Terps hit the road at last

Williams' team has yet to win an ACC game at Miami

College Basketball Maryland Men

January 14, 2009|By Don Markus | Don Markus,don.markus@baltsun.com

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Fresh off a victory in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener, the Maryland men's basketball team will do something tonight it hasn't done all season: The Terrapins will play a true road game.

Maryland (12-3, 1-0) hasn't played on an opponent's home court since losing to Syracuse in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament last March. The game against Miami (12-3, 1-1) is part of a two-game road swing that continues Saturday at Florida State.

"I've always felt road places are tough if the other team's good, and that's why the ACC is good," Maryland coach Gary Williams said after Saturday's 68-61 win over Georgia Tech at Comcast Center.

The Terps also hope to accomplish something they haven't done since the Hurricanes joined the ACC in 2004-05: Beat Miami away from College Park. Last year's 78-63 defeat at BankUnited Center was Maryland's third straight in South Florida and fifth in six games against the Hurricanes in the ACC overall.

"We haven't played well against them," Williams said. "They're a big, physical team inside and they have good three-point shooting, that's always been a tough thing for us."

Williams said it wasn't his intention to not play a road game until this point in the season. He assumed the Terps would be on the road for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge after being at home the past two years, but they wound up with a home game against Michigan.

Given his team's history of playing well on the road in the ACC, with a pair of respectable 4-4 records the past two seasons that included a win at North Carolina last year and at Duke the previous year, Williams doesn't think his team will be intimidated by the Hurricanes.

"Last year was funny, in a year you beat [No. 1] North Carolina, you couldn't beat Miami," Williams said.

For a variety of reasons, Greivis Vasquez is looking forward to his team's first road game.

The junior guard knows he will be the target, just as he is at places such as Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium and Virginia Tech's Cassell Coliseum. Or, as was the case last Saturday, at Comcast Center.

After hearing a smattering of boos, Vasquez could be seen shouting expletives at the Maryland student section during the team's erratic performance against Georgia Tech, then put a finger to his lips to silence the fans after the Terps erased a 10-point deficit in the final 9 1/2 minutes.

"I love it. That's why I asked our fans to be with me," Vasquez said of playing on the road. "When I go on the road, everyone's against us, they hate us. Something about us, every time we go anywhere. It may be me because I do crazy stuff on the court to get myself going."

Sean Mosley, the freshman guard from St. Frances, knows the atmosphere will be different on the road.

"I'm looking forward to it," said Mosley, who had 10 points off the bench against Georgia Tech. "I don't know the crowds; I just want to go out there and just have fun."

Maryland's only extended time away from Comcast Center this season came during Thanksgiving week at the Old Spice Classic outside Orlando.

"You play in Orlando against Michigan State, Gonzaga and Georgetown, I don't care where they play those games, they're tough," Williams said. "The thing I try to do is not change anything. We just put it out there and do what we do well."

Miami coach Frank Haith, whose Hurricanes are coming off a 77-71 win at Boston College on Saturday, said he doesn't expect an easy game tonight.

"I know Gary will have those guys ready to play and play hard," Haith said."I look at it that they beat two Top 25 teams, Michigan and Michigan State, rather than they lost to Morgan State. This is going to be an ACC-level intensity game."

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