- The Washington Times - Friday, February 10, 2006

Travis Garrison was savoring Maryland’s comeback victory Tuesday against Virginia before someone asked the inevitable question about the Terrapins’ next game.

You know, the one circled on calendars throughout College Park since the day the schedule was released back in August.

The one that has led to all-out mayhem on campus in recent years, both after Maryland victories (almost all of them) and losses (the 2001 Final Four).

The one that serves as the annual visit from a team that arouses more visceral hatred among Terps fans than all other opponents combined.

Garrison grinned.

“Now,” the forward said, “We can talk about Duke.”

With that comment, Garrison joined a large crowd awaiting the chance for the Terps (15-7, 5-4 ACC) to play host to the No.2 Blue Devils (22-1, 10-0) today at Comcast Center. It’s an opportunity for Maryland to burnish its postseason credentials a little more than a month before the NCAA tournament committee releases its 65-team field on Selection Sunday.

Yet as much as anything else, it is a spectacle, one with an endless buildup on campus.

Maryland’s 7-10 record against Duke in the last seven seasons — including 3-1 at home in the last four seasons — only has fueled the fervor.

“All the students, even when the season started, they would say ‘you’ve got to beat Duke.’” Maryland guard D.J. Strawberry said. “It seems like everybody just wants to beat Duke.

“It seems like if we lose every other game but we beat Duke once or twice, we’ve had a great season.”

The Terps didn’t win at Cameron Indoor Stadium, instead limping away with a 76-52 loss to the Blue Devils. They forced guard J.J. Redick into some tough shots, and the senior still walked away with 27 points. Inside, they were throttled by Shelden Williams, who produced Duke’s first triple-double (19 points, 11 rebounds, 10 blocks) since 1978.

While Williams rightfully earned plaudits for his performance in the paint, Redick’s night illustrated the depth of his game. Maryland alternated Strawberry and Chris McCray (who since has been declared academically ineligible), then its two best defenders, on Redick, who still nearly reached his season average of 28.4 points.

That attention wasn’t unusual. Redick is often the focal point of opponents’ schemes, and he still has scored at least 24 points in each of his last 10 games, a feat that is capable of demoralizing teams not accustomed to such dominance.

“One effect he’s had is [opponents] put so much of their game plan into stopping him, and when they don’t stop him, sometimes their game plan just falls apart,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. “The kids just lose belief in their ability to win. Texas made stopping him the Holy Grail, and he put [41] on them. That kind of thing contributes to [the thinking], ‘I don’t think this is going to work. We’re kind of falling apart.’ ”

Added Maryland coach Gary Williams: “You’re talking about a guy who’s averaged 30 points a game so far in the ACC. A lot of people have spent a lot of time thinking about how to stop him that haven’t been successful.”

There is another philosophy: trying to shut down everyone but Redick. Georgetown used it to a degree, containing Shelden Williams and the rest of Duke’s frontcourt last month at MCI Center. Redick matched a career-high with 41, but the Hoyas became the only team to topple the Blue Devils this season.

“There might be a school of thought that Redick is going to get 35 no matter what,” Bilas said. “If you stay with the premise that he’s unstoppable for us, let’s make sure we stop the other guys and see if that’s part of the formula for winning. He hasn’t gone Kobe on anybody.”

That might prove the best approach for someone next month, but the Terps probably will spread their attention between Redick and Williams (not to mention four other players averaging between 6.2 and 8.8 points each). Williams’ triple-double helped make for a miserable night in Durham, a repeat of which the Terps hope they can avoid.

“You have to play solid team defense,” Strawberry said. “Those are two of the best players in the country, and most likely they’re going to have big games. If you can do anything to slow them down just a little bit, that would be a plus in your category.”

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