Subplots thicken game for Maryland, Towson St. Arena date puts Booth and Elliott in spotlight

November 27, 1995|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

For Keith Booth and Rodney Elliott, it's homecoming. For Maryland coach Gary Williams, it's time to say thanks to Baltimore. And for Towson State, it's a chance to see if the Tigers have closed the gap.

Tonight's meeting between No. 14 Maryland and Towson State at the Baltimore Arena is a veritable smorgasbord of subplots, not the least of which is the return of two former Dunbar High heroes.

"I like the idea that friends who don't get a chance to come down here [to College Park] to check it out can see us in Baltimore one game every year," said Booth, Maryland's rugged power forward.

A sizable contingent of Dunbar fans is expected to turn out to pay homage to Booth and Elliott. Booth was among the nation's top 25 recruits in 1993 before signing with Maryland. Elliott emerged as a top recruit a year later.

They are part of the Baltimore pipeline Williams wants to link to College Park. That's why the Terrapins have played one game at the Arena in each of the past four years.

"What I've tried to do with the basketball program here is make Baltimore an important part of the program for a couple of reasons," Williams said. "There are as many Maryland alums in Baltimore as there are in Prince George's and Montgomery counties. And Baltimore is a great area for high school basketball. I wanted to showcase our team up there as much as possible.

"The other thing is, it's kind of a thanks-type situation for the support Baltimore has given us."

Maryland doesn't always play Towson at the Arena, but the Terps always beat the Tigers. Maryland leads the series 10-0 and has won the past two games by margins of 47 and 38 points.

Despite that, Towson coach Terry Truax said there's no bad blood between schools. "We really enjoy the relationship with Maryland," he said, "but we don't enjoy the way they've dominated us the last two years. Two years ago at the Arena, we fell apart [in a 109-71 loss]. Their press took us out of the game early.

"If we play with some composure, it could be a good ballgame."

Williams said he likes Towson's depth in the backcourt.

"In [Scooter] Alexander, [Ralph] Blalock and [Quintin] Moody, they have three guards who can really play," Williams said. "They're not afraid to play them together. They all can penetrate; they all can shoot. They create problems for you."

Meanwhile, Williams, is looking for improved play from his frontcourt after a 96-84 loss to No. 1 Kentucky on Friday. Booth (11 points, four rebounds) and Elliott fouled out in that game. Booth, a three-year starter, fouled out in 24 minutes, and Elliott, a second-year reserve, in 11.

"Coach told us we had to play aggressively," said Elliott, who spent the summer muscling up to help inside. "Maybe I played too aggressively."

"They need a game where they really explode and play well," Williams said of his Baltimore duo. "I don't think either one felt they played particularly well against Kentucky. But you're talking about the first game of the year. They're both very important to us."

Booth, who nearly signed with Kentucky three years ago, came away from the loss with renewed confidence.

"We can compete against anybody, if that's the best team," he said. "I'm not taking anything away from Kentucky. They're a great team. But we feel we can be a great team, too."

At the Arena

Maryland vs. Towson State

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: Tonight, 8

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM)

Tickets: About 5,000 remain.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.