Able, BC relearning the art of winning

December 05, 1990|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Correspondent

RICHMOND,VA. — RICHMOND, Va. -- Doug Able was not accustomed to losing when he played at Calvert Hall. And, when he went to Boston College four years ago, he found himself on a team that won 18 games and went to the National Invitation Tournament.

So, the past two seasons had been especially hard for him, as the Eagles won 12 games and then eight games, finishing last in the Big East Conference both years. "It was rough," he said. "You have to persevere."

Able's perseverance apparently has paid off. Now a senior, he is experiencing the joys of victory again. Boston College is off to its best start (5-1) since his freshman year after a 100-85 victory over Maryland Monday in the ACC-Big East Challenge.

But there are still adjustments to be made. After starting most of the last two years, and expecting to start this season, the 6-6, 215-pound forward finds himself coming off the bench. A preseason back injury, followed by a wrist injury suffered in a game against Duke, kept him out of the starting lineup.

"I don't really like it, but it seems to be working," said Able, who had 20 points in 26 minutes against the Terps, including seven straight in a key stretch after Cedric Lewis fouled out for Maryland (2-2). "If it's not broke, why fix it? "

Able smiled.

"It puts a little tarnish on my ego," he said.

Said Boston College coach Jim O'Brien, "The No. 1 thing about Douglas is that he's a very mature kid. I'm sure that he doesn't like it, being a senior, but I know he can handle it better than some of the other kids. The important thing is that he's in there at the end."

Able lost his starting job to another former Baltimore high school standout, senior Corey Beasley (Southern). After hurting his back in the preseason, and shooting 1-for-13 against Marathon Basketball in an exhibition game, Able was removed from the lineup.

"We looked at the tapes, and Doug didn't have a good game," said O'Brien. "Then we started to win some games, and I tend not to change things too much if something is working."

If his past habits are any indication, Able will work hard to get his starting job back. He has been known since his high school days as an extremely diligent player and said that he learned that from watching another former Calvert Hall star, Duane Ferrell.

"He was a senior when I was a freshman," Able said of Ferrell, who went on to star at Georgia Tech and is now with the Atlanta Hawks. "He was a great athlete, but he's worked very hard to get where he is."

Able reminds a lot of people at Boston College of former Eagles star Roger McCready, who at 6-6 took on players like Patrick Ewing during the mid-1980s. In one four-game stretch last year, Able went head-to-head with Alonzo Mourning of Georgetown, Derrick Coleman of Syracuse, LaPhonso Ellis of Notre Dame and Jayson Williams of St. John's.

Now, with highly touted freshman center Bill Curley taking over the low post, Able is free to play a more natural position of small forward. He is over the lower back injury that hampered him in the preseason, but is still feeling the effects of the torn tissue in his wrist, the injury suffered when he fell while going for a rebound at Duke.

"Coach has an expression, 'Tapes don't lie,' " said Able, who is averaging nearly 11 points while shooting 21 of 34 from the field. "I'm going to let my actions speak for themselves."

But there is still a trace of disappointment, if not resentment, about his current starting-vs.-winning dilemma. Asked if he were Superman, being -- uh -- able to play through his injuries, Able smiled again. "If I were Superman, I would be starting," he said.

If he has a couple of more games like the one he had against Maryland, he might want to find the nearest phone booth.

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