Terps 7-footer Mardesich wants to be redshirted Ekezie, Booth lead UM by Aussies in exhibition

November 13, 1996|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- The undermanned, undersized University of Maryland basketball team might become a little thinner and a lot smaller.

Though Maryland coach Gary Williams denied a report last night on WBAL Radio, 7-foot freshman center Mike Mardesich has asked to be redshirted this season.

Mardesich sat out last night's 97-81 exhibition victory over the Melbourne Tigers at Cole Field House with what was announced as a sprained ankle.

"He sprained his ankle -- let's leave it at that," Williams said after the game.

Mardesich was unavailable for comment, but a family member confirmed last night that Mardesich met with Williams and assistant coach Billy Hahn on Monday, asking to be redshirted.

The news on Mardesich came as a surprise considering his play during preseason workouts. Considered a project by many Division I coaches, Mardesich had showed steady improvement during the past month.

If Mardesich is redshirted, it would leave sophomore center Obinna Ekezie as the only Maryland player 6-10 or taller.

Not that the Terps missed Mardesich last night, especially the way Ekezie played against a team that lost its fourth straight game to an ACC team in six nights.

Showing added quickness that came when he dropped 20 pounds during the off-season, Ekezie also used his size and strength to score 23 points and pull down six rebounds against the smaller Aussies. Senior forward Keith Booth led the Terps with 24 points.

"You knew how many years he's played, so I really didn't think he'd be a starting center [as a freshman]," Williams said of Ekezie. "But it helped him, because he knew he had to work hard. He got in much better shape."

Melbourne coach Lindsay Gaze said that Maryland's inside game was too much for his team.

"They identified our weakness and exposed it," said Gaze, whose team is missing two starters from the one that went to the Australian League final this summer."

The inside game is one of Williams' biggest concerns going into the season. If the Terps redshirt Mardesich, that would leave Rodney Elliott as the backup center and might force the Terps to change their starting lineup.

As it was, Williams started junior Sarunas Jasikevicius over sophomore Laron Profit last night. They combined for 18 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

In part, the start rewarded Jasikevicius for his improved play during the preseason. Jasikevicius held former Seton Hall star and Olympian Andrew Gaze to 6-for-16 shooting.

MELBOURNE -- Giddy 1-1 2-3 4, Smith 4-7 6-8 14, Simmons 3-8 5-7 11, Gordon 2-6 0-0 5, Gaze 6-16 4-4 19, Hunchen 4-12 4-4 12, Rainbow 2-3 0-0 4, Egan 2-3 2-2 6, Wickstrom 1-1 0-0 3, Chapman 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 26-58 23-28 81.

MARYLAND -- Booth 9-10 6-8 24, Elliott 2-10 4-4 8, Ekezie 9-13 5-8 23, Stokes 3-8 1-2 7, Jasikevicius 2-4 3-3 8, Profit 4-10 1-4 10, Watkins 3-8 1-2 7, Kovarik 3-3 1-2 7, Hite 0-1 1-2 1, Raydo 0-2 0-0 0, Fields 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 36-70 23-35 97.

Halftime -- Maryland 39-31. 3-point goals -- Melbourne 6-19 (Gordon 1-5, gaze 3-11, Rainbow 0-1, Winkstrom 1-1, Chapman 1-1). Maryland 2-5 (Elliot 0-2, Stokes 0-1, Jasikevicius 1-1, Profit 1-1). Fouled out -- none. Rebounds -- Melbourne 28 (Giddey 8), Maryland 46 (Booth 7). Assists -- Melbourne 17 (Giddey 5), Maryland 21 (Stokes 6). Total fouls -- Melbourne 23, Maryland 20. A -- 6,112.

Pub Date: 11/13/96

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