Local angle continues far from home

First came George Mason, Driesell

now, Georgetown

NCAA Tournament

Terps notebook

March 20, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht and Christian Ewell | Gary Lambrecht and Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, Calif. - The Maryland Terrapins keep moving farther away from home, yet they continue to run into familiar sights.

On Thursday at Arrowhead Pond, the Terps will be nearly 3,000 miles from their College Park campus when they square off against another neighbor in the Georgetown Hoyas.

One can thank the NCAA tournament selection committee - which seeded five East Coast teams in the West Region's opening weekend in Boise, Idaho - for the unusual course charted by the Terps. Maryland knocked off Northern Virginia counterpart George Mason in the first round, then whipped former Maryland coach Lefty Driesell's Georgia State Panthers to reach the Sweet 16.

Next up is Georgetown, located maybe a 20-minute drive from College Park. The teams have not faced each other since the opening game of the 1993-1994 season, when then-freshman Joe Smith led Maryland to an overtime victory over the Hoyas at the USAir Arena.

"It's incredible. There's a separate story inside of every game we play," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "Because George Mason is so close to us, it changes the game story. Same thing with Lefty. But you can't complain. You're just thankful you're still playing.

"We had to get through the Mason thing. Then, we had to get through the Lefty thing. Then, we played basketball."

Miller time

When judged by the numbers, junior forward Danny Miller has had a down year.

He lost his starting job after four games to Byron Mouton, and Miller is shooting only 43.4 percent from the field, 30.2 percent from three-point range and 52.6 percent from the free-throw line, each of which marks the lowest percentage of his career. His 4.8-point scoring average is down nearly four points from a year ago.

But Miller is picking the right time to play his best basketball of the year. In his last six games, Miller is averaging 7.0 points and 3.6 rebounds. He can play guard or forward, and has rounded into a perfect complement for the occasionally foul-plagued Mouton, whom Miller replaced with an outstanding 10-point, seven-rebound effort against Georgia State.

"The starters know when they ask to come out, there's not a dog going in there. It's a pretty good player," said Williams, who singled out Miller after the Georgia State victory.

"Danny is so long at that 6-[foot]-8 size. He gives us an effective defensive player that can go inside and outside."

Sizing up

Expect Mike Mardesich, Tahj Holden and Chris Wilcox to see more playing time this weekend.

Unlike George Mason and Georgia State - smaller teams that emphasize quickness - Williams will need to use bigger bodies against Georgetown, which has several players over 6-9, as well as against probable finalist Stanford, which starts two 7-footers.

Last weekend, Mardesich played a total of 12 minutes in two games. Holden and Wilcox might have played more, but not much more.

"Naturally, we have big guys on the bench who can play," Williams said. "Georgetown plays several inside combinations. I would think that our big guys would see more playing time, probably. ... I think they'll be ready to go."

Pleasure before business

Before yesterday's practice at UC-Irvine, the Terps went Disneyland as part of a team trip.

Williams didn't go, explaining: "I've got things to do. ... It's not like I'm on vacation."

Williams said that the team would go through a normal practice, planning to "go pretty hard today."

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