So Maryland lost one late at night in Tallahassee.
It did so in the middle of the week.
It absorbed its fifth conference loss.
It fell to 0-4 in conference road games.
And it did it all on Jan. 30.
Yep, this describes the Terrapins' 73-71 loss Wednesday night at Florida State. But Maryland (15-6, 3-5 ACC) was in similiar straits exactly six years ago.
You can look it up.
Granted, the tenor of the loss last night wasn't the same as Jan. 30, 2007, when the Terps were hammered 96-79. But it can still be instructive for where Maryland goes over the next month and a half.
Maryland split its next two games, then rattled off seven consecutive victories. The Terps won four road games. They knocked off North Carolina at home. They dispatched Duke (still their last victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium). And they wound up a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Tellingly, it was a surprisingly placid Gary Williams who met with reporters that night in the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center. At the time, Maryland was coming off a couple seasons without an NCAA tournament appearance and unrest was starting to grow in College Park.
"That’s the way it goes," Williams said then of a team that was 16-6 (2-5) at the time. "I’ve been doing this long enough to know you have to keep fighting. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for you.”
So Mark Turgeon, in his second season at Maryland, isn't the first to go through this sort of set-up. And in an interesting twist, he looked at some of the upside of the Terps' latest road setback.
"We made huge strides as a basketball team tonight," he told reporters, per the Washington Post. "Really first time all year I really felt like I was coaching. We actually ran the plays we called, followed the defensive game plan.”
The seasons don't entirely parallel, of course, and it's reasonable to assert there is less wiggle room today than there was six years ago.
The 2006-07 team accomplished something of value in nonconference play, beating Michigan State on a neutral court and upending Illinois on the road. Both Big Ten teams were on their way to the NCAA tournament, as was Winthrop (a sneaky good team Maryland defeated just before Thanksgiving).
Needless to say, the present-day Terps don't have a resume that strong (though they do have three more at-large bids to work with).
In addition, Maryland was a veteran-laden bunch that year. D.J. Strawberry, a senior, enjoyed a riveting February. Mike Jones authored the best stretch of his career down the stretch. Seven of the nine guys to play more than five minutes in that Florida State loss were juniors and seniors.
Turgeon can only dream of having that much experience on hand. He'll probably have to wait at least two years to be in such a position.
Nonetheless, history repeated itself some extent Wednesday, with the setback in Florida's state capital, the continued road miseries and the losing conference record to haul into February.
That team bounced back a few days later with a victory at Wake Forest. Coincidentally enough, the Demon Deacons come to Comcast Center on Saturday.
None of the similarities guarantee an identical outcome, of course. But there's still time for a turnaround of some kind, as the 2006-07 Terps demonstrated after their own misstep in Tallahassee.
--- Patrick Stevens