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Terps shoulda stayed quiet

OPINION -

February 28, 2002|BY DAN SPEARS

The game of basketball has evolved over the years. In the past, talk on the court really wasn't necessary. Now, it seems required.

And that's fine for the most part. A little smack, properly used of course, makes the game more fun and interesting.

But in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, there is no right place for talk of any kind - on the court; off the court; heck, probably in the locker room as well, if the microphones from every TV network that slobbers over ACC basketball work that well.

Clemson, Duke, North Carolina State. All have been warned that too much talk will get you in serious hot water.

And while Maryland's words after its fluke win over Wake Forest on Sunday won't get it in trouble with the league office, it'll certainly rile future foes in the NCAA Tournament stretch run.

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In case you were on Mars for the last few days, here's the deal. The "Twerps" (as I will refer to them after this little stunt) got lucky to beat the Demon Deacons at Cole Field House. Wake's Josh Howard called a timeout - one he really didn't need, and one his team didn't have - with 1 second left in a tie game. Juan Dixon made one of two free throws for a 90-89 victory.

Had Howard just held the ball and forced overtime, who knows who would have won? But the Twerps did.

Afterward, Howard was in-consolable. Maryland mocked him.

"I'm happy he did it," point guard Steve Blake said.

Dixon went a step further, not only torching Howard, but blasting the Wake Forest coaching staff as well. The senior All-America candidate has hoisted many beautiful jumpers in his career, but I'm not sure which brick was worse on Sunday: his verbal one or the shot he missed at the end of the game before Howard's non-timeout.

Maryland coach Gary Williams admitted his team was fortunate to win, then double-tracked himself, saying it was "the first game we've had that come down to a last-second situation. It was a good experience for us."

Good experience? He shoulda lost. Does one trip to the Final Four automatically give a team like Maryland a we're-just-better-than-you thought process?

Remember, until last season, Maryland had very few good experiences in March. Their NCAA Tournament history is as pock-marked as a Taliban hideout; the team didn't slap fives on their way out of the huddle in the past, they gave each other the Heimlich maneuver.

Especially since Wake is the No. 4 seed in the ACC Tournament with Wednesday's loss and could get Maryland in the semis, the Twerps have become bulletin-board material.

If their No. 2 national ranking didn't do it before, their arrogance on Sunday did.

They say they're ready to take on all comers. After Sunday's comments, they'll have to be.

Dan Spears is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears evry other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131 ext. 2334 or dans@herald-mail.com

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