After a 24-hour delay and several itinerary changes, the 22nd-ranked Maryland men's basketball team will play at North Carolina tonight, hoping to send the Tar Heels to their first five-game losing streak since 1952.
Originally scheduled for last night, the game was postponed one day because of the snowstorm that blanketed the East Coast on Tuesday. Raleigh-Durham International Airport was closed again yesterday, forcing Maryland to fly into Greensboro, N.C., last night after practice. The Terrapins will take a bus to Chapel Hill for tonight's game, then depart for Tallahassee, where they are scheduled to play Florida State on Saturday.
"Obviously you don't like to change anything and keep the same travel pattern you usually do, but obviously you have to adjust sometimes," Maryland Coach Gary Williams said earlier this week when the snowstorm forced the Terrapins to start scrambling for new travel plans. "You can't make excuses. We don't talk about it to the players. We just tell them to keep their bags packed."
Playing two road games in three days could be challenging for the Terrapins (13-5, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), particularly if junior forward Terence Morris is unable to play because of a sprained left ankle. However, freshman Tahj Holden's emergence has given Maryland additional depth. Holden, who had played sparingly earlier this season, had 29 points, 16 rebounds and 5 blocked shots in two victories last week and was named ACC rookie of the week.
In the Terrapins' first two road games, losses at North Carolina State and Georgia Tech, Holden had two points and two rebounds in a total of nine minutes.
"Those two games . . . kind of hurt us because I think the starters got a little tired because they played a lot of minutes," Holden said. "It is always good to have another body coming off the bench who can perform and just contribute minutes, like I did."
Williams said Holden's presence will be important because North Carolina (11-8, 2-3) has several tall players, including 7-foot center Brendan Haywood and 6-11 forward Kris Lang.
"It's really nice size they have," Williams said. "To have Tahj knowing he can play now, that helps Tahj and that helps us."
Having won three of their past four games at the Dean E. Smith Center, the Terrapins are confident.
"It is definitely a game that we think we are going to win and that we are supposed to win," center Mike Mardesich said. "We just have to actually go out there and win the game."