- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 9, 2003

Maryland coach Gary Williams delivered a stern message to three players after Thursday's lackluster loss to Virginia: play defense.
"It was very one-sided. They listened, I talked," Williams said of meetings with the unnamed players Friday.
No.8 Maryland (14-5, 6-2 ACC) visits Georgia Tech (11-8, 4-4) today seeking to remain atop the ACC after the 86-78 defeat by Virginia at Comcast Center. The Terrapins simply stopped playing defense after taking a 12-point lead and let Virginia rally behind six 3-pointers.
The poor play infuriated Williams. He thought several players didn't hustle and tersely reminded them that the Terps won't win games, as they did last year en route to the national championship, on talent alone.
"We got away from the fact this year's team wins games on defense," Williams said. "There was a tendency last year [to feel] that we were good enough at times, because of our experience, to win some games where maybe we didn't play as hard as we could have. This year we just have to play hard every game. We have eight regular-season games left. That's not hard. Nobody's tired. We can do that."
Maryland rebounded from its previous ACC loss at Wake Forest on Jan.15 to win five straight. Williams knows another such comeback won't be easy, because three of the next four games are on the road. In fact, the Terps play five of their final eight away from home, four against opponents currently unbeaten at home.
Georgia Tech is 10-0 at Alexander Coliseum compared to 0-7 away and 1-1 at neutral sites. ACC home teams are 29-8 this season in the conference, with Maryland and Wake Forest the only two-time road winners.
"The ACC has the best homecourt venues of any league," North Carolina coach Matt Doherty said. "Everybody has a homecourt advantage. Nearly everybody plays in an on-campus facility that energizes the home team. It affects the outcome of the game."
Yet Williams isn't panicking despite a midseason mini-slump during which Maryland offset several poor starts with one-sided runs. Maryland overcame a halftime deficit against Virginia with a 17-6 second-half streak before failing to seal the victory.
"There's always a game or two that you lost because you didn't play well," Williams said. "If you lose because you didn't execute your defense the way you want to, that really hurts, so you have to get one back. Hopefully, we can get one on the road to make up for the Virginia game."
The Terps figure to stay with the all-senior lineup that's now 5-1 with freshman forward Nik Caner-Medley providing quick lifts as the sixth man. Williams believes Maryland's experience in the youth-dominated conference is an edge, so there's no need to scramble the lineup.
"[Virginia] is one game, just like one win or one loss," Williams said. "There are no steps backwards. You just have to get ready for the next game. We don't need to do anything different. We're just looking to play well on the road. … Maybe our seniors make a difference on the road. They've been through a lot of different environments."
But the Terps know they can't stumble in trips to Georgia Tech and Florida State (11-9, 2-7) after beating both earlier. A strong finish could earn Maryland a top-three seed in the NCAA tournament next month.
"Losing reminds you … how much you need to win not to have that bad feeling in your gut," forward Calvin McCall said.
The second trip through the ACC could be easier for the four freshmen. They can remember matchups while facing the same teams for the second time in five weeks.
"The second time around won't be as easy because everybody will know how we play," forward Travis Garrison said. "We'll have to do everything perfect."

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