Today, Testudo Timers, the real tournament starts. The play-in matchup was enjoyable and competitive (D.J. Strawberry emerged victorious) but now it's time to get into the real meat of this competition. This is the equivalent of that "take off from work" first Thursday of the tournament.
Today's 8/9 matchup pits two great Terps against one another. In the #8 spot, we've got Lonny Baxter: the 6' 8 big man from Silver Spring, MD who helped lead the Terps to their first and only National Championship. In the #9 spot is Johnny Rhodes: a four year starting shooting guard who leads not only Maryland, but the entire ACC, in career steals. We break down the matchup below:
#15, Johnny Rhodes, SG, 1992-1996
The two things that immediately stand out when looking at Johnny Rhodes' overall body of work is his consistency and his steals numbers. Rhodes was a four-year starter at Maryland and averaged double figures in scoring all four years (14, 12.5, 14, and16.7, respectively). He also averaged an impressive 5.7 rebounds per game over the course of his career. When it came to defense, Rhodes was simply on another planet. He still holds the ACC career steals record with 344, include the single season record of 110. As for the team's success while Johnny was there, the Terps made three NCAA Tournaments, including two Sweet 16s, and helped breathe back life into a once dead Maryland basketball program.
#35, Lonny Baxter, C, 1998-2002
Lonny, commonly known as LB, didn't start immediately as a freshman, but midway through his first season, it was clear that Gary Williams had a player on his hands. The big-bodied Center would go on to average over 15 points per game in each of his final three seasons along with 8 rebounds per game. He ran the floor well, had great hands, and was the anchor in the middle for the most successful period in Maryland basketball's history. Four NCAA Tournament appearances, three Sweet 16s, two Final Fours, and one National Championship. There is very little Lonny Baxter and his teammates didn't accomplish in a Maryland uniform.
You really can't go wrong with either choice here. Rhodes might have a slight edge in terms of individual statistics (better scoring average, more assists, and a whole lot more steals) while Lonny clearly has an advantage in team accomplishments. Rhodes is 1st in steals, 9th in assists (more than any non-point guard), and 9th in scoring. Lonny is 6th in scoring, 2nd in rebounds, and did this. Two great players. Two great Terps.
What say you, Terp Nation?