The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday February 8th

UNC Looks to Slow Terps to Turtle's Pace

After all, what can't Morris do?

At 6-foot-9, he is big enough to post up, grab rebounds and block shots. And with his deft shooting touch, he is a threat to score from anywhere on the floor.

But Morris started the 2000-01 season slowly, and his team followed suit. The Terps, ranked No. 5 in the preseason, dropped three games in a row after winning their opener.

Morris averaged just 13 points and six rebounds during the skid, hardly the numbers of an All-American.

No one, not even Maryland coach Gary Williams, could figure it out.

"I don't know. I wish I knew," Williams said Tuesday. "He started the season feeling a lot of pressure, I think. Coming back like he did, there's a tendency to feel, 'Now I really have to produce because this is my last year, and I don't have the option of coming back for another year.'"

Apparently, Morris was just waiting for the real season -- the ACC schedule -- to begin.

He rang up a double-double on Georgia Tech with 19 points and 13 rebounds and then tallied 26 points and eight boards against Clemson as the Terrapins (11-3,

2-0 in the ACC) won both games.

That has UNC coach Matt Doherty concerned as his team prepares to play Maryland tonight at 7 in Cole Field House.

"He shot the ball very well against Clemson," Doherty said. "He hits that trailing jump shot, and that's a concern because he's such a tough matchup. It's certainly a challenge, and he's one of the most gifted players we'll see all year."

Doherty will use 6-8 Jason Capel,

6-11 Kris Lang, and 6-6, 270-pound Julius Peppers to counter Morris' versatility. How successful they are will have everything to do with how much Morris asserts himself.

As has been the case throughout his career, Morris still lacks the instinct to take over a game. He won't force the issue, averaging fewer than 11 field goal attempts and four free throws per game.

But the top turtle has come out of his shell recently, averaging 15 shots and six free throws in Maryland's two ACC wins.

And with Juan Dixon (18.5 points) and Lonny Baxter (17.1 points, 6.4 rebounds) enjoying standout seasons, the re-emergence of Morris makes the Terps extra dangerous. Maryland is riding a 10-game winning streak and playing its best basketball of the season.

"He's really helped our team as he's picked it up," Williams said. "Because now with Dixon and Baxter scoring pretty well, it gives us that third scorer that makes us tough to cover."

And tough to beat.

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

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