Hungry Terps eager to get started

Dixon heads 10 returnees with eyes on national title

College Basketball

October 11, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Juan Dixon looked and sounded ready to start the season right now.

Pound for pound, the 6-foot-3, 170-pound Dixon is considered the strongest player on the team. A preseason All-America pick, the senior shooting guard from Calvert Hall said he has been through his most rigorous off-season ever, on the court and in the weight room. He capped his summer by leading the U.S. team to a bronze medal at the World University Games in Beijing.

Now, Dixon's eyes are on the start of his final go-round in College Park, and he will not have long to wait. The Terrapins, six months removed from the first trip to the Final Four in school history, begin their quest for a national championship in four weeks, when they open against Arizona in the first round of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden.

"We're anxious. We have a great team coming back, and we have great guys coming in," Dixon said at yesterday's annual men's basketball media day at Cole Field House, where Maryland will play one last season before moving into the Comcast Center across campus next fall.

"We need to stay focused and stay hungry. I've never been this hungry. I'm in game shape right now. I'm getting on guys all the time in pickup [games]. This is no joke. People are putting us in the top three, and we have to show people that we deserve that ranking. We have to start that by practicing hard on Saturday."

The Terps, who open with a brief workout at tomorrow night's Midnight Madness event, figure to contend for an Atlantic Coast Conference title and then a national crown with a squad returning 10 players, including four starters, led by Dixon and senior center Lonny Baxter.

Coach Gary Williams is eager to learn many things about his 13th Maryland team.

Will Tahj Holden and Chris Wilcox combine for solid production at power forward, vacated by Terence Morris? Will Byron Mouton be a force at small forward without Danny Miller there to push him? Will point guard Steve Blake be a bigger scoring threat? Will Drew Nicholas have a major impact backing up Dixon or Blake? Can freshman Mike Grinnon do more than shoot at small forward? Can freshman point guard Andre Collins contribute? How deep and versatile will Maryland be?

"The pressure of being ranked high is much better than the pressure you feel when people don't think you're very good," Williams said. "I like our team."

NOTE: DeMatha senior power forward Travis Garrison, 6-9, has given Maryland an oral commitment, which completes the recruiting class for the incoming class of 2002. Garrison joins point guard John Gilchrist, shooting guard Chris McCray and small forward Nik Caner-Medley.

Maryland men's schedule

November

2 California All-Stars (exhibition), 8 p.m. ; 8 x-Arizona, 9;9 x-Temple or Florida, 6:30/9 p.m.; 13 NIKE Elite (exhibition), 8; 17 American, 1; 24 Delaware State, 1; 27 Illinois (ACC/Big Ten Challenge), 7

December

2 y-Princeton, 1; 3 y-UConn or G. Washington, 5:30/8; 9 Detroit, 6:30; 11 Monmouth, 8 p.m. ;21 at Oklahoma, 9 p.m.; 27 William and Mary, 8 p.m.;30 at N.C. State, 6 p.m.

January

3 Norfolk State, 8 p.m.;9 North Carolina, 7:30 p.m.; 13 at Georgia Tech, 2 p.m. ; 17 at Duke, 9 p.m.; 20 Clemson, 6:30 p.m.;23 at Wake Forest, 7:30 p.m.; 26 Florida State, 4 p.m.; 31 at Virginia, 7 p.m.

February

3 N.C. State, 6 p.m.;10 at North Carolina, 6:30 p.m.; 13 Georgia Tech, 7:30 p.m.;17 Duke, 1 p.m.; 20 at Clemson, 9 p.m.; 24 Wake Forest, 2 p.m.; 27 at Florida State, 9 p.m.

March

3 Virginia, 8 p.m.; 7-10 z-ACC tournament, TBA

x-Coach vs. Cancer Classic, New York; y-BB&T Classic, Washington; z-at Charlotte (N.C.) Coliseum.

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