Terps say they're up to Boston College's challenge

December 03, 1990|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Correspondent

RICHMOND, Va. -- Flash back to a year ago, to the first ACC-Big East Challenge Series, to the Hartford (Conn.) Civic Center, to the University of Maryland's 79-54 loss to Connecticut.


So much for painful memories.

"It was a really sloppy game for us," said senior center Cedric Lewis. "We were still adjusting to Coach [Gary] Williams' system. Tony [Massenburg] was just coming back. But that's in the past. We have to focus on the present and the future."

The present is this: When Maryland (2-1) takes on Boston College (4-1) tonight in a battle of bottom seeds, the Terrapins will be not thinking about last season as much as Saturday's 90-85 defeat at West Virginia.

Walt Williams will be pondering his performance against the Mountaineers, a seven-point, six-turnover game that found the junior point guard on the bench at the end, having fouled out with 2 minutes, 16 seconds to go.

"I had a terrible game," said Williams, who watched as the Terps closed a nine-point deficit with 2:29 left to 86-85 with 37 seconds remaining. "I'm going to do what I can to make sure it doesn't happen again."

For a game between two teams picked to finish last in their respective conferences, the second half of tonight's doubleheader should be competitive. Perhaps even more than the opener between No. 13 Pittsburgh (3-0) and struggling Virginia (3-2).

The Eagles are improved from last season, when they were picked to finish ninth and lived down to the expectations (8-20 overall, 1-15 in the Big East). BC had perhaps its best recruiting class since the league was formed 11 years ago.

"I think they've shown they're a better team," said Walt Williams, "and I think we've surprised some people. I don't think anybody expected us to come into West Virginia and play them down to the last minute."

Said Boston College coach Jim O'Brien: "We know that Matt Roe is a very good basketball player from his days at Syracuse. We know that Walt Williams is an exceptional point guard. Cedric Lewis is not real gifted offensively, but he is a very good defensive player. We know this is going to be a very difficult game for us."

Asked if not playing in last season's series will serve to motivate his players, O'Brien said last week: "That's a good question, but we haven't even discussed it yet. It's a game on our schedule. That will be an issue on Sunday."

For Gary Williams, it marks the first time he has coached against Boston College since leaving for Ohio State in 1986. O'Brien, a former BC star, succeeded him.

"It's been five years, and there are no players I coached there, so it's not that big a deal," Williams said yesterday.

Williams said he doesn't think that last season's embarrassment in Hartford will come into play tonight. Half of the players on last season's team are not around, and there are four new starters.

"There were a lot of things going on at Maryland at the time," said Williams, alluding to the impending probation from the National Collegiate Athletic Association. "Connecticut was a very good team; they were a lot better than anybody thought. And we weren't a very good team in December."

In their first three games this season, the Terps have showed that they understand what Williams wants from them, though offensively they can't always deliver. Maryland shot 35 percent against the Mountaineers, and had a lot of trouble (18 turnovers) against West Virginia's three-quarter-court press.

"I'm concerned with our ball-handling and our shooting," said Williams. "West Virginia had pretty quick guards, and so does BC. And [Bill] Curley is one of the best big men we're going to face."

"Anybody who sees tapes of that game [West Virginia] is going to press us," said Roe.

That is what happened last year against Connecticut. But that was a long time ago, and the memories, however painful, have started to fade.

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