Tom Penders vs. Maryland
If you're a George Washington fan -- the few, the proud -- this first round Maryland vs. Tom Penders matchup has to just about melt your brain. My sense is that GW fans despise Maryland more than any school except Georgetown, certainly more than longtime Atlantic 10 rivals Saint Louis and Charlotte, for example. And yet Tom Penders and his several scandals wrecked a fine period of GW basketball last decade; he doesn't have too many fans in Foggy Bottom. Root for a double disqualification, I suppose.
In any case, as the great Patrick Stevens noted, this will be the third match-up between Penders and Gary Williams, two coaches with 600+ wins and longevity rivaling that of Eric Maynor.
And it will be the second NCAA tournament meeting between the two; the first came in the second round of the 1995 event, when third-seeded Maryland stopped 11th-seeded Texas to advance to the Sweet 16. There were plenty of notable nuggets from that game; Gary Williams had spent the previous week in the hospital with pneumonia, current Terps assistant Keith Booth had a double-double, and Joe Smith tied Len Bias's school record for most points in an NCAA tourney game.
"Rasheed Wallace doesn't stop him, Tim Duncan doesn't stop him -- how can we?" Penders said about Smith after the game.
Here's Mike Wilbon, writing about a game that featured "nasty, nasty defense" by the Terps, in his words:
Against a smallish Texas team that has no real interior defense and goes up and down the court so much that one-on-one matchups are inevitable, Saturday's NCAA tournament West Region second-round game was as good a time as any for the Maryland Terrapins to throw it to Joe Smith. Particularly since he was upset with himself after a nine-point, on-the-bench-with-four-fouls performance in a first-round game. The result of throwing it to Smith was 31 points, 21 rebounds, 7 blocked shots and 4 steals for the first-team all-American, who said afterward, "I wanted to show the people of Utah what I'm made of."
That would be 24-karat gold, we conclude. The best NCAA tournament performance by an individual in Maryland basketball history shoved the Terrapins another several hundred miles west, to Oakland, Calif., where they will meet Connecticut on Thursday evening in the Oh So Sweet 16.
Maybe there's no No. 1 overall pick in this particular game, but I'm sure there's at least one Terp who'd like to show the people of Spokane what he's made of.
As for Penders and Williams, the coaches also met in consecutive BB&T title games, back when the BB&T had a title game. GW and Maryland split those meetings.
"I thought George Washington really outworked us," Williams said after the Colonials won the 1999 game. "You could tell in the loose ball situations and the way we turned the ball over early."
"I believe our kids showed this weekend they can compete with anybody in the top 25," Penders said after the Terps beat GW in 2000.
Anyhow, one of them will lose again this week, which will at least give the GW folks something to smile about.
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