Terps' preseason respect at new high: No. 2 by AP

Only Duke ahead of UM

Williams: `great honor'

College Basketball

November 06, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Terrapins, no strangers to lofty expectations in recent years, yesterday got a dose of the highest preseason hype ever lavished upon them.

Maryland's preseason ranking of No. 2 in the Associated Press poll is the highest preseason spot the Terps have held.

"It's a great honor. Very few schools have those expectations. We've worked hard to get those expectations," said coach Gary Williams, who begins his 13th season with the Terps when they open Thursday against Arizona in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.

"It's obviously very nice to be rated that high in the preseason. There's a lot of great teams out there. I've had years when we hoped we could crack the top 100. It's something you work hard for in a program. But we still have to prove we're that good."

The Terps, who trail only defending national champion Duke in the poll, return four starters and seven of their top nine scorers from last season's 25-11 team, which went to the first Final Four in school history.

Maryland faced Duke four times, losing three games, with the last defeat coming in the national semifinals March 31.

Duke and Maryland become only the second pair of teams from the same conference to open the season as the AP's top two teams. The only other instance was in 1985, when Georgia Tech and North Carolina were voted those spots.

The last time the Terps were No. 2 in the AP poll was Dec. 7, 1998, when Maryland beat then-No. 5 Stanford to win the BB&T Classic tournament.

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