RIP Kobe: A Farewell from a Fan

A true legend and a true competitor, Kobe Bryant was among the most prolific superstars in the sport of basketball. 

A week ago, fans from around the world struggled to process that the 41 year old legend and his 13 year old daughter, Gianna, had been taken away from this world in a tragic helicopter crash. Far too soon, at that.

Growing up as a basketball fan, this one hurt a lot. You have to be as iconic as Kobe Bryant to get namechecked on such a simple and playful act of throwing a paper ball into a trash can. Kobe has become a role model for athletes and sports enthusiasts like myself. Even though he is not with us anymore, and so the other passengers, we will never forget their legacy and they will be immortalized forever.

“I texted Kobe to see if he hit me back,” said Ice Cube, a performer and close friend of Kobe Bryant. “. I wasn’t worried immediately because it’s Kobe, he will always hit me back,”

Kobe Bryant, for fans and foes of the NBA, was a pop culture icon on par with Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Tupac, and Kurt Cobain. Like theirs, his passing will be marked in time forever. We will always remember where we were, what we were doing, and how hearing those painful words made us feel. 

His performance on the court dazzled fans for years. His competitiveness and work ethic was admired by many, he donned the phrase “Mamba Mentality”; meaning to work harder than what your heart can give. In other words, to be be the first person to show up to work, and perfecting on the smallest details to become the ultimate “go-getter”. Many athletes followed this phrase to evolve their approach towards their respective sport; just as Kobe did throughout his career.

A week later, it all feels unreal.

“I feel like I’m in a bad dream,” said Dwyane Wade who was mentored by Bryant when he played the majority of his career for the Miami Heat, “But the sad thing is that I’m not waking up.” 

Kobe, however, is remembered for more than his talents on the court. In fact, some of his greatest accomplishments happened off the court. 

Along with Kobe and Gianna, we also recognize the other seven passengers. 

Ara Zobayan, the pilot of the helicopter who has been flying Bryant and his family for years. “Pilot Kurt Deetz, who worked at Island Express helicopter company with Zobayan, said he considered Zobayan a friend and a trustworthy pilot. Zobayan’s neighbor Robert Sapia said Zobayan loved his job and would show him photos of celebrity passengers, including Bryant.”(CNN)

Payton Chester and Sarah Chester, a mother and daughter duo that were affiliated with Gigi Bryant’s basketball team. 

Christina Mauser, an assistant basketball coach at a private school in Orange County, California. 

John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, and Alyssa Altobelli who also died in this tragic helicopter accident. Gianna and Alyssa were teammates in Kobe’s “Mamba Sports Academy”.

Kobe’s passing unsettled both longtime fans and those who knew very little of his athletic prowess. His passing reminds us that life is so fragile, even for those whose impact seems to be infinite. 

Jeff Dominguez is the communications and marketing director for the UB Post. 

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Maryland Men Win in Second Straight Trip To Baltimore

jon-and-ernie-grahamAfter playing a game in Baltimore in December 2015 for the first time in 17 years, the Maryland men’s basketball team returned to Royal Farms Arena on December 20 against the Charlotte 49ers. With one of the top scorers in program history serving as an honorary captain on the anniversary of a record-setting night, the Terrapins struggled in front of a crowd that was on their side.

A layup by Ivan Bender of Serbia gave Maryland a 7-5 lead just over three minutes into the game. However, that two-point lead quickly turned to a two-point deficit as the 49ers’ Andrien White hit a three-pointer from the right elbow, was fouled by Maryland’s Kevin Huerter, and then made the free throw to complete the four-point play. That started an 8-0 run by the 49ers that gave them a 13-7 lead. Bender and Michal Cekovsky got increased playing time because of an injury to starting center Damonte Dodd.

Upper Marlboro native Jon Davis then gave the 49ers their largest lead of the game at 32-22 by finishing a pass from Braxton Ogbueze for a layup with 5:42 left in the first half. Turnovers and an inability to hit open jump shots and finish layups plagued the Terrapins throughout the first half, but they fought back as the half came to a close.

After Najee Garvin committed an offensive foul with nine seconds left, Melo Trimble drove down the court, but missed a layup. Cekovsky finished the ensuing scramble by tipping in the ball to beat the halftime buzzer and pull Maryland to within 37-36 at halftime. Anthony Cowan had nine points and Cekovsky scored eight to lead the Terrapins in the first half. Maryland shot just one for six from the three-point line, and turned the ball over 13 times, leading to 14 points for Charlotte. Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said Charlotte’s zone defense caught his team off-guard.

“We didn’t expect them to start in zone. We’ve been practicing in zone a lot, and it showed in the second half,” Turgeon said. “They did some things a little bit different in their zone, and we were just kind of standing around, and we just couldn’t really get any rhythm. The turnovers were disappointing…the no-look passes and throwing to guys that weren’t there.” Turgeon added that injuries and illness racked the team in the week leading up to the game.

The Terrapins got off to a fast and furious start in the second half, scoring on each of their first three possessions, capped by Cekovsky finishing off an alley-oop from Huerter. The layup gave Maryland a 42-39 lead and forced Charlotte to call a timeout just under a minute into the second half. The Terrapins retook the lead with an 11-2 run over a 3:42 stretch on a jumper by Bender and back-to-back-to-back three-pointers by Huerter and Cowan for a 56-49 lead with 11:15 left. Another three by Jared Nickens just over 30 seconds later extended the lead to 60-51. A goaltending call on an attempted layup by junior guard Melo Trimble gave Maryland a 67-55 lead when a media timeout was called with 7:32 left in regulation. However, the 49ers wouldn’t go away.

Davis scored 6 straight points for the 49ers to pull them to within 69-61, but L.G. Gill set up Nickens for a three-pointer that stretched the Maryland lead back out to 72-61 with just under six minutes left in regulation. Trimble and Brantley then hit back-to-back threes to give the Terrapins an 83-64 lead with 3:47 remaining, effectively putting the game out of reach. Maryland

closed out the game on a 16-9 run over the last five and a half minutes and cruised to a 88-72 win before a paid crowd of 7,139, improving to 12-1 heading into Big Ten play. Trimble finished with 21 points (17 in the second half) to lead the Terrapins, while freshman Anthony Cowan added 16. Cekovsky, Huerter and Bender each finished with 10. Davis led all scorers with 28 points for the 49ers.

This was the second straight year that Maryland has played a game in Baltimore, which is home to a significant portion of the team’s fan base. Turgeon praised the crowd in Baltimore.

“It’s the best crowd we’ve had in three or four games, so I was proud of that. Our guys like coming over here. Every time I come to this city, there are so many Terp fans over here that make you feel special, so we’ve enjoyed it the last two years. Of course, we won both games, which helps, and we’ve had great crowds, so it’s been a lot of fun,” Turgeon said.

During the first media timeout of the second half, honorary captains Ernie and Jon Graham were recognized. Ernie currently ranks 13th on the all-time scoring list at Maryland. On December 20, 1978, Graham set Maryland’s single-game scoring record by scoring 44 points as the Terrapins defeated North Carolina State 124-110 in the season opener of the 1978-1979 Atlantic Coast Conference at Cole Field House. Jon, a graduate of Calvert Hall College in Towson, played for two years at Penn State before transferring to Maryland for his senior season last year.

Maryland will begin its Big Ten schedule on Dec. 27 against Illinois at the Xfinity Center in College Park.

Maryland basketball teams in top 10 entering heart of B1G schedule

By Andrew R. Koch

Business Manager

Maryland’s men’s and women’s basketball teams started the season ranked in the top 10 in the media and coaches’ polls. After a school-record 28 win season and an appearance in the Round of 32 in last year’s NCAA tournament, the men’s team added three new pieces in two graduate transfers and one of the highest-rated freshmen in the country, and are a popular pick to win not only the Big Ten, but also make a deep run this year’s NCAA tournament. Meanwhile, head coach Brenda Frese’s squad is looking to get back to the Final Four in the women’s tournament for a third straight year. Both teams are showing that they’re still legitimate contenders, despite early losses in their conference schedules.

Men Score Major Conference Win

During the last offseason, forward Diamond Stone of Milwaukee stunned the college basketball world by announcing that he’d accepted a scholarship offer from Maryland, saying “I want to be a national champion,” and he felt that head coach Mark Turgeon’s team gave him the best chance to reach that goal. Stone, who was a top-five forward prospect in his senior season of high school, chose Maryland over Wisconsin, which was also recruiting him and would’ve given him a chance to stay close to home. Stone has adapted very well to the college game, averaging 13 points (third on the Terrapins) and 5.4 rebounds (second on the team) per game. He’s regularly imposing his will in the low post and frequently scoring in double figures coming off the bench.

Two other additions to the Terrapins have also been key contributors throughout the season. Rasheed Sulaimon, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, joined as a senior graduate transfer from Duke. Last season, Sulaimon became the only player to ever be dismissed from a Mike Krzyzewski-coached team. Sulaimon has proven to be an adept ball-handler when sophomore point guard Melo Trimble has needed a rest, and can spread the floor with his long-range shooting ability. Sulaimon is averaging 10.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, and is in the top 5 for the Terps in all three categories. The other senior graduate transfer who’s been contributing in a big way to Maryland is Robert Carter, Jr., who transferred from Georgia Tech. Carter has given Maryland depth along the front line, and is second on the team in scoring (13.4 points per game) while leading in rebounding (6.9 rebounds per game).

Maryland scored its biggest win of the season in its last home game. The eighth-ranked Terps welcomed the third-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes to Xfinity Center on Jan. 28, and in a close game for all 40 minutes, pulled out a 74-68 win. Carter and Sulaimon each scored 17 points, and Maryland overcame poor shooting in the second half to give Iowa its first loss in conference play and snap the Hawkeyes’ nine-game winning streak. The Terps bounced back from a 74-65 loss at Michigan State on Jan. 23. Maryland is currently 19-3 overall (8-2, third in Big Ten), and still hasn’t lost a home conference game.

Maryland Women Continue Domination of B1G

After fading late in an 80-71 loss to then ninth-ranked Ohio State on Jan. 2, capping a stretch of two losses in three games in six days, the Lady Terps have picked up right where they left off last season. Maryland has reeled off six straight wins, and are currently 19-2 overall (8-1 Big Ten). The only thing that seems to have slowed Frese’s team down is the weather, as games against Michigan State and Penn State were postponed by the historic blizzard that buried the Mid-Atlantic between Jan. 22 and Jan. 24. During Maryland’s current winning streak, the closest game was a 74-67 win by Maryland at Michigan on Jan. 14. Only one other game has been decided by less than 20 points in favor of the Terps.

Coming Up

The Maryland men will have a rematch against Michigan in College Park on Feb. 21. The Terps lost at Michigan 70-67 on Jan. 12. Maryland will also play number 18 Purdue at home on Feb. 6, and then travel to West Lafayette, Indiana on Feb. 18. Both games are scheduled to be aired on ESPN. Senior Night in College Park will be on March 3. The Big Ten Tournament will be at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis March 9-13.

The women’s game against Michigan State has been rescheduled for Feb. 5. The Lady Terps have rematches against number seven Ohio State on Feb. 8, Northwestern on Feb. 14 and Michigan on Feb. 17. Senior Day will be on Feb. 28 against Minnesota. The Big Ten Women’s Tournament will also be at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse March 2-6.

Maryland women’s basketball win at Coppin State, 110-51

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough scored 17 points in Maryland's final non-conference game at Coppin State.  Photo Credit: University of Maryland Department of Athletics.
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough scored 17 points in Maryland’s final non-conference game at Coppin State.
Photo Credit: University of Maryland Department of Athletics.

The Maryland Lady Terrapins (number 14 in AP poll, number 11 in coaches’ poll) made a trip up to Baltimore to play the Coppin State Lady Eagles for their final nonconference game before kicking off their first Big Ten regular season against Ohio State. The Terps got off to a fast start and made it stand up all the way to the end.

Head Coach Brenda Frese’s squad jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first two and a half minutes of the game, and kept pulling away from there on the way to a 110-51 win at the Coppin State University Physical Education Complex on Dec. 21. Maryland (9-2) led 59-25 at halftime, thanks to 61.1 percent shooting from the floor in the first half, and 22 points off 17 Coppin State turnovers. Maryland went on a 15-4 run in the first 4:46 of the second half to extend their lead to 74-29. Maryland shot 58.1 percent for the game, while holding the Eagles (1-9) to 39.2 percent. Frese said it was defense that was the theme of the day for Maryland.

“From the tip, we set the tone I thought with our defense and our transition…I think we’re playing some of our best basketball right now,” said Frese. She added that the game was a good final tune-up before heading into conference play.

“This is where you want to kind of be climbing to. We just came off of finals, and to be able to see that we didn’t have a lot of rust, given the break of a long stretch, gives us a lot of confidence heading into conference play,” Frese said. The Terps were able to crisply move the ball down the court when they got the ball, using crisp passing and effective cuts to the basket for layups. The Terps also used drives to set up wide open looks for Brene Moseley and Laurin Mincy on three-pointers. One thing Frese said the team worked on in practice during the break for finals was sharing the ball.

“It was something we’ve really been working on, in terms of making that extra pass and being unselfish, and I thought we executed really well,” said Frese.

While the Terrapins jumped out to a big lead early, sophomore guard Shatori Walker-Kimbrough says the team tries to continue executing and playing its game.

“We always say, ‘Just play Maryland basketball,’ and that’s defend, rebound and run,” said Walker-Kimbrough, who had 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals. “We don’t want to play the score. We just want to continue to play within ourselves, and play Maryland basketball.” Coppin State made two out of just three three-point attempts, and didn’t even shoot a three in the second half.

“I think we locked down the three pretty well tonight,” said Moseley, who finished with 18 points and eight assists. “And I think that opened up a lot, so as that opened up a lot, that kept the post players wide open, and we got a lot of dish-downs.” Moseley said that being able to drive to the basket and kick the ball out to shooters led to Maryland’s 23-13 assist-to-turnover ratio in the game. She also said Maryland’s transition game opened things up for the rest of the offense.

“I think we just ran hard. I think our transition got us a lot of things that were open, so our guards running hard and our posts screening down got a lot of stuff going that we got a lot of easy shots early,” Moseley said.

Coppin State committed 29 turnovers, and Maryland scored 39 points off turnovers. The Terps outscored the Eagles 54-16 in the paint, and had 25 second-chance points. Maryland finished with a 44-28 rebounding advantage.

The game marked a homecoming for redshirt freshman forward A’Lexus Harrison, who attended Digital Harbor High School in Federal Hill. She says it was “a big step” for her to be able to play against a school in her hometown.

“I think to come back and play was just really fun. I have a lot of friends on the (Coppin) team, and it was really just a lot of fun, honestly, just to play against a lot of my friends and actually be back home,” said Harrison, who had 12 points and eight rebounds. She said while it’s important to play every game with the same mindset and put the same amount of effort in, it was still fun to be able to play in front of a home crowd.

Frese said her players dedicated the game to Theo Stipich, a longtime Lady Terps supporter and season ticketholder who’s been battling lung and brain cancer. Frese said the players sent him a letter saying that they’d come out ready to play and keep him in their minds.

Smotrycz Out 4-6 Weeks With Broken Toe

The Maryland men’s basketball team will feature a lot of freshmen in their first Big Ten season. For the first part of the season, the Terrapins will have to compete without one of their more experienced players.

Head coach Mark Turgeon announced that senior forward Evan Smotrycz sustained a fracture of the pinkie toe on his left foot at the end of practice on Oct. 17, just before “Maryland Madness,” the team’s season-opening celebration. He underwent surgery to repair the fracture about a week later, and is expected to sideline Smotrycz for four to six weeks. That timetable means he should return some time between mid-November and early December.

Turgeon said while the team is disappointed for Smotrycz, everyone’s confident that he’ll be able to come back and have a solid season, thanks to his strong work ethic.He also expressed confidence that his team’s other front-line players will be able to fill the void left behind by Smotrycz’s injury.

“We have confidence that our front-court players will step up in Evan’s absence,” Turgeon said in a release from the Maryland Athletic Department.

Smotrycz, who’s originally from Reading, Mass., transferred from Michigan to Maryland in 2012. In his redshirt junior season last year for the Terps, he averaged 11 points and six rebounds per game in 31 games, including 28 starts. Smotrycz scored was named to the Paradise Jam All-Tournament Team after scoring 19 points against Northern Iowa and putting up 13 points and 11 rebounds against Providence College during the Thanksgiving weekend tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands. He scored in double figures in 19 games during the season, and his three double-doubles led Maryland.

Showdown at the Comcast Corral: Maryland holds off Texas rally 69-64 to head to the Sweet Sixteen for the third year in a row

On Tuesday, March 25 at 7 p.m. the Maryland Terrapins and the Texas Longhorns faced off for the fifth time in school history, with Maryland leading the all-time series 3-1. The #4 seeded Terrapins entered the “Go Big or Go Home” battle 25-6 overall (12-4 in the ACC), while the #5 seeded Longhorns were 22-11 overall (11-7 in the Big 12). The second round matchup would determine if everything truly was bigger in Texas—unfortunately for the Longhorns, the Terrapins held on to win 69-64 and are headed to Louisville for their third Sweet Sixteen in a row where they will face off against #1 seeded Tennessee.

They did it again! The Terps' Women's Basketball team head to the Sweet Sixteen for the  third time in a row.
They did it again! The Terps’ Women’s Basketball team celebrates securing their trip to the Sweet Sixteen. (Photo credit: Maryland Athletics)

“Neither team deserved to lose that game—to be able to see the play of both teams between the runs and battles. It was a complete 40 minute game. I’m excited to be able to go [to the Sweet Sixteen], and we are going to make a run for the roses,” head coach Brenda Frese said after the game.

Gameplay started rough for the Terps with freshman guard Lexie Brown missing a jumper, followed by a foul by Katie Rutan, which sent Texas’s Brady Sanders to the line. She made both free throws, but Maryland’s senior center Alicia DeVaughn tied it up with a layup. Both teams went scoreless for at least the next three minutes, when Texas’s Chassidy Fussell broke the streak with a three-pointer to push Texas back in the lead by three. Back-to-back three-pointers by Terps’s guard Laurin Mincy, with a Texas jumper in between set the Terps off on a mini run, which was then stopped when Texas’s Brady Sanders returned to the line for two and make them both.

Frese attributed Mincy to be “a big piece of the runs we made tonight.” The point spread never rose more than three points until 6:44 left in the half when DeVaughn nailed a layup, sending the Maryland’s lead to five. Texas went on another short run, eventually leading by six with just over a minute and a half to go in the half. The Terps chipped at the Longhorn lead with a senior forward Alyssa Thomas shutout to tie the score at 31 at the half.

“I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen Alyssa [Thomas] with zero points and we were tied at halftime,” Frese said during the press conference. Thomas responded to questions about her not scoring in the first half, saying, “I was struggling to score and some of my teammates had a hot hand. I knew I just had to be patient and wait for my opportunity.”

The second half saw a change in Maryland’s strategy, but the Terps maintained the pace of the game. Thomas found her first points of the game at 18:21 with a jumper. Maryland got hot with 16:36 left in the game when Thomas made a jumper and was fouled which turned into an old-fashioned three-pointer for the Terps. She followed her free throw up with another layup after a missed jumper by Fussell and a rebound by Brown and the fans, a showing of 4,042, went wild. Maryland went off on another run which earned them the largest lead of the night, 11. A late run with three pointers scored first by Fussell, then back-to-back by Krystle Henderson cut the Terrapins’s lead to just a one-possession game at 2:11 to go. A layup, this time by Texas’s Imani McGee-Stafford cut the lead even further to a single point game. A missed three-pointer by Fussell, which would have given the lead to Texas, followed by a foul on McGee-Stafford which sent Mincy to the line for two (she made both), pushed the Terps’s lead back in the other direction. A missed potential game-tying three-pointer by Nekia Jones ultimately cost the Longhorns the opportunity to advance in the tournament. A late foul by McGee-Stafford, her fifth and final, sent Thomas to the line for two–she made both and thereby solidified Texas’s fate.

“Sequoia [Austin] and Chloe [Pavlech] gave me confidence. They told me they weren’t worried and told me to get to the basket and keep working,” Thomas said of her very different performance during the second half.

The big story of the night of course was Thomas being shut out in the first half to come back in the second and score 16 points, earning her 26th double-double for the season. Also leading in points was DeVaughn with 12 points and seven boards; Lexie Brown and Laurin Mincy had ten points apiece. Malina Howard, a starter early in the season also played 30 minutes and contributed nine points and three boards.

“It was poetic justice. She continued to keep fighting in practice and just kept working,” Frese said of giving Howard more than double the playing time she’s had in a single game all season.

The Terps head to Louisville, Kentucky, to play #1 seeded Tennessee on Sunday, March 30, where Coach Brenda Frese hopes to change the outcome of her two recent NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances, which have ended in losses. Sunday’s game will mark the third straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen for Alyssa Thomas who played her last game at Comcast Center tonight.

“This is the most depth that we’ve had in the last four years that I’ve been here. Just the energy and how we are willing to fight for each other is definitely different. It’s going to be a special ride,” Thomas said of their road ahead for a chance at the championship title.

The game time is yet to be determined.

Follow me on Twitter @LawofCooking for updates.