Good Enough Is Never Enough

By Jeff Lippman - March 27, 2008

Connecticut beat Texas by 34 points. Tennessee spanked Purdue by 26 on the Boilermakers own home court and trust me, it could have been worse.

The point I'm trying to make here is thus: It is unacceptable for Maryland, if they hope to win their second national championship in three years, to be beating Coppin State by 14 and Nebraska by 12.

I've never been much for style points or pouring it on but let's get one thing straight. There is a difference between coasting to victory and grinding out a win. Don't fool yourselves; the Terrapins were hanging on for dear life in that game against Nebraska. When Yvonne Turner converted on the four-point play to pull the score to 65-61 with the game clock winding down, I don't think Brenda Frese was feeling breezy about the situation.

The fascinating thing, at least to me, about Maryland is, I think they are so much better than the team I've been watching for the past two seasons.

Maybe they caught lightning in a bottle back in 2006. Maybe they're great, but not Connecticut great. They can beat all the teams they're supposed to beat but they're not good enough to beat the best of the best. But how could that be possible when you look at the names that comprise their starting five?

Crystal Langhorne, Kristi Toliver, Laura Harper, Marissa Coleman. That's an All-Star Team. Hell, that's a collegiate dream team. That's murderers' row in sports bras.

They were good enough to win the national championship in 2006 and they're more than good enough to win it in 2008. They just need to find it within themselves to find the spark that propelled them last time.

Complacency is a terrible thing. And it can strike even when you are protecting against it. I'm absolutely 100 percent positive that Maryland doesn't believe they are complacent. They're not OK with winning just the one national championship.

Well, I wasn't OK with getting the ball stolen from me when I played pickup with my friends as a kid, but I was never willing to work hard enough to do anything about it.

It's quite possible that despite Maryland's desire for another national title, subconsciously they aren't willing to work as hard.

Ask yourself this question: Would Geno Auriemma be upset if one of his players said the following after nearly getting upset in the second round by Nebraska?

"I don't think we played our best. We did enough to advance, and that's what it's about."

Those words belong to Kristi Toliver.

The Terps point guard isn't exactly having the best postseason. Averaging 16 points in Maryland's two contests, Toliver is shooting just 32 percent from the field, well below her season average. And she's been even worse from the 3-point line where she's 2-for-12.

On one hand, she's dished out 14 assists in two games. Unfortunately, she's also turned the ball over 13 times in that span.

The thing is, advancing shouldn't be what Maryland is all about right now. Yeah, obviously that's highly important to winning the national championship, but Maryland should be expecting to advance. You can bet Pat Summitt expects to be in Tampa the first week of April.

There will be plenty of battles ahead. Stanford looms and UConn after that, and that's only in the national semifinal. It'll take another win over another powerhouse to win it all. So now is not the time to be struggling. The struggle will come. Now is a time to be perfecting and fine tuning an instrument that should have been ripening all season.

There's a reason that Rutgers is a different team come March. C. Vivian Stringer spends all season sharpening her team's skills and building the necessary pathways to success. And then in the postseason she unleashes the final product and all of a sudden the Scarlet Knights do no wrong.

By now teams like Connecticut, Rutgers and Tennessee are hitting their stride. Their playing their best basketball of the season because anything less may cost them what they've worked all season to achieve.

That's how Maryland played basketball in 2006.

So, no, it's not enough to just advance. A great team doesn't know the definition of enough. Enough might beat Nebraska, but what about in the Sweet 16 against Vanderbilt? Will Maryland have enough to beat them? I can tell you for certain that enough won't beat Stanford. Connecticut eats enough as an appetizer.

It's going to take perfection from the Terrapins to conquer the road ahead. And you, me and Brenda Frese knows they have the ability to do it. We've seen it all before. Now Maryland must find within themselves whatever came out two years ago.

It's time to find that spark again because the stone cold hard fact of the matter is, Maryland won't be good enough to survive another performance like the last one.

Posted by Jeff Lippman at 09:38 AM on March 27, 2008

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