Terps climb to No. 5, highest spot in 11 years

January 31, 1995|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- When the Maryland Terrapins broke into the national rankings last season for the first time in eight years, it was a big deal to coach Gary Williams and his players.

When Maryland started the current season ranked seventh in the Associated Press poll, it meant that a program long starved for respect and attention had climbed back from the depths to be considered among the top teams in the country.

When the Terrapins arrived yesterday afternoon for practice, few if any had heard that they had jumped from No. 8 last week to No. 5 this week. It is the highest Maryland has been ranked in 11 years, when a team led by Ben Coleman and Len Bias also was ranked fifth.

"It was a shock to hear that," junior guard Johnny Rhodes said of this week's ranking. "We've been trying to get there since before the UMass game and now we're there. This is a dream come true."

On the strength of its 6-1 start in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which included the school's first win over Duke in seven years Saturday, Maryland (16-3) is in pretty heady company.

The jump of three spots was second only to Kansas, which moved from No. 7 to No. 3 after demolishing then-second-ranked Connecticut on Saturday in Kansas City, Mo. Massachusetts retained the No. 1 spot despite its shaky win over West Virginia, with North Carolina moving up to No. 2. Connecticut fell to fourth.

Asked about the pressure that now faces his team, Williams said:

"If we want to have a good program, we have to get used to it. It was Vegas for a while, then Duke and North Carolina. We've been doing this for eight weeks. It's not easy, but it beats being the way it was before."

Maryland will put its ranking, as well as its first five-game ACC winning streak since 1979-80, on the line when it is host to No. 15 Virginia tomorrow night at 7 at Cole Field House. The Terps play at No. 21 Georgia Tech on Saturday.

"We're playing really well," said junior forward Exree Hipp. "We can't have a letdown."

Said Rhodes: "It sort of puts pressure on us, being the No. 5 team. You're expected to do well every night. It's pretty unbelievable. There aren't too many teams above us."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.