Maryland reluctantly accepts redshirting 7-footer Mardesich

November 14, 1996|By Don Markus ZTC | Don Markus ZTC,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Freshman Mike Mardesich said yesterday that he plans to redshirt this season for the University of Maryland basketball team, hoping that additional strength and weight would allow him to compete more effectively with other big men in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The decision by Mardesich, which is being accepted with a great deal of hesitancy by Maryland coach Gary Williams, came a day after the 7-foot, 220-pound center sat out the team's 97-81 exhibition victory over the Melbourne Tigers. Williams said at the time that Mardesich had a sprained ankle.

Neither the coach nor the player would comment on the status of Mardesich's injury, but they appear to be heading toward an agreement about Mardesich sitting out the 1996-97 season. What Williams and Mardesich didn't seem to agree on is how that decision was reached or whether it was final.

"His parents definitely want him to redshirt right now," said Williams, who plans to meet with Mardesich again this morning. "That's where it is. If it stays this way, he's redshirting. He's got until the first game of the season [to decide]."

Apparently, Mardesich had made up his mind.

"I've been planning on redshirting since I signed," said Mardesich. "It's not a decision made by my parents. It was my decision. I want to get stronger."

Mardesich's parents declined to comment.

Mardesich said that he had wavered recently about sitting out the season, as a result of exceeding even his expectations since practice began Oct. 15. The Maryland coaches, who had promised Mardesich the option of redshirting when they recruited him out of Worcester (Mass.) Academy, thought his preseason performance would have led him to change his plans.

"What was stated [during recruiting] was that it [redshirting] would be based on how he played in practice," said Williams. "And he's played very well."

Said Mardesich: "I thought there was always a chance [of playing]. I've been surprising myself and them. I don't think they expected me to play as well as I have."

Mardesich had been one of the team's biggest preseason surprises. He had 10 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots in an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday.

"Playing in games doesn't get you stronger. Being in the weight room does," said Mardesich, who is able to bench-press only 175 pounds. "If I wasn't comfortable with running in the offense or with other aspects of my game, then playing games would be the best."

Mardesich said that after the subject of redshirting wasn't broached by the coaches during practice, he informed Williams of his decision Tuesday, hours defore the Terps' first exhibition game.

Pub Date: 11/14/96

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