Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Still a bridesmaid

Congratulations to the Maryland Terrapins, the champions of the 2006 women's tournament. A painful loss for Duke, though not particularly frustrating. Sure, losing sucks, but there weren't those mental errors that have plagued past squads. Two missed free throws late in the game are understandable, and I had a feeling they would be doomed once Maryland had a lead. (The Lady Devils aren't exactly the buzzer beater type.)

All in all, a noble effort that gives me hope that Coach G might eventually win the big game. This was their best chance for a while -- a lot of talent graduates -- but rebuilding can be fun.

The 2007 Final Four rocks out in Cleveland. Who goes? I predict Tennessee, Maryland, Ohio State, and USC. Will that cute Shay Doron and the Terps repeat? Nah. Despite Pat Summitt's best attempts to jinx her team with incessant whining, expect the Lady Vols to win anyway, led by the dunkalicious Candace Parker and the best name in the sport, the rhyming Nicky Anosike.


bdure said...

I wrote a long post last night but didn't publish it. This was the most depressing sports moment I've experienced since the Duke men and women lost in the '99 finals in disappointing and spectacularly bad fashion, respectively.

Yeah, they played a good game and would've won if not for a couple of breaks and one incredible shot down the stretch. But it's all quite unfair. Duke has been building to this for 15 years and had finally gotten past the usual hurdles. It took a few years to get to the Sweet 16, even needing another year or two after taking Alabama to four OTs in the second round one year. They made the great run in '99, then ran into LSU and Jackie Stiles in consecutive years.

The program needs to get the monkey of its back. Instead, we all got tortured, coming so ridiculously close.

Duke's not exactly depleted next year. They still have Bales, Harding, Smith, Black, Kurz, the Waner sisters, a couple of possible redshirt freshmen and the usual outstanding recruiting class. They had depth in absurd proportions this year. Bales, Harding and Abby Waner have the star quality they need.

But a lot of teams will be good next year -- Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, UConn ... and Maryland. Couldn't they have waited a year?

I would've taken an 8-23 men's season in exchange for one fewer Maryland 3-pointer.

Neel Mehta said...

I would've taken an 8-23 men's season in exchange for one fewer Maryland 3-pointer.

As would I. Heck, I'd take Pete Gaudet back. It's been a few years in the making, but I think the men have finally become my second fave Duke basketball team.

Were Coach G and Duke due? Hard to say. Were they to face UNC in the title game -- I know, perish the thought -- I'm pretty sure they'd lose. That said, the program's wins over Connecticut and LSU were groundbreaking. The Alana Beard squads wouldn't have done it. Doris Burke kept pointing out that Coach G strove for balance after Beard left, her lesson learned. (Still a student of the game, willing to try other things. Hear that, Coach K? That's the sound of Eric Boateng transferring.)

There's a short thread on DBR comparing this game to another title loss: the men to Louisville in 1986. Interesting they went that far back, because I thought about Jim Boeheim and Syracuse, who came so close in 1987, and had another shot in 1996 before getting it done in 2003. Even programs/coaches that seem due have to wait longer than others.

Duke returns a lot of players, but so do UNC and Maryland. (Like Duke, BC and FSU are somewhat depleted by graduation.) Without Currie and Williams in the frontcourt, the team's going to look a lot different, whereas many other teams will look the same.

I should say something about Brenda Frese. She doesn't provoke a Pat Summitt-like visceral reaction, but there's something about her eyes and the way she sort of slouches her head that reminds me of Randall in Monsters, Inc.