Wake adds Woods to trees 7-0 frosh makes repeat a taller order for Terps

February 01, 1997|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- The last time Wake Forest played Maryland, the second-ranked Demon Deacons were unbeaten and seemingly unbothered by the thought of playing host to the Terrapins, then ranked 11th, at Lawrence Joel Coliseum. As things turned out, Wake Forest took Maryland as lightly as Mike Tyson took Evander Holyfield.

The result was pretty much the same: The Terrapins took out the Demon Deacons by scoring the game's first 10 points and building a 19-point lead in the first half, withstanding a 16-0 run early in the second that gave Wake Forest the lead, and finally applying the decisive shot, Laron Profit's three-pointer at the buzzer.

"If it's the same [attitude], they'll run us right into the Potomac," Wake Forest coach Dave Odom said Thursday night on his weekly radio show.

The Demon Deacons didn't pack wet suits for their trip to Cole Field House for today's regionally televised, semi-crucial Atlantic Coast Conference matchup. But Wake Forest (17-1, 7-1), ranked second again after falling to fourth, likely will have a different feeling about No. 5 Maryland (17-3, 6-2) than it did the first time.

"I think they'll probably respect us more," sophomore center Obinna Ekezie said yesterday.

More significant will be the new lineup the Terrapins will face. Right after losing to Maryland, Odom put Loren Woods, a 7-foot-1 freshman, into the starting frontcourt alongside reigning ACC Player of the Year and likely national Player of the Year Tim Duncan and senior forward Ricky Peral.

With Duncan listed at 6-10 and probably closer to 7 feet, and Peral 6-10, it gave Wake Forest the tallest frontcourt in the league and perhaps in the country. Odom said he made the switch of Woods for Sean Allen, a 6-8 senior who is more of a defensive player, for Duncan's sake.

"I wanted to take the pressure off Duncan," Odom said yesterday from Winston-Salem, N.C. "Instead of having one inside scorer, we now have two. Instead of having one inside rebounder, we have two. Instead of having one inside shot-blocker, we have two."

The results have been positive -- Wake Forest has won four straight since the switch, including beating then-second-ranked Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum in Woods' starting debut. But the jury is still out on whether the Demon Deacons will be as balanced a team as they were before.

While Duncan has enjoyed the benefits of Woods being on the court, Wake Forest's guards continue to struggle. Tony Rutland and Jerry Braswell have hit their shots with more consistency the past two games, but it has come when Virginia Tech and Wofford sloughed off trying to contend with Duncan and Woods inside.

"It hasn't improved as quickly as I would have liked," Odom said of his team's guard play. "The Wofford game is a throwaway. Virginia Tech was a pretty good indication. But it's not where it needs to be. I made the change not because we lost but in spite of the fact that we lost."

It's an interesting move, considering that the Demon Deacons were among the favorites to make the Final Four before Odom changed things around. Two other recent ACC teams made similar midseason switches, either in personal or philosophy, that helped them win national championships.

In 1991, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski went to what he called his "Four Around" offense, surrounding Christian Laettner with more athletic wing players, including budding superstar Grant Hill. Two years later, North Carolina's Dean Smith went to using two 7-footers, Eric Montross and Kevin Salvadori, that gave guard Donald Williams more open looks. Williams was the Final Four MVP.

"I'm not looking at this as a medicine to get us into the Final Four," said Odom.

Odom is more concerned about today's game, about a Maryland team that he still considers among the most dangerous in the ACC despite its loss Wednesday night at Florida State. That the Terrapins are playing at home and remain the only team to beat Wake Forest this season also factor into Odom's fears.

"If we have any kind of advantage, it's not revenge," Odom said. "We respect Maryland's players and coaches and the fans at Cole Field House. I think our players will be aroused."

Not that the Terrapins will come in overconfident. If they had been giddy about the school's highest ranking in two years before their trip to Tallahassee, they are not now. Maryland committed 21 turnovers against the Seminoles, so coach Gary Williams had his team working on fundamental passing at practice Thursday.

Williams expects the Demon Deacons to be a different team this afternoon than they were Jan. 19, not the least of which will be the presence of Woods.

"It's really a tough matchup for us as it is for a lot of teams," Williams said. "The biggest thing is that we have to play our style. This time of year you can't adjust to everyone all the time. You have to go out and play your game."

At least one Maryland player doesn't seem a bit worried about Wake Forest's new lineup. Of course, sophomore point guard Terrell Stokes won't have to deal too much with Woods, who played only seven minutes in the first game.

"Loren Woods, he's a good player," Stokes said. "He's a freshman. But in this type of game, I don't think he'll be much of a factor."

After a comment like that -- one that made Williams cringe -- wet suits might be in order late this afternoon.

But maybe not for Wake Forest.

Terps today

L No. 2 Wake Forest (17-1, 7-1) vs. No. 5 Maryland (17-3, 6-2)

Site: Cole Field House, College Park

Time: 2 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 2, 7/WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)

Last meeting: Maryland won, 54-51, on Jan. 19 in Winston Salem, N.C.

Pub Date: 2/01/97

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