As shooter, Rhodes makes long-range plans

October 23, 1994|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- There were a few games last season when Maryland could shoot with nearly any team in the country from the outside. But only a few.

That's why Terps coach Gary Williams brought in freshman Sarunas Jasikevicius. And that's why junior guard Johnny Rhodes spent a great deal of time this summer working on the weakest part of his game -- his outside shot.

"I have to be as consistent as I can, opening things up for Joe [Smith] inside," said Rhodes.

The time Rhodes has invested in his shooting was evident during yesterday's intrasquad scrimmage at Cole Field House. Unofficially, the 6-foot-4 junior guard was 13 of 23, including three of six on three-point attempts, and scored 30 points as the Red team swept the White.

"Johnny's worked hard on his shot," said Williams. "The thing with Johnny, he's always been able to get open. His shots will be there. He feels it's time to make the next step."

It has been obvious from the start of practice that Rhodes is more comfortable with his shot. After missing 17 straight three-point tries in one five-game stretch last season, assistant coach Billy Hahn told Rhodes to put more arc on the ball.

Now, Rhodes seems more confident every time he goes up, consistently squaring his shoulders toward the basket and releasing the ball with a more fluid stroke instead of the off-balance shot that often resulted in assorted misses as a freshman and early last season.

"I'm just trying to get the ball up in the air," said Rhodes, who hit his three three-point attempts and seven of 10 shots in the first 20 minutes yesterday, scoring 17 to help the Red team defeat the White, 47-41. "In the past, I let my hand drop. Now I'm trying to follow through."

It could be the final piece to one of the best all-around games in the Atlantic Coast Conference and an important missing ingredient for Maryland going into this season of high expectations.

Rhodes was not the only Terp hitting his outside shot yesterday. Senior guard Wayne Bristol, trying to earn some playing time behind Rhodes, hit five of seven three-point tries in the second half of the scrimmage and along with junior forward Mario Lucas helped the Red team win again, 56-54.

"I know I can shoot the jump shot," said Bristol, who has been something of a streaky player throughout his Maryland career. "When it's there, I'm going to shoot it. Coach said at practice today, if you have an open shot and you pass off, you're not helping your team."

NOTES: Senior forward Kurtis Shultz has a stress fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot, and his leg is in a cast. He is expected to miss three to four weeks. . . . Smith, whose teams split halves, was quietly spectacular. The sophomore center, a consensus All-American this season, shot 16 of 17 from the field and eight of nine from the line for 40 points. . . . Lucas had 30 points and seven rebounds. . . . Kevin Willingham, a 6-8 junior transfer from Belmont-Abbey who played his high school ball at DeMatha, has been added to the roster as a walk-on. He will sit out this season.

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