COLLEGE PARK -- All last season, he practiced with the team, a transfer from a Division I top 10 team who walked into the hailstorm that was to befall University of Maryland basketball.
When the National Collegiate Athletic Association imposed severe sanctions and two starters defected, coach Gary Williams believed Matt Roe might be on his way out the door.
But Roe, a senior who played for three NCAA tournament teams at Syracuse, remained at College Park to finish his career and will be a major factor this year when the Terps strive to find the road back.
"It's an amazing story," Williams said at the team's media day luncheon yesterday. "I thought if anybody left here it might have been Matt Roe. He has been through a lot."
Roe, a 6-6 swingman from Manlius, N.Y., said he never seriously considered a move.
"There was no reason to leave except maybe not being in a postseason tournament," said Roe. "In three years I had been to the NCAA three times and competed for a national
championship. I had had a lot of luck, but I had already been there."
The other factors far outweighed the obvious. Playing time. Academics (he is a 3.6 student in speech communications). The proximity of the big Eastern cities. Williams.
"Those factors hadn't changed when the probation hit," Roe said. "And three schools in five years would have been awful tough, especially moving away from my family. If I had transferred again, it might have taken two more years to finish school."
There is little doubt Roe will step into the starting lineup. He hopes to prove he is a more complete player than at Syracuse, where coach Jim Boeheim viewed him strictly as a three-point shooter.
With 6-foot-8 Walt Williams at point guard, Roe on the wing and the frontcourt relatively inexperienced with Jerrod Mustaf gone, Maryland will be depending heavily on the matchup problems it will present from its guards.
"I left [Syracuse] because I felt I could do more for another team," Roe said. "I was looked at as sort of a clone, strictly a three-point shooter. Here, I can get involved more, rebound and mix it up, pass.
"Limiting my role up there wasn't going to alter my goals. There's no excuse for me not to get inside a little bit. I don't think I'm strictly a perimeter player."
Williams said Roe spent more time in Cole Field House last season than anyone who was active and applauds his "work ethic." Roe said the "toughest part was watching the games."
But that is all behind him as the Terps practice without Mustaf, the leading scorer who left school early and signed with the New York Knicks, Tony Massenburg (San Antonio Spurs), Teyon McCoy, who transferred to Texas, and Jesse Martin, who redshirted to improve his academic work.
"Losing four starters doesn't mean we can't have a good basketball team," said Williams. "The best part has been the attitude. I think that's important for us this year. They haven't needed any motivation from me."
Maryland will have to develop some inside punch from Cedric Lewis, heretofore a defensive specialist, and Baltimore's Evers Burns, but Roe and Williams will have to carry a heavy load until that happens.
"I know I'm going to have to score some points," said Roe, who holds every three-point record at Syracuse and was a two-year starter.
"But I want to get involved in Coach Williams' system of hustle and defense, too. The program hit a real low, but five or 10 years from now I think they'll be back to being a powerhouse. I want to be here at the start."
Matt Roe's records at Syracuse
Most 3-pointers, game 6
Most 3-pointers, season 83
Most 3-pointers, career 159
Consecutive games, 3-pointers 16
*Four-point plays, game 4
* - Big East record