by Justin Walsh
No. 10 Maryland vs. No. 7 California
Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s bring some east coast/west coast bias into the building in Kansas City, Missouri (cue up the Tech N9ne). In this corner we have Jerome Randle & Patrick Christopher for the California Golden Bears with a 22-10 record and some of the best three point shooting percentages in the country. And in this corner, we have Greivis Vasquez and Greivis Vasquez’s mouth with a 20-13 record and the biggest swagger for any 10 seed in the tournament.
Maryland starts out with a couple buckets, leading the way 4-0 early on in this first round match. Scratch that, make it 7-0, Cal turns the ball over. Turnovers are going to be important in this game, both teams have problems keeping the TO numbers down. J. Boykin finally scores to put Cal on the board (transfer from Duke) and we’re underway.
– Mosley & Gutierrez tie it up, and after the inbound Boykin draws the foul. He misses the first, makes the second. The score is 8-3 Maryland.
– Dave Neal hits a mid-range jumper off the elbow and the “future YMCA star” has a quick 5 so far. Randle makes a crowd pleasing hesitation move and gets a quick two. The score is 10-8 Maryland. Sidenote, Jorge Gutierrez and Sean Mosley are going at it today, we could have a player rivalry blossuming in front of our eyes.
– Randle hits another basket and we lead out to commercial with a slight 14-10 lead by Maryland. If anybody was wondering the YMCA line I dropped earlier, that was a quote straight from Maryland’s own Gary Williams.
– Vasquez draws the foul on Christopher, a Compton product. GV drops both and we have a 16-10 lead. Christopher comes down on the other end and gets a put-back off a Cal miss. Score is now 16-12. Milbourne draws the foul and makes 1/2 FT’s. Randle hits another shot, this time a trey & we have a 17-15 game. After a quick little run in the opening by the Terps, we have a close match.
– Out of the break, Vasquez drops a jumper (SPLASHDOWN like Top Gun). Randle hits another jumper, that’s 9 points on 4-5 shooting. And Vasquez says GOOD DAY SIR and answers with a bucket of his own. 22-19 after a couple Theo “Huckstable” Robertson.
– Cal switches to a zone to see if they can limit the looks Maryland is getting. Hayes hits a jumper, making it 24-21. Knezevic just shot what might be the weirdest looking release of the tournament. A lefty release that makes Marion seem picturesque mid-jumper. Cal gets blocked, Bowie responds by walking. This ends the Maryland has no turnovers party that Gary Williams was hosting in Kansas City. 24-21
– Another Maryland turnover, and Cal responds with another Randle score. Maryland: 3 turnovers in the last 3 possessions. I have officially decided on an anthem for Randle- “It’s a mans world” by James Brown. Seriously, everytime he scores, I scream in a broken tune “This is a maaans world.” Boykin fouls Neal on the offensive end, it’s 24-23 Cal down one. 5:11 remaining in the 1st half. As the color commentary says “This is Hoosiers versus Hoosiers.”
– Vasquez has hit a cold streak, missing his last 3 shots. We go out to commercial after a Cal foul, Maryland to shoot two after the break. Did anybody think Cal would be out rebounding Maryland at this point? 17-13 just now in the ol’ boards category.
– A few quick points for us to over analyze, Cal and Maryland both only have 9 field goals on 25 and 26 attempts respectively… But, Cal has 10 second chance points to Maryland’s 1. Also 1 field goal and 5 turnovers in the past 6+ minutes for Maryland. Score is 26-23, Maryland leading with 3:32 remaining & Wilkes at the line. Wilkes hits the first with one heck of an ugly facemask a la Wally S., and hits the second. Maryland responds with a bucket and it’s back to four. Patrick Christopher responds with a jumper of his, then G. Vasquez gets his groove back like Stella with his own response jumper. And DJ Seeley hits a jumper. Then Maryland responds. The defensive presence by both teams are invisible at this point. Amoke draws a foul and is at the line. Bricks the first, toes up, does that J. Kidd fake release, then misses the second, again like J. Kidd- sans jumper. Randle finally misses a jumper, the score is 32-30 with less than a minute on the board in the half.
– Theo “from the Cosby Show” Robertson draws a foul, and bricks the FT. These teams aren’t in the tourney for their charity stripe prowess, that’s for sure. Maryland calls a timeout- Is Gary Williams trying to ice the shooter? Is Theo the new JJ Redick? 25 seconds remain in the half. Theo squares up, bottoms. One point game, the ice wars was all for naught. Maryland will hold for one. Christopher fouls for the second time tonight. Hayes makes the first FT, hits the second. 34-31 with 11.3 seconds remaining. After a kick-ball call, Cal to inbound with a second left, and they don’t get the shot off. At the half Maryland leads by 3, 34-31. And a small sidenote- Maryland is using… Not gatorade squeeze bottles, nor powerade or even quick kick…They are squeezing Vitamin Water out of those bottles according to the label. Eyes like a sniper folks.