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Maryland Women: Success or Disappointment?

The post-game scene. (AP Photo)

So the top-seeded Maryland women lost to Stanford last night, meaning the decorated senior class won't have a chance to play in a second Final Four. So, as our last local college basketball team of any sort wrapped up its season (barring some sort of JUCO CBI-type event that I don't know about), I was left trying to figure out whether the 2006-2008 Terps qualify as a resounding success or a mild disappointment.

* On the one hand, the Terps' combined record the past two seasons was 61-9. (The two seasons before this year's senior class arrived yielded a 28-31 record.) On the other hand, the Terps' combined postseason record the past two seasons was a pedestrian 6-4. For a men's comparison, their postseason resume is identical to that of Xavier: two conference tourney semifinal loss, a loss in the 2007 NCAA second round, and a loss in the 2008 Elite Eight. Xavier: nice program and all, but not exactly what Maryland is aspiring to.

* On the one hand, the Terps were ranked in the top 5 all season, suggesting a level of national respect commensurate with the best programs in the country. On the other hand, the Terps failed to go as far in the tournament as their seeding would suggest two tournaments in a row, and have as many Final Four appearances this decade as Missouri State. (And, bizarrely, fewer than the Maryland men.)

* On the one hand, the Terps have produced two seniors (Crystal Langhorne and Laura Harper) who are unanimous top 18 WNBA draft picks on WNBADraftNet's three mock drafts, and possibly two first rounders. On the other hand, both those players failed to reach their scoring averages in Maryland's past two NCAA tourney losses.

* On the one hand, Maryland accomplished all these great things despite a head coach who was missing at times due to a pregnancy thing. On the other hand, with a national championship this year, there was a 100 percent chance this season would be turned into a movie.

* On the one hand, the departing seniors leave a record of four straight 20-win seasons (for the first time in school history), five straight tourney appearances (for the first time in more than a decade), the program's second one seed (this year) and the program's first national championship (in 2006). On the other hand, six of the top seven players from that title team had at least two more years of eligibility left, which is why we thought we were staring at a dynasty back then. They never made it back to another Final Four. The men's game is obviously different, with top underclassmen so often departing following a title (think UNC in 2005), but Florida last year was a notable exception. If all those Florida guys, after winning a surprise national title earlier than expected, had come back for one more title shot (which they did), and had gotten their one seed (which they did) but failed to win their conference title or advance to the Final Four, wouldn't they be described as a pretty significant disappointment? Should the women be exempted from similar expectations?

* On the one hand, I really don't know anything about women's college basketball and haven't written about the Terps all season, so feel free to disregard all this. On the other hand, it all seems to be fairly true.

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 1, 2008; 9:20 AM ET
Categories:  College Basketball  
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