Duke brings Terps shot at redemption

Another win over No. 1 would recharge hosts after road loss to Wake

7 starters gone from last year

`Duke brings best out of us and we the best of them'

Duke brings UM shot at redemption

January 18, 2003|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Three days after stumbling in their first Atlantic Coast Conference road test, three days after failing once again to beat an opponent ranked in the Top 25, the Maryland Terrapins could make things right in one afternoon, on one bright stage.

When top-ranked Duke, the nation's only remaining undefeated team, pays its first visit to Comcast Center today, it will mark a renewal of a rivalry that has mushroomed in recent years. It also gives the 17th- ranked Terps a chance to find a gear they will need to make a worthy stand as defending ACC regular-season and NCAA champions.

What better way for Maryland (9-4, 2-1) to wipe the dust off its disappointing 81-72 loss at No. 19 Wake Forest on Wednesday than to knock the Blue Devils (12-0, 3-0) out of the top spot for the second straight time? Last Feb. 17, the Terps kick-started their national title drive by whipping No. 1 Duke at Cole Field House.

So much has changed since then. Seven combined starters from last year's game, including Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter and Jay Williams, are gone. Six of them are in the NBA. Yet two proud programs keep chugging along, preparing for another much-anticipated collision.

"Hopefully, history will repeat itself," said Maryland senior forward Tahj Holden, alluding to last year's 87-73 victory at Cole, which gave the Terps a 3-6 record against Duke in the past three seasons. "I think [Duke] brings the best out of us and we bring the best out of them. I think it's because we respect each other so much."

Said Terps coach Gary Williams: "I wouldn't trade being able to coach this game for anything. You can look at a lot of basketball and you won't find a better atmosphere, whether it's here or at Duke. You don't get the opportunity to play the No. 1 team in the country very often."

If Maryland is going to drop the Blue Devils, the Terps need to show a tougher edge than they displayed at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons came out aggressively and never stopped, while going to the foul line and grabbing key rebounds all night. Conversely, the Terps were on their heels for about 30 minutes, before nearly erasing a 17-point deficit with tremendous help from their bench.

It was enough to make Williams seriously contemplate more lineup changes up front, where freshman forwards Travis Garrison and Nik Caner-Medley have struggled as ACC starters.

Garrison is averaging 3.0 points and one rebound in league games. He played one minute in the second half at Wake. Caner-Medley (5.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg vs. the ACC) was on the floor for 11 minutes in Winston-Salem, four of them after halftime. At least one of them appears to be headed back to the bench.

"There's not going to be that automatic rotation," Williams said.

"We need the ball. We need rebounds," said senior swing man Calvin McCall, who probably has played his way back into the starting lineup in Caner-Medley's place after a string of inspired outings. McCall's 10 points sparked a 35-point effort from the Terps' bench Wednesday.

Both benches should have much to say about who survives today. Unlike recent years, when they were dominated by several starters, the Blue Devils sport a solid eight-man rotation. Unlike recent years, Duke is not living and dying with the three-point shot, although four of its shooters are capable. Duke has become more balanced with a physical presence down low.

The Blue Devils have changed some roles, integrated outstanding freshmen into their scheme, and are leading the ACC in scoring (89.5 ppg).

Senior Chris Duhon has taken over as the starting point guard and leads the league with 8.2 assists per game. Senior forward Dahntay Jones is not just a defensive specialist anymore, but one of the main options on offense. He is averaging 16.7 points and a team-high 5.7 rebounds.

As the Terps continue to groom promising freshmen like guards Chris McCray and John Gilchrist, Duke is getting great mileage out of its newcomers, starting with freshman shooting guard J.J. Redick. He leads the team with a 21.7-point average against the ACC.

Then there are forwards Shelden Williams and Shavlik Randolph. Williams (7.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg) has moved into the starting lineup. Randolph (10.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg) has been superb off the bench. And sophomore guard Daniel Ewing (12.3 ppg) has provided instant offense in relief.

Williams wants to see senior guard Drew Nicholas erase the 4-for-14 shooting night he endured at Wake. He wants to see the Terps beat their first ranked opponent in four tries. Mainly, he wants his team to be more active and aggressive - especially inside - than the one that played so tentatively at Wake Forest.

"We all have to be on that page in terms of emotion," he said. "We're halfway through the schedule now. We can't afford to go flat in any game we play the rest of the way."

Terps today

Matchup:No. 17 Maryland (9-4) vs. No. 1 Duke (12-0)

Site:Comcast Center, College Park

Time:1:30 p.m.

TV/Radio:Chs. 2, 7/WBAL (1090 AM)

Line:Maryland by 1 1/2Inside

Redick makes immediate impact at Duke.[Page 5c]

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