The Atlantic Coast Conference lacrosse tournament is a good idea in the abstract. In actual practice, it is not.
The tourney opens tomorrow evening at Duke with Maryland (7-2) meeting Virginia (9-2) followed by Duke (7-4) against North Carolina (10-0). The winners are to meet Saturday. The whole thing is likely to knock a very good team out of the upcoming NCAA playoffs and a shot at the national championship.
There's no need for the ACC teams to play each other again before the playoffs.
Maryland, for instance, has already played Virginia, Carolina and Duke. The Terps beat Duke but suffered their only losses of the year to Virginia, 10-9, and Carolina, 8-6. If Maryland loses to Virginia tomorrow, a third loss would hurt when the 12-team NCAA tournament field is drawn.
Coach Dick Edell, whose Maryland team is fresh off a big win over Johns Hopkins, is not saying he's against the ACC tournament. What he does say is:
"I'd like to see more discussion on it. Playing two days in a row is hard on a lacrosse team. After we beat Hopkins we were emotionally drained. I don't know whether our players could have played the next day, but I don't think I could have coached. At least at the Final Four [at Syracuse, May 25 and 27] you have 48 hours between the semifinals and finals.
"Take Duke, which is ranked No. 11," Edell said. "I guess that puts them on the so-called bubble for the NCAAs. But Duke has only lost to No. 1 [Carolina], No. 3 [Virginia] and No. 4 [Maryland]. Duke also had a big win over Loyola at Loyola. So now Duke has to play the No. 1 team in the country again and could suffer its fifth loss.
"At some point the lords of lacrosse, when they select the tournament field, have to reward the guy who plays people," Edell said. "If there's a saving grace at the ACC tournament it's that nobody is going to lose twice. There's no consolation game.
"The championship race this year is a lot of fun with so many teams having a chance. There may be as many as 10 teams that could win the whole thing."
* Panic has not yet set in, but with the first month of the baseball season nearly gone one cold reality has become evident to the Orioles: Without an effective Ben McDonald, who is 0-1, the O's have no chance.
Orioles first baseman Glenn Davis just turned 30, a peak age for a ballplayer, but you have to wonder about his durability. Davis missed 69 games at Houston last year and is already experiencing physical problems and missing time here.
* It's hard to keep track, but don't forget that Rick Dempsey comes back to 33rd Street when Milwaukee comes to town tomorrow night to start a weekend series.
Even by the standards of the well-traveled Dempsey, this has been a banner year for player movement. Twenty-two players of note changed uniforms this winter including 17 All-Stars (Glenn Davis was one), three former MVPs (George Bell, Kirk Gibson, Willie McGee) and a Cy Young winner (Steve Bedrosian).
* The lineup of speakers for tomorrow night's fund-raising banquet for the Baltimore Tennis Patrons at Harbor Court honoring tennis pro Maury Schwartzman includes Vince Bagli, Dr. Chuckie Abelson, Harold Burgin, Adrienne Hoffman and Jay Phillips. The mistress of ceremonies will be Elise Burgin, who, when she graduated from Stanford, won more awards (three, one for academics) than a classmate named John Elway. A few tickets remain. Call Lisa Robertson at 339-7876.
* Ed Hale says realization that his Blast team is not in the playoffs and the season is over "comes in waves." Hale has been going to the Capital Centre to see the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup playoffs to get his "sports fix." He won't have to go far Sunday (5:30 p.m.) to see his team play its first-ever PTC outdoor game -- against the Maryland Bays, champions of the outdoor American League, at UMBC.
Speaking of the Blast, the team's former general manager, Danny Counce, has become one of the Major Soccer League's most highly regarded executives as GM in St. Louis. Under Counce's leadership St. Louis has replaced Dallas as a stable franchise. Counce only left Baltimore because he couldn't get along with former Blast vice president Stan White.