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The Daily Tar Heel

Brown's Status Uncertain As UNC Tips Off ACC Play

So as gift ideas began to swirl in their heads, the Tar Heels fanned out across Carmichael Auditorium to take their test.

They'll get a chance to earn some extra credit and brownie points with UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell by putting those plays in action against Maryland on Saturday at 2 p.m.

UNC opens its ACC season against a 6-1 Terrapins team that is fresh off a hard-fought loss to Penn State.

"The next (ACC) game's not until after Christmas break, so you want to get that first ACC win," Hatchell said.

Getting that win might be difficult for the Tar Heels (3-3). Maryland began the season 6-0 and lost by nine to the

13th-ranked Nittany Lions.

Add the Terrapins' surprising start to a potential hole in UNC's line-up, and the Tar Heels could have a fight on their hands.

Guard Juana Brown left the game six minutes into Sunday's 78-55 loss to

No. 4 Notre Dame with a knee injury. Brown returned to practice Wednesday, but she's questionable for Saturday.

Brown was diagnosed with a lateral collateral ligament sprain in her right knee. When asked if she would be ready for the game, Brown smiled and said she was "day-to-day."

Having Brown on the bench poses a big problem for UNC. While Brown has been a big contributor to UNC's offense (13.2 points a game, 22 assists), she also sets the defensive tone.

"(Not having Brown) changes us in our defense," senior forward LaQuanda Barksdale said. "Her pressure defense on the point guard is really, really good, and that changes the tempo of the game a little bit. I know that we have some players that can do it; it's just a matter of them being mentally ready to do it."

Barksdale also has to worry about fighting the Terps for rebounds. She leads the league with 11.0 boards a game but said Maryland could grab its fair share of rebounds. Terp Deedee Warley is fifth in the league with 8.4 rpg, while Renneika Razor averages 6.7 rpg.

For Brown's part, she's more worried about the team's intensity than Maryland's size.

"(Maryland's) plays aren't hard," Brown said. "I think they've been running the same plays for 20 years. It's that they play so hard."

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.

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