- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 7, 2001

The Maryland basketball team will play Arizona in its season opener Nov. 8 in the IKON Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York. Both teams lost to national champion Duke last season in the Final Four.
The Terps, who should be a consensus preseason Top 5 team, will play the Wildcats in the late game of the four-team tournament. Temple plays Florida, another likely Top 5 squad, in the early game at 6:30 p.m. The consolation and championship games are Nov. 9. The semifinals and consolation game will be broadcast on ESPN2, while ESPN will televise the title game.
"It's good to find out early about things," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "That helped us last year. And Arizona is going to be better than people think. They lost a few guys, but there were a couple 6-foot-9, 6-10 guys sitting on the bench. Plus Jason Gardner came back."
Gardner, a junior guard, is the Wildcats' only returning starter after three underclassmen Richard Jefferson, Michael Wright and Gilbert Arenas left early for the NBA and senior Loren Woods joined them in the league.
Gardner, who initially declared for the draft before deciding to return to school, is one of 50 preseason candidates for the John Wooden Award along with the Terps' Juan Dixon and Lonny Baxter. Georgetown's Mike Sweetney and Kevin Braswell are also nominated, along with Virginia's Roger Mason (Good Counsel High School) and Kentucky's Keith Bogans (DeMatha).
The Arizona game is the beginning of a challenging pre-ACC schedule for Maryland. The Terps play host to Illinois, a likely Top 10 team, on Nov. 27 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, play in the BB&T; tournament at MCI Center in early December with Connecticut, Princeton and George Washington and visit Oklahoma shortly before Christmas. The complete schedule should be released later this month.

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