Attention college basketball poll voters: Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams would like a word with you.
Williams' Terps are undefeated in five games, which is a lot more than either Bobby Knight or Dale Brown or Joey Meyer can say about their two-loss teams.
And it's not as if Williams thinks Maryland, which meets Louisville at Freedom Hall tonight in the first of a home-and-home series, belongs in the elite of college basketball.
But he does believe an undefeated record, including last week's wins over Providence in the ACC-Big East Challenge and Saturday's 101-91 victory over West Virginia should have earned the Terps a bit more respect than the 10 points they garnered.
"We beat a team from the Big East and a team that was picked to finish second in the Atlantic 10, which is a pretty good league, but we can't get any votes," said Williams.
"I don't think anybody really knows who the top 25 teams are. I mean, you can see that Duke is there on top, but I think that the polls, at least until you get into conference play, don't mean a lot."
That may be, but Williams also won't deny the emotional lift that a top 25 ranking would have on his players and the program, which hasn't been ranked in the Associated Press poll since the first regular-season list of 1985-86, Len Bias' senior campaign, when they were ranked 17th.
"I think some of the voters think that we aren't eligible for the poll because of the [NCAA postseason] sanctions," said Williams. "Nothing has ever come easy for my team since I've been here, so this is nothing different. We can't worry about it. We just have to keep playing well."
Tonight the Terps face their biggest test so far in the Cardinals (2-0 with wins over Howard and Notre Dame) and their usually raucous home throng.
Louisville returns all but one player, the Washington Bullets' top draft choice LaBradford Smith, from last year's club, whose 14-16 record was the first losing mark in coach Denny Crum's 20-year tenure.
But the Cardinals should be better, thanks to the additions of 6-foot-10 center Brian Hopgood of Spencer, Okla., and 6-6 forwards Greg Minor of Sandersville, Ga., and Dwayne Morton of Louisville. All three are sophomores and missed last season, because they did not qualify under Proposition 48 guidelines.
Minor and Morton have already been inserted into Crum's starting lineup, and Hopgood gives the Cardinals badly needed height off the bench, since the other frontline starter is 6-7 senior center Cornelius Holden, who averaged 12.5 points and 8.2 rebounds last season.