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Can Coleman catch Langhorne?

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Staring at Maryland’s career scoring list tonight – and Marissa Coleman’s place on it – got me thinking about an old exchange I had with a good friend.

It was late January 2002, and the Maryland men’s team was staring at a trip to Virginia. The Terrapins were good, as in top-five good. But the truly defining performance that awaited them in Charlottesville – a late rally that provided all the convincing needed to suggest that team had a national title in them – had not come to pass.

I had offered some reservations (without going through the math) as to whether Juan Dixon could catch Len Bias on the school points list. My friend (who happens to now do an excellent job covering the Washington Capitals for this publication, and whose blog you should read religiously) did go through the math.

He only assumed two ACC and NCAA tournament games in his calculations. His conclusion:

Mark it down, barring injury or bad slump (has Juan ever had a bad slump?), Juan Dixon will finish his career as the University of Maryland’s all-time leading scorer.

Dixon, of course, set the school record in the NCAA second round game against Wisconsin, a mark that stands to this day.

But enough of the trip down memory lane. The point of this is to say that after tonight’s 32-point outburst against Boston College, Coleman has a chance to catch Crystal Langhorne on the women’s scoring list.

Don’t mark it down or anything, because things have to break right. But Coleman has 2,032 points, and Langhorne wound up with 2,247 points.

So she needs 216 points to get the record, and her chances of doing that are entirely dependent on the number of games Maryland plays from here out.

The Terps are guaranteed at least three games – Sunday’s visit to Miami, the ACC quarterfinals and the NCAA tournament opener.

But let’s be realistic about this bunch, which is 24-4 and just completed a perfect February. It was would shocking if the Terps lost before the ACC semifinals. And I’ll happily make a wager with someone who thinks they’ll lose on their homecourt in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. That’s basically free money.

So Maryland, barring something absolutely astonishing, will play at least six more games. It could play as many as 10 more. Which means this is what Coleman must do based on those possibilities:

GamesAverage
1021.6
924.0
827.0
730.9
636.0

Oh, by the way, Coleman is averaging 22.2 points over the last 10 games.Those are not Pete Maravich numbers, obviously, but it certainly suggests an extended torrid stretch is possible.

In short? If Maryland happens to play in both an ACC and NCAA title game in the next six weeks or so, Coleman’s going to be a big part of it.

And should the Terps maximize their number of games, Coleman stands an excellent chance of leave Maryland as the career scoring leader and to be recognized for what she is: Arguably the program’s best all-around player in its more than three decades of existence.

Patrick Stevens

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