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Rebuilding year for Maryland? Don't count on it

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Oct. 22
Maryland has already won a national championship in this decade, but I can hear what people are saying now -- time to rebuild, baby, time to rebuild!

The Terps posted a 21-10 record last season (including the NCAA Tournament). But they've lost their top four scorers from last year's squad: backcourt mates Steve Blake and Drew Nicholas as well as frontcourt guys Ryan Randle and Tahj Holden. In the Sweet 16, Maryland fell by two points to Michigan State and coach Tom Izzo.
Gary Williams
Gary Williams coached his alma mater, Maryland, to the national title in 2002.

The leading returning scorer on the 2003-04 squad, Nik Caner-Medley, averaged under six points per game!

Before all of you naysayers put the Terps down, there is one name that remains. Coach Gary Williams is a stabilizing force on the sideline and in everyday practice situations.

Williams is starting to put together Hall of Fame numbers -- what a marvelous job he has done at his alma mater.

When he first arrived to coach at Maryland, the program was hit by NCAA sanctions from the prior administration. People were saying that the Terps couldn't battle back. Williams, such a competitor and fighter, didn't want to hear that. He didn't just want to make the NCAA Tournament, he wanted to dance and win it all.

He proved he could do it by cutting down the nets in Atlanta in 2002. Juan Dixon and his teammates celebrated their national title big-time, but it all started with their emotional leader, Williams, with his motivational skills and the ability to get the maximum out of his people.

Williams uses those skills everyday in practice. It will take lots of work this season with the tremendous young talent Williams has assembled. When Williams drills and works his players into his system, and with his scrutiny and evaluation, trust me, he'll put a fine team on the court in that Maryland uniform.

Yes, Maryland has the makings of an outstanding team. Given the opportunity, several sophomores are ready to shine. John Gilchrist showed flashes of brilliance as Blake's backup at point guard last season. Caner-Medley proved he could excel on the baseline. Travis Garrison will contribute up front with more playing time. They must be vital factors for the Terps to excel.

Added to that nucleus is an outstanding recruiting class. Most of the scouting gurus considered it one of the nation's premier groups, led by 6-9 Ekene Ibekwe of Carson, Calif. and 6-11 Wil Bowers of Hanover, Md. Both could be called upon early to help the frontline. Williams also brought in a pair of 6-5 guards, Mike Jones of Dorchester, Mass. and D.J. Strawberry of Corona, Calif. (the son of former baseball All-Star Darryl Strawberry).

You'll see full-court basketball, pressing, trapping, running the court on the fast break. That will be the style, and the Terps will feature quickness and depth (even though it will be inexperienced depth).

The bottom line is the talent level. As long as there is a quality group ready to play and perform, along with that guy on the sidelines named Williams, watch out. His knowledge and ability to motivate usually translate into success.

Terp fans have a team that will excite them immediately. There won't be rebuilding -- it will be restructuring, baby!

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