Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

Freshman Hopes to Energize Md. Women’s Team in NCAA Tournament

Friday, March 18th, 2011
Alyssa Thomas dribbles the ball up the court against Duke Feb. 17.  Thomas led the Terps to a 24-win season and an NCAA Tournament berth. (Courtesy Maryland Athletics)

Alyssa Thomas dribbles the ball up the court against Duke Feb. 17. Thomas led the Terps to a 24-win season and an NCAA Tournament berth. (Courtesy Maryland Athletics)

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Magic. It’s what some fans and a former coach see when Alyssa Thomas, a freshman forward on the University of Maryland women’s basketball team, takes the court.

When Thomas rips down a rebound, dribbles the length of the court and scores an easy layup, some are reminded of another basketball player.

“She’s very similar to [former Los Angeles Lakers star] Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson,” said her high school coach, Bill Wolf. “We played her at every position in high school.”

Thomas is the leading scorer and reigning Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year, who will join her No. 4-seeded Terps team Sunday for its first game of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Pretty good for a girl who initially didn’t even want to play basketball.

“My mom signed me up for basketball because I was kind of a shy kid,” said Thomas, 18. “I actually liked soccer a lot better, but once I got older, I started leaning more toward basketball.”

By the time she was a high school upperclassman, she had become a leader on her team, Central Dauphin, in Harrisburg, Pa.

The confidence she gained in high school allowed her to step into a leadership role at Maryland, some of her teammates say.

“I think I’m more of an energy-type leader than a vocal leader,” Thomas said. “I go out and play hard.”

After missing the NCAA tournament last season for the first time since 2003, the Terps’ women’s basketball team added the second-best recruiting class in the country, led by the fifth-ranked recruit in the country—Thomas.

This season, her energy helped Maryland improve its record to 23-7, finishing No. 16 in the final Associated Press poll.

The NCAA selection committee placed Maryland in the Philadelphia region, to the delight of Thomas and fellow freshman Natasha Cloud, another Pennsylvania native.

“It’s really exciting to be in the Philadelphia region, where we’re home in front of our fans and family,” Cloud said.

In order to make it to Philadelphia, Maryland must first win two games in College Park.

Sunday, when Thomas and the Terrapins take on the St. Francis Red Haze at the Comcast Center in College Park, she won’t be thinking beyond that game.

To prepare, she will chew the same brand of gum she has chewed since the eighth grade.

She will put her right ankle brace on first, followed by her right shoe, then her left ankle brace, and her left shoe.

And freshman walk-on Sequoia Austin will put CVS-brand lotion on Thomas’ left leg, like she does before every home game.

And then, for 40 minutes, Thomas will try to make basketball magic happen again.

“We’re going to get a national championship one of these years,” she said. “We have the team.”

–By Maryland Newsline’s Collin Berglund

For Some ACC Tournament Fans, TV Can’t Compete With Live Action

Friday, March 11th, 2011

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Irv Goldstein, 72, has been coming to the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament for more than 30 years, missing only one or two tournaments in that time.

The senior vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University System of Maryland said he loves college basketball and still remembers the Terrapins’ victory over Duke in 2004, ending the Blue Devils’ streak of five consecutive ACC Tournament championships.

“It’s part basketball, but it’s also partly social,” Goldstein said of his tournament trips. He is a member of the Terrapin Club, an athletic booster club at the University of Maryland.

It’s part business, too. Goldstein said he was meeting with other university system officials throughout the day.

For other Marylanders, reasons for making the trek to Greensboro this weekend ran the gamut.

Larry Yalich, 55, of Kingsville, Md., said he thought the team was pretty lousy this year, but he was still managing to have a good time at the tournament.

“I come down to golf, to be honest,” Yalich said.

On Thursday, the Terps defeated the North Carolina State Wolfpack, 75-67, before a packed Greensboro Coliseum.

Jodi Yeager, a business owner from Bethesda, Md., said she has been coming to the ACC Tournament for about 15 years. 

“The tournament is actually a break from our very hectic family lives,” said Yeager, who has four children.

In the end, though, it’s the basketball that keeps most coming.

“I think it’s something about the ACC Tournament,” said Michele Dombo, a business owner from Washington, D.C., who has traveled to the ACC Tournament each year since 2004.  “There’s always some kind of upset.”

The No. 7-seeded Terrapins play against the No. 2-seeded Duke Blue Devils at 7 p.m. tonight, in the second round of the ACC Tournament.

–By Maryland Newsline’s Collin Berglund

Obama Lauds Maryland Team at White House

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
President Obama at the NCAA ceremony.

University of Maryland women's lacrosse player Mary Jordan shakes President Obama's hand at the White House reception honoring the team and other NCAA athletes. (Photo courtesy of the Maryland women's lacrosse team)

WASHINGTON – Jerseys, helmets, cleats and kneepads were replaced with shirts, ties, heels and dresses this week as more than 650 NCAA collegiate athletes from across the country — including a team from the University of Maryland — were welcomed to the White House by President Obama.

Students and coaches from more than 30 NCAA championship-winning teams, including the women’s lacrosse team from the University of Maryland, College Park, and the University of Virginia’s men’s soccer and women’s rowing teams, were honored Monday for their excellence in athletics, academics and community service.

“That term student athlete is the thing that makes me so proud to stand before you today,” Obama said. “When each of you won the titles that you won, whether it was in lacrosse or wheel chair basketball, you didn’t do it as professionals. You didn’t have multi-million dollar contracts or huge endorsement deals. You woke up early. You put in countless hours of practice for the love of the game and for the pride of your school.”

Amid the sprawling group of participants vying for the perfect picture of Obama, players from the University of Maryland’s women’s lacrosse team secured a position close to the president’s speaking podium. For a team known for their defense, protecting their turf wasn’t hard to do.

Down six points in the opening minutes of the 2010 NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship in May, the team orchestrated a rally to defeat the five-time defending champions, Northwestern University, 13-11.

“This is really exciting. I’ve been here four years; I’ve never [gotten] the chance to come to the White House,” said Brandi Jones, mid-fielder for the Maryland team. “I would say that our favorite part was getting the chance to shake Obama’s hand. He actually said, ‘Congratulations Terps’ in our camera.”

Obama told the players that lessons learned while studying in airports and locker rooms will help them transition from student athletes to professional doctors, lawyers, nurses and teachers.

The president also spotlighted lesser-known teams, such as Texas Christian University’s all-female rifle squad.

–By Maryland Newsline’s Michelle J. Nealy

Who’s Your Money on for the Super Bowl?

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Come ready with your chips and dip, soda, libations (if you’re old enough) and football. Or go to your favorite bar. The 44th annual Super Bowl on Sunday pits the Indianapolis Colts against the New Orleans Saints. The game is scheduled to kick off at 6:30 p.m. EST on CBS.

And many spots in Maryland are ready to play host.

Angela Taylor, manager of Ram’s Head Tavern in Annapolis, says she expects the atmosphere Sunday to be passionate, but not too rowdy.

“We don’t generally get a belligerent crowd,” she says. “They get noisy at times, but hardly belligerent.” The tavern is offering specials on drinks and deals on appetizers and sliders.

Sonoma’s Bar & Grille General Manager Peter Rivera says his Columbia bar will be filled with a “clean and quiet crowd.” The bar is offering half-price drinks.

“A lot of people [in this area] tend to have their Super Bowl parties at home,” says Rivera. “A lot of people take their platters to go.”

Wherever people decide to watch the game, they’ll be joining what is predicted to be a record-breaking Super Bowl viewership.

The two teams playing have much at stake, not to mention the title of the 2009-10 NFL superpower.

For the Colts, there is the legacy of Peyton Manning. One of the most beloved quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL, a Super Bowl victory would catapult Manning to the “best ever” conversation. A loss would not disqualify him from the conversation, but it could become constant fodder against him in bar arguments.

The Saints, however, are playing for symbolism. The effects of Hurricane Katrina are still evident in New Orleans, yet the Saints has emerged as a surprise team. Galvanizing a football town that is more used to seeing gridiron ineptitude – their nickname was the New Orleans Aints, for goodness sakes – than gridiron brilliance, the team has become symbolic of Horatio Alger and rising above one’s bleak conditions to achieve positive change.

So I ask you: Who’s your money on?

from Maryland Newsline’s Zettler Clay