Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Tahj Holden had a paper to write Monday night, but it took him a little longer than he expected.
Holden, the Maryland Terrapins junior forward, was keeping one eye on the TV while watching the Duke-Seton Hall and UCLA-Houston games in the Maui Invitational. He watches as many games as he can and picks up on the details because, well, he’s big on details for the Terps.
“In watching basketball, you see a lot of things that can make you a better player and make other players better too,” Holden said.
Holden won’t fulfill his role on the Terps by trying to score 15 points a game. But the sum of his contributions the picks set, the extra passes made, the charges taken mean a great deal to his team.
“There’s a lot of things Tahj does that don’t show up in stats,” coach Gary Williams said.
With All-American-caliber players on the perimeter (Juan Dixon) and in the post (Lonny Baxter), and Byron Mouton and Steve Blake slashing to the basket, Maryland has its complement of scoring threats. Many times, Holden is the one that helps make the scoring possible; he’s a legitimate offensive threat, but he’s often busy taking care of other responsibilities.
In a sense, Holden has assumed many of the duties the departed Terence Morris held. Often questioned by outsiders why he was not scoring more, Morris was recognized within the Maryland program for contributing in other ways he’d snatch big rebounds, and if he would only score 10 points, several of them came at important junctures in the game.
“Sometimes [Morris] didn’t have the best games, but he still rebounded, he still played hard. That’s all you can ask from a player,” said Holden, who noted the Houston Rockets made Morris a second-round pick in June’s draft. “It lets me see that even if you’re not having the greatest night offensively or defensively, you just keep going and things will fall into place.”
Holden has started two of the Terps first three games and although Williams said the starting lineup is never set, Holden figures to start Saturday when the Terps play Delaware State.
One reason why Holden has started is his grasp of the offense and his one more year of experience over sophomore Chris Wilcox. Holden started three games as a freshman and, after suffering a broken bone in his foot last December, returned to provide a strong bench presence in the season’s final 20 games as a sophomore. He scored a season-high tying 14 points, going 3-for-4 from 3-point range, in the Terps’ regional final defeat of Stanford.
“We want Tahj to shoot when he’s open,” Williams said. “He made some big shots in the NCAA tournament, people know he can shoot from the outside, so he’s not being left alone right now like he was last year at this time.”
Holden had the Terps’ best 3-point percentage (48.0) last season but concentrated on his low-post game this summer, honing his jump hook. Facing competition in the Jersey Shore Summer League, which included Eddie Griffin and Andre Barrett of Seton Hall, and in tryouts for the United States team that went to the World University games (including Dixon and Baxter), Holden realized what elements he had to add to his game.
But Holden does it all. He’s the passer on inbounds plays against the press. He has keen court sense and is a sharp passer. He has drawn a couple charges, which Holden said is a little deceiving to opponents, who expect a 6-foot-10, 260-pound forward to block shots before he would take a charge.
“All great teams have intangibles, and that’s what Tahj is able to do,” junior guard Drew Nicholas said. “Keep in mind that Tahj is one of those guys who can score and rebound for us, but he brings an additional dimension to us.”
Notes The Terps will practice today but will take off for Thanksgiving and practice Friday. Saturday’s 1 p.m. game will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet.

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