- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Members of Maryland’s basketball staff had not watched Parrish Brown much when they offered him a scholarship in May. So far, the decision looks like a good one for the Terrapins.

Brown gradually is settling in as the 14th-ranked Terps’ backup point guard after the transition from junior college, a process that will continue tonight when Maryland (10-2) plays host to Texas A&M-Corpus; Christi (10-4) in its final nonconference home game of the season.

Mississippi recruited Brown last spring, but he said the Rebels were waiting on another player’s grades to come in before offering Brown a scholarship. Meanwhile, new Maryland assistant Rob Moxley contacted him and expressed interest in the native of Chicago’s South Side. He soon visited College Park and quickly agreed to join the Terps.

“I was talking to my mother and some other family members back home, and they said, ‘If they’re going to bring you down here without any actual film, that’s pretty good,’ ” Brown said.

The Terps needed an extra point guard after John Gilchrist turned pro last spring, a decision coach Gary Williams anticipated but wasn’t guaranteed until well after the season ended. Before last season, Williams found it difficult to woo a top-notch point guard with the possibility Gilchrist would remain for his senior year. By the time Gilchrist bolted, the best incoming freshmen had committed.

Gilchrist’s decision left the Terps with a murky point guard situation. D.J. Strawberry, who eventually took over as the starter, and Chris McCray both had experience at the position, as did Sterling Ledbetter. Still, there was little harm in seeking a player with more extensive time at the point.

Enter Brown, who averaged 22 points last season at Chicago’s Kennedy-King College while playing both guard positions.

“It wasn’t like I didn’t think we couldn’t get through this year, but I thought Parrish could give us something,” Williams said. “I thought he’d really be good to go against in practice because he’s small and pretty quick, and I thought once he learned what we were doing, he’d help us.”

That took a while, an understandable adjustment for a player unaccustomed to Division I basketball. There was the change in the speed of the game, a difference Brown admittedly underestimated. More importantly, there was the process of learning a new offense, new teammates and Williams, who is rarely easy on his point guards.

“The first few months were kind of tough, just getting used to how Coach wanted things run, used to how everybody played,” Brown said. “I just talked to my friends back at home and told them what was going on. They just said, ‘Be patient. Keep working hard in practice. Your time will come.’ ”

It arrived last month after Brown had earned only sporadic playing time early in the season. He had five assists in 18 minutes Dec.7 against Western Carolina and four days later helped keep the Terps steady when Strawberry encountered foul trouble in a victory over then-No. 6 Boston College.

His progress continued during the Terps’ recent nonconference stretch. In Saturday’s rout of VMI, Brown showed off his shooting prowess, scoring a season-high 13 points. Yet the highlight of Brown’s limited work this season is his excellent decision-making — 17 assists with only six turnovers in 85 minutes.

Brown’s play should help give Strawberry some rest once the Terps resume ACC play Saturday at Miami. Rather than playing nearly 40 minutes, Strawberry could stay fresh for the final minutes of a game while Brown continues to become more comfortable running the offense.

The extra rest could produce a cumulative effect for Strawberry later in the season, when nagging injuries and normal wear and tear catch up with nearly everyone.

“Some games, you play 35, 36 minutes, that takes a toll on your body,” Strawberry said. “When you have these games like this and you get a chance for people to gain confidence, which Parrish is doing, it definitely helps you out because now when we go into ACC play, he’s going to be more confident that he can run the show.”

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