Miller dressed, but goes nowhere

Sophomore forward rests up, is ready for second NCAA game

March 17, 2000|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS -- Maryland's Danny Miller didn't want the day off and promised that it would not be an extended vacation.

The Terrapins small forward discovered he would miss his first start of the season yesterday morning, when the coaching staff decided it wouldn't be a risk to rest his sprained left ankle against Iona. But Miller intends on beginning a new streak tomorrow, when the stakes are higher against UCLA.

"I expect to be back Saturday," Miller said.

Although the coaches agreed Miller would not start, there was a contingency plan heading into the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. If third-seeded Maryland had struggled against No. 14 Iona in the first half, Miller was prepared to hop off the bench.

Miller jammed his ankle in the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game Sunday, and missed both practices leading up to last night's game. Yet despite skipping warm-ups last night, the 6-foot-8 sophomore arrived before tip-off in uniform and barely favored his left ankle.

"If I had to, yeah, I could have played," said Miller, the Terps' fourth-leading scorer (8.6) and defensive stopper who had played in every one of his 77-game collegiate career. "But I think Coach wanted to save me as long as he could and get me as much rest as possible. We decided if we could rest me, we would rest me. They wanted to give me as much as possible so I can heal quicker.

"So I'm dressed and ready to go just in case I had to. Fortunately, we got off to a good lead and looked good from there."

A large part of that easy transition and 20-4 game-opening run was Miller's replacement, Tahj Holden.

Making his third start of the season, the 6-foot-10 freshman remained poised in his first taste of March Madness and did it in Miller style. He used his four-inch height advantage to quiet Iona's top scorer, Tariq Kirksay, who could only scratch out four points in the first half.

"I'm excited because it's my first NCAA tournament and I got to start," Holden said. "I'm not excited the way it happened. I would have liked to play my way into the starting lineup."

Said guard Steve Blake: "It went pretty smooth. Of course, we want Danny back in the lineup."

Miller has relegated himself to stationary shooting and casual dribbling off to the side this week. He will test his ankle for the first time in a full practice today.

But Miller doesn't anticipate any problems. In fact, Miller joked that his ankle felt less awkward than sitting out an entire game.

"It was real tough, especially being all dressed up and ready to go just in case," Miller said. "It was weird just kicking back and watching.

"The hardest thing will be getting back in the flow and getting my timing back. My ankle is getting better and better every day, and I'm going to keep getting treatment."

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