1) What effect do you think the Miami loss, if any, will have on Duke?
Bohlin: More times than not, it is better to catch a team off of a big win rather than a rough loss. Unfortunately, the Terps will be catching Duke off of one of the more embarrassing losses in recent memory. More than likely Coach K will have “practiced” away the bad habits we saw against Miami by the time the Terps take the floor tomorrow afternooon. The Miami loss certainly won’t play any role in tomorrow’s contest but history says Maryland should get Duke’s best effort. Anytime you go toe-to-toe with #1 you need to be prepared for battle and a battle is exactly what Maryland is in for Saturday.
Willis: In truth, I think there is no question that Duke is going to come out fired up in their home environment ready to steamroll Maryland for, potentially, the last time ever. But I also think that emotions are the harbinger of bad news more often than not. I am actually hoping Duke comes out intense with aspirations of cementing their greatness via a big win against an upstart Maryland team. That way, they can get themselves emotionally drained by the second half.
Meanwhile, Maryland can use some of their coaches even-keel mannerism and continue to keep it close and play strong, fundamentally sound basketball. Not getting too caught up in the moment, and not letting the moment slip by. If Maryland executes their game plan, and plays the stingy, defensive brand of ball they’re known to play, Duke may actually have a disadvantage in being too psyched up.
2) Maryland has been pretty bad on the road, what can they do to alleviate some of the pressure they will be facing in such a tough environment?
Bohlin: Cameron Indoor is one of the nation’s toughest venues for a road team to come in and get a victory. Maryland has had little success away from home to this point, with a win at Northwestern being their only true road victory of the season. The recipe for success on the road is simple: take care of the basketball and make the most out of the possessions you have. So far this season the Terps Achilles heel has been its inability to take care of the ball. If Maryland does not improve on their average of just about 15 turnovers a game against Duke, the fact of the matter is they don’t stand much of a chance at pulling off the upset. The Cameron Crazies will make sure that Maryland is not walking into a friendly environment. Strong guard play from whoever Turgeon tabs as tomorrow’s starting PG will be paramount for Maryland.
Willis: As I said before, they simply can’t get caught up in the moment. We all know Duke is an extremely hostile environment, and considering it may be the last time Maryland steps foot in their arena, there might be some more added pressure to win. That being said, the Terrapins just have to play carefree, like the young bucks they are, and ignore all that pressure.
More often than not, young teams simply don’t realize how crazily important some fans deem this game. All week I have been praying for a victory and overall acting like a nervous wreck. But these players, they’ve got other things on their minds as well as this game, and that may be the secret to their success. Not falling into the emotional swings that Cameron will bring, and just playing their brand of basketball, could secure a victory.
3) What is the biggest key/who is the most important player to beating Duke?
Bohlin: To echo my last answer, the most important key for the Terps tomorrow is taking care of the basketball. Therefore, the most important players on the floor will be those handling the ball for Maryland. As I expect to see a PG by committee gameplan against Duke until someone establishes themselves as “the guy”. For me, the guy that the Terps need to step up is Pe’Shon Howard. If you read my assessment on the PG position yesterday you’d know I am of the opinion that Howard is the best option at the point going forward. If the Terps can get the kind of performance out of Pe’Shon that he has proven to be capable of in the past the offense should look much smoother and, in turn, end the slow starts that have plagued this team in conference play.
Willis: The most important key for me is turnovers, as stated before, but the most important player is a surprise one: Jake Layman. I know I have been a little hard on Mr. Layman at times during the year, but when I see him hitting open three pointers and stretching the floor I can’t help but think his emergence as a scoring threat makes Maryland disturbingly good. Layman is so long that he creates matchup problems all over the court, and when he’s being aggressive on the glass, his defensive weaknesses are virtually irrelevant.
If Jake Layman can have a game like he did against Virginia Tech, or more recently against Boston College, the Terrapins have three scoring options that will cause Duke problems. If he doesn’t show up, then Maryland is going to be struggling to find points against a Duke team that can score in bunches.
4) What is your favorite moment in the Duke-Maryland rivalry?
Bohlin: The screen heard round the college basketball world, of course. As sad as it is, after giving this some thought the ferocious screen Dave Neal set on Nolan Smith in 2009. As my colleague Michael Willis will tell you I love fundamental plays more than just about anything on the basketball court and Neal set a textbook pick in this case. Two things that stand out to me from this play; first, Eric Hayes does a great job at running Smith right into the screen so that he has no chance to get around…or through as he attempted…Neal. The second thing that stands out is how the Mayor of College Park runs his lane as the trail man and knocks down the open three pointer from the top of the key. There are probably more important plays in this rivalry but that is far and away my favorite.
Willis: I’m partial on this one, especially since there are so many other moments that are more memorable, but it has to be the 2010 victory at home. Now, I most certainly watched the game from the comforts of my own Knox Box, but I definitely took part in the, shall we say, celebrations that ensued. The victory itself summed up what this rivalry means to Maryland fans. There is so much emotion and vitriol between these two fan bases, and even though it may be more one-sided than Terps fans would hope for, it’s still classic in the eyes of most.
(Side note: Yes, that’s me and my friend skipping towards the police in that clip. Poor Jack got taken down, I got lucky.)
5.) Whats your prediction for the game?
Bohlin: Maryland wins 65-60. This is not the type of Duke team Terps fans are accustomed to seeing in my opinion. No Ryan Kelly, no depth whatsoever on the bench and, at least against Miami, no heart is far from a winning combination. I expect for Maryland to neutralize what the Blue Devils can do on the inside with their size and depth in the front line and force Quinn Cook and Seth Curry to beat them from the outside, which I am not convinced they can do.
Willis: I am not a fan of this Duke team, but this one is entirely too close to call. It truly depends on which Maryland team shows up on the court. The one that turns the ball over a bunch and gets off to slow starts, or the Maryland team that hounds defensively and goes on powerful runs that put teams out early.
Unfortunately, I don’t like that Duke has the ability to shoot the ball incredibly well (similar to North Carolina). The environments and teams are similar, and I think that may end up being the Terps downfall. Not to fret, however, because Maryland will get them at home where they play much better. All in all, the Terps probably lose this one.