COLLEGE PARK, Md.
With one game, Joe McKeown could have snubbed his nose at Maryland and iced years of pain of the University of Maryland refusing to play him. With one game against the top-ranked team in the country, the Colonials would have thrust themselves further into the national limelight and established themselves as a serious college basketball threat.
With one game, close enough to home that a hotel would be extravagant, McKeown could have become the first GW coach since Mike Jarvis in 1995 to topple a No. 1 team during the regular season. With one measly game over a local state university, the No. 25 GW women’s basketball team would likely be in the top 15 of women’s college basketball for the first time since the 1998-1999 season.
But in that one game, where so much could have been accomplished, GW shot 21-for-63 from the floor, turned the ball over 15 times and handily got beat 73-48 by the defending national champion.
It’s to be expected. Maryland is a great team with amazing chemistry that is coming off the best team in the program’s history. Early this season, McKeown said he was sick of being the giant killer. He wanted to be the giant and beating the Terrapins would have been a huge step, if not the completion, of that goal. But McKeown was playing with missing pieces in a game where he needed everything.
“Today we didn’t look much like a giant killer in the second half,” McKeown said. “I think when I get Jazmine (Adair) back, and Jessica, and get these guys on the floor and playing together. You look at this team and you see all five guys have been playing together for a couple of years – you see the continuity and the flow.”
A positive element that this team will take from this bludgeoning has been a large part of McKeown’s mantra all along: after playing tough teams early, it’s unlikely they’ll see anything overly surprising in the conference or later in the season.
“That’s why you play these kinds of games,” McKeown said.
But this kind of game, the one where local women’s college basketball could be thrown off-kilter, has not happened in 12 years since Chris Weller was the head coach here in College Park. Weller, McKeown claims, owes GW three visits to the Smith Center.
Brenda Frese, Maryland’s fifth-year head coach, wanted to wait until she had competitive team to play GW. After a national championship, she decided it was time.
“When she took the job, to her credit, she said ‘Joe, we’re not ready to play you yet. You guys are too good,'” McKeown said. “Now they’re ready to play.”
McKeown is now making his pitch, calling for Maryland to come back to Foggy Bottom next year and return the favor.
Does he think it will actually happen? McKeown said he is unsure. Other powerhouses, such as Tennessee, Stanford and Texas, come to the Smith Center.
“I would hope so,” McKeown said. “We came over here; I’d like to get them back there.”
Frese said she will do it, and she should. A local tournament would spark interest in women’s basketball. But will Maryland, a national power, give up the comfortable confines of the Comcast Center for the hostile, loud, antiquated 5,000-seat Smith Center? Doubtful, honestly.
Why? Because that one game may give GW the push it needs to become a true giant at the expense of the Terrapins’ Goliath.