Maryland forward Dave Neal has received plenty of Facebook messages the last few days.
The prevailing theme from his friends (and “friends”): “Way to deck a Dukie.”
Now, that wasn’t Neal’s own message after he set a crushing screen on Duke’s Nolan Smith in Wednesday’s loss to the Blue Devils. But he did have his own take on the situation, which unfolded with about 16 minutes left in the second half.
“It was a good screen. It wasn’t anything dirty,” Neal said. “What really shocked me was I passed Eric [Hayes] the ball and ran inbounds and Eric was like ‘Dave, set a screen’ out loud. I thought Nolan heard him say that to me, but I guess he didn’t. That’s why you have to communicate. It was loud. Thank goodness for the home court. It was probably too loud for anyone to yell and for him to hear it.”
It was even louder once Smith plowed into Neal. The senior has the look of a guy who might have a little extra padding, but the reality is anyone who runs straight into a 6-foot-7, 260-pound guy is going to feel the aftereffects for a while.
So now Smith has a mild concussion, and Neal has a play stemming from smart, savvy play that will be remembered in College Park for some time.
“I went up to him after the game and said ‘I’m sorry about this, but it’s part of the game,’” Neal said. “I feel kind of bad, but at the same time it happens in the game of basketball.”
—- Patrick Stevens