- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 12, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Before the start of the Maryland/Indiana game Wednesday night at the Xfinity Center, there was a moment of silence in memory of the late North Carolina coach Dean Smith.

Perhaps it was one final goodbye to the ACC Maryland left behind on turn-back-the-clock night — remembering the Terrapins’ national championship victory over the Hoosiers in 2002.

Then Indiana stepped on the court and said, “Forget about that old ACC girlfriend. We’re here. Pay attention to us.”

And then the two teams played a memorable 68-66 game, and as Maryland fans left the Xbox after their Terps pulled out the victory, they might have been thinking, “Hey, this Maryland/Indiana thing could turn out to be pretty good.”

At least Terps fans have heard of Indiana basketball. Some of them may think Iowa is that fantasy land where Kevin Costner lived in “Field of Dreams.”
Maryland/Indiana has legs as a rivalry. It may be the only Big Ten team in the Terps new home division where they could get away with a “turn-back-the-clock” night.

“We are excited to turn back the clock to a memorable time in our men’s basketball program’s history,” Kelly Mehrtens, Maryland deputy director of athletics/chief operating officer, said in a pre-game statement.

You can’t do that when Nebraska comes to College Park next week.

But Indiana coming back to the Xbox year after year? Now that’s something that could grow.

Terps fans were primed for the Hoosiers last night, a rowdy crowd but still with some groups of empty seats throughout the arena. When Maryland lost to Indiana 89-70 in Bloomington last month, Hoosier fans chanted “Overrated,” and other such insults at the Terps.

Maryland fans responded last night with signs such as “Loosiers,” and there were other indications that this game meant something more than just another faceless opponent they were being introduced to as the new kids on the Big Ten block.

And the Terps and Hoosiers responded with a game that people will remember, a game that maybe years from now, when debating the Maryland/Indiana rivalry, they will talk about the toughness of Melo Trimble (18 points), Dez Wells (18 points) and Jake Layman (14 points) in the final minutes. They will remember 18 lead changes, seven ties, and the fear when Indiana guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell — who had torched the Terps in Bloomington — took a 3-pointer with seconds left with Maryland clinging to a two-point lead, and, after missing, getting his own rebound and missing the putback as the buzzer went off.
Terps coach Mark Turgeon won’t forget it.

“The first one went up and I said, ‘OK, they’re trying to win it,’” he said after the game. “It was probably the most open look he had all night, to be honest with you. I was hoping he’d miss it; I’m like every other fan in the building.”
But then Ferrell got the ball back for one last desperate try after two Terps ran into each other trying to get the rebound, and there was one last gasp — a missed shot off the rim.

“Time ran out on them,” Turgeon said. ”I don’t care how you do it — we had to get a stop and we got one.”

Then the Maryland coach reminded those who record history — write the stories that people will talk about when future stories of these two teams are written — that they saw something special, something to remember.

“First of all, that was a great college basketball game, and a great win for our team,” Turgeon said.

Then he added, “What a great game. Are you kidding me? You guys get paid to sit there and write about this? Wow.”

What funk the Terps (20-5, 8-4 Big Ten) had on the road in losses to Ohio State and Iowa they left behind for Indiana (17-8, 7-5 Big Ten) at home.
“Our kids are resilient,” Turgeon said. “On Sunday, the world’s coming to an end. We get hammered. Plane troubles coming back, takes us forever to get home. But our kids are resilient — much more than their coach — and they stepped up and got another close win for us tonight.”

“Our message to the team Sunday night was, ‘What are you going to do to make your teammate better?’ when we got off the bus at 1 a.m., or whatever it was. What are you going to do to make your teammate better? And then when we met as a team, we talked about sense of urgency. There’s a lot of guys in that room that are seniors. You’ve got seven regular season games left. Are we just trying to be mediocre, or are we trying to have a great year? What are we trying to do? So let’s have a sense of urgency.”

They had a sense of urgency. This was an important game. Indiana at home. Write it down in the book.

• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com.

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