- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Seen and heard last night at Comcast Center:

GHOST TOWN — The tickets were all sold for the UNC Greensboro game, but there were plenty of empty seats. Let’s just say you could hear the squeaking of the shoes. The student section around the court wasn’t filled and the seats behind the basket and in the upper sections were empty.

The small crowd wasn’t unexpected. Students are on break and many alumni are away for the holidays. The Terrapins always play just before Christmas, to avoid a two-week break. Maryland was off last week because of exams.

Even the Terps left town after the game. Basketball players are off until tomorrow night’s practice. Football players also return tomorrow before leaving for the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville on Friday.

IN THE HOUSE — Former Terps guard Drew Nicholas and center Ryan Randle were courtside. Nicholas is having a standout season with his team in Milan, Italy, and Randle is playing in Poland.

ACC READY — The Terps open the ACC schedule Sunday at Florida State after playing a mix of ranked teams and mid-major schools. Maryland coach Gary Williams felt the nonconference schedule that included three ranked opponents and three overtime games in eight days was more beneficial than a schedule of cupcakes.

“You worry about that with a young team,” Williams said of the harsh early stretch. “You lose confidence … and all of a sudden you haven’t beaten anybody yet and you’re going, ‘How are we going to get a win in the league?’ Now we know we can go on different courts and play.”

Beating then-No. 1 Florida 69-68 in overtime at Gainesville, Fla., has the Terps no longer worrying about winning along Tobacco Road in a conference that includes four teams in the top nine, plus No. 24 Maryland.

“That’s as ready as any team can get in the non-conference trying to simulate the atmosphere,” forward Nik Caner-Medley said of the Florida win. “Our interconference play will show who’s really top 25.”

Said guard Chris McCray: “[Beating Florida] puts the thought in our heads that we can play with anybody. The ACC is going to be crazy. Everybody is going to lose to everybody.”

Rick Snider

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