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Patriots remain right on schedule

March 07, 2001

Patriots remain right on schedule



By DAN SPEARS

dans@herald-mail.com

FREDERICK, Md. - There is no RPI formula to decide seeds in the Maryland state basketball tournament. Winning streaks or level of competition aren't considered when the regionals are set up at the end of February.

Thomas Johnson coach Tom Dickman doesn't care. Neither do his Patriots. For all they know, schedule strength is the most important ingredient in earning a trip to the state semifinals at Cole Field House. So they go out and play whoever they can, whenever they can, wherever they can.

"The way the tournament is set up, you're gonna have to play on the road, and you better get used to it and you better be good at it," Dickman said Tuesday as his Patriots prepare to play Crossland at 5 Thursday in College Park. "You're gonna have to play with the other team's officials and the calls that don't go your way.

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"The time to work on that is not March. You gotta be ready for that ... as well as playing good teams."

As usual, the Patriots (19-5) hit the road for the 2000-01 season. They played just eight games on campus - seven of them required by the Central Maryland Conference.

Included in the road trips were prestigious trips to the Slam Dunk To The Beach in Delaware over Christmas break and the St. James Invitational Tournament one month ago.

Yes, the Patriots only went 1-4 in those games, but that didn't matter.

"If anything, we gained confidence (in Delaware)," junior point guard Jermaine Thomas said. "The first game we should have won, but it goes that way sometimes.

"But the two losses still made us a better team."

"Delaware," senior guard Tyler Wingerd said. "Before then, we hadn't played that long together. We saw what we could do ... we knew that we could be good."

What Wingerd and the Patriots knew then, everybody else knows now. This is the 13th trip to states for TJ. Dickman's formula obviously works.

He knows it. His players do, too.

"We want to play the toughest teams," senior forward Joe Higbee said. "By this point, we're ready to take on anybody."

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