Shultz delivering off Maryland bench

December 12, 1992|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- There haven't been too many opportunities for sophomore forward Kurtis Shultz since coming from Randallstown to play basketball at the University of Maryland, but he has usually taken advantage of those presented to him.

Used sparingly as a freshman last season, Shultz found himself on the court for the final 12 minutes of Maryland's game with Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. He also found himself a hero, making six straight free throws in the closing moments of an 81-75 victory.

"I remember reading in one of the magazines this summer that those free throws were not only the highlight of my freshman year, but that they'd probably be the highlight of my career at Maryland," Shultz, a muscular 6-foot-6, 234-pound forward, recalled yesterday.

His foul-line perfection, which came after he had made only two of six all season, still is probably the shining achievement of Shultz's short career as a Terrapin. But after his performance in Thursday night's 98-67 victory over American, it is not his only accomplishment on the court.

Thrust into a surprisingly tight game 5 1/2 minutes into the second half, Shultz did a lot of things for Maryland during the next 11 minutes. The best long inbounds passer on the team, he immediately hooked up with Johnny Rhodes. (The freshman guard's layup attempt was blocked.) He helped the Terps retake control of the boards with five rebounds, forced a turnover and had three assists.

"Last night, the thing he did was make us play hard," Maryland coach Gary Williams said yesterday. "He settled us down offensively and defensively. The things he does don't always show up in the box score. But I think he stepped up and when you think of a rotation, he'll be in there. He'll get more chances."

Shultz, who had played only 14 minutes in the team's first three games this season, hopes he'll get another chance tonight when Maryland (3-1) plays La Salle (2-1) at the Civic Center in Philadelphia. Even if he doesn't, even if freshmen Mario Lucas and Nemanja Petrovic get in before him, Shultz doesn't seem too concerned.

"We're all a big team," said Shultz, the son of Dundalk High athletic director Ron Shultz. "I wasn't too worried about not playing. I understood my role and that's what I tried to do. It can get frustrating, but you can't let it bother you. I think the Naval Academy taught me a lot. It teaches you never to quit."

Ironically, it was a lesson Shultz learned over his plebe summer in Annapolis two years ago -- shortly before he realized that a career in the Navy was not for him. Thus began Shultz's interesting road to Maryland, which included a substitute teaching stint in Randallstown.

While playing in a recreation league in Washington against the likes of former Georgetown enforcer Michael Graham, Shultz sent a videotape to the Maryland basketball office. Looking for a frontcourt player with solid academic credentials -- the school's admissions office had just rejected blue-chippers Lawrence Moten and Donyell Marshall -- Shultz, a DeMatha High honor student, was offered a scholarship.

Some wondered whether Shultz, who was named to the ACC academic honor roll last spring, belonged on the court at Maryland. When he did get in games, which wasn't often, he seemed nervous and out of control.

"It's been a little tough for Kurtis. . . but I knew he'd get a chance because I remembered what he did in the Clemson game," said Williams.

Shultz can shoot, as evidenced by the picture-perfect form he has displayed before practices, when he often beats guards in long-range shooting contests. And, while the temptation is there, Shultz understands he is on the court to provide muscle and hustle, not three-pointers.

"Coach likes to say to me, 'Don't worry, the points will come,' " Shultz said after his impressive, non-scoring stint Thursday night. "He says everybody can score, but not everybody plays defense and rebounds."

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