Forward-thinking Terps sign Garrison


6-foot-8 DeMatha scorer to help fill Baxter void

more Blake points seen

College Basketball

November 16, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - With three more announcements expected by today, the Maryland Terrapins secured the first part of their future's nucleus yesterday by signing DeMatha senior power forward Travis Garrison.

According to a university athletic department source, Maryland is looking to receive letters of intent today from shooting guard Chris McCray of Fairmont Heights High School in Prince George's County, small forward Nik Caner-Medley of Deering High in Portland, Maine, and point guard John Gilchrist of Salem High in Virginia Beach, Va. The early one-week signing period concludes Wednesday.

Garrison, 6 feet 8, 230 pounds, averaged 16 points and nine rebounds for DeMatha a year ago, and could become a McDonald's All-American."[Garrison] is one of those players who is a very good shooter at a 6-8, 6-9 size. He runs the court well. Obviously, he's had good coaching [under DeMatha's Morgan Wootten]," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, who, under NCAA regulations, can not talk about his other recruits until they officially have accepted Maryland scholarship offers by signing letters of intent. "He's added about 20 pounds physically, and he really developed his all-around game over the summer."

Garrison projects as a power forward who will have a role in a frontcourt rotation that will lose senior center and All-America candidate Lonny Baxter after this season. Garrison will join veterans Tahj Holden, Chris Wilcox and Ryan Randle down low.

In addition to Baxter, Maryland will lose shooting guard Juan Dixon and small forward Byron Mouton after this season. Caner-Medley, who averaged 26 points and 13 rebounds at Deering last year, could emerge as a starter at Mouton's spot on the wing. McCray projects as a backup to Drew Nicholas, who should fill Dixon's spot at the off guard in the 2002-2003 season as a senior.

Gilchrist, who led Salem to a state championship and a 29-1 record by averaging 20 points, seven assists and eight rebounds, is the point guard of the future. He is expected to push Steve Blake, who will be a senior next year.

Points from point guard

As the Terps prepare for tomorrow's home opener against American University, Williams is pointing once again to Blake to assume more scoring responsibility.

Blake, who has started 71 games at Maryland, scored a career-high 20 points on 6-for-7 shooting in last week's victory over Temple. Then again, Blake passed up several open shots in Tuesday's exhibition victory over Nike Elite. Blake regrouped to make four baskets in a nine-point, 10-assist, six-rebound effort.

Not that Williams wants his junior point guard to think about shooting first.

"I hope [Blake] takes it as it comes. He's at his best when he gets the ball to the other guys in the open, but when he's open, he needs to shoot the ball," said Williams, who thinks the presence of Baxter and Dixon will force opposing defenses to give Blake more clear looks at the basket. "Steve doesn't have to create things in order to score. With Lonny and Juan out there, he'll be open."

Blake, who reached 400 career assists faster than any other Maryland player and needs 177 to break Keith Gatlin's career mark of 649, averaged 6.9 points over his first two seasons. He is a career 40.3 percent shooter, including 37.8 from three-point range.

Blake scored in double figures in 13 of 36 games last year, including nine of the Terps' last 17 and three of their NCAA tournament games. His season high was 15 points.

Not-so-free throws

With the exception of Dixon, Mouton and Blake, the Terps (1-1) shot poorly at the free-throw line in the season-opening Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Besides that trio, Maryland made only nine of 26 free-throw attempts. That's no way for the frontcourt to take advantage of its size and strength.

In the exhibition finale on Tuesday, Maryland looked like it had been practicing its foul shooting. Holden, Baxter, Nicholas and Wilcox, each of whom struggled at Madison Square Garden, made a combined 11 of 13 at the line.

"We've been working on it, but we haven't proven anything yet. We did that in front of about 6,000 people in an exhibition game," Williams said. "We've got to make them on Saturday [against American]."

Guarded optimism

Dixon originally sprained his left ankle early in the second half of the Temple game by stepping on Mouton's foot. Dixon said he expects to play through the pain.

While Nicholas could end up getting at least 20 minutes of average playing time as Williams looks at a three-guard alignment, watch the progress of Calvin McCall, the 6-3 guard and former quarterback of the football team. McCall guards Mouton in practice and is drawing praise from Williams.

"Calvin is more of a basketball player now than he ever was last year. He played against some good competition over the summer. He is going to help us. He makes Byron play every day," Williams said.

UM weekly glance

Last week: The Terps opened the season with their highest preseason ranking at No. 2, then split two games in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden by losing to Arizona, 71-67, then beating Temple, 82-74. Maryland then beat Nike Elite in its final exhibition tuneup, 99-67.

The next week: Maryland resumes its regular season by playing host to American University tomorrow, then will face visiting Delaware State on Nov. 24.

Of note: The Terps officially begin their final season at Cole Field House tomorrow.

Worth watching: Senior guard Juan Dixon sprained his left ankle in the second half of the Temple victory and is playing with noticeable discomfort.

By the numbers: With a victory over American, where he began his 23-year coaching career, Maryland's Gary Williams will own 244 victories in College Park, moving him past Bud Millikan and into second place in school history behind Lefty Driesell, who won 348 games over 17 seasons at Maryland.

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