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Miami-Maryland Preview

March 19, 2004

From the Associated Press

GAME: No. 12 Maryland (17-12) vs. No. 5 Miami (22-6).
REGIONAL: West, First Round.
TIME: Sunday, 7 p.m. EST.
SITE: The Pete Maravich Assembly Center; Baton Rouge, La.

After a strong start to the season, Miami went into a bit of a funk about two months ago.

The Hurricanes, however, think they’re back on track and ready to make a run in the NCAA tournament.

Miami plays its tournament opener against Maryland, a team the Hurricanes beat by 31 points last season.

The Hurricanes started the season with 12 consecutive victories – the best start in school history – and went on to win 16 of their first 17 games. Miami, however, then lost three straight contests and was searching for answers.

“We were just really struggling,” assistant coach Robin Harmony told The Miami Herald. “And we had a problem with team chemistry. I think they were getting tired and frustrated. The pressure, as you keep winning, gets greater and greater. It was getting too much for them.”

Miami rebounded to win six of its next seven games before losing to eventual champion Boston College in the Big East championship game.

“They’re focused again,” Harmony said. “It’s all or nothing. No reason to hold anything back at this point.”

Miami senior forward Shaquana Wilkins, who leads the team in rebounding with 8.5 a game, said the Hurricanes aren’t thinking about the regular season anymore.

“We’re not looking back on any loss,” said Wilkins, who had 16 points and nine rebounds in Miami’s 91-85 overtime loss to New Mexico in the first round of last season’s NCAA tournament.

“We have recuperated.”

Maryland needs to fix its problems as it heads into the NCAAs for the first time since 2001.

The Terrapins also started the season strong with 11 wins in their first 14 contests, but they went on to drop nine of their last 15 games.

Maryland, however, feels good about itself heading into Sunday’s game after playing well against top-ranked Duke in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

The Terrapins lost 70-63, but they had a 48-41 lead with 11:07 remaining in the game.

“To put ourselves in this position to be able to compete with a team like Duke is very, very exciting for us,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “It’s really satisfying, and we know it’s not over yet.

“It is a great bracket and we’re so excited and ready to take care of business. We’re ready to move forward in this tournament.”

Maryland is 2-1 all-time against Miami, but the Terrapins lost 97-66 to the Hurricanes in their last meeting on Dec. 29, 2002.

The winner of Sunday’s game will face either No. 4 LSU or No. 13 Austin Peay in the second round on Tuesday.

PROBABLE STARTERS:
Maryland – F Chrissy Fisher (8.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg), F Delvona Oliver (10.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg), C Crystal Washington (8.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg), G Kalika France (11.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.2 apg), G Anesia Smith (3.2 ppg, 3.0 apg).
Miami – F Melissa Knight (9.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.5 apg), F Wilkins (11.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg), F Chanivia Broussard (15.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg), G Tamara James (16.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.5 apg), G Yalonda McCormick (12.0 ppg, 5.5 apg, 4.0 rpg).

HOW THEY GOT HERE:
Maryland – At-large berth.
Miami – At-large berth.

ALL-TIME TOURNAMENT RECORD:
Maryland – 12-12, 12 years.
Miami – 2-5, 5years.