While focusing on job, UM looks ahead, back

Duty calls for Terps, but they keep an eye on future, honor past

College Basketball

November 17, 2001|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - The Maryland Terrapins glanced toward the future yesterday and will celebrate the past today as they focus on the present.

Second-ranked Maryland, one week removed from a 1-1 showing in the season-opening Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Madison Square Garden, will resume its regular season by playing host to American University, which is where Terps coach Gary Williams got his start 23 years ago.

And that's only part of the story. Maryland will open its final season at Cole Field House with a nod to last year's Final Four team - the first in school history - by unveiling a banner honoring the 2000-2001 Terps in a pre-game ceremony.

And as Williams contemplates the move next year into the brand new Comcast Center, the new face of the Maryland program has begun to take shape.

Yesterday, the Terps completed their pertinent Class of 2002 recruiting priorities by announcing the signing of a prized incoming group, including 6-foot-9 DeMatha forward Travis Garrison, 6-4 Fairmont Heights guard Chris McCray, 6-1 Salem (Va.) High point guard John Gilchrist and 6-7 small forward Nik Caner-Medley of Deering High in Portland, Maine.

Oh, then there is the matter of playing the Eagles, led by former Virginia coach Jeff Jones, who are coming off a 7-20 season and should be no match for the bigger, quicker Maryland thoroughbreds.

For the Terps, it's a chance to get back to a regular schedule after opening a season at the earliest time in school history, then following up with their exhibition finale on Tuesday.

"Even though those two games counted in New York, this feels like the first game," Williams said. "Maybe it's playing at Cole and the fact that we just played an exhibition game. Cole on game day is as good as there is. There will be people here who have been here every year at Cole."

As for the new recruits who will open their collegiate careers at the Comcast Center, Williams said the allure of playing in a new building for an Atlantic Coast Conference team with a Final Four pedigree - and a squad that loses three starters - combined to help Maryland.

"The four players in this class all have proven themselves in different ways against the best players in the country. With the loss of three important seniors [guard Juan Dixon, center Lonny Baxter, forward Byron Mouton] next year, the addition of these four will allow us to remain competitive at the level where we want to be," said Williams, who added he might use a fifth scholarship by next year.

Maryland has looked into 6-9 sophomore forward Jamar Smith of Allegany College.

As for today's game, Williams said Dixon will play, as his recovery from a sprained left ankle has progressed nicely. Williams also has settled on junior Tahj Holden as the starter at power forward, preferring to bring sophomore Chris Wilcox and his explosive leaping ability off the bench as a spark.

Look for Williams to work with a nine-man rotation that includes backup center Ryan Randle and reserve guard Calvin McCall. And look for the Terps to start fast, after stumbling out of the gate in the second game in New York against Temple and Nike Elite in Tuesday's exhibition.

"We need a real game, and this is great," said Mouton. "We've got to get really involved and play hard from the start. We've got to punish [American]. It's all about winning, and it's all about dominating."

Maryland today

Opponent: American

Site: Cole Field House, College Park

When: 1 p.m.

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WTEM (980 AM)

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.