Comcast Center has more seats and modern amenities than its predecessor, Cole Field House, but Maryland Coach Gary Williams expects the new arena to be steamy this afternoon, when his team plays top-ranked Duke in a renewal of the teams' rivalry.
"It will be warm in here," Williams said, grinning. "We have to [turn the heat on] because it's going to be cold outside. Keep the people comfortable."
Over the years, the series between the Terrapins and the Blue Devils has turned into one of the most anticipated in the nation. The teams have produced thrilling games and have claimed the past two national championships, Duke winning in 2001 and Maryland last season.
Williams knows today's game will be packed with emotion. Last season, each team won on its home court, with Maryland prevailing, 87-73, at Cole Field House; Duke also entered that game as the nation's No. 1 team.
"These are great games," Williams said. "I wouldn't trade this game for anything. I told the players that, too. To play in a game like this, you can watch a lot of basketball and you won't find a better atmosphere, whether the game is here or Duke or wherever the game is. You look at the NBA, during the regular season you just don't find many spots there that measure up to this. I told the players to enjoy it."
The Terrapins (9-4, 2-1 ACC) are coming off a disappointing loss at Wake Forest in which they were outrebounded by a more aggressive opponent. Williams and his staff have spent the past two days challenging their players to play harder, particularly on the inside. Against Wake Forest, center Ryan Randle and forwards Tahj Holden, Travis Garrison and Jamar Smith were largely ineffective. Rebounding today will be particularly critical. Duke (12-0, 3-0), the nation's only unbeaten team, has a tall front court and rotates four post players who are 6 feet 9 or taller.
"We have to rebound, there's no doubt about it," Williams said. "We need somebody to step up and get us 10 or 12 rebounds, one of our big guys. And we have the talent to do that. A lot of rebounding, 70 percent of it, is effort.
"We've talked about it. They know. You can't be a good team without being a good rebounding team. . . . We're not going to outrebound everybody every night, but you've got to be competitive."
Randle, who had just five rebounds against Wake Forest, said the message was clear.
"He's telling us to play more aggressive, play like you're a big man, play like Shaq," Randle said.
Senior forward Calvin McCall also likely will play an increased role today. After the Terrapins started low in Wednesday's 81-72 loss at 19th-ranked Wake Forest, Williams credited McCall for providing a spark off the bench. And with freshman Nik Caner-Medley playing only 11 minutes with just one rebound in that game, it seems possible Williams might move McCall back into the starting lineup. Freshman guard Chris McCray likely will have more playing time today after his best game of the season on Wednesday, with eight points and six rebounds.
"That's how it is going to be this year," Williams said. "There is not going to be that automatic rotation."
Terrapins Note: Maryland plans to honor former coach Lefty Driesell during its Jan. 30 game against North Carolina State. Plans are not finalized, but athletic department officials hope to bring some of Driesell's former players to the game to participate in a halftime ceremony.
"I think it is meaningful in a sense that we're doing it," Athletic Director Debbie Yow said. "He seems pleased that we're doing it. We want to thank him for the competitive excellence he brought to the program."