- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Ryan Randle and Tahj Holden sat side by side before yesterday's practice perusing the roster of The Citadel, No.11 Maryland's opponent tonight at Comcast Center.

"Six-eight, six-seven, six-eight," Randle said as he went down the list of heights of The Citadel's post players. "These guys are big."

Just as the 6-9 Randle and 6-10 Holden checked out the Bulldogs, the defending champion Terps realize foes are sizing them up as well before they give them their best shot, and will continue to do so for the rest of the season.

Sunday's season-opening defeat of Miami (Ohio) came against a scrappy team that made the Terps sweat on defense and work for every basket. Some Terps admitted Miami exuded a little more desire than they did, and it showed. On the boards, the bigger Terps held just a one-rebound edge, and Miami outhustled Maryland at times.

"They just wanted it more," Randle said. "They were going after loose balls and getting loose balls. They had everyone going to the boards."

All the Terps can afford to bring more aggressiveness tonight, but it's no secret rebounding starts in the frontcourt, and that means starters Randle and Holden.

For the last several years, coach Gary Williams has built his team's offense around post players, from Joe Smith to Obinna Ekezie to Lonny Baxter and Chris Wilcox. The big men weren't necessarily Maryland's best scorers, but Williams used an inside-out scheme to get scorers like Juan Dixon and this season's replacement, Drew Nicholas, open perimeter shots.

This season seniors Holden and Randle are the key men in the middle. The pair are full-time starters for the first time at Maryland (Holden started 11 games last season and three his freshman season) and are now the players on whom the Terps' offense is based.

"That's Maryland basketball, inside-out offense," Holden said. "It's been that way since I've been here, and I don't think Coach Williams is going to change his attitude and the way he coaches just because he has different players."

Said Williams: "It's a natural progression they're supposed to be there this year. They have a lot of experience from last year in Ryan's case, and for the last three years, Tahj, they have to be the leaders of those two positions just like Lonny was a really good leader."

Randle was up to the task Sunday, scoring a career-high 15 points. But Holden struggled in 21 minutes, making just one field goal, scoring six points, and getting two rebounds. Freshman Travis Garrison picked up the slack, recording eight points and six rebounds in one more minute.

The Terps spent a good part of Monday's practice working on offensive execution, which was spotty Sunday. Williams also spent some time on rebounding, with emphasis on boxing out before going after the rebound instead of just going after the ball as the Terps did at times Sunday.

"We could have had 80 or 90 points if we did what we were capable of doing on offense," Holden said. "They beat us to loose balls and also beat us on the glass. We have to focus on those things."

Note Williams didn't specify who would start at small forward tonight. "We'll see. It's game to game," Williams said. "We'll see how it goes. It's worked OK so far." Senior Calvin McCall started the two exhibitions and on Sunday, but freshman Nik Caner-Medley has impressed and is pressing McCall for playing time. McCall played 17 minutes and Caner-Medley 15 on Sunday.


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