If there’s something truly remarkable about Maryland’s struggles with Virginia the last few seasons —- 2-4 overall, 0-3 in Charlottesville —- it’s how almost inevitably the Cavaliers have summoned a superb performance from someone you wouldn’t think would come up big.
Even on Senior Day, how the heck would anyone have guessed Mamadi Diane would score 23 points? Seriously, the guy had 23 points since the start of February. That’s no knock on the DeMatha product, who was known to kill Maryland in the past (more on that below). But that game was outside the range of realistic results to anticipate.
Except it really shouldn’t be, given Maryland’s propensity to get shredded by Hooever occupies a secondary or tertiary role for the Cavaliers. To wit:
* Jan. 16, 2007: Diane scores a career-high 26 points and freshman Jamil Tucker has what ultimately tied his season high with 12 points as Virginia runs past defenseless Maryland 103-91 in Charlottesville. Diane had three 23-point games in his career, two against the Terps.
* Feb. 6, 2007: The Tunji Soroye game, so named because the man who’s been playing for Virginia since Pete Gillen was still burning through timeouts in Charlottesville had his only career double-digit rebounding game (11) and blocked four shots in a 69-65 victory at Comcast Center.
* March 9, 2008: Tucker, quiet for much of the season, had 13 points (one off his season-high) as Virginia upended Maryland 91-76 to deny the supposedly desperate Terps a crucial late-season victory.
* Jan. 20, 2009: Maryland, perhaps not learning its lesson from the last two years, decides defending Tucker is optional rather than required. The junior goes off for 21 points in an 84-78 loss in College Park; he hasn’t scored more than 13 points in a game since.
* March 7, 2009: Diane gives himself a good memory —- and based on this story from the Washington Post, he definitely could use it —- in an otherwise frustrating senior year by shredding Maryland and hitting what turned out to be the game-winning 3-pointer.
So time for a big, bold prediction: Next season, one of John Brandenburg, Solomon Tat, Assane Sene or Jerome Meyinsse will have the game of their life against Maryland. Book it.
The good thing for Maryland? It won’t have to deal with Diane any more.
—- Patrick Stevens