Much for Williams to smile at this year

Terps Basketball

January 07, 2009|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com

COLLEGE PARK - After 31 seasons as a head coach, Gary Williams doesn't need to say much to make a point. Sometimes a simple shrug, or a chuckle, tells you all you need to know about the way he's thinking.

Yesterday, when the Maryland's men's basketball coach was informed that his Terrapins players feel there is a greater sense of trust on the team than there was the previous season, Williams, 63, smiled, then feigned ignorance.

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Williams said.

His smile, however, revealed plenty. He will concede that he can see the camaraderie and the unselfishness forged in the offseason paying off during Maryland's recent seven-game winning streak.

The Terps (11-2) wrap up nonconference play tonight against Morgan State, and though the Bears (5-8) shouldn't give Maryland much trouble at Comcast Center, that doesn't mean there isn't plenty that needs to be fine-tuned before Georgia Tech comes to town Saturday. But since the team suffered blowout losses to Gonzaga and Georgetown at the end of November, there has been much to like.

Williams' favorite aspect of this year's Terps?

"Their unselfishness," he said. "They actually get happy in practice if they make a play and somebody else scores. ... The thing we've [discussed] since last spring is, 'We have to be a team this year to be successful. It's not going to be one guy that carries us.' "

And so, though it might seem that junior guard Greivis Vasquez is carrying the Terps - including 27 points in an 85-75 win over Charlotte - Williams will point out that he's simply filling his role as the Terps' scoring threat. Equally important have been Eric Hayes' leadership, Landon Millbourne's improving inside presence - he has averaged 16.5 points and 5.7 rebounds the past five games - and Dino Gregory's rebounding and shot-blocking.

Morgan State is still trying to find its footing this season after going 22-11 last season. Junior guard Reggie Holmes, who played for St. Frances, leads the team in scoring with 14.3 points per game. But the Bears, and Holmes, have been streaky. They lost four in a row in November, then won three straight games in mid-December, but are now coming off back-to-back losses.

MORGAN STATE (5-8) @MARYLAND (11-2)

Tonight, 8

TV: Comcast SportsNet

Radio: 1300 AM, 105.7 FM

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