Terps' Roe short from long range Transfer guard faces double-team pressure

December 27, 1990|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Correspondent

NEW YORK -- Matt Roe came to the University of Maryland from Syracuse University 15 months ago with a reputation as a one-dimensional basketball player: a terrific outside shooter whose other offensive skills were marginal.

Now, seven games into his final year of eligibility and first season with the Terrapins, Roe is looking to relocate the long-distance touch that made him the most prolific three-point shooter in Syracuse history.

"All my [missed] shots have been either short or long," said Roe, a guard who missed 10 of his first 11 three-point tries this season and is 9-for-34. "It's just a matter of distance. One of these days, I'm going to break out of it."

Maryland (4-3) hopes that the familiarity with Madison Square Garden's forgiving rims will be beneficial to Roe when the Terps meet Rutgers (5-2) tonight at 7 in the first game of the ECAC Holiday Festival.

The Garden has provided some happy memories for Roe, who played on Syracuse teams that won the preseason National Invitation Tournament and The Big East tournament. Roe was the designated outside shooter on a team whose offense was geared to going inside to players such as Derrick Coleman, Stephen Thompson and Rony Seikaly.

"When I had a bad game at Syracuse, it was because I wasn't shooting the ball well," said Roe, who made 159 of 367 three-point attempts in three seasons at Syracuse. "Here I can have a bad game and still get five or six rebounds and some assists. I don't think you can judge me by how many threes I get."

And that has been part of the problem. To show that his game was limited at Syracuse, Roe seems to have forced things at times for the Terps, whether by taking an off-balance jumper with someone in his face or going a little too strong to the basket when pulling up from five feet would suffice.

Admittedly not the quickest player on the court -- though certainly not the slowest on a lead-footed Maryland team -- Roe has found himself getting more defensive attention than he did at Syracuse. As a result, he often is double-teamed against pressure defenses and unable to get free.

"Matt had a good game Saturday against Lafayette, but Lafayette is not Rutgers," said Maryland coach Gary Williams, whose pre-game conversation with Roe led to a 26-point, nine-rebound performance in a 64-48 victory over the Leopards. "Hopefully, that will give him some confidence and allow him to take the next step."

Question: Is Roe trying too hard to prove that he is more than a hired gun, and to prove that his former coach, Jim Boeheim, underestimated his abilities? Boeheim said last year that Roe has had to prove himself since high school, and it is part of his makeup.

"I'm at the point now where I'm not trying to prove that people were wrong about me at Syracuse," said Roe, who averaged 11.0 points as a junior in 1988-89 and is averaging 17.1 at Maryland. "All I want to do is be consistent."

Roe's season has been reflective of Maryland: up and down. And after playing on Syracuse teams that perennially were ranked in the top 10, he found it difficult to adjust to a recent three-game losing streak.

After each loss, especially a 71-70 defeat at Jacksonville on Dec. 8, Roe appeared inordinately distressed. Some might be led to wonder whether Roe already was second-guessing his leaving Syracuse, a decision that seemed questionable when it was made and appeared even more short-sighted when the Terps were hit with probation by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

"I think it [the decision] was judged last year," said Roe. "But as far as my mental state right now, it was definitely the right thing to do."

Though Roe would have been out of the program already, he was glad to be away from Syracuse last week, when the city's morning newspaper charged Boeheim and others with several potential NCAA violations. Roe said he had no knowledge of violations having taken place during his three years.

Roe said at the time of his transfer that he also came to Maryland to be in a larger job market when he graduated. Roe, a radio and television major with a 3.5 grade-point average, is scheduled to get his degree this spring.

But he mostly wanted to show that he a more complete player than he was at Syracuse. He is averaging 5.7 rebounds, second on the team behind Cedric Lewis. Once he finds his range, Roe figures that he will help open things up on the perimeter for Walt Williams and inside for Lewis.

"I think I've been shooting the ball a little flat," said Roe. "Here, I get a man on me when I cross midcourt because they respect my game. You have to be able to create something."

A few more three-pointers certainly would help.

NOTES: In the second game tonight, No. 12 South Carolina (8-1) will play Brigham Young (6-5). . . . The Cougars are led by 7-6 freshman C Shawn Bradley, the country's top shot-blocker. . . . Tonight's winners will play for the championship Saturday, after a 7 p.m. consolation game.

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