COLLEGE PARK -- Perhaps because it has become so much a necessary part of the Maryland basketball landscape, Walt Williams' excellence has become, shall we say, ho-hum.
See Walt run. See Walt pass. See Walt shoot. See Walt score.
But it isn't always that simple, as Williams' 11 points on 4-for-16 shooting in Saturday's opening-night romp over Mount St. Mary's demonstrated.
Last night, however, the 6-foot-8 senior from Temple Hills was closer to the form that is expected of him, scoring 28 points on 11-for-13 shooting to lead the Terps (2-0) to a 115-60 drubbing of outclassed Maryland-Eastern Shore.
Williams, who played just 27 minutes, was nothing short of spectacular, hitting four of five three-point shots, and soaring for two monster alley-oop dunks to the delight of 5,223 at Cole Field House
"It was fun being out there, playing hard and having fun," said Williams. "It's great to see guys who don't get a lot of time play a lot."
Williams, who was well on his way to topping his career scoring high of 33 points when he was taken out with 10 minutes left, was as versatile as advertised, dishing out four assists and pulling down four rebounds to go with a steal and a blocked shot.
"The most impressive thing was his passing," said Maryland coach Gary Williams. "It was getting the ball to the guy who makes the pass to the guy who scores. He's getting so much better at that."
"The really good players make everybody around them better and that's what Walt does for us," said junior guard Kevin McLinton, who had eight points and six assists. "A lot of guys said he had a bad game Saturday, but he had 10 assists and seven steals."
"I had all the confidence in Walt," said junior center Evers Burns. "I knew the scoring would come."
Walt Williams did have, in a UMES squad that had been thrashed by Iowa (101-45) and Iowa State (114-59) over the weekend, the perfect stage to display his skills.
"We now have three of the best training films that we ever want to look at," said UMES coach Robert Hopkins. "It's been very, very difficult, but as coaches, we can't let them put their heads between their legs."
And the Terps, who play host to American Saturday afternoon, did not fall into the trap of playing down to the level of their competition, as all 14 active players saw at least five minutes and scored.
"I was glad we got everybody in," said Gary Williams. "Those guys work just as hard in practice. It was nice to see them score when they did get in there, too."
"These kinds of games can be detrimental for us if we take them lightly," said Walt Williams. "It builds up your concentration and makes you work hard from the beginning to the end."
McLinton agreed. "Coach Williams reminds us that we have to play hard and we can't take anything for granted," he said. "He reminds us of the Coppin State game two years ago. We wanted to get it over with quickly and we did."
The contest quickly disintegrated into a sort of farce, as Maryland clamped down on the Hawks' inside and outside game, forcing them into a dreadful 33 percent (22-for-66) shooting night, and also sealed off the passing lanes, forcing 20 turnovers, half the 41 they grabbed from Mount St. Mary's, but still a pretty good night.
Senior forward Garfield Smith, fresh off a 16-point game Saturday, scored 20 points, hitting eight of his 10 shots, including two three-pointers, to go with nine rebounds.
"I'm as confident as anyone can be," said Smith. "I feel I can do whatever I need to do whenever I need to do it."
Playing UMES can have that kind of effect.