Terps unveil new look in exhibition win

Nicholas shows sharp eye in 98-79 rout of Aussies

November 04, 1999|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- You knew that Terence Morris is one of the nation's finest talents, but Maryland's first basketball exhibition was about the unknown.

The new-look Terps left plenty of impressions. Among them: Morris will get some time at small forward; Juan Dixon had better be stronger, because he has double the responsibilities he had as a freshman; and most vividly of all, opponents cannot afford to give freshman Drew Nicholas an open look at the basket.

Minus three NBA draft picks and a veteran point guard who carried the Terps to a landmark season in the Top 5, coach Gary Williams debuted a retooled lineup last night with a 98-79 pounding of the Down Under Bandits of Australia before an announced crowd of 10,203 at a half-filled Cole Field House.

Maryland drew shrugs when it received an oral commitment from Nicholas 14 months ago, but he continued to progress during his senior season at Long Island (N.Y.) Lutheran. A smooth shooting stroke is his biggest asset, and he drained six straight three-pointers during a seven-minute span in the second half.

The flurry left Nicholas with a team-high 20 points.

"I've never hit six in a row in my life," said Nicholas, whose only shot in the first half was an air ball from the right corner. "Once my second shot fell, my confidence just soared. After that, I just got into a pattern."

Maryland doesn't have the open-court talent it had last season -- who does? -- and Williams has made half-court efficiency a priority. It will help when the Terps shoot from the perimeter as well as they did last night, as Nicholas and Danny Miller helped them make 12-for-23 from behind the three-point stripe.

The visitors' zone limited the looks for Morris, the junior forward from Frederick who's a candidate for national Player of the Year. He did get to play the three spot when Williams went big, with Lonny Baxter and Tahj Holden on the baseline, Miller on the other wing and Dixon at the point.

Dixon, a redshirt sophomore from Calvert Hall, played a game-high 31 minutes after averaging fewer than 15 last season. He'll start on the wing and back up freshman Steve Blake at the point, a demanding role for a 6-foot-3, 152-pounder.

"I'm ready for the challenge," said Dixon, who had 18 points and five assists. "We're a young team, and a lot of guys have to step up. I'm one of them."

With Blake pushing the tempo to the tune of 12 assists, the Terps displayed some midseason form in the open court.

Morris triggered a transition opportunity with one of his five blocks. Earlier, Holden's defensive rebound whipped its way from fellow freshmen Nicholas to Blake to Baxter. Dixon tossed a court-length strike to Nicholas, who knows how to catch, square and shoot.

Maryland scored the first seven points and used a 12-2 run to pry open a close game and build a 35-22 lead in the 13th minute. The professionals from Australia opened the second half with a 9-2 run to get within 56-47, but they got within nine just once more.

NOTE: The Terps will play their second and final exhibition a week from tonight against the California All-Stars.

AUSTRALIA BANDITS -- Stolberg 4-14 2-2 11, Chamlers 0-1 1-2 1, Norton 0-2 0-0 0, Robertson 8-16 2-2 22, McCowan 3-12 3-4 10, Moore 3-7 0-0 6, Richardsonn 1-5 0-0 2, Artis 2-3 2-2 6, Issitt 4-4 0-0 9, Mitchell 4-6 2-4 12. Totals 29-70 12-16 79.

MARYLAND -- Miller 4-7 2-4 13, Morris 5-12 4-6 14, Baxter 5-7 2-2 12, Dixon 7-18 2-2 18, Blake 1-4 4-4 7, Nicholas 6-7 2-2 20, Hahn 0-0 2-2 2, Cephas 0-0 0-0 0, Mardesich 2-4 2-5 6, Holden 2-2 2-2 6.

Halftime--Maryland, 54-38. 3-point goals--Australia 9-24 (Robertson 4-8, McCowan 1-6, Mitchell 2-2, Issitt 1-1, Stolberg 1-4, Moore 0-3), Maryland 12-23 (Nicholas 6-7, Miller 3-6, Blake 1-3, Dixon 2-5, Morris 0-2). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--Australia 27 (Mitchell 6), Maryland 49 (Morris 10). Assists--Australia 13 (Moore 4), Maryland 26 (Blake 12). Total fouls--Australia 24, Maryland 16. A--10,203.

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