Maryland puts new look on exhibit at Cole tonight Lucas, Elliott, Ekezie aiming to fill Smith's role

November 13, 1995|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

Finally, it's show-and-tell time for Maryland's basketball team.

Four weeks after practice began, and 11 days before they rendezvous with Kentucky, the Terrapins will measure their preseason progress in an 8 p.m. exhibition game against Court Authority at Cole Field House.

The game will provide the first glimpse of how well Maryland fills the hole left by Joe Smith, last season's national Player of the Year and this year's first pick in the NBA draft. For now, it figures to be by a committee of 6-foot-8 Mario Lucas, 6-9 Rodney Elliott and 6-9 Obinna Ekezie.

Lucas, a senior from Memphis, has spent the preseason trying to make the switch from perimeter player to power player.

"It's an adjustment," said Lucas, who is nursing a tender ankle. "My role has changed. Last year when I came in, it was to make something happen immediately. Now, I've got to come out and play hard from the jump."

Coach Gary Williams will start Lucas -- "I'm very happy with his efforts" -- and look for help from a variety of places.

"Keith Booth can rebound more, Rodney Elliott has to come in and help, and Obinna has to give us some minutes," Williams said.

Elliott, who like Booth played at Dunbar High, spent his summer bulking up to 220 pounds and it showed in early practice.

"He's a better player than last year [because] he's significantly stronger," Williams said.

"It gives him confidence in a lot of areas."

For all of the Terps' experience -- they return four starters -- they must develop an inside game to make up for Smith's 20 points and 10 rebounds a game.

"It's coming along slowly but surely," said Elliott, a sophomore. "We'll use a combination of players [at center], and we have a couple of big guards who can go in and bang. Maybe we'll be better inside."

NOTES: Freshman point guard Terrell Stokes, out with a back ailment, returned to practice yesterday. . . . Two recruits, Ryan Bailey of Hargrove Military Academy in Virginia and Damon Thornton of Norfolk, Va., visited the campus over the weekend. . . . Sarunas Jasikevicius will miss tonight's game with an ankle sprain. . . . Court Authority has one former NBA player on its roster -- Edmund Sherod of Virginia Commonwealth, who spent two years with the New York Knicks. Maryland is the third stop on a nine-games-in-nine-days trek for the Richmond, Va.-based team.

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