Written by Andrew Terrell
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…
Don’t pull a hammy.
Don’t get put on an island (a kid is telling you that you cannot guard him and just takes you 1 v 1)
THEY ARE GOING TO FULL COURT PRESS YOU.
I should have used the bathroom at half time.
Let’s rock and roll.