KANSAS CITY, Mo. | Dino Gregory contended with all the nerves an NCAA tournament newcomer might experience this week.
The Maryland sophomore, who long figured the national title from earlier this decade in the trophy case would ensure postseason trips, was finally off to a Thursday afternoon date with California in the first round of the West regional.
Still, he was overwhelmed, so he sought out even-keel junior Landon Milbourne as the 10th-seeded Terrapins (20-13) prepared for their trip to Sprint Center to play the seventh-seeded Golden Bears (22-10).
”I told him it’s crazy,” Gregory said. “This is the first time I’m playing in the NCAA tournament. He says, ‘Me too.’ ”
Milbourne is one of only four holdovers from the Terps’ 2007 NCAA tournament team and the only one not to appear in those games against Davidson and Butler as Maryland departed in the second round in Buffalo, N.Y.
The Terps weren’t far removed from a seven-game winning streak at the time, but Milbourne remained taciturn and in the background as that team made its charge. He sat in the locker room in Buffalo that weekend, wearing large headphones and remaining completely overlooked.
But Milbourne, while reserved, is observant. He picked up on the perks and hoopla associated with the NCAA tournament, as well as the excitement of those who got to play. And while it was an experience, it didn’t seem to count as a postseason trip for him.
“Anytime a guy doesn’t get a chance to participate but sees it, hopefully there is a desire to do that,” coach Gary Williams said. “If you’re a college basketball player and you can play in the NCAA tournament, that’s the ultimate.”
If Maryland has anyone to thank for its adventure this month, it might be Milbourne as much as anyone else.
The Terps entered the season with an unconventional roster, long on perimeter options and short on post players. So Milbourne, who played in the paint in high school, agreed to move inside to act as an undersize power forward.
At times, he encountered unpleasant matchups. At others, he thrived. But all along, Milbourne wanted to fill a void and continue to harbor hopes of making his own tournament debut.
“People don’t realize how tough he is,” guard Greivis Vasquez said. “He plays hard every time. Sometimes later in the season he couldn’t score 20 points a game, but he gave us rebounds, blocks, defense, all that type of stuff. It really helped us win games. I know he’s hungry.”
So too are the rest of the Terps, who were visibly relieved when the will-they-or-won’t-they tournament talk dissipated after Sunday’s selection announcement. Yet attention quickly turned to validating the selection.View Entire Story
Patrick Stevens has covered Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic college sports for more than a decade. You can reach him at email@example.com.
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Empowering mind/body/spirit and health dialogue along with cutting-edge, conscious social, political, and world commentary with Adam Omkara. Join the Evolution!
A politically conservative and morally liberal Hebrew alpha male hunts left-wing viper
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
World's Ugliest Dog Contest
Spelling Bee finale
Marines train Afghan soldiers
Rolling Thunder 2013
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal