The Basketball Gods really aren’t fickle.
Generally speaking, you get what you deserve.
Occasionally you’ll hear a coach say his team “stole one” or admit during a press conference that he wasn’t sure his team deserved to win, but that just doesn’t happen very often.
Otherwise, the team that combines effort with a modicum of execution prevails. The effort part is all encompassing. It includes the mental effort of getting ready to compete at a high level at the start of a game and being able to sustain it for two-plus hours. It includes selling out to grab an important loose ball or a long rebound. It includes following a game plan and listening to instruction.
Most importantly, it includes playing the game hard.
There has been one guy in the history of the game that could look cool and play basketball hard all the time and he just turned 50 last weekend. You may have heard of him.
For the rest of the basketball universe, playing hard means playing with a grit and fire that rarely looks either cool or pretty.
On to the game the Maryland Terrapins played at Boston College last evening. They truly got what they deserved.
On a night when only one of their ranks truly came to play and compete in this game, the Terps were dismantled by a BC team that entered the game 11-14 and handed a painful – and meaningful- 69-58 loss.
Maryland reserve guard Logan Aaronhalt made seven three pointers on his way to a career high 26 points.
There, that’s your highlight.
Other than that, quite honestly, it was BC who appeared to be far more invested in this game. It might not have looked that way from the start. Boston College struggled shooting their signature three pointers for much of the night, and it appeared as if those struggles really set them back in the opening half. Ultimately a barrage of Aaronhalt threes late in the first half gave the Terps a 33-27 lead at the break.
Aside from Aaronhalt’s nuclear display of shooting there wasn’t much to rave about for the visitors. Center Alex Len, who had thrust himself back into the NBA lottery discussing with a dominating performance in the Terps’ big win at home against Duke on Saturday, looked like just another seven foot tall Ukrainian against an undersized BC team. He missed easy opportunities in the first minute of the game and never got going. The same guy who had 19 points and 9 rebounds in the Duke win made just one field goal tonight and ended the game with four points and eight rebounds.
Len wasn’t alone in his struggles. Maryland got no production at all from its other power players and freshman guards Seth Allen and Jake Layman shot a combined 4-14.
It’s way too easy to single out players after a loss and I’ll try not to do that here. Ultimately the reason Maryland was outscored 43-25 in the second half of this game was because of effort. Plain and simple.
In the second half of the game, BC out-rebounded a much larger Terp team 23-14. They were quicker to every loose ball and every long rebound and the game seemed to matter so much more to them than it did for Maryland.
Much is made of the Terrapin youth as the reason for its ups and downs this season. Youth is always a valid reason as it applies to issues with execution and poise. It is never an acceptable excuse for lack of effort.
Actually, nothing is.