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Iowa assistant basketball coaches Sherman Dillard, left, and Andrew Francis sit on the bench during the first half against Notre Dame.
Iowa assistant basketball coaches Sherman Dillard, left, and Andrew Francis sit on the bench during the first half against Notre Dame. (Charlie Neibergall / AP)

There have been a number of connections between the Maryland men's basketball team and its competition in the No. 17 Terps' first Big Ten season.

At the start of the league schedule, there was the NCAA tournament history between Maryland and Michigan State that included heartbreaking losses for Gary Williams in 2003 and 2010.

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A few weeks later, there was the obvious tie between Maryland and Indiana, and 2002 Final Four MVP Juan Dixon's first trip to Assembly Hall, which certainly wasn't as memorable for Dixon as the game in the Georgia Dome.

And just last week, there was Terps forward Jon Graham playing against his former teammates at Penn State, where he spent his first two college seasons. Graham scored a career-high 16 points in a 64-58 win Wednesday.

The history between Maryland and a member of Iowa coach Fran McCaffery's staff dates back to the 1970s, when Hawkeyes assistant Sherman Dillard was a counselor at Lefty Driesell's summer camp and later one of Driesell's assistants.

This will be the second time Dillard faces the school where he got his first college coaching job under Driesell in 1979, following Iowa's win over Maryland in the 2013 NIT semifinals at New York's Madison Square Garden.

"I have fond memories of the place," Dillard said Friday. "This game is different. It is not as sentimental as the first time [in the NIT]. I have a great deal of respect for the program."

In going over the scouting report with the Hawkeyes before practice on Friday, Dillard not only talked about senior guard Dez Wells, junior forward Jake Layman and freshman point guard Melo Trimble, but also tried to give the Iowa players unfamiliar with Maryland a sense of what the program is about.

"I told them that it's basically an historic program, they're used to winning," Dillard said. "I'm familiar with the folks there, I know Mark [Turgeon], he's a class guy. I know his assistants. I'm just trying to get my team prepared to play."

Dillard first met McCaffery when they were college basketball players working Driesell's summer camp. Part of the attraction was bringing in big-name college players such as Ralph Sampson and Mike Gminski from other Atlantic Coast Conference schools, as well as Terps stars such as John Lucas, Mo Howard, Len Elmore and Tom McMillen.

"It became a selling point for the camp," Dillard said. "I worked the camp not for the $90 a week you were being paid, but I thought it was an opportunity for me to play against the talent. The highlight for me was the twice a day we had counselor scrimmages."

Dillard worked three summers at the camp and wound up returning as an assistant to Driesell from 1979 until 1985, when he left to join his former college coach at James Madison, Lou Campanelli, at Cal. Dillard would eventually succeed Driesell at JMU from 1997 through 2004.

The connection to Turgeon is also personal. While Dillard was out of coaching and living in Dallas while working for Nike, his son, Ben, attended Turgeon's camp at Texas A&M. He would also bump into Turgeon at various Nike-sponsored high school events.

"He's one of the good guys in the business and I have a lot of respect for him," Dillard said. "The Baltimore-Washington area is loaded with talent and I knew he would do a great job recruiting."

Given his familiarity with Turgeon, as well as several of Maryland's players, Dillard is not surprised by the turnaround this season.

"I think they're terrific, I've been watching film all day," Dillard said. "They've got some young, talented players, but they've got Layman, who can obviously flat-out play and cause problems for a guy that size.

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"Trimble is having a great season and he's a consummate point guard … Dez Wells is as good a player as we'll face in the Big Ten. My hat's off to them for coming into a new league and establishing themselves so early."

Iowa (14-8. 5-4) is coming off a 72-54 win over injury-depleted Michigan in Ann Arbor Thursday that helped the Hawkeyes break a three-game losing streak. A win over Maryland (19-4, 7-3) will create even more of a logjam below frontrunner Wisconsin in the Big Ten.

Dillard said Maryland got his players' attention when the the Terps, unranked at the time, upset then-No. 13 Iowa State in the CBE Hall of Fame championship game in Kansas City. A few weeks later, the Cyclones crushed Iowa, 90-75, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

"That is our archrival and they really handed it to us this year,"  Dillard said. "They beat Iowa State easily and Iowa State beat us easily. It should be a great game Sunday."

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