Terps can rely on Boles despite her season of pain

January 23, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- This should have been Malissa Boles' season.

Boles, a 5-foot-10 senior guard on the Maryland women's basketball team, was the most significant addition to last season's team, which topped the national rankings for four weeks and advanced to the Mideast Regional final.

Boles was second on the team in scoring, assists and steals and was named to the All-Atlantic Coast Con- ference second team, the only ACC newcomer to be named to the first or second team.

Understandably, much was expected of Boles this season. There was a preseason All-America designation from Street and Smith magazine, as well as a second-team All-ACC nod.

And by almost anyone's standards, Boles is having a respectable season, averaging 11.4 points and leading the team in steals. She's clearly one of the reasons the fifth-ranked Terps, who meet No. 20 North Carolina today in Chapel Hill, N.C., have seized the early lead in the ACC standings.

But by Boles' own lofty reckoning, her numbers aren't good enough.

"I could be doing a lot better," said Boles. "But if you have other people stepping up, that's no problem with me. As long as I can contribute in some way -- a steal, a rebound or something like that -- I'm OK."

Boles, however, is not OK -- at least not physically. Her knees are arthritic and are almost always heavily braced, severely reducing her mobility.

And while her defensive skills, among the best in women's basketball, are relatively unaffected, Boles has been hampered offensively.

Her scoring average is down nearly two points from last season and she is shooting just 36 percent, off sharply from last season's 51 percent clip.

Boles, who played on the United States Jones Cup team in

Korea last summer, said she does not feel much pain during games.

She pays the price, though, spending a lot of time before and after practices and after games in the team's whirlpool.

Boles said some Maryland doctors advised her against playing with her knees in such bad condition.

But for Boles, a Milwaukee native who came to Maryland after two brilliant seasons at Sullivan Junior College in Louisville, Ky., the choice was simple.

"I took a long time to get to the Division I level and there was no way I wasn't going to play," said Boles.

Fortunately for the Terps, Boles' teammates, namely backcourt mate Katrina Colleton and forward Bonnie Rimkus, have compensated, and center Jessie Hicks is having an All-America-type season.

But that doesn't mean Boles hasn't had her moments. She hit a school-record 14 free throws in Maryland's opener at Drexel, and has shot 84 percent from the foul line in the Terps' past five games.

And Boles scored four of Maryland's last five points in Wednesday's 70-66 win over No. 10 Virginia, including the game-winning basket with 35 seconds left, and two free throws with 0.8 seconds left.

The basket came during a situation in which the original play, designed for Hicks, fell through because the Virginia defense collapsed around the Maryland center.

But Boles, who scored all 11 of her points in the last 9:30, had the ball in the situation that some players shrink from.

"I'm that type of player. You dream about being in that situation, being down by one," said Boles. "Who wants to take the last shot? I'm that type of person. I think everybody in the gym knew we wanted to go to Jessie. The hole was kind of big. I just went for it, and that was it."

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