COLLEGE PARK - -After a series of intrasquad scrimmages, Maryland's basketball team finally plays tonight against somebody other than itself.
The exhibition game against Indiana University of Pennsylvania at Comcast Center gives Terps fans their first opportunity to assess what is different about this season's team compared with last. Maryland, which finished 21-14 last season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, recently was ranked 26th in the Associated Press preseason rankings.
The Terps said they are ready to play somebody - anybody - not wearing Maryland colors.
"It's getting kind of boring playing against each other," senior guard Greivis Vasquez said Monday. "Coach [Gary] Williams is going to find out who is who when the lights come on."
Exhibition or not, Williams, who is starting his 21st season as the team's coach, said his freshmen - forwards Jordan Williams and James Padgett - are particularly excited about an actual game.
"That's always fun for a freshman," said Gary Williams, who had offseason disc surgery and has occasionally worn a neck brace during his recovery.
"As someone who played freshman basketball, one of the great rules is that you can play varsity."
Terps players said Maryland fans can look forward to these and other changes:
* More inside scoring from Dino Gregory (Mount St. Joseph). The forward, a likely starter, averaged 2.6 points and 3.2 rebounds last season.
Gregory played increasingly toward the end of the season and became an important inside defender (34 blocks) and rebounder.
"Offensively, probably he wasn't as good as some of the guys he played against," Williams said.
But the coach and others said Gregory's game has become more balanced.
Said Vasquez: "Dino now can really shoot the middle-range jumper."
* Better shooting from the outside by Bowie.
Bowie was 13-for-58 on three-point attempts (22.4 percent) last season. He said he is putting more arc on his shot now and not hitting the front rim as much.
"Adrian has been shooting better," said guard Eric Hayes, who said he has recovered from turf toe and is working on getting into basketball shape.
* More scoring from Hayes. The senior guard averaged 15.2 points in the postseason - the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA tournaments - after averaging 10.3 in the regular season.
Hayes seemed like a different player in the postseason, penetrating more and looking to create shots for himself.
"I just kind of had a mind-set of being more aggressive and more assertive," Hayes said. "I'm looking to build on my game."
The Terps open the regular season by hosting Charleston Southern on Nov. 13. Maryland begins ACC play with a home game against Florida State on Jan. 10.
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