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3 Maryland With all five starters back, the Terrapins had better finally make the Final Four

When he was in sixth grade, Maryland's senior forward Terence
Morris was regularly beaten in games of his
mother. He wasn't good enough to start for his middle school
team, and at Thomas Johnson High in Frederick, Md., he toiled in
hoops anonymity until Terrapins coach Gary Williams stumbled
upon him while scouting someone else. No wonder Morris, a
preseason All-America, is college basketball's most reluctant
star. He lacks the basic training. Playing against the Dream
Team in a Sept. 2 Olympic tune-up game, Morris had a shot
emphatically rejected by Kevin Garnett, who then barked, "You're
not getting that in my house." Rather than feel dissed, Morris
admired Garnett's attitude. "Competing against the pros showed
me how much more aggressive I need to be," Morris says. "I'm
working toward the day when I meet Garnett again and I can tell
him what he told me."

Voted preseason ACC player of the year in October 1999, Morris
averaged a solid 15.8 points and 8.6 rebounds but attempted fewer
than 12 shots per game. As a testament to his talent, he was
still projected as a potential lottery pick in June's NBA draft,
but he returned to College Park to prove that he can thrive as
the leader of perhaps the best team in Maryland history. "There
will be times this season when we need Terence to carry us,"
Williams says. "But we have enough weapons that he doesn't need
to score 25 every night for us to win."

All the attention paid to Morris last season created
opportunities for sophomore center Lonny Baxter and sophomore
shooting guard Juan Dixon, both of whom were voted first team
All-ACC while Morris was relegated to the second team. Baxter,
who arrived at Maryland in 1998 as a pudgy 6'8", 275-pound
project so unknown that the nameplate above his locker in Cole
Field House was--and still is--misspelled LONNIE, finished second
in the ACC in rebounding, blocks and field goal percentage last
season. Dixon, who is known as the Kid because at 6'3" and 164
pounds he is scrawny enough to pass for a seventh-grader, led the
league in steals and was second in scoring. "Those are two guys
motivated by years of people telling them what they couldn't do
because of their size," Williams says. "They're now two very
dangerous players who make their size work for them."

Another key cog in the Maryland machinery is sophomore point
guard Steve Blake, who broke John Lucas's freshman record with
217 assists last season and will be entrusted to ratchet up the
Terps' tempo this year. In addition to having all nine
scholarship players back from a team that won 25 games last
season, Maryland has added transfer swingman Byron Mouton, who
led Tulane in scoring in his two seasons with the Green Wave, and
gifted 6'10" freshman Chris Wilcox, who will apprentice under

Eighty-seven teams have reached a Final Four in the 62 NCAA
tournaments, and Maryland is arguably the most storied program
not on that list. Williams, in his 12th season with the Terps,
has grown weary of answering what he calls "the Gene Keady
question": Is this the year you finally reach the Final Four?
Though Williams's teams have played in seven straight NCAAs, the
Terps haven't advanced beyond the Sweet 16 and suffered a
humiliating 35-point loss to UCLA in the second round last
March."It's about time for the Terps to end a season with a good
memory," Dixon says. "We're loaded, and if we don't get to the
Final Four this time, you have to wonder if it's ever going to
happen. This is our year."


COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH POINT OF EMPHASIS Morris has captured the attention of the NBA scouts, but it is Blake (below) who will be counted on to set the tempo for the Terrapins.



SF [*]Danny Miller 6'8" Jr. 8.5 ppg
PF [*]Terence Morris 6'9" Sr. 15.8 ppg
C [*]Lonny Baxter 6'8" Jr. 8.8 rpg
SG [*]Juan Dixon 6'3" Jr. 18.0 ppg
PG [*]Steve Blake 6'3" So. 6.2 apg

1999-2000 record: 25-10 Final rank (coaches' poll): No. 25
[*]Returning starter