Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Four games in four days a tough road

In an unforgettable performance in New York last season, Syracuse won four games in four days to win the Big East tournament.

The Orange also might have depleted their energy and used up their emotion during that run. They lost to Texas A&M in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Maryland coach Gary Williams is using just the first part of Syracuse’s experience as an example of what the Terrapins could do this postseason. The hottest team in the ACC, Maryland has won seven in a row but is the No. 5 seed for the ACC tournament.

Before last year, a No. 5 seed would have earned a first-round bye to the tournament. But with the ACC expanded from nine teams to 12, the No. 5 seed must play in the first round and win four games instead of three to be the ACC champion.

“When you’re in a 12-team league, that’s the way it works, and you can’t complain about it, because the league decided to expand,” Williams said Wednesday. “Syracuse last year won four games and won a Big East championship. So it’s doable.”

Williams said his team has more depth than Syracuse did last year, when senior guard Gerry McNamara put on an incredible show for the Orange that won’t soon be forgotten at Madison Square Garden but was counted on for a lot of scoring.

He rejected the idea that it would be good for Maryland to win a game or two and then bow out in a close game.

“This time of year, you’re in great shape,” Williams said. “Everyone seems to be healthy. I wouldn’t mind playing four games in four days.”

Maryland senior guard Mike Jones said he hasn’t played four games in four days since the summer after his senior year of high school. But he said his team isn’t lacking for stamina.
Freshman guard Greivis Vasquez sets the tempo for the Terrapins, who seem to gain strength the more they run the court.

“That’s one of the best things we have,” Jones said, “our energy level and how we come out.”

– Ken Tysiac