Williams, Terps enjoy Midnight Madness

UM gets the ball rolling as Red-White play before a near-capacity crowd

College Basketball

October 19, 2003|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - The festivities began just after midnight yesterday, with an introductory laser show and a parade of ceremonial dunks performed by the University of Maryland men's basketball team, starting with its five-man freshman class.

Then came 15-year Terps coach Gary Williams, another freshman of sorts. Less than a day after taking his first motorcycle riding lesson, Williams, sporting a leather jacket to complete the look, drove a Harley-Davidson onto the Comcast Center court and sent another charge through the near-capacity crowd.

After that, Williams, with former Maryland great Walt Williams seated at his side, watched his team's first Red-White scrimmage. And with that, another Midnight Madness party was complete.

"This is a fun night, a good night for college basketball. It's an exciting time, especially this year, just to get a look at everybody together. You can see there's talent there," Williams said.

When the 15-minute competition was done, freshman guard Mike Jones had offered a glimpse of his much-heralded talent by knocking down a string of jump shots to lead the White team to a 44-34 victory. Sophomore point guard John Gilchrist had pleased the crowd with his shooting and ability to penetrate. Sophomore forward Nik Caner-Medley looked fully recovered from a dislocated ankle.

Basketball was officially back in College Park. The Terps, sporting an extremely youthful squad featuring six players with one year of Division I experience to complement those five newcomers, formally began practice at 10:30 a.m. yesterday.

"I think we're athletic enough. We've got big guys that can run, guards that can get up in the air, and we're strong," Williams said. "Now it's a question of can we play defense? Can we rebound? Can we do all of the things that win big games?

"The pressure this year is to try to figure it out. Who are our best eight or nine players? What's the best team to put on the court most of the time? Nobody knows that. You don't go into a season looking for excuses. You don't get any sympathy from your opponents. I think a lot of teams are waiting for us this year."

At least Williams, 58, won his first battle. He and the Harley survived in one piece.

"It's been done before, but I thought I'd try while I still could try it," he said. "I'm still alive. That's what I liked about it."

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