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Seeing spots from limelight, women Terps try to refocus


COLLEGE PARK -- This is what happens when you beat the No. 1 team in the nation:

The television cameras and newspaper reporters come asking how you did it. The students, what few are on campus during semester break, talk in quiet, but proud tones about it. And the phones never stop ringing.

"It's been hectic. But it's good," said Maryland women's basketball coach Chris Weller about the flood of attention that has showered on her staff and players since the third-ranked Terps knocked off top-ranked Virginia, 67-65, Wednesday night in Charlottesville.

But for all the warm afterglow of Wednesday's dramatic win, which may vault the Terps to the top of the national rankings for the first time in the program's history, Weller yesterday took on the task of making her charges forget their moment of glory.

That shouldn't be difficult, because the Terps (13-1, 3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) host suddenly improved North Carolina Saturday night and 17th-ranked Clemson Monday.

"It's a big win," Weller said of the victory over Virginia. "It's going to be something they'll remember the rest of their lives. At the same time, it's not going to cause them to be a better team."

Although Maryland did beat the top-ranked team on its home court, the top ranking may not be theirs to claim next week.

Last month, Tennessee, then the No. 1 team in the nation, lost to then-third-ranked Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. But when the poll was released the next week, Virginia, which was then No. 2, moved to first, with the Cardinal settling in behind them.

Weller says that neither she nor her players are worried about whether they will climb to the top of the heap.

"If it was important for us to have a high ranking, then I wouldn't schedule the tough games we play," said Weller. "The bottom line is to become better."

After the Maryland win, Virginia coach Debbie Ryan indicated that if the Terps moved to No. 1, they would inherit the pressures that went along with it.

"They'll have an interesting time with it [the ranking]," said Ryan. "We've had it for so long that we think it belongs here. They'll

go up and down with it, because they're good, but they're inexperienced."

Weller doesn't disagree with Ryan's assessment, but points out that with eight ACC championships and three Final Four appearances, success isn't exactly a new thing.

"We haven't been in this position before, but our program has been in this position in the ACC," said Weller. "With that brings a degree of expectation. During the season, we're learning how to live with challenges. If we can play with that, then the rankings won't matter."

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