Confessions of a College Basketball Fan

By Virginia Breen

Feb 23, 2009 3:34pm

Gregory Krieg, special to ABC News On Campus, blogs: It was my intention, indeed my plan, when presented with the opportunity to write this blog, to kick things off with a bilious screed on the state of men’s basketball at my alma mater, the University of Maryland.  By around 3 p.m. Saturday, I was halfway to finishing.  An hour later, I was 700 words deep and positively stewing.  The Terps were hosting No. 3 North Carolina on national television and playing the role of wildebeest to UNC’s starved lioness. With 15 minutes remaining in the second half, North Carolina led by 16 points.  There was no reason to believe the gap would close, indeed, I was sure it would only grow.  So sure, so fantastically, moronically convinced, that I turned off the television and walked out of the room.  I left my apartment, went down the elevator, hit the street, began to walk and after meeting a couple friends, hopped a cab and sat down at Ali Baba’s Turkish restaurant on East 34th Street. Another season down the drain.  Now smother the pain with tzatziki sauce. The prologue, as it were, to this shameful little tale begins in 2002, when head coach Gary Williams and the Terrapins beat Indiana for the NCAA championship. I was a high school senior at the time, having just signed my scholastic future over to the University of Maryland.  That there was a pretty good basketball team wearing its red, black  and yellow strip certainly didn’t make the decision any harder.  And with a banner to hang, there was no reason to expect anything less than more … better … greater things. Flash forward to the present day.  Maryland has missed three of the past four NCAA tournaments, and until late Saturday looked poised for another round of NIT purgatory this spring.  So far and so hard has the program tumbled, the Washington Post recently commissioned a three-part series, published in about 10,000 words two weeks ago, on the whos, whats and whys of Gary Williams’ declining empire.  It’s brilliantly written and researched, and if you happen to be a Maryland fan, profoundly depressing.
So it goes … or does it?  At 5:52 p.m. Saturday evening my phone rang.  It was my father.  Here is an edited version of our conversation. Krieg The Elder:  "You must really wish you were on College Avenue right now." Me: "What? You can’t be serious." KTE:  "That was one of the greatest 20 minutes of basketball I’ve ever seen!" Me: "They won?  I’m eating a kebab …" KTE:  "You’re not watching. …You stopped watching?  Vazquez scored 35 points.  Terps won in overtime.  Kids all over the floor.  Gary’s about to–" Me:  "Goodbye." Then came the text messages.  The e-mail.  The result was not yet five minutes old.  Maryland had come back from deficits of 16, 12  then 9 points in the final 1:57.  Junior guard Greivis Vazquez had just notched the first triple-double by a Terps player since 1987. "That was a Cole Field House crowd," Gary Williams later said of the home support.  “Cole” is the barn Maryland teams called home until 2002.  Steaming hot (no AC) and treacherously loud, it stands in contrast to the Terps current home, the sterile Comcast Center.  High praise from the coach.
So here is my confession. I walked out. I quit. In a fan’s world, these are near mortal sins.  They will follow me forever.  (That is, mean-spirited friends will never let me forget.) The lesson here, as always:  Don’t walk out.  Don’t quit. The ball is round. You never know.

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