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Terps planning to greet BC with open shots

December 11, 2005|By David Ginsburg

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -

Before Maryland begins feasting on a steady diet of league games next month, the Terrapins get an Atlantic Coast Conference appetizer tonight against newcomer Boston College.

It will be the ACC debut for the sixth-ranked Eagles, who would like nothing better than to beat one of the league's premier teams on the road.

"They're the new member. It's a big deal for them to play their first game in the league," Terrapins coach Gary Williams said. "It's our first game of the year too, so that's a big one for us as well."

No. 21 Maryland (6-2) toyed with Western Carolina on Wednesday night before pulling away, but the Terrapins will probably need 40 minutes of intensity to dispatch the Eagles (6-1).

"When you play teams like Boston College, you know in your mind before the game you have to come out and play hard," Maryland forward Ekene Ibekwe said. "I've been here for two years, and I've learned a few things. When the ACC games come around, it's no time to play around. It's all business."

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Maryland's run of 11 straight NCAA tournament appearances ended last season, primarily because the Terrapins went 7-9 in ACC play. There's no guarantee that a victory today will ensure a winning record in the league, but it sure would be a strong start.

"We know how important a game it's going to be for us," Maryland guard D.J. Strawberry said. "This is a game we have to win. It's always good to be 1-0 in the ACC."

The Eagles' strength is their frontcourt. Junior forward Jared Dudley is averaging 19 points and eight rebounds per game, and senior forward Craig Smith is averaging 15 points and eight rebounds.

"They have a great inside tandem. They just take the ball to the basket," Williams said. "They don't try to disguise anything; they just say here we come. We're going to have to be very physical to match their physical."

The Terrapins will also have to match the Eagles' enthusiasm. Playing in the ACC is nothing new for Maryland, but Boston College is thrilled about the prospect of competing in arguably the best conference in the nation.

"I think it's going to be pretty exciting. We're going to be going to new venues and playing against teams that you've seen pretty much all the time on TV," Smith said. "I believe that this Sunday is going to be a battle. Obviously, they want to welcome us in, but not really in a good way. I know that we're a great road team, so it's going to be one heck of a game."

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