The Washington Times - December 22, 2008, 11:36AM

It was very different media availability yesterday at Comcast Center.

First, it was in the auxiliary gym, so there was a chance to keep an eye on Eric Hayes‘ shooting (rather sharp), Jerome Burney’s progress (he’s getting closer to returning) for a few minutes.

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There was also the chance to see some newly minted graduates show they might not merit their diplomas based on a galling lack of reading comprehension. After all, the number of people who couldn’t understand  the sign posted on the door reading “Personal belongings moved to room #0102” and sauntered into practice was rather stunning.

That wasn’t ideal for them. And spending four days away from the main floor wasn’t ideal for coach Gary Williams, either.

“Not good,” Williams said. “We’ve talked about it before if there was a way to get this done without taking Comcast out four days.”

But there isn’t, at least not now. Which is why the Terps relocated to a very different gym on Thursday and remained there through last night.

What adjustments need to be made? A ton. There’s the noise, the lighting, the background.

Oh, and the baskets.

“It’s definitely a little different atmosphere,” forward Dave Neal said. “It’s more closed. I personally don’t like practicing up here. I hate these rims. It’s totally different from downstairs. It’s not as friendly.”

So iron unkind, eh? Interesting.

Not everyone agreed with Neal’s assessment, though.

“I honestly like these rims, because they break away a little bit better,” forward Landon Milbourne said. “It’s better for dunking and stuff like that.”

So, all the important stuff, huh?

“Yeah,” Milbourne said, unable to stifle a laugh.

But all is not entirely well. Each court has its own nuances, own dead spots, own places where crazy things might happen if the ball bounces precisely right.

There’s a lot to be said for that sort of familiarity – which Maryland will oddly be re-adjusting to tonight.

“It’s all good,” Milbourne said. “I don’t really like practicing on this court because I want to play on my game court. It’s like playing on an away court because it’s not what you’re used to. We play here in the summer, so it’s not that much different.”

OK, one last thing about the change of pace. Williams, of course, is known for emphatically making his feelings known during practice and games.

With the roof a lot lower and everything enclosed significantly more, the coach’s comments tend to be amplified a bit.

“When he yells in here, it echoes 13 times more than it does downstairs,” Neal said. “You can definitely hear his voice in here.”

Patrick Stevens