COLLEGE PARK -- There was a long and publicized rift between the Maryland basketball program and Dunbar High, but the Terps' once chilly relations with Baltimore were hardly restricted to the city's most storied prep institution.
Would you believe that Juan Dixon, a redshirt freshman out of Calvert Hall, is the first player to go directly to Maryland out of one of the Catholic League schools since Gene Shue?
"That's fascinating," Shue said from his home in Marina Del Ray, Calif. "Over the years, you had to have some pretty good players come out of the Catholic League."
Shue, 66 and retired after a lengthy career as an NBA coach and executive, graduated from Towson Catholic in 1950, when the Owls lost a three-game Maryland Scholastic Association championship series to Patterson Park, which he vividly remembers. He was an All-American for Maryland in 1954 and a five-time NBA All-Star before he coached some fine Baltimore Bullets teams.
Between Shue and Dixon, the Catholic League turned out some great players, but according to the Maryland media guide and the ACC Basketball Statbook, none made Maryland his initial college choice.
It hurt when Cardinal Gibbons' Quintin Dailey went to San Francisco in the late 1970s and Calvert Hall's Duane Ferrell headed to Georgia Tech in '84. More recently, coach Gary Williams' interest in Mark Karcher was made moot when the St. Frances star didn't meet freshman eligibility standards and went to Temple as a Proposition 48 player.
Rodney Walker, an All-Metro player at Cardinal Gibbons in 1985, was a bit player for Maryland over two seasons, but he first took a scholarship to Syracuse.
Dunbar's Larry Gibson and Ernie Graham helped the Terps in the 1970s, but toward the end of his Maryland tenure, Lefty Driesell couldn't get any players out of Baltimore. Bob Wade's brief coaching stay didn't help relations with Dunbar, but Williams' signing of Keith Booth in 1993 signaled a warming trend.
Some viewed signing Dixon as just a public relations move by Williams, but the 6-foot-3, 150-pound guard has been a revelation. A preseason afterthought amid the addition of junior-college transfer Steve Francis and Parade All-American Danny Miller, Dixon has seven of the Terps' 15 three-pointers, and he's averaging 5.3 rebounds.
"He goes after the ball as well as any of our players," Williams said. "I knew Juan was a scorer, but I didn't know he was that good a shooter."
Dixon is not the only Catholic League product at Maryland. Earl Badu graduated from St. Frances in 1997, entered the university last year and impressed Williams enough in the preseason to earn an invitation to the team. He hasn't suited up, as the Terps wait for the NCAA clearinghouse to rubber-stamp his eligibility.
The pace will pick up this week for Maryland (3-0), which plays its fourth game in 10 days at Cole Field House tonight (8 o'clock) against Duquesne, then travels tomorrow to the Puerto Rico Shootout.
No. 6 Maryland could move up a spot when the rankings are updated today, since No. 5 Michigan State lost to Temple, but the potential is there for greater movement during the next two weeks.
The Terps open tournament play Thanksgiving Day against the host team, American University of Puerto Rico. Things then get serious, as they figure to face UCLA in the Puerto Rico semifinals and Kentucky or Xavier in the title game. Up next will be Wake Forest in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener; Stanford in the semis of the BB&T; Classic; George Washington or DePaul; and then Kentucky at Rupp Arena on Dec. 12.
Duquesne, 11-19 last season, was supposed to be the weakest team in the Atlantic 10 under first-year coach Darelle Porter, but it got Maryland's attention last Wednesday with a win over West Virginia, even if the Mountaineers are rebuilding after a Sweet 16 season. The Dukes (3-0) have also beaten SUNY-Albany and Buffalo.
Porter, at 29 Division I's second-youngest coach, began practice on an interim basis, but on Nov. 12 got a contract through 2000-2001. Forward Wayne Smith gives him a freshman to build with.
Maryland will go for its 62nd straight nonconference win at Cole, a run that does not include any ranked victims. The last ranked nonconference opponent to play at Maryland was Missouri, on Jan. 24, 1989. The Tigers were No. 5 when they won, 97-73. Senior wing Laron Profit was credited with two steals in Friday's 30-point pounding of Hofstra. He has 191 for his career, two shy of Booth, who stands No. 2. Johnny Rhodes' school record is a distant 344. Sophomore forward Terence Morris missed his first free throw against Western Carolina and since has made 13 straight.
Pub Date: 11/23/98