MIKE BURKE

Allegany Radio Corporation Sports

A few more semi-deep thoughts for the weekend …

TERPS TURNAROUND? Maryland’s 70-59 win at Rutgers on Tuesday gave the Terps their first two-game Big Ten winning streak of the season, following their home win over No. 17 Illinois last Friday.

Granted, it’s a modest accomplishment, but given what this team is and has been through this season, what may be the first and second steps of a 1,000-mile journey are clearly welcome.

The win also made the Terps 3-0 the second time they’ve faced an opponent this season, having come back the second time to beat Northwestern, Illinois and Rutgers after falling to all three of those teams the first time they met.

Maryland received outstanding guard play from Eric Ayala and Fatts Russell at Rutgers, a tandem Big Ten Network college basketball analyst Andy Katz feels is as good as any backcourt tandem in the Big Ten. Maryland has also been receiving steadier play from forward Donta Scott and somehow has been getting better production from its very thin bench.

Since interim head coach Danny Manning has taken over for the departed Mark Turgeon, Maryland has just looked different in a far better way, with the exception of the first half of the blowout loss at Michigan last week (Michigan is just a nightmare matchup for the Terps, particularly inside).

The Terps now run an up-tempo offense, rather than the paint-peeling halfcourt offense that Turgeon used, and are finally moving the ball and cutting to the basket. It’s been like night and day on the eye-test meter and the players seem to enjoy it. Certainly the fans enjoy it. Frankly, after the last 10 years, it’s just enjoyable to see them run any offense.

Who’s to say? If nothing else, it’s not such a chore to watch Maryland basketball these days; it’s actually been rather interesting since Manning took over. The Terps are getting better, but have a long way to go. However, with three of the next four games at home – Indiana Saturday afternoon, Michigan State and Iowa – maybe things can become even more interesting as Maryland goes into February.

BY THE WAY, no one knows or understands Maryland basketball, or college basketball in general, better than author John Feinstein, who is also a columnist for, among other publications, the Washington Post.

Feinstein, who used to cover the Terps for the Post way back in the day when I covered them for the Prince George’s Sentinel, wrote in his Thursday column for the Post his candidates to be the next Maryland head coach would be, in no particular order, Providence’s Ed Cooley; Southern Cal’s Andy Enfield; Utah State’s Ryan Odom; and North Carolina Central’s LeVelle Moton, an outside-the-box; and perhaps even Maryland hero Juan Dixon, current head coach of Coppin State.

The column is a highly recommended read (by me). Do yourself a favor and read it.

PERSPECTIVE: Let me first qualify this with I love Harold Baines. Loved the St. Michaels native before he played for the Baltimore Orioles, while he played for the Orioles, after he played for the Orioles and while he played for the Orioles again, and so on.

However, I saw something that former big-league pitcher Phil Hughes, a pretty good pitcher in his day and a good follow now, posted on Twitter yesterday that just stopped me in my tracks, even though I had been keenly aware of it:

“Harold Baines,” Hughes tweeted, “is in the Hall of Fame and Barry Bonds is not.”

Again, I was very happy when Harold Baines was put in the Hall of Fame by the Today’s Game Era committee in 2019; it was a happy day. He led the major leagues in hits as a designated hitter with 1,688 until the mark was surpassed in 2013 by this year’s lone BBWAA Hall of Fame inductee, David Ortiz.

Tuesday was not a happy day for the Baseball Hall of Fame or for baseball. Hopefully the Today’s Game Era committee will get it right in December.

NFL CHAMP GAMES: Who do you have Sunday in the AFC and NFC conference championship games? Whatever you’re looking for, don’t look for anything like last weekend’s games. That was a weekend of pro football we haven’t seen, or are likely to see, for a very long time. If ever.

Cincinnati at Kansas City in the AFC sees the Chiefs at home being favored by seven, with the over at 54.5.

My inclination is to take the Chiefs to win, but not by seven. I’d take the Bengals and the points, because they are explosive, they are dangerous, they are annoying and they don’t go away. And at 54.5, I’d definitely take the over because I think this is going to be a crazy one.

San Francisco at the L.A. Rams? The Rams are favored by 3.5 points, just a half-point over the three points that go with homefield, which means oddsmakers and #NFLTheTVShow are expecting a dogfight in the more traditional sense.

The 49ers won both games this season, winning at home, 31-10, and 27-24 in overtime at Los Angeles.

I like the Rams’ quarterback play and I like the Rams to cover and to win the game. As for the over of 46? Take the under because of the 49ers’ quarterback play.

Chiefs and Rams in the Super Bowl? Unless the Bengals beat the Chiefs; which I have a gnawing suspicion they will do.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Radio and Pikewood Digital. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT