Simple advice produces smart game Profit takes charge, breaks out of slump with 20 points, key play

February 06, 1997|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- The advice Maryland coach Gary Williams gave to Laron Profit before last night's game against North Carolina State was brilliant in its simplicity.

"I told him, 'Don't worry about reacting. You create the action. You just create and let them react to you,' " Williams said.

Maybe it's not the stuff of coaching genius, but his words were heeded. The proof was in the performance.

Profit's 20 points last night were the most he had scored in two months. He went 8-for-13 from the field, had six steals and no turnovers, and sparked the seventh-ranked Terrapins' 66-55 victory at Cole Field House.

"It was good to see Laron step it up," Williams said. "The players did a good job looking for him."

They had to like what they saw.

Profit hit his first shot, then passed to Keith Booth for a dunk. He made a three-pointer at the top of the key, twice dunked lob passes from Sarunas Jasikevicius and grabbed an errant shot from Brian Watkins in mid-air and scored.

All of this took place in the first half, and his 11 points were more than he had scored in losses to Florida State (five) and Wake Forest (nine).

"I wanted to come out tonight and try to provide a spark or a lift," he said.

When asked if he sensed any frustration brewing from Profit's offensive struggles, Williams smiled and asked: "On his part or my part?"

"Any time a good player thinks he should be playing at a certain level and he's not, he starts searching for answers," Williams said. "Laron really researches everything. Sometimes, it would be in Laron's best interest to just go and play and not worry about, 'If I do this, what happens over here?' He has great fundamental things on the court he can do when he just goes. I thought he played a lot looser."

He played a lot -- 39 minutes, a stark contrast to his foul-plagued game against Wake Forest, when he was on the bench for crucial stretches.

"I felt like, for our team to be successful, I had to be a part of it," he said. "I know some guys had played a lot of minutes and I should be somewhat fresher because I didn't play that much Saturday, so I wanted to come out and be especially aggressive tonight."

Profit hit one of the game's biggest shots in the second half, matching a three-pointer by the Wolfpack's Danny Strong to extend Maryland's lead to 44-37.

With the score 46-41 and 8: 50 left, he stole the ball, went in for the layup and drew the foul. His free throw put Maryland on top, 49-41.

Profit's jam off a pass from Terrell Stokes stretched the lead to 57-46.

Williams "stressed to me he didn't want me to think about what I was doing," Profit said. "He just wanted me to just play, and if I made mistakes being aggressive, then he would have nothing to say about it. He just wanted me to stay aggressive all night."

Said Jasikevicius: "As a basketball player, you think if you're in a slump, maybe you need to be working extra on your game. He did it, and he's out of [his slump] now, hopefully."

Pub Date: 2/06/97

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