It was only a scrimmage, but if it's a sign of things to come, the fate of the Maryland men's basketball rests quite comfortably on the shoulders of Walt Williams.

The 6-foot-8 junior guard -- who last month decided to remain at Maryland despite NCAA sanctions that will keep the Terrapins out of postseason play for the next two years -- hit two three-pointers in the final 39 seconds of a 20-minute intrasquad scrimmage to lead the White team to a 40-39 win.

The midnight event, attended by about 2,500, was postponed when the school delayed the start of practice five days as a self-imposed penalty. The postponement was in response to Coach Gary Williams's admission that he watched his players practice before the official NCAA Oct. 15 starting date last season.

"Midnight Madness" also featured a short scrimmage by the women's team, which began practice as scheduled on Oct. 15.

Walt Williams delighted the crowd with pregame dunks and capped the evening with his one-man rally.

"It felt great," he said. The fans "really got me pumped from the very beginning."

Asked if this game might mirror the entire season, he said: "I definitely put that in my mind. . . . I like that added pressure on me."

Gary Williams offered some advice to the players during the scrimmage, but mostly sat back and watched. "You need a go-to guy, and I think Walt has proven he can be that guy," the coach said. "The thing is, other teams know that too."

For Gary Williams, the extra five days off was a new experience. "For 19 years, I've started October 15," he said. "I think I'll be able to tell {the effect of the layoff} at the start of the season."

For both Gary and Walt Williams, it was mostly a night of public relations. When the crowd was encouraged to go on to the court to meet the players and coaches, the Williamses drew the most attention.

"You're just trying to get students involved," Gary Williams said. "I want them to see we need that support. This is a big year for us. We have to get everybody pulling together in the right direction."

With an NCAA tournament berth out of the question, Williams said one of his main goals this year will be to bolster team confidence. "I want the players to enjoy this year," he said. "I want the players to feel good about themselves this year. I want them to walk away with a good feeling."

The women's scrimmage, only about 10 minutes long, was won by the Red team, 14-12. Ana Marjanovic, a transfer from American, led the winners with six points.

Unlike Williams, Coach Chris Weller had seen her team play and was satisfied.

"We are already three weeks ahead of where we were last year," she said. "I'm real excited about them, although getting excited early is always not smart."