Terps to bench Stokes, Profit Sophomores violated team curfew at ACC tournament last week

Kovarik, Elliott to start

Williams will decide length of penalties

March 13, 1997|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Maryland coach Gary Williams plans to bench sophomores Terrell Stokes and Laron Profit for the start of tonight's NCAA tournament opening-round game against the College of Charleston for breaking curfew at last week's ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

Williams declined to talk about the situation last night, but a source within the team said that Stokes and Profit will likely play. Junior Matt Kovarik is expected to start for Stokes at point guard, with junior Rodney Elliott taking Profit's place in the starting lineup.

The action was taken after Williams learned that both players missed the team's 10: 30 p.m. curfew Friday, the night before the Terrapins played North Carolina State in the semifinals. Both Stokes and Profit played poorly and Maryland wound up losing, 65-58.

According to sources within the athletic department, the players left the team's hotel at around 11: 30 p.m. and were seen in the parking lot of another hotel a couple of miles away at around 1: 15 a.m. Several boosters saw the players at both hotels, including one where most of the media was staying.

"Those guys either don't get it or they don't care," a member of the athletic department said yesterday. "I don't think they even knew that Maryland hadn't been to the ACC championship game in 12 years. They just don't get it."

Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow declined to comment.

A source said that Williams and his assistants met with the players on Sunday. According to someone close to Williams, the coach contemplated keeping Stokes and Profit at home, giving them a one-game suspension, then allowing them to rejoin the team if it advanced to the second round.

But Williams believed that since it was their first offense of this magnitude, and that it would not be fair to the other players on the team, he would only bench them. How long the benching lasts may depend on the play of what now becomes a five-man team.

This would mark the second time this season that Profit has been benched for violating team rules. After coming a few minutes late to a team meeting back in December, the 6-foot-6 guard was benched for the start of the opening-round game of the Franklin National Bank Classic against California. He wound up scoring his career-high 24 points.

Neither Profit nor Stokes seemed particularly upset about the situation. Profit, who was named third-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference this season, said that "people were exaggerating that all week, there was no big problem. It was a team thing."

Asked if he expected to start tonight, Stokes, who scored two points against the Wolfpack after scoring a career-high 17 in the first-round win over Clemson, said, "I expect the same thing. Nothing's going to change."

In another development, Williams denied a report on ESPN by former Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps that he would be interested in talking to Rutgers about the coaching opening there. Phelps, an analyst for ESPN, said Tuesday night that Williams, who is from New Jersey, would listen if officials from the Big East school called.

"I'm too old to start rebuilding programs," said Williams, who turned 52 last week. "I've got 10 players coming back next year."

NOTE: Former Terrapin Mario Lucas, who is from Memphis, was at practice yesterday. The 6-8 forward known mostly for his three-point shooting spent the year playing basketball in Chile and Brazil. He will play the next few months in Indonesia and then go to Germany, to play for the former team of former Maryland guard Keith Gatlin.

Pub Date: 3/13/97

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