Big man Gregory rebounds nicely

The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK - Dino Gregory Sr. imparted some basketball wisdom when his son and namesake returned to the University of Maryland for his sophomore season after sitting on the bench the final 16 games as a freshman.

It came last summer, when the former Mount St. Joseph star spent his mornings running and his father, who played at Long Beach State in the early 1980s and later professionally, rode a bicycle behind him.

"I told Dino, 'If you ever feel like not doing the morning run, think about last year,' " the elder Gregory said yesterday. "I told him that he should come back and make Gary Williams play him."

Gregory, 6 feet 7 1/2 , 227 pounds, has steadily done that. In 53 minutes over his past two games, wins over Michigan and George Washington, the forward has had 16 rebounds and three steals and blocked three shots and altered several others while giving the Terps much-needed athleticism up front.

"He's going after the ball probably better than any of our other inside players, and that's why he's out there so many minutes," said Williams, whose Terps will play Delaware State tonight at Comcast Center. "I think his scoring will come. I think he's rushing things a little bit."

Said Gregory: "We've got a lot of guys on the team that can score. I'm trying to go out there and play as hard as I can, play defense, block shots. That's become my role right now, and I just want to keep it going."

The improvement Gregory has made this season came after a frustrating freshman season. After getting five rebounds in 15 minutes in the opener against North Florida, Gregory played that much only once more - a December loss to Ohio - and didn't play at all the final two months.

"It was real tough," Gregory said. "My confidence left when that happened. It hurt really bad. People would talk about me on the Internet. I thought I wasn't a good player. I talked to my dad a lot of long nights about that. I worked hard in the summertime, and now it's showing on the court."

The elder Gregory, a Baltimore police officer, hired a personal trainer to work with his son on his strength and conditioning as well as on his basketball skills, including taking 500 shots a day.

The shot-blocking and rebounding lessons came from Gregory Sr., who was good enough in those areas in college to be drafted in the fourth round by the Washington Bullets in 1982 and play in Europe and the old Continental Basketball Association.

"Everyone wants to go to college and be a super scorer. I told him, 'Dino, think Dennis Rodman,' " said the elder Gregory, whose career was cut short by a knee injury. "If you get out there and rebound, and play defense, you will play."

Having grown up looking at scrapbooks about his father's career, the younger Gregory listened.

"He was pro, so I get advice from a professional every single day. I got to work out with a pro," Gregory said. "I've got an advantage over a lot of guys whose dads didn't play basketball."

The elder Gregory also offered one other interesting piece of advice last summer that had to do with his son adopting some of his coach's style.

"I told him that Gary Williams is a beast," the elder Gregory said. "If you want to play for a beast, you've got to become a beast. Dino's really quiet and reserved, but now he's changed."

NOTE:: Sophomore center Jerome Burney, who has played sparingly, will be out three to six weeks with a stress fracture of his foot. Burney redshirted his freshman season because of a similar injury.


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