Maryland

The Acc

November 18, 2005|By PAUL MCMULLEN

Coach: Gary Williams, 17th season at school (334-178), 28th overall (541-306)

2004-05 record: 19-13, 7-9 (tied for sixth in ACC; NIT semifinals)

Returning starters: Senior F Nik Caner-Medley, senior F Travis Garrison, junior F Ekene Ibekwe, senior G Chris McCray

Sun prediction: NCAA second round

Why it will happen: The Terps are the most experienced team in the ACC, and deep, with a roster that extends to talent like guard Mike Jones and forward James Gist. From 2001 through 2003, when the seniors were freshmen, Maryland went 12-2 in the NCAA tournament. Much of that success stemmed from work at the defensive end, which was lacking last season. The Terps will be a tougher team with the return of guard D.J. Strawberry, who went out last January with a knee injury. Maryland swept Duke last season, and if the Terps approach everyone like the Blue Devils and find a solution at the point, a regional final is possible.

Why it might not: Like a duck-billed platypus, the Terps have some odd parts. Garrison had a better percentage behind the arc than McCray, the shooting guard. Unless Will Bowers becomes more than a 12-minute man, Maryland doesn't have a physical counter to the bangers from Duke, Wake Forest and BC. With John Gilchrist at the point, the Terps went 0-3 against Clemson. Without him, Strawberry will head a committee at the game's most important position. This group hasn't posted a winning record in the ACC, going 7-9 each of the past two seasons.

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