TILTED BENCH

Written by Andrew Terrell
7/26/20

I used to play basketball at the University of Maryland… And by play, I mean I was the kid at the end of the bench with no regard for life. 

After an 80 minute warm-up, some dunk attempts, a whole lot of trey balls and then sitting for 2 hours watching - it is tougher than you think to go in and play the last 4 minutes of the game. Right around the 12 minute mark in the second half, the “Put in Tuh-Rell” chants start up in the crowd (and it’s not Tuh-Rell by the way, people... it is Tear-Ol. Like tear a piece of paper and OL like the Olson Twins).

Anyways, at about the 12 minute mark in games, we started getting the “Put Terrell in” chants. I have had a lot of people ask me over the years if that is weird or a bad thing... Absolutely not. I enjoyed people putting the heat on Turgeon (head coach at UMD) early. Let him know what the people want to see. Anthony, Kevin, Bruno, and those guys (all starters and NBA players now) are all fun to watch for a while, but what is better than the white kid coming in with no regard for life, just trying to make something happen late while up 30? Also, let the record show that I never lost a game that I played in. I will get the stat on what my record was, but the bottom line is I never played in a losing game. 

 
 

Two things happen at the 12 minute mark when people started yelling. One - I had to consume all snacks and gum that I brought to the bench. I got hungry sitting there, so I always had pretzels, animal crackers, cheez its, etc. In warmups if you were ever in the stands and needed any gum, I was literally stacked with packs of it in my socks at all times. Second - this was also about the time I would do my first ‘jersey check’ of the game. A jersey check was for the guys that did not take off their warm-ups. For me, there was a 50/50 chance that I put my jersey on in the first half of games under the warm-up. And there have been a few times that I have forgotten to throw the jersey on altogether and didn’t realize until late in the second half, but, was saved by a jersey check. Simply put, a jersey check is a quick glance under the warm-up just to make sure you threw the game jersey on. 

Let’s talk about when this originated… I forgot my jersey my freshman year. The whole game I had nothing on underneath my warm-up and we were up 10-15 points the whole game. Being up 10-15 is limbo for me. We either go on a run and go up by 20+ and I surely go in the game, or we stay the same and I don’t.


Needless to say, I was freaking out when I realized I didn’t have my jersey on. I ended up sprinting to the locker room at the Under 4 and threw it on, and thank God I did because I ended up playing the last 45 seconds. Could you imagine??? Turgeon would have just given me the look and I would have taken a walk to the locker room without hesitation. But honestly if that did end up happening I don’t see him getting that mad at me. His tolerance with me doing stupid stuff was pretty high. However, that very moment is when jersey checks became a regular thing (I averaged 5 or 6 jersey checks a game).

Once you have secured and come to terms with the fact that you are in fact wearing your jersey, you need some big plays on the court so that you have an excuse to stand up on the bench. Standing up after big plays was my stretching process. Never, and I repeat NEVER would I sit there and actually stretch before going out on the court. Not in 1,000,000 years. But I would stand up, hit a few fist pounds, towel wave to loosen the shoulders, and then occasionally jog to half court at media timeouts to shake some the ice off. 

Now, when Turgeon started walking down the bench, the number one rule we had in the South Pole (end of the bench) is to NEVER look the man in the eyes. Trust me, it gets weird. The thought process typically looks something like this: “I know you aren’t going to put me in until the final 2 minutes, up 30, but I hit a couple shots this week in practice... so maybe he’ll throw me out there early.” (The answer is always no by the way. He will not call my name early). But still, I would never make eye contact with the big dog until under the last 4 minute media timeout. 

When he finally did call my name for the glorious last run of a game, I had a couple thoughts in my head while walking to the scores table… 

  1. Don’t pull a hammy. 

  2. Don’t get put on an island (a kid is telling you that you cannot guard him and just takes you 1 v 1)

  3. THEY ARE GOING TO FULL COURT PRESS YOU. 

  4. I should have used the bathroom at half time. 

  5. Let’s rock and roll.

 
 

Quick Side Story about being stuck on an island: My freshman year of high school basketball in Indiana (the best high school basketball state in the USA I might add) I played against Yogi Ferrell (Mr. Basketball in Indiana and future NBA player) who went to one of the high schools down the street. He played on the same team as Trevon Bluiett (another NBA player). In the middle of the game I got put on a switch and ended up on Yogi, and the ENTIRE gym (a couple thousand) started yelling “Island! HE CAN’T GUARD YOU. HE CANNOT GUARD YOU.” Even my mom was yelling “ISLAND WORK”... Needless to say, they cleared a whole side. My helpside defense might as well have been in Italy, cause he just played with me on the right wing. Cross, cross, behind, between, in and out … The typical island work. I felt like Wee Man out there getting shot with paintballs the way everyone was yelling... (Look it up on youtube if you don’t know). 

Once you get out there, all you hear the whole time is “Shoot!” “Shoooooot!!!!!” I could have just gotten a defensive rebound, yet everyone is already telling me to shoot. You honestly feel a little like the fat kid coming into a 4th grade C team game for the final 5 seconds to make an uncontested layup when everyone claps and makes him feel like he is on the team. However, I did love the role I had on this team and I wouldn’t have changed it... Except to maybe be a starter and the best player on the court. But you know, there are only so many of those. 

If you are unfamiliar with Club Trillion you won’t understand this next story. Club Trillion is for bench players that get in the last couple minutes of a game. In those couple minutes you have two paths to go… shoot a ton, turnovers, rebounds, etc. or simply just exist and don’t record any stats. If you only record minutes played and no other stats your trillions go up because minutes played is the first stat on the sheet and then the important stats follow (points, shot attempts, fouls, turnovers). So if you play 4 minutes and don’t record any stats your stat line looks something like this (4000000000000) however, if you get a rebound, foul, shoot a shot, make points, etc. you mess up those perfect 0’s with statistics making it looking something closer to… 400011020000. Getting a trillion is not easy because a turnover is bound to happen after sitting ice cold for hours. 

Another Quick Side Story before I go: 4 years ago we were playing Rutgers at the Crib). The Rutgers Coach pulled out all of his starters and put in his bench players (they were losing by 25+). Coach Turgeon sees this and does the unthinkable... puts us in way ahead of schedule for the final stretch of the game. I’m talking like 3:45 on the clock. Out of nowhere there was a loose ball that went out of bounds... I hear the horn and see Corey Sanders and co. started checking back in (Rutgers starters and best players at the time). They went full court kamikaze press like you couldn’t even imagine. At one point I thought one of our own cheerleaders was guarding me because those dudes were everywhere. Corey Sanders was pinching my sides, grabbing my hands, yelling “He don’t want it! He don’t want it!” And I sat there thinking “Well no shit, Corey. Who the f*ck would want to be stuck in a corner getting sandwiched by a 6’7 and a 6’4??”  Don’t worry though, I split that double team, dribbled across half court, and watched that time drop ever so slowly as I counted my trillions. To this day I remember Corey walking past me as time expired, thinking “Yeah, that’s 4 trillion. F*cker.” (Shoutout Mark Titus Club Trillion)

 
 
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