- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 2, 2003

Maryland students who pretend to read the newspaper during the introduction of visiting players might want to actually check the horoscopes or weather forecast today. They already know what's going to happen on the court.
The No.10 Terrapins (13-4) are heavy favorites to overwhelm Loyola in the nonconference breather at Comcast Center. Reserves will get extra time, starters can pad their stats and the crowd should see another runaway victory.
An expected rout always irks Terps coach Gary Williams, who likes to prepare for every game like it's a title bout. However, Loyola (4-14) has lost seven of eight and probably can't provide much drama in the first meeting between the schools in nine years. Still, Williams preaches against overconfidence.
"Anytime you've been a favorite and lost a game, you have a long memory of it as a coach," he said. "That's the worst feeling there is, when you're supposed to be the better team and lose. You have to guard against that."
Both teams decided to fill gaps in their conference schedules rather than practicing for a full week between games.
"I'd rather have a game. Practice gets old this time of year," Williams said. "It keeps you in your cycle of [practicing] a couple days and then playing."
The Terps realize Loyola would love to beat its state rival for the first time since 1948. The Greyhounds won the first five meetings but have lost the last seven. An upset would be the talk of the Baltimore school for years.
"Those guys probably want to beat us worse than any other team," forward Tahj Holden said. "They see 'Maryland this and that, Maryland, Maryland, Maryland' in the papers, and they're probably sick of seeing that. A chance of knocking off the No.10 team will have them ready."
Mostly, the Terps will prepare themselves to resume ACC play against visiting Virginia on Thursday night. Maryland leads the conference at 6-1 after downing N.C. State 75-60 last week. Maryland hasn't overwhelmed opponents, but its 10-player depth has steadily worn them down.
Maryland is rotating four forwards. Reserve Jamar Smith grabbed 10 rebounds against N.C. State, and Nik Caner-Medley scored nine points and had five steals. The backcourt has guards Chris McCray and John Gilchrist providing big plays in relief. The quartet probably will get extra time against Loyola though they're already getting steady minutes.
"I'm not afraid to use players," Williams said. "As a coach, it's a terrible feeling to look down the bench and go, 'If I put that guy in, he might lose the game for us in a two-minute period.' I can see five guys [who] if they have to play, they have to play."
Certainly Maryland's versatility was highlighted during a 7-1 run in January. Guard Steve Blake scored 20 points against N.C. State, but guard Drew Nicholas, center Ryan Randle and Holden are alternate playmakers. Even forwards Calvin McCall and Caner-Medley have led decisive stretches.
"That's the identity of our teams we have to see who can get it done that particular day coming off the bench," Williams said. "This team is developing in character. They have to work hard every night. That's OK. That's this year's team [as contrasted to last season's more experienced national champions] ."
Maryland led N.C. State 40-38 before Nicholas scored his first points with 14:30 remaining. The Terps' leading scorer (18.2 points) sank three straight 3-pointers to lead a 19-3 run that sealed the first-place showdown.
"It wasn't anything N.C. State was doing," Nicholas said. "I just hadn't gotten a lot of open looks. But once I got the first one, I knew I could reel off a couple quick."
Said Williams: "Drew's a senior. If he has a bad half, he's not going away. He's been in big situations, so it's not going to discourage him."

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