Terps' Dixon, Baxter eager to get home

China `great experience' despite 1-point loss, illness

College Basketball

September 01, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Juan Dixon sounded homesick. Lonny Baxter, his University of Maryland basketball teammate, actually was sick.

After spending nearly two weeks in Beijing representing the United States at the World University Games, each of them was eager to return home.

The trip was memorable. Dixon, a senior guard, led the United States to a 7-1 record by averaging a team-high 19.3 points. His team-high 24 points led the team to an 80-78 victory yesterday over Germany, securing the bronze medal for the Americans.

Dixon led the team in scoring six times. Baxter, a senior center, averaged 15 points in a reserve role.

Then there was the downside, beginning with the 83-82 loss to host China in the semifinals, breaking a 46-game winning streak by the United States, which had won six consecutive gold medals at semiannual, mini-Olympics for college students.

On top of that, Baxter did not even play against Germany, thanks to a stomach virus. Dixon, who said he enjoyed the experience of international competition, was happy to be heading home in good health. He said Baxter, who was unavailable, also had twisted an ankle.

"This was my first time coming overseas, and it's been a great experience being part of the USA team, something I've always looked forward to. I came here to take care of some business, and we fell a little short," Dixon said yesterday by phone from Beijing.

"But I can't wait to come home. You can't drink the water here, can't eat fruit or vegetables. You have to use bottled water to brush your teeth. You can't open your mouth when you take a shower. Lonny had stomach problems before the China game."

Dixon and Baxter were scheduled to land in Baltimore late tonight, after a 14-hour flight.

Dixon said he was struck by how crowded Beijing was, and by the number of thin people, young and old, he witnessed riding bicycles. He added that finding two familiar food franchises were blessings.

"I weighed 174 pounds when I left. Luckily, I found a TGI Fridays and an Outback, or I might be weighing about 130 by now," Dixon said.

Maryland coach Gary Williams said he had spoken with Dixon and Baxter once during their trip.

"It's something different for them. It's not a comfortable situation most of the time," Williams said. "You're out of your element. But the experience you gain from it certainly is beneficial."

Dixon said adjusting to the officiating at the international level was a challenge, adding that many touch fouls were called on the Americans.

"China shot 26 free throws, we shot eight," he said. "But Lonny and I got a chance to do what we do best, and it was a lot of fun playing with these guys. I'm glad I had the chance to do it."

NOTES: Terps junior forward Tahj Holden, who withdrew from the World University Games tryouts after injuring his right Achilles' tendon in early August, is healthy and playing pickup games on campus, Williams said. ... Point guard John Gilchrist and forward Travis Garrison, each of whom Maryland is recruiting for 2002, visited the campus this week. Sources said Gilchrist is leaning toward a commitment to North Carolina State, while the Terps are hoping for an oral commitment soon from Garrison, a DeMatha senior. Maryland also is setting its sights on Allegany Community College sophomore forward Jamar Smith.

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