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How They Could Win It All

Thursday, March 10, 2005; Page G08

The Terrapins won the ACC tournament last season with a less experienced group that had to beat the tournament's top three seeds in three days. In most aspects, they are in better position this season. Maryland plays best when John Gilchrist assumes the leadership role, but the junior doesn't have to score 30 points, as he did in last year's league tournament, for Maryland to win.

The Terps have plenty of players capable of getting hot on a given night. Junior Nik Caner-Medley carried Maryland during the middle of the season, scoring 20 or more points in four of five games. Chris McCray perhaps has been the team's most consistent player on both ends of the floor. McCray held Virginia's Devin Smith to two second-half points on Jan. 19 and contained Duke's J.J. Redick in two meetings.

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A key is for Maryland to get aggressive interior play from Travis Garrison and Ekene Ibekwe, both of whom have proven capable of making clutch baskets. To sustain a three-day tournament run, the Terps need a reserve to step up his game. Mike Jones, a fan favorite, has improved offensively from last season and, if he gets hot, can sink several outside shots in succession. This team plays best when it is doubted and matched against top competition. There is no question that, on a given night, Maryland can beat any team in the league.

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