stays out of foul trouble, he can start producing at last year’s level again. IU needs it up front badly.
Tijan Jobe scored on an athletic move around the rim. And he hit a layup earlier in the game for another two points. And he had two blocks. How ’bout that?
Derek Elston continues to be Mr. Energy off the bench. He made a heady decision to slow down after a steal and get the offense going. And speaking of steals, he had four on the afternoon, along with 12 points and six boards in 18 minutes. Not a bad afternoon in Assembly Hall for the freshman.
Free throws continue to get better. IU hit 34-of-44 tonight, good for 76.2 percent. If you’re wondering why this game dragged on for so long, it’s because IU shot 44 times from the line and Northwestern St. attempted 29 foul shots. Lots of fouls.
It was nice to see IU in control of this one, as it’s much needed confidence-wise heading into the Maryland game Tuesday night.
OK, that’s about all I got. For those who watched this whole thing, feel free to fill in the blanks in the comments.
Indiana coach Tom Crean and Devan Dumes, Christian Watford and Derek Elston met with the media following Indiana’s 90-72 win over Northwestern State. Listen to their comments, as well as Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy, in the embedded media players below:
As always, game predictions and thoughts are welcome in the comments leading up to tip-off and during the game. We’ll be tweeting live from Assembly Hall and will have postgame audio and a full recap early this evening. You can also join us below for a live blog:
Get in your picks before 3:15 pm ET on Saturday. Remember, please state your selection first thing in your comment. For anyone new to the game, overriding principles are here. Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving.