Terps look to move forward vs. Wagner

Garrison, Holden to keep sorting power forward roles in ACC tuneup

College Basketball

January 04, 2003|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - For the Maryland Terrapins, today's 4 p.m. game against Wagner at the Comcast Center and Wednesday's game against Hampton precede a six-game stretch during which the 22nd-ranked Terps play only conference opponents.

It just may be the perfect time for the Terps' power forward position to work itself out.

With senior Tahj Holden, who was relatively quiet in his first seven games as a starter, away from the team during its Dec. 23 game against UMBC because of a death in his family, freshman Travis Garrison was inserted into the starting lineup. He started again in Sunday's 84-77 win over Georgia Tech.

Against the Yellow Jackets, Garrison scored only two points in eight minutes, while Holden, looking more comfortable than he has all season, came off the bench and scored 11 points to go along with three blocks, three steals and four rebounds.

Terps coach Gary Williams didn't confirm who would be in the starting lineup today, but his attitude very much suggested he was taking an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach.

"If our starters can do a good enough job, then I don't see anything wrong with that," Williams said of Holden coming off the bench. "Let's face it, Tahj has played most of his minutes here off the bench. I think he knows how to do it as well as anybody."

A lot may depend on how the 6-foot-8, 234-pound Garrison bounces back. The heralded freshman out of Washington power DeMatha has had his moments, most notably his eight-point, four-rebound, two-block effort in 26 gritty minutes against Indiana.

Then, there have been games like Sunday's during which Garrison, who has been hindered by foul trouble and occasional defensive lapses, looks uninspired.

Williams wants Garrison to become more of a post player who scores on inside moves, rather than a player who ventures from the paint and settles for jump shots. Holden faced a similar transition when he arrived in College Park.

"In high school, I really didn't have to play the post that much," said Garrison, who is averaging 6.0 points and 4.6 rebounds in 18.0 minutes. "Coming in here and having to start new, it's been pretty tough, but I think I've been coming along. ... I'm trying to learn to score on the bigger guys."

One of Garrison's goals for today's game against Wagner mirrored his team's: find consistency.

Maryland played well against Georgia Tech, and the Seahawks, out of the Northeast Conference, aren't supposed to pose too big of a threat. Williams, however, is not convinced.

Led into College Park, familiar territory for Wagner fourth-year coach Dereck Whittenburg, a former All-ACC performer at N.C. State, the Seahawks (4-5) have shrugged off a four-game December losing streak with two straight wins.

Williams may have been most impressed by Wagner's early December loss to highly ranked Connecticut. Playing away from its Staten Island, N.Y., home and before more than 10,000 in the Gampel Pavilion, Wagner trailed by just five late in the second half before falling, 97-85.

"I've learned, having coached at four different places, you respect everybody you play," said Williams, who talked about the importance of keeping the Seahawks off the free-throw line and denying open three-point looks. "It's up to us to show that we are better tomorrow."

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