Showtime has not yet arrived at Western Maryland College, but the men's basketball team may bear an occasional resemblance to the Los Angeles Lakers in their glory days.
The Green Terrors, who improved from 5-19 to 12-12 last year in Coach Nick Zoulias' first season (leaving aside his one-year interim coach stint in the late 1980s while Alex Ober was on sabbatical), hope to use better speed and quickness toincrease the tempo of their games and find even more success this season.
The Green Terrors were a bit of a surprise last season.
After a poor year, they bounced back strong, accomplishing several of Zoulias' goals and even staying in playoff contention for a while before fading in the stretch.
Last year, though, Western Maryland kept theplace slow.
Speed was not something the Green Terrors had in abundance. Fast breaks or games that saw lots of running were the exception rather than the rule.
This year should be much different.
Zoulias said the Green Terrors, who open their season against Gallaudetin their Tip-Off Tournament on Friday night, have much more speed and quickness on the roster.
The Green Terrors will also use the newfound speed in other ways, most notably on defense.
The team plansto use quickness to apply more heat on defense to help force steals and key the transition game.
"We hope that our defensive pressure will create some easy buckets," Zoulias said.
One of the keys to this should be point guard Scott Lyon.
The 6-foot junior, a returning starter, can push the ball up court quickly and has significantly improved his jumper, Zoulias said.
Lyon also has hit 95 percent offree throws in the preseason.
The only other returning starter isScott Roth, a 6-foot-4 senior forward, who should be a big inside force.
He missed the final four games of last season with a kidney infection but has recovered, and Zoulias looks to him for a lot of help, especially on the boards.
The three other starters should include returnees Paul Pawlowski at center and Matt Adelman at forward/guard, along with freshman guard Patrick Young.
Pawlowski (6-7) saw some playing time last year, but, like Adelman (6-2), seems to have improved dramatically over the summer.
Zoulias is expecting big things from Young. The 6-foot freshman is penciled in at the shooting guard spot and can back up at the point. He's very quick, can score and is tough in the open court.
Kenny Young (6-2 sophomore guard), Rich Vanston (6-7 senior forward), Mike Eves (6-0 freshman guard) and Tony Jenkins (6-3 freshman guard/forward) should provide relief off thebench.
Jenkins, coming from the football team, has loads of speedbut will be short on practice time. The others are all good shooters.
Rob Brevetti, a 6-6 junior center, and 6-0 sophomore guard Jim Naughton should also contribute.
In terms of the bench, that could be one of team's trouble spots.
Zoulias was able to go 10 deep last year, but that may not happen this year. Also, there isn't as much experience this year, as the team lost six seniors.
Two other players from last year's team -- promising freshman Rolando Welch and sophomore Jeff Eaves, a Francis Scott Key graduate -- also have not returned to the school.
That lack of experience could bite the Green Terrors in a number of places. Last year, the team had several seniorswho had played together for a couple of years.
"When you lose sixseniors, it's tough to replace them," Zoulias said.
"With the youth on the team and inexperience, it leaves questions."
Zoulias said the team should develop as the season progresses. As the players gain experience, he hopes they will gain more victories.
By the sametoken, he said if the team starts slow, he won't be terribly concerned.
"I'm not going to press any panic buttons," Zoulias said.
"By the time we're into the season, it'll improve and get better and better."
Zoulias said the team should be helped by its early-seasonschedule.
The majority of the slate has the Green Terrors at home.
So far, the team has been playing well at times in preseason.
For example, the Green Terrors shot 51 percent in a scrimmage against Catholic, which pleased the coach.
He's looking for more good shooting as the season rolls on.
And layups, which can come on fast breaks, can help that percentage greatly.
AH: Only 2 starters backfrom 12-12 men's squad