- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 14, 2009

It was so long ago that a Maryland freshman forward started a season opener, one of the last precocious bigs handed such a task in College Park is now a Terrapins assistant.

Jordan Williams isn’t Keith Booth. Nor is he Joe Smith.

But in his debut, he provided a glimmer of promise for a Maryland team eager to plug in any size it can find. Williams had 12 points and nine rebounds as the Terps pounded Charleston Southern 89-51 at Comcast Center.

“We knew he was ready. If he wasn’t ready, Coach wouldn’t put him out there like that,” forward Landon Milbourne said. “Everybody has confidence in him, and he’s proven himself tonight and he’ll continue to prove himself. He’s definitely a force to be reckoned with. He’s a freshman, but he works pretty hard.”

Milbourne scored 16 points, and Greivis Vasquez added 13 assists for the Terps (1-0). But the excitement of the debut of Williams and James Padgett (10 points) was tempered by another hit to the frontcourt.

Maryland was already missing Dino Gregory, who was suspended before the team’s exhibition game last week for a violation of team rules. Sophomore Steve Goins hasn’t practiced in weeks because of a knee injury.

The Terps had no trouble surviving without the pair Friday night, but they also lost reserve Jin Soo Choi to a sprained right ankle in the second half.

“It didn’t look good,” said coach Gary Williams, whose team’s rout was the program’s largest margin of victory in an opener since 1998. “He was in some pain. Hopefully, he can play by Tuesday, but we’ll see.”

Maryland would be down to Milbourne, Padgett and Jordan Williams in the frontcourt if Choi can’t go, meaning the Terps might see even more of their freshmen in the not-too-distant future.

Maryland couldn’t argue much with their production against the Buccaneers (0-1), who have endured six straight losing seasons. Williams scored three of Maryland’s first five baskets, demonstrating some polish as well as an eagerness to scrap for rebounds.

Williams was the first freshman big man to start an opener for the Terps since Booth and Smith engineered an upset of Georgetown in 1993. Charleston Southern was hardly that caliber of opponent, and replicating the impact of two players with jerseys hanging from the rafters would be nearly impossible.

Nevertheless, Williams could have a substantial influence on the course of Maryland’s season.

“It’s kind of out of necessity right now that he’s starting,” coach Gary Williams said. “If Dino played tonight, he’d probably have started, but [Williams] is going to play and so is James. We need both those guys to complement a situation like that. Hopefully, that will happen for us. We’re going to have a good front line as time goes by, but you don’t get excited by one game.”

Padgett had his own moments in his first real college game, though most came in the second half after the Terps had long since secured victory. Maryland held a 12-point lead at halftime, then went on a 22-7 run after the break fueled equal parts by crisper offense and a steady defense that held Charleston Southern to 30 percent shooting for the night.

“I was pleased when the score and the margin got bigger [that] we still played hard,” Gary Williams said. “We used this game to our advantage in terms of working hard.”

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