- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 29, 2002

Maryland's youth movement is gaining momentum.
The Terrapins open their ACC schedule today against visiting Georgia Tech with freshman forward Travis Garrison expected to start over Tahj Holden. Garrison started in the 101-60 victory over Maryland-Baltimore County on Monday when Holden was away for a funeral. However, Maryland coach Gary Williams is seeking the best role for Holden and may want him to come off the bench.
Williams deflected questions over who was starting, saying overall minutes were more important as he seeks his top-nine combination.
"To players it matters [who starts], but as a coach it's about minutes," Williams said. "It's not always popular."
Garrison will defend Georgia Tech freshman forward Chris Bosh, who leads the Yellow Jackets in scoring (14.8) and rebounding (10.4). Garrison scored eight points with eight rebounds and two blocks against UMBC. He has averaged 19.3 minutes during the 5-3 start.
"I haven't reached my playing ability," Garrison said. "I have to pick it up a lot more rebounding, loose balls, be more physical in the lane. The big guys are preparing me for what's coming up."
Maryland still has three non-conference games remaining, but Georgia Tech is the start of twice-weekly ACC matchups. The Terps have been trying to toughen their frontcourt so they can play a three-guard lineup more often to utilize freshman guard John Gilchrist. However, Garrison has to give center Ryan Randle (13.6 points, 7.8 rebounds) more help underneath than Holden (6.9, 4.1) has so far this season. Williams expects Holden to play better in spurts off the bench like last year.
"It's going to be a lot more intense, a lot more banging," Garrison said.
Senior guard Drew Nicholas knows his team needs to be mentally and physically ready for the ACC season.
"I realize how much of a fight ACC games are," he said. "It's a different level of competition."
Williams is seeking a blend of his seniors and freshmen with the latter steadily gaining time. Williams needs to know he can rely upon the newcomers in close ACC games before trusting them. The early schedule that included losses to three ranked opponents has seen freshman forward Nik Caner-Medley (6.5, 4.8) start four straight games and Garrison and Gilchrist gain increased roles. Still, Williams knows the young players aren't as reliable.
"There's not going to be consistency with young guys," he said. "They're not always going to be there every night."
Then again, Nicholas feels the seniors are still proving themselves. Only guard Steve Blake started regularly last season, so the returning players have to show they can lead.
"We have something to prove. Some people don't know if we can step up to be [the leaders]," Nicholas said. "It's about how we play, not what the other team does. We just want to play our style and do it well. We're a good team if we do it our way."
Sometimes, that pressure has been burdensome. Nicholas said the biggest benefit of the UMBC blowout was rediscovering the joy of simply playing.
"Guys have to have fun playing basketball. I think we got away from that," he said. "It seemed like it was a 9 to 5 job we all hated. That's not college basketball."
Nicholas said he doesn't feel pressured for a breakout game against a top opponent. Nicholas (17.6) is still the Terps leading scorer, but averaged only 12 points against the three ranked opponents. Maryland's offense fares best when it runs the break and Nicholas hits 3-pointers.
"I know my shots will fall," he said. "I have complete confidence in that."

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