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No idle shots, despite basketball idols Terps' Boles, Colleton try for women's team


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Maryland's Malissa Boles and Katrina Colleton can be excused for feeling a bit star-struck as they practice for the U.S. Olympic trials in women's basketball.

Over on court 1 is Nancy Lieberman-Cline, a former Olympian and four-time All-American, juking a competitor out of her socks.

On court 3 is Cheryl Miller, another former Olympian and four-time All-American, providing the dictionary definition of denial defense.

On court 2, former Georgia All-American and two-time Olympian Teresa Edwards, widely acclaimed as the best women's player in the world, sweeps in for a layup.

So, what are Boles and Colleton doing in a place like this with players like these? After all, Boles and Colleton each have a year of college left, and most of the 56 invitees here at the Olympic Training Center have not only finished college, but also have played professionally overseas.

Don't think they haven't wondered that themselves.

"It's an honor to be here," Boles said. "It's unreal. When I first came out here, I thought, 'Oh my God. There goes Cheryl Miller. There goes another one of my idols.' "

At stake is a spot on the Olympic team or on the 12-player select team that will go to Taiwan next month to compete for the Jones Cup. With the first round of cuts scheduled Monday, there is no time for idol worship.

"I look at them as idols, but I say, 'Let me see if I can stop her.' So, if I stop her, I think, yeah, yeah. You test how good you are, too, against the best girls," Colleton said.

Boles and Colleton were pretty good last year in their element.

The seniors each helped lead the Terps to a four-week stay at No. 1 in the national polls and to the Mideast Regional final, Maryland's longest NCAA tournament stay since 1989, when it reached the Final Four.

Boles, a 5-foot-10 guard from Milwaukee, was Maryland's second-leading scorer, averaging 13.6 points, and was named to the All-ACC second team.

Colleton, also 5-10, is from Tampa, Fla. She was replaced in the Maryland starting lineup early in the season by Boles, but became a valuable reserve for the Terps, averaging 6.8 points.

Although Maryland plays in the ACC, one of the best collegiate women's conferences, Boles and Colleton now face the toughest competition of their competitive careers.

"They have nothing to lose, in my opinion, and they should tell themselves that," Edwards said. "I made it in 1984, and I was one of the youngest on the team. I just came in here and had nothing to lose.

"If you come in here nervous and thinking you have everything to lose, which is natural, then you're going to play tense and scared," Edwards said.

So far, Boles and Colleton are showing a healthy respect for the legends of the game without being intimidated.

"If you come out here and you don't think you have a shot of making the Olympic team, then why even come?" Colleton said. "If I don't make either of these teams, I want to learn what I need to improve on. But if I make one, there's still room for improvement."

Boles said: "Because of your love for the game, you want to go out and give your best. When you play against players that are at your level and above you, it brings out the best in you, and you bring out the best in them. That's what makes women's basketball exciting. I think we need that."

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