Historical Perspective: Hoyas-Terps Hoops Rivalry

Great game at Maryland last night and the less experienced Hoyas battled well in front of a Terps crowd described by announcers as the tops in Big Ten and best 2 or 3 in country. Let me give Don Dakich and Mike Tirico and Scott Van Pelt(unfortunately a Terp) some history lessons.

Yes, they had a loud full house for last night’s game, but don’t forget they have a  preseason #3 ranking and although the Hoyas have some talent it is concentrated in first and second year players . These are exactly the type of players who should be intimidated in this setting, yet started the game on a 9-0 run to quiet this crowd. Maybe the fans should have started at Bentley’s earlier in the day. Maybe they were still busy on their phones trying to cancel their bets, laying 8 points. The fans did sound louder late in the game when the Terps finally made a small lead, but I think people need a little history lesson.

The atmosphere was quite different when carnival barker and coach wannabe Lefty Driesell came to town in 1969 from Davidson. He immediately began promoting like a televangelist – proclaiming Maryland as the next UCLA of the East. This is all great if you can back it up – but you look foolish backing up a dump truck for a Kleenex tissue. He could sell Maryland to recruits and he assembled great talent, which mostly underachieved in the end. In 1969 Georgetown had a solid team and very strong in the backcourt. They made in to the NIT and suffered a heartbreaking one point loss to LSU and Pistol Pete Maravich, who was held to his lowest college point total by guards Mike Laska and Don Weber. Along the way they had only one loss in their McDonough Gym home – early in the year to St. Johns. We made a losing visit to Maryland’s Cole Field House that year and endured the phony spectacle of a red carpet rollout for Lefty to parade on with his trademark hands up “V” signs. The stands were barely half full as Lefty strode in his gaudy plaid blazer, which looked like it came from a SEC secondhand store – probably after the inebriated original owner sobered up and his wife saw it. All that aside Maryland played well and beat us without too much difficulty – I don’t remember much other than the contrived atmosphere for a legitimate athletic contest.

Next year is when this gets interesting. Lefty’s team is improved but still middling in the ACC. The Hoyas lose most of the magic of the previous year and are below middling in a lower rung of competition. But we get them at McDonough early in the year when the Hoyas have some hope – still the Terps would have been solid favorites, probably 8-10 points. Hoya fans are pretty pumped up for the game and the gym is rocking. The no name Hoyas, led by guard Tim Mercier in his best career game, kept the Terps off balance and pulled away late 96-79. The fans were a real factor – I think Lefty had some nightmares after listening to me question his intelligence and sexual identity in very vulgar terms for 90 minutes straight. In today’s climate, most of my friends and I would have been escorted from the game during warm-ups.

I know that fans today think they have an impact and maybe they do on occasions, but they can’t claim to be the cause of the end of a rivalry. Lefty was NOT coming back to McDonough Gym and by the time that Georgetown had relocated to the new Capital Center in Lefty’s backyard, there was no real impetus for either school to restart the competition – only more bad feelings in addition to the long simmering ones.

I know everyone thinks that Terps fans helped their team last night as they expect Hoya fans to do the same for their team next year at Verizon Center, but a real home court advantage is one which makes the other team unwilling to play there – ever. If you don’t believe me look it up – I was there and Maryland never came back. The closest thing to the UCLA of the East to play at McDonough was when the real UCLA team practiced there for a NCAA Tourney game. I watched that also. Contrary to Lefty’s laughable proclamation there was only ONE UCLA then and John Wooden was the coach.

I hope you enjoyed today’s history snapshot.

Chef Soper – Go Hoyas