Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, February 10, 2016

This could be a special season for Maryland, a season that includes a Big Ten title, Final Four appearance ? and maybe a national title.

[ MORE: Power Rankings | Player Rankings | Game Rankings | Bracketology | Big Ten weekly honors (Feb. 8) | Polls | Standings | Stats | Scoreboard | Win a trip to B1G tourney ]

Robert Carter Jr. knows that. The 6-9, 235-pound junior from Thomasville, Georgia, is doing his part to fuel the Terps? push. After sitting out last year following his transfer from Georgia Tech, Carter is making a huge impact by averaging 12.9 points and 6.8 rebounds for a star-studded Maryland squad that is the only one in the Big Ten that has five players averaging in double-figures.

The Terrapins (22-3 overall; 10-2 Big Ten) are a game behind Iowa in the loss column in the league race. And they are off until Saturday, when Wisconsin comes to College Park for a big game. The Terps have yet to lose a Big Ten home game since joining the conference, while the Badgers brought a five-game winning streak into this week as they make a push for the NCAA tourney after a slow start to the season.

Defense is a huge part of Maryland?s success. The Terps are allowing a Big Ten-low 63.8 points per game and also lead the conference in field-goal percentage defense (.385) and blocked shots (72). Carter plays a big role.

I caught up with Carter as he prepped to play Wisconsin.

Q: What is your role on the team?
A: I am a leader, keeping the guys focused every day, trying to have this team get better. And I try to do a bit of everything on the court, scoring, rebounding, passing, playing defense. Whatever we need, I try to provide it.

Q: At what point did you realize this could be a good team?
A: Last summer when we saw Diamond (Stone) and Rasheed (Sulaimon). We could tell those two were special and they have made a difference. Diamond has been playing well for a freshman. And Rasheed is so athletic and talented.

Q: What have those two meant to the squad?
A: They are very special. They give us options every night. You can?t leave them open or they?ll make you pay. And they give us even more depth. Diamond is so big and athletic. He?s a difficult matchup for a lot of teams. Rasheed is quick and dynamic, able to score in a lot of different ways.

Q: Who is the most underrated player on the team?
A: Probably Jared Nickens. He brings out the best in us and does a lot of things well. He?s an unselfish player and well-liked.

Q: How key is Melo Trimble?
A: He is a huge part of team. He gets everyone going. He doesn?t have to score to impact a game. He can pass, defend and do a lot of things to stay involved and impact a game. His shots weren?t falling vs. Purdue over the weekend, but he still found a way to make a big impact. He?s a special player who gets a lot of attention from defenses and is able to find the open man when he draws defenders.

Q: What does your home crowd mean to you guys?
A: It is amazing. I think we have the best fans in the country. They give us a huge boost. They give us energy to be better. They make noise and distract opponents from their play calls. The crowd plays a huge factor for us.

Q: What is the best team you?ve played against this year?
A: I am not sure. I guess the ones that beat us, North Carolina, Michigan and Michigan State. It?s a tough call.

Q: What would it mean to get this team to the Final Four?
A: That would mean everything. That?s one of our goals at the start of the season, get to the Final Four and win a national championship. That would be awesome to accomplish that goal and to leave a legacy.

Q: Do you have a team motto?
A: It?s just ?We will.? We say that. We came up with it last year. We have a bunch of ?We will? rules and principles that we follow as a team.


Email Tom Dienhart using the form below.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.