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Maryland proves it didn't deserve to dance

March 19, 2006|By MARK KELLER

Maryland deserved to be in the NCAA Tournament, huh?

Ha!

If you were one who was in that camp after the NCAA brackets were announced last Sunday, it must have been painful to discover how wrong you were Saturday afternoon.

The fact of the matter is that Saturday's loss to Manhattan in the first round - the first round! - of the NIT - the NIT! - pretty much summed up the season for the Terps.

Surely Maryland players will want to forget about Saturday's awful loss as quickly as they can. Undoubtedly, Maryland fans will be happy to make this entire disappointment of a season a distant memory.

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It certainly looked like most Terps fans had done just that. Only about 4,800 people made their way to Comcast Center for Saturday's game.

I know Maryland students are on break, and the 11 a.m. start time of the game may have contributed to the small crowd, too. But wasn't the university crowing earlier this season about their fans being named the best in the nation by some publication?

Were the fans on strike because the Terps were snubbed for the NCAA Tournament? Apparently the players were, because they not only played down to the level of their opponent, but they also blamed it on the supposed NCAA snub.

"It was tough to refocus because we thought we should have made the NCAA Tournament," Nik Caner-Medley said. "The way we played today didn't prove it, but it was a tough, emotional hit. It was tough to prepare, and I think Manhattan was looking forward to it more."

You can almost hear the whine in his voice, can't you?

I've got news for Nik and anybody else who still thinks Maryland should have been playing in the NCAA on Thursday or Friday instead of the NIT on Saturday. The Terps proved all season that they didn't belong in the NCAA Tournament.

Maryland won 19 games this season, but only two of those wins - only two! - came against teams that made the NCAA Tournament: Arkansas and Boston College, both before New Year's Day 2006.

The Terps were 10-2 at the start of 2006. Since then, the list of teams Maryland has beaten is wholly unimpressive: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (not the same team that beat Syracuse on Thursday), Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia and Georgia Tech.

I said it a few months ago and I'll say it again. This was a team that lacked chemistry and lacked leadership all season long, even before Chris McCray was deemed ineligible.

It showed in the loss to Manhattan that the team also lacked heart.

Maybe that's the reason there were so few fans in the seats Saturday.

If the team keeps showing that it doesn't care, why should you?




Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears on Sundays. he can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at keller@herald-mail.com

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