- The Washington Times - Friday, March 7, 2003

Maryland guard John Gilchrist landed in press row while diving after a turnover and started a comeback. A loose ball was stolen, and so was a victory.
"Come on let's go," Gilchrist yelled to teammates in the final minutes Sunday against N.C. State as he clambered back onto the court.
Gilchrist soon converted an offensive rebound for a 65-63 lead in the No.13 Terrapins' 68-65 victory. The freshman will be point guard Steve Blake's successor, but he's not waiting for Blake's departure to become a leader.
"You can't look past this freshman year just because I'm playing behind a great player," Gilchrist said as Maryland (19-7, 11-4 ACC) prepared for Sunday's regular-season finale at Virginia (14-14, 5-10). "To be a leader of this team is a goal in the near future."
Gilchrist is pure energy and emotion. His tongue sometimes literally wags at opponents, but the rest of the time it's nearly nonstop chatter. He can be funny and folksy, silly and serious.
"He's an emotional kid, especially when he makes a play," senior guard Drew Nicholas said. "Sometimes he doesn't even have to make a play. He provides that little something for us a little bit of cockiness and little bit of confidence, that energy we need."
Gilchrist talks of the court being his church. Certainly, it's his island of serenity in a challenging first season since leaving Virginia Beach. His smile has widened as the season progressed, even when coach Gary Williams shouted instructions during a game.
Gilchrist scanned Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium with awe, relishing a moment he had envisioned while watching games on television. It was the same at every other stop along Tobacco Road, as well as Indiana.
"When you're on the floor, your emotions overwhelm you," Gilchrist said. "You're just happy to be on the floor."
Gilchrist overwhelms opponents, too. He can play tight man defense to create turnovers, grab rebounds and drive into 1-3-1 zones. Opponents often seem to hit the floor in his wake.
"He has no fear when he goes out on the court," Williams said. "He's one of those guys you don't always know what's going to happen, but something's going to happen. It gets everybody jacked up. You get periods where people are flat. He doesn't allow it to stay that way for long."
The Terps have used a three-guard lineup, with Blake moving to shooting guard and Nicholas to small forward, to keep Gilchrist on the floor at the point. He can be brought in for defense or to provide an offensive lift. Gilchrist is averaging 4.3 points in 13.2 minutes while converting a team-best 56.1 percent of his shots. Even his teammates don't believe some of his penetrating moves.
"If his teammates don't know [where hes going], then the defense won't know," forward Tahj Holden said. "Sometimes I don't think he knows what he's going to do half the time. John is a very confident guy, and if he thinks he can get to the basket, then he'll go to the basket. He gets excited, and sometimes he gets us excited."
Gilchrist conceded that the Terps' regular-season sweep of N.C. State was personal. He considered the Wolfpack along with several other schools and didn't like N.C. State's reaction when he chose Maryland. Gilchrist was a two-time Virginia Class AAA player of the year who led Salem to three straight state championships, so N.C. State wasn't happy about losing him to a conference rival.
"One minute they're recruiting you and are your best friend, and then you decide to go somewhere else where you think you have a better opportunity of succeeding and they turn," Gilchrist said. "I was hurt by that."
Gilchrist often sways while listening to the national anthem, ingesting the energy that fuels his physical play. Teammates know when he has entered a zone.
"He's out of his mind," forward Calvin McCall said jokingly. "He's real into music. He's constantly singing. He tunes everyone out."
Well, not everyone. Gilchrist strolled across campus Tuesday on the warmest afternoon in four months to take a peak at certain classmates.
"Beautiful day, see the beautiful people, see the beautiful girls," he said. "You gotta enjoy life."

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