Back up, Terps swing for Cavs

Duke disaster turns into motivation as UM hits road tonight

January 31, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Nothing erases an excruciating loss like the chance to play again.

Just ask Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams. In the hours after Saturday night's amazing, come-from-ahead 98-96 overtime loss to visiting Duke, Williams barely slept. On Sunday, Williams flew to Tampa, Fla., to join his friend, Ravens minority owner Stephen J. Bisciotti, at Super Bowl XXXV, where the Ravens won the big game and sparked a citywide party.

Let's just say Williams did not jump up and down celebrating in the owner's box.

"You can't be yourself. You dwell on that [Duke] game. It was not my best day," said Williams, who watched his team squander a 10-point lead with 54 seconds left in regulation play against the Blue Devils. "It still hurts as a coach. But you have to put whatever feelings you have aside and get ready to play again. What you do is prepare for Virginia."

The 11th-ranked Cavaliers (14-4), who have gone 3-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, losing to unranked Georgia Tech, to Wake Forest by 23 points and to Duke by 42 points, would be well-served to be ready for the visiting, No. 9 Terps.

Maryland (14-5, 5-2 ACC), which is camped in third place in the ACC and concludes the first half of its conference schedule tonight at University Hall, has lost only to Duke and North Carolina, who share first place in the ACC (both at 7-0) and play tomorrow night in Durham.

Senior forward Terence Morris said the Terps broke out of their post-Duke funk with a crisp practice Monday. Morris expects Maryland to release some anger in Charlottesville.

"We're pretty upset," said Morris, who is averaging 17.7 points and 9.7 rebounds against the league. "We know we can play with anybody in the country. I could tell at practice that we had really bounced back from [the Duke loss]. The only way to show our frustration is to pound Virginia."

The Terps will need to pound some formidable inside opponents in forwards Chris Williams and Travis Watson to make that happen. And they need to play the same type of perimeter defense they exhibited against Duke on Virginia shooters Roger Mason, Keith Friel and Donald Hand.

At 6 feet 8, Watson is averaging 9.3 rebounds a game. Williams, 6-7, is a similar worker who averages 7.1 rebounds to go with his team-leading scoring average of 15.4 points.

Hand has stepped in capably at the point, where the Cavaliers are weaker without Majestic Mapp, out for the season with a knee injury. Hand has cut down on his tendency to get out of control while feeding Mason (14.2 ppg) and Friel (8.9 ppg), who each shoot over 40 percent from three-point range.

The Cavaliers like to press and force tempo, which the Terps welcome with a 10-man rotation that looks stronger by the week with the continued emergence of forward Tahj Holden and the steady play of forward Danny Miller.

"They are a very quick team," Williams said of Virginia. "They have enough three-point shooters to make you respect the three-point line. At the same time, they have people who can penetrate."

It will be interesting to see if Maryland point guard Steve Blake can match or top his superb showing against Duke. Blake frustrated point guard Jason Williams all night, before fouling out late in regulation.

Maryland also expects Morris and center Lonny Baxter to be around longer than they were on Saturday, when foul trouble limited their roles against the Blue Devils.

Williams expects to see a rejuvenated Terps squad hit the floor.

"I like our guys. I don't have any doubt in my mind that we're going to be ready to play," he said.

Said Virginia coach Pete Gillen: "That was a tough loss [against Duke], but Gary is a great coach who has been at this a long time. Kids are more resilient than older people. I expect them to be ready."

Terps tonight

Opponent: Virginia

Site: University Hall, Charlottesville, Va.

Time: 9 p.m.

TV/Radio: ESPN/WBAL (1090 AM)

Rankings: Maryland No. 9; Virginia No. 11

Records: Maryland 14-5, 5-2 ACC; Virginia 14-4, 3-4 ACC

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