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With 'Grandpa' Douglas back where he belongs, Terps renew title attack


COLLEGE PARK -- Mark Douglas walked into the Maryland lacrosse office and heard a familiar greeting.

"How're you doing, old man?" coach Dick Edell said.

Douglas, the old man and a four-year veteran of the Marines before arriving at Maryland, is doing just fine, thank you.

"Old man" to his coach and "Grandpa" to his teammates, Douglas, at 26, leads the Terps in scoring in his final season at Maryland. Going into the final regular-season game tomorrow against UMBC, he is first in goals (34) and assists (18).

In retrospect, Edell thinks he made a "terrible mistake" in handling Douglas last year. He switched him from attack to midfield, figuring the Terps needed help there and that he "could get away with" the move because Douglas has so many skills.

There was nothing wrong with Douglas' performance at midfield -- 17 goals, 10 assists and All-America mention -- but Edell suspected he hadn't wrung the maximum out of him, after all.

As Edell points out, Maryland reached the Final Four when Douglas was an attackman as a sophomore, and the Terps could be headed there again this season. Last year, with Douglas at midfield, the Terps finished 7-5 and failed to make the NCAA tournament.

"I should have my head examined," Edell said. "I mean, he may be one of the top three attackmen in college lacrosse."

Douglas' finest hour came a few weeks ago when he scored five goals in Maryland's only victory over Johns Hopkins in his four years here. That ranks first even after the Terps' upset of Virginia in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament last week.

"It was the biggest win of my career," Douglas said. "Johns Hopkins is synonymous with lacrosse. They have more All-Americans than anyone else, and more wins. They're in Baltimore, where I grew up."

Born in Canada -- where his father, Kent, a onetime Baltimore Clipper, was playing in the National Hockey League -- Douglas went to Calvert Hall. There, his lacrosse credentials glittered more than his grade-point average.

"I wasn't ready for college," Douglas said. "Academics were something I had to do, not wanted to do. Now they're something I want to do."

The Marine Corps and maturity changed Douglas' attitude toward school. He will graduate this month with a 2.9 (possibly 3.0) in sociology and head with his girlfriend for California ("It's too cold here in the winter, too humid in the summer") and search for a job in sales.

"Mark has grown in every way," Edell said. "I'm proudest of his classroom work. He's a true student-athlete."

Delighted when Edell restored him to attack at the outset of this season, Douglas felt Maryland "could contend if we jelled." The Terps, 8-3 and ranked No. 3, jelled beyond his expectations.

"We've gone further than I thought," Douglas said. "The young guys have stepped up and shown they can play."

The Terps must shake off their loss to No. 1 North Carolina in last Saturday's ACC final and dispose of UMBC to ensure a first-round bye in the NCAA tournament and the home-field advantage in the quarterfinals.

"Once we reach the Final Four, if we do, anything can happen," Douglas said.

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