Originally created 04/02/02

Peach Jam catapults Dixon



ATLANTA - Since the first McDonald's High School All-American game in 1978, no team had one a national championship without a McDonald All-American.

Maryland, though, had none. Indiana had two - Jared Jeffries and Dane Fife.

"Since I've been here, I think we've had one (McDonald's All-American), Danny Miller, and he left the program," said Maryland's Juan Dixon. "Coach (Gary Williams) just recruits guys who want to work hard to become better players. We didn't come to school with big egos."

Despite the two high school All-Americans, Maryland went into the game as a heavy favorite.

"There's always a list of players out there that if you don't recruit them, you're a bad recruiter, no matter how many games you win," Williams said. "There's people that care more about recruiting than they do about how many games you win. I've never figured that out. Especially those guys on the internet, they're really tough when they can just put a nickname down there after their article."

Williams said Dixon wasn't an All-American in high school or a top-rated recruit because people saw him as too small.

"We look for guys like that," Williams said. "For us, he might be a really good player, even though he doesn't have the All-American label or whatever after your name."

Next year, Maryland will have a McDonald's All-American, as signee Travis Garrison of Hyattsville, Md., was selected to play in Thursday's game at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Big games produce lasting memories, new heroes and useless statistics.

Going into Monday's game, Indiana owned a 4-0 record against Maryland, a 5-0 record in championship games and a 7-0 record against Williams.

Indiana's five championship games without a loss is the most in NCAA history. Louisville, Michigan State, N.C. State and San Francisco are all 2-0.

The Hoosiers also have the top winning percentage in Final Four games, 12-2 in the Final Four (.857 percentage).

No fifth-seed has ever won the national championship. In 2000, No. 5 Florida lost to Michigan State in the final.

The 2002 NCAA Championship is the 2,002nd game in Maryland basketball history.

Only four schools have won a national championship in football and men's basketball - UCLA, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State. Maryland won the 1953 football title.

Eight head coaches have led their alma mater to a national championship, but only one since Williams graduated from Maryland in 1968. That was N.C. State's Norm Sloan in 1974.

Maryland was the first team in NCAA Tournament history to advance to the national championship game by beating the highest-possible seeded team in every round of the tournament. Maryland came in seeded No. 1 and beat No. 16 Siena, No. 8 Wisconsin, No. 4 Kentucky, No. 2 Connecticut and No. 1 Kansas. That streak, though, was broken by No. 5 Indiana.

PEACH MEMORIES: Williams' relationship with Dixon came full circle - starting and ending (at least as a coach) in the state of Georgia.

While Dixon's peak as a college player was Monday at the Georgia Dome, Williams remembers first seeing Dixon play at the Peach Jam in Augusta in 1996.

"It was hot, it wasn't a close game," Williams remembered. "Of the ten guys out there, this happens in the summertime during that recruiting period, because the kids play four games a day, Juan was still the one guy on the court still diving, still trying to do whatever he could to help his team. That really impressed me in that situation."

Dixon was from Baltimore, but his play in Augusta cemented Williams' desire for him to come to Maryland.

"Sometimes you get lucky," Williams said."Sometimes you play a hunch in recruiting and it works out today."