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Morris sure to continue learning on the job in showdown with Ky. 'Cats' Padgett is next test for sophomore forward


COLLEGE PARK -- The education of Terence Morris will continue tomorrow at Rupp Arena, when No. 2 Maryland and its sky's-the-limit sophomore attack No. 5 Kentucky and Scott Padgett, who began the season rated among the nation's premier power forwards.

Morris is coming off Monday's 10-for-11 shooting performance against DePaul, in which he constantly moved, posted up smaller defenders and finished his chances. It came a day after Stanford's Mark "Mad Dog" Madsen limited him to seven shots, an experience that nonetheless was good for Morris.

"I think Terence was nervous, and when you get nervous, there's some hesitation," coach Gary Williams said of the soft-spoken prize Thomas Johnson High in Frederick sent him last year.

"They [Stanford] were so big and so wide, he wasn't quite sure how to handle that, but like all good players, Terence adjusted as the game went on. He made some really good adjustments. Coaching-wise, you can tell him things, but he has to do it. I'm just glad he wasn't broken in half."

Morris, 6 feet 9 and 205 pounds, is shooting .688 from the field, so he has become a serious threat to break the school record of .647 set by Buck Williams in 1980-81. He has made his last four three-pointers and is shooting .615 (8-for-13) from beyond the arc.

While Morris has fired away at a hot pace, the Terps' other starting big man is searching for consistency from the field. In the past five games, senior center Obinna Ekezie made just one-third (12-for-36) of his shots, dropping his season percentage to .452.

One of the themes Williams hammered on in the preseason was whether officials would respect the veteran and reward the position he gets with free throws. They have. He has taken 57 free throws, easily the most on the team. His 461 career attempts are the 10th-most in Maryland history.

A .670 shooter at the line last season, Ekezie has elevated that to .772 by making 24 of 26 over the past three games.

Better rebound

Smaller DePaul out-rebounded Maryland, 38-32. Stanford whipped the Terps, 42-29, on the boards, and Williams appreciates that his team had best box out better at Rupp Arena tomorrow.

"Every team has an emphasis, through its coach, whether it's playing defense or walking up the ball on offense," Williams said. "I believe I haven't emphasized rebounding enough."

One reason the Terps were beaten so badly on the boards at the BB&T; Classic was the propensity of their perimeter people to cheat in transition. Laron Profit was caught out of position several times, wanting to start a break instead of first making sure that Maryland had won possession.

"Anytime you've got a running team, there's a tendency to leak on the break and not screen out the opponent," Williams said. "That's correctable."

BB&T; exempt?

With the NCAA preparing changes on exempt events -- in-season tournaments that don't count against regular-season game limits -- organizers of the BB&T; Classic are considering sponsoring legislation that would make it easier for marquee opponents to keep joining Maryland and George Washington on the first weekend in December.

"We don't want the tournament to be exempt for Maryland and George Washington, just for the other two teams we bring in," said tournament director Bob Zurfluh. "Gary Williams and [GW coach] Tom Penders don't mind if we pursue that."

Illinois and a team to be determined, possibly Seton Hall, will round out next year's field. The changes to the NCAA exemptions, which would begin during the 2000-01 season, preclude long-range planning, but Zurfluh said UCLA, Michigan and St. John's, are other possibilities.

The two local draws have contracts to play in the BB&T; Classic through next season, but Zurfluh said: "There's never been any talk of them not wanting to continue the relationship."

Pub Date: 12/11/98

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