As Duke rival, UM no heel

Despite Devils' opinions, Terps worthy opponents

Men

February 12, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - The chant is heard at Cameron Indoor Stadium every time Maryland visits Duke, a reminder to the Terrapins about where they fall in the Blue Devils' pecking order.

"Not our rivals!" howl the Cameron Crazies, who get more enjoyment from a victory over Tobacco Road neighbor North Carolina than from one over the Terps.

However, it would be impossible for even the most headstrong Duke fan to deny that any Atlantic Coast Conference team has given the Blue Devils as many problems recently as Maryland, which will go for a third straight victory in the series tonight at 9 at sold-out Comcast Center.

The Terps (14-7, 5-5 ACC) have won six of their past 15 games against the Blue Devils. Over the same stretch against Duke, Georgia Tech is 1-14, Wake Forest is 3-12 and North Carolina State is 2-13. Then, there's North Carolina, which is 2-13 during that period, including a one-point loss on Wednesday night in Durham.

"That's the biggest game of the year in the league," said Terps coach Gary Williams, his voice overflowing with sarcasm when asked about this week's North Carolina-Duke matchup. "Come on, they are all big for everybody. ... We have our own rivalry. That's a great rivalry they have. It's a longer rivalry, but we have a great rivalry, too."

The latest chapter will play out tonight before an ESPN national television audience and the network's College GameDay crew, which will be broadcasting live from College Park at 11 a.m. The behavior of Terps fans, which received national attention after the Duke game last season when a vulgar chant directed at Blue Devils guard J.J. Redick was audible on television, will undoubtedly be a major subplot.

And so will the Terps' attempt to do something no ACC team has accomplished since the 1994-95 campaign: sweep the Blue Devils (18-2, 8-2 and tied for first in ACC) in a regular-season series. Maryland won at Duke, 75-66, on Jan. 26 to jump-start a once-stammering season.

Maryland has swept the season series just twice since Mike Krzyzewski became the Blue Devils' coach in 1981 and one of those times came in the 1994-95 season when Krzyzewski coached just 12 games before leaving the team because of back surgery.

"If we beat them twice this year, then so be it," said Terps junior point guard John Gilchrist. "We're just going to go out there ... and do what we did last time. It's really no adjustment in their game [plan]. They have a style of play that works."

Asked if he saw anything different from the Blue Devils in their victory over the Tar Heels on Wednesday, Williams said: "It looked pretty typical. They play great defense, disrupt your offense and they really play hard. That's Duke basketball."

Junior forward Nik Caner-Medley scored a game-high 25 points in the first meeting, but the main reason the Terps beat Duke was their defense. They held the Blue Devils to season-low 33 percent shooting, with Chris McCray forcing Redick into a 7-for-21 outing and Gilchrist harassing Daniel Ewing to a 3-for-12 effort.

Maryland also wore down the Blue Devils with inside depth. Will Bowers, Travis Garrison, Ekene Ibekwe and James Gist each took a turn on 6-foot-9 center Shelden Williams, who often was surrounded by four guards. That left the Blue Devils susceptible on defense against the 6-8, 241-pound Caner-Medley.

Maryland likely will be without Ibekwe (cracked rib) tonight, and Krzyzewski seemingly has more options. Shavlik Randolph, a 6-10 forward who was still struggling after a bout with mononucleosis, played only 14 minutes against the Terps, but his playing time has gone up since.

Freshman guard DeMarcus Nelson had no points in four minutes against Maryland, but he is coming off a 16-point effort in 29 minutes against the Tar Heels.

"They are a little bit different team," Caner-Medley said. "With [Randolph] healthy, they are a better team and with Nelson playing well, that's going to help them."

Caner-Medley acknowledged the importance of tonight's game. A victory would nearly cement the Terps' 12th straight NCAA tournament appearance, barring a collapse over the last five regular-season games.

Then, there's the impact to the Terps fans. The loss to Maryland last month was just Duke's sixth home loss in eight seasons, and the Terps take credit for three of them. That prompted T-shirts to go on sale on campus, billing Cameron Indoor Stadium as Maryland's "Home Away From Home."

"Our fans seem to not like them much," said McCray.

Said Caner-Medley: "I remember when I came here ... people will come up to you [and say], `Good luck this year. Beat Duke.' Their [biggest] concern is you beat Duke."

NOTES: Terps sophomore guard D.J. Strawberry, whose season ended when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee at practice last month, had successful surgery this week. The normal recovery time for the injury is six months.

Fear the Terps

Maryland is the Atlantic Coast Conference team that has given Duke the most trouble in recent years. The Blue Devils' records against league opponents over their past 15 matchups:

Opponent W-L

Clemson 15-0

Miami* 5-0

Virginia Tech* 1-0

Georgia Tech 14-1

Florida State 13-2

N.C. State 13-2

North Carolina 13-2

Virginia 13-2

Wake Forest 12-3

Maryland 9-6

*First year in ACC; record is how Duke fared against team in the Mike Krzyzewski era.

Maryland vs. Duke

Men's game

Matchup: No. 7 Duke (18-2, 8-2) vs. Maryland (14-7, 5-5)

Site: Comcast Center, College Park

When: Tonight, 9

TV/Radio: ESPN/WBAL (1090 AM)

Line: Duke by 2 1/2

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