On Sept. 24 the Terrapins were playing a pickup game at Cole
Field House when a tornado swept through campus. Anxious to see
what was happening outside, several players ran to a doorway and
stood dumbstruck as the funnel touched down less than 100 yards
away. "I thought they only had tornadoes in Kansas," says 6'8"
senior center Lonny Baxter.
Natural disaster was about the only trouble Maryland didn't
encounter last season. The Terps lost three of their first four
games, including a pair to Dayton and Wisconsin; blew a 10-point
lead in the final minute of a demoralizing home court loss to
Duke; and put themselves on the NCAA tournament bubble by
dropping five out of six games in the middle of the season.
"I remember coming off the floor and our fans were chanting,
'N-I-T' at us," says junior point guard Steve Blake. That
Maryland was able to regroup and, a month later, reach the Final
Four for the first time in school history was as much a tribute
to the players' resolve as their talent. "It wasn't a smooth
ride, but I like that," says coach Gary Williams. "It made
getting to the Final Four more special."
With four starters returning--including one of the nation's finest
backcourts, Blake and senior Juan Dixon--another special occasion
may be in store for the Terps. Dixon led the ACC in steals (2.6 a
game) and also averaged 18.2 points, thanks largely to 41.1%
three-point shooting. The paint will be manned by Baxter, an
undersized center at 6'8" but still the ACC's third-leading
rebounder with a 7.9 average. This summer Dixon and Baxter were
the top two scorers for the U.S. at the World University Games in
Maryland will need help, though, from 6'10" sophomore Chris
Wilcox, who must make his mark in place of Terence Morris, whose
eligibility expired. "Last year Chris would make a spectacular
block or dunk, and people would think he was a great player,"
says Williams, "but he has to be consistent and prove he can be
one of our main guys."
Count on the Terrapins to have learned a lesson from last
season's struggles. Dixon, for one, vividly recalls sitting
alone, soul-searching until 2 a.m. in the locker room following
an awful loss to Florida State at home on Feb. 14, when the
Seminoles were dead last in the ACC standings. "We got to the
Final Four, but we took a hard road," he says. "I don't see us
going through that again."
GRADUATION RATE: 19%
AVERAGE NUMBER OF WINS: 20.7
NCAA TOURNAMENT RECORD: 13-8
MCDONALD'S ALL-AMERICANS: 3
PLAYERS IN NBA: 6
COMMENT: Coach Gary Williams took over program on NCAA probation
in 1989 and has run tight ship since. One blemish in 1996 when
Duane Simpkins received $1,000 from summer coach. (He was
suspended three games and repaid loan.) Biggest knock on Terps is
fans' behavior, which too often crosses line from fun high jinks.
Mickie Krzyzewski, wife of Duke coach, no longer attends games at
Maryland because of harassment, and last season mother of center
Carlos Boozer was hit by bottle of water thrown by fan.
POS. PLAYER HT. CL. KEY STAT
SF Byron Mouton[#] 6'6" Sr. 9.6 ppg
PF Tahj Holden 6'10" Jr. 4.5 ppg
C Lonny Baxter[#] 6'8" Sr. 15.6 ppg
SG Juan Dixon[#] 6'3" Sr. 18.2 ppg
PG Steve Blake[#] 6'3" Jr. 6.9 apg
2000-01 record: 25-11 Final rank (coaches' poll): No. 3