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Sports Terps Tracking the Terps

Ex-Terps coach Gary Williams on the Juan Dixon-Roddy Peters No. 3 jersey situation

Gary Williams has tried to keep his distance from the Maryland basketball program since he retired in May 2011, allowing Mark Turgeon to build his own program.

If that means Turgeon's players being able to wear the honored jerseys that belonged to some of Williams' players, so be it.

Even the No. 3 that was last worn by Juan Dixon when he was named the Most Outstanding Player in the 2002 Final Four after leading the Terps to the school's only national championship.

"While I was coaching there, I wasn't going to give Juan's jersey to anybody, but at the same time, that is not my decision any more," Williams said. "Mark has every right to do the things the way he wants to do them."

Williams said that he wasn't even aware incoming freshman Roddy Peters had asked Turgeon over the summer if could wear No. 3.

Or that Dixon, after initially giving his approval, told the third-year Maryland coach that he would prefer if Peters wore another number. Peters eventually chose No. 2.

"All those jerseys are honored jerseys, not retired jerseys," Williams said. "Because I coached Juan, it's a different situation. Juan meant a lot to me, personally. I don't think a player ever had a better year than Juan.

"I'm not saying that he was the only great player ever to play at Maryland -- obviously, there's been great ones through the eras -- but when you win the national championship you separate yourself from everyone else."

Williams said that Dixon did more than just lead the Terps to its first two Final Fours and lone national championship. It had to do with another great former Terp -- probably the most talented ever to wear a Maryland uniform -- and a jersey number that hasn't been worn in more than 25 years.

"Juan made it OK for 34 to be looked at a little differently, I really believe that," Williams said of the jersey number worn by Len Bias, who died from a cocaine overdose in June 1986. "Juan had a lot to do with the healing process, and that [championship] team had a lot to do with the healing process."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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