It’s basketball season and our Kentucky Wildcats face the hated Maryland Terrapins on Friday night in the BarClay’s Classic. Hated? Well, I was not aware that Wildcat fans had disdain for the Terps, but apparently Maryland fans have a lot of venom for John Calipari and the Wildcats. Still upset over the Harrisons? Maybe. Anyway, I talked with Michael Willis from Terrapin Station , the Fansided Maryland Terrapins site and I have five questions for him about the upcoming game.
1. What is the atmosphere like with around Maryland with Kentucky coming into town? (Since we’re playing in Brooklyn, I’m going to change the question to “What is the atmosphere like around Maryland, given that they will be playing the defending national champion?)
Maryland fans are, shall we say, passionate about their school. We are often overly confident in our team’s abilities and definitely unimpressed with other schools most of the time. Kentucky may be the exception. Without ever having played them in recent memory, Kentucky is officially on Maryland’s hate list. Not up there with Duke in terms of pure hatred, but not amicable toward them at all.
That being said, Maryland is extremely excited about being put on the national stage for the first time in a long time. The Terrapins are prepped and ready to usher in a new era of dominant basketball with Mark Turgeon at the helm, and the team knows very well that this game is going to have serious ramifications. Beating Kentucky will put the Terps on the radar, and playing in an NCAA Tournament-like environment to boot would give this young team experience that they can rely on in the future. So we’re all very amped to play the Wildcats, but to be sure, we don’t like John Calipari or Kentucky.
2. Which player on Maryland’s roster do you feel can give Kentucky match up problems? Which UK players can give Maryland a match up problem in your opinion?
Dez Wells is going to give a lot of teams problems. The Xavier transfer will most definitely be playing in the game against Kentucky, given that he just won his NCAA appeal which granted him eligibility this season. Wells is a dynamic player who has more athleticism than most people on the court at all times. In a scrimmage this year, Wells scored 10 straight points ad put the team on his back, completely dominating everyone on the court. He can jump out of the gym, and is hyper-efficient at scoring, so he will give anyone on Kentucky’s roster a tough time on the defensive end.
For Kentucky, I’m going with a surprise pick here in Alex Poythress. I seriously have no idea who on the Terrapins can guard him. He’s an absolute monster athletically and if his shot is going in, then he’s unguardable. He reminds you of Terrence Jones in that his role is hard to define, but that he is ultimately oozing with talent. I like his game a lot, and I can see Maryland’s weaker small forwards and power forwards getting manhandled by him. Off the bounce, he’s already one of the best players in the country.
3. Have you watched either of Kentucky’s exhibition games? If so, what do you think of the team?
Transylvania is a fun name for many reasons, but no, I have yet to see any Kentucky games. I do know that you guys won by like 50 points against the local YMCA team/Transylvania, and that your boy Julius Mays got hurt. Which stinks, but makes sense when you take into account that he’s transferred like 5 times and managed to sneak into grad school at Kentucky for another year of eligibility. I do remember him from N.C. State a few years back, and he couldn’t cut it there, but I can imagine he has improved since then.
Seriously, though, how old is that guy?
4. What do you think is the biggest key for Maryland to pull off the upset?
Playing to their potential and not getting overly excited about playing in a shiny new arena with tons of fans. If they take their time and slow the game down without getting into an ugly running match with a team that has played as little as they have, they’ll be okay. Kentucky is very young like Maryland, and while they have plenty of talent, they still have to maintain composure and there are a lot of question marks (who knows which five stars pan out?). Whichever team can do that is likely going to win, because there could very well be some 15 point leads that reverse quickly due to a 15-2 run. Inexperienced teams give up leads a lot, because they have to learn how to win.
This game is likely going to be decided by a few points, because these teams are both pretty closely matched up. As long as the Terrapins can not get caught up in the moment and pace themselves, there is no reason why they can’t beat the Wildcats.
5. It’s about a month after the Harrison twins commitment to Kentucky, what was it like when they decided not to go to Maryland?
You know when there’s a really hot girl at the bar who’s talking to you a lot, and you’re like, “Hey, let me get you a drink!” so you can keep her around? And she drinks the drink, keeps smiling and flirting, and maybe has another. Then some other guy shows up in a double-breasted, flashes some Breitling Chronospace watch and she just peaces out and gives you the deuces along the way. That’s how it felt with the Harrison twins.
That story often gets told, but the after story of that girl who bailed out at the bar rarely ever does. After she peaces out, you meet some other girl who’s not as hot but has a great personality (Roddy Peters), and then a week later get some news that your friend’s ex girlfriend who you’ve always had a crush on just opened up and is totally into you (Dez Wells). Basically, you get over that really hot girl who wanted to hook up with you at the bar, because realistically you had no chance in the first place. Instead, you win with what you’ve got, and what we’ve got is some pretty good talent at our disposal.
In the words of Steve Spurrier, “Either we’ll win with you or we’ll win without you.”
Just want to thank Michael Willis from the Maryland Fansided website for doing this for us, it was greatly appreciated. And good luck tomorrow night.