Terps look to derail Duke Run by No. 7 team began after loss to Maryland in Jan.

February 27, 1997|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

DURHAM, N.C. -- The new cast previewed during portions of a four-point loss at Maryland last month drew rave reviews here a week later in an impressive win over North Carolina and has since been a hit all over the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Tonight, Duke will take its smaller, quicker lineup onto the floor of Cameron Indoor Stadium for a 7: 30 game against the team that helped inspire it, the Terrapins. The seventh-ranked Blue Devils will be looking to win their eighth straight ACC game. A victory will give Duke (22-6, 11-3) at least a share of the league's regular-season title.

Maryland (20-7, 9-5) is looking to keep its slim hopes for the title alive and also is looking to become only the third team in ACC history to complete a road sweep of all four North Carolina teams.

It was during a 74-70 loss Jan. 26 at Cole Field House that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski put 6-6 freshman Chris Carrawell into the lineup in place of 6-10 senior Greg Newton, leaving Roshown McLeod, a 6-8, 220-pound junior, as Duke's biggest player.

"We were playing pretty well when we made the changes," said Krzyzewski. "You don't have to do things when you lose. You can do things when you win and try to get better. We played pretty well in that first game against Maryland, but we'd liked some things we did with that lineup."

The decision to go to a smaller, perimeter-oriented lineup was done to take advantage of Duke's strengths: Its outside shooting and its seemingly endless rotation of guards and wing players whohelp wear down the opposition.

Except for a 74-69 nonconference loss Sunday at UCLA, the Blue Devils in general and Trajan Langdon in particular have been difficult to slow down. With junior point guard Steve Wojciechowski getting the ball to all the right places, Duke is suddenly a team that can ring up big numbers.

Langdon, a 6-3 junior who sat out last year because of a knee injury, is finally living up to the hype that followed him here from Alaska, where he was considered the best high school shooter in the country. Langdon scored 28 in the win over the Tar Heels, and finished with a career-high 34 against Clemson last week.

"It [the smaller lineup] helps us both offensively and defensively," said Wojciechowski, the former Cardinal Gibbons star from Severna Park who ranks third in the ACC in assists and first in steals. "Defensively, we're a lot quicker and offensively it creates matchup problems for the other team."

Though Duke's perimeter game is the best in the league -- the Blue Devils lead the ACC in three-point shooting percentage and attempts -- the inside game is suspect. Duke is still vulnerable when the guards, in particular Langdon, are not hitting from the outside.

Duke ranks last in the ACC in rebounding, and the Blue Devils have won despite being out-rebounded by more than five a game in the league. That statistic is slightly misleading, since the Blue Devils are also third in field-goal percentage.

"In most of the games we've used this lineup, we've rebounded when we needed to," said McLeod, who had 26 points and 11 rebounds in the first game against Maryland. "I think the coaches just wanted to get the five guys playing the best on the floor."

Maryland coach Gary Williams is concerned with Duke -- inside as well as outside.

Despite his team's victory over Duke , which was the last for the Terrapins against a ranked opponent, Williams remembers how McLeod dominated in stretches and senior guard Jeff Capel nearly shot the Blue Devils to victory in the final minutes with a couple of three-pointers.

"The difference now is that they've had some success with it and that they're a very confident team," said Williams. "To Mike's credit, he hasn't been afraid to experiment and find out what's best for his team. They've got a lot of momentum right now."

NOTES: Maryland was the last ACC team to sweep the North Carolina schools on the road, in 1975. South Carolina was the other ACC team to complete the sweep, doing it when the Gamecocks finished unbeaten in the league in 1969-70. The Terrapins have won only once here in Williams' eight years (1995), but the Maryland coach spent the night hospitalized with pneumonia.

Terps tonight

Opponent: Duke Blue Devils

Site: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, N.C.

Time: 7:30

TV/Radio: ESPN/WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)

Tonight's game

Maryland (20-7, 9-5) at Duke (22-6, 11-3)

Site: Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, N.C.

Time: 7:30

TV/Radio: ESPN/WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)

Outlook: Though the chances for the Terrapins seem slim against one of the country's hottest teams, Maryland matches up better against Duke than it does against any of the other upper-echelon teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference, especially with forward Keith Booth (19.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and center Obinna Ekezie (10.2, 6.6), who will be the biggest player on the court. Maryland has done well against teams that use a lot of three-guard sets. But after giving up a season-high 57.1 percent shooting in Saturday's 93-81 loss to North Carolina, the Terrapins will need to do a better job defensively against the Blue Devils. The crowd and the emotion of Senior Night in front of the Cameron Crazies will play a role, and Maryland point guard Terrell Stokes can't get rattled with Steve Wojciechowski in his face all night.

Pub Date: 2/27/97

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