For a decade now, our love of men's college basketball has been requited at the Verizon Center. Georgetown's been the fulcrum, John Thompson III the muse, and two years of NCAA tournament games the unexpected bonus.
Nevertheless, our tickets for Wednesday night's tune up against Liberty went unused. I'd wanted to see how much Mikael Hopkins and Greg Whittington had developed over the summer. It would also have been our first opportunity to watch D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera in person.
But as nice as getting to know the 2012-13 Hoyas would have been, for the first time, I wanted to be at Comcast more. I was there for the Terps' home opener against Morehead State Monday night and loved every minute. For the most part, gone were the frustrating defensive lapses, gone was the sniping, and gone was the one on four offense after play designs broke down. Instead, on the floor was a cohesive unit of charismatic players. Nothing about the win was particularly impressive, but a new day has dawned. Scoring, for example, was balanced: Nick Faust had 12, Alex Len 11, James Padgett 9, Shaquille Cleare and Dez Wells 8, Jake Layman 7, and Seth Allen 6. And others contributed by adopting specific roles: Charles Mitchell pulled down 9 rebounds, Pe'shon Howard didn't take a shot but posted 7 assists.
With only 8,724 inside the stadium, the vibe was relaxed -- low pressure -- and incredibly family friendly. Tonight's game against LIU-Brooklyn was a 7 pm tipoff and it seemed as good a time as any to bring the kids out to the new look Maryland under Coach Turgeon. The cost was foregoing Georgetown's game Wednesday, but the reward made the tradeoff well worthwhile.
Students clearly heeded Coach Turgeon's request for more active support. At 12,785, Comcast was rocking. Often, the intensity on the court matched the intensity in the stands. Dez Wells had a ridiculous stretch of three consecutive blocks. Seth Allen went five for six from beyond the arc. Pe'shon Howard had thirteen assists and one turnover. And my kids, a four-year old and one-year old, stayed with the game until the last minute.
We've been to some great games at Comcast, games that had my eldest bouncing out of the stadium. But all of those were women's games. We've been to some great men's basketball games, games that had my eldest bouncing out of the stadium. But all of those were Georgetown games. Tonight was the first time that our kids walked out of Comcast grinning after a men's game.