Does Tulane's Dickerson root for Maryland or Houston?

Dickerson played for Terps, coaches in Cougars' conference

March 18, 2010|By Don Markus | don.markus@baltsun.com

Dave Dickerson has a quandary this week going into Friday's opening-round NCAA tournament game between Maryland and Houston in Spokane, Wash.

Will he root for the school where he played four years, earned his degree and won a national championship as an assistant coach? Or will the fifth-year Tulane coach pull for a fellow member of Conference USA?

Don't ask.

"It's going to be an interesting matchup for me. I'm right in the middle of this thing," said Dickerson, who played at Maryland for Lefty Driesell and Bob Wade from 1985 through 1989. "I'm a Maryland guy, I love Gary [Williams], he's my mentor in basketball and coaching, and I have a lot of respect for our conference and Houston and what they've done in the conference tournament and getting to the NCAA tournament."

Knowing a little about how Williams prepares his teams for games - especially NCAA tournament games - Dickerson believes that Maryland's 19-point loss to Conference USA member Memphis in last year's second round will come into play when preparing for the Cougars.

"I think it's a good matchup for Maryland simply because going into the game, Maryland has more of an appreciation for Conference USA because of the outcome of last year's game against Memphis," Dickerson said. "Coaches respect everyone, but the players will have more respect for Houston and the fact that they came from Conference USA."

Dickerson sees one significant similarity between the Terps and the Cougars.

"Both teams have special players," Dickerson said. "Greivis [Vasquez] has become one of the best players ever to play at the University of Maryland. From where he was as a freshman and a sophomore, that speaks volumes of how good he is and how special he's been over a four-year period. Aubrey Coleman is the leading scorer in the country, and no one has been able to control him to this point."

Dickerson saw that firsthand when Tulane beat Houston, 79-76, in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago. It was the last loss for the Cougars before they won four straight games in the Conference USA tournament. Coleman, who averages close to 26 points a game, had 38 points in 36 minutes against Tulane. "I've never seen a performance like that in the last 10 years," Dickerson said.

Now comes the NCAA tournament. In the old days, coaches would often call their friends in the business looking for any scouting information as they readied their teams for the postseason. The one unwritten rule, often broken, was not to give any information about another team in your conference - regardless of the relationship between the coaches.

"In our profession, regardless of what people think, there's a lot of integrity," Dickerson said. "I've never been associated with someone with as much integrity as some of the coaches I've worked for and worked with. ... The respect I have for Gary Williams is unparalleled, and Coach would never put the integrity of the game in jeopardy."

What also helps is that getting game tapes of Houston won't be difficult for the Maryland coaching staff.

"In these days and times, with the TV, the media coverage and the availability of games, sharing information and passing information along is not important anymore," Dickerson said.

Dickerson said that Coleman's versatility and the growing confidence of the Cougars will be a test for the Terps.

"When he's not scoring, he's rebounding and defending," Dickerson said of the 6-4, 200-pound senior. "When he's not scoring, he's passing the ball really well. The toughest thing about Houston is that they don't turn the ball over."

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