Maryland, Williams maintain level attitude Terps seek tuneup against FDU tonight

November 18, 1997|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

On one hand, you can say that Maryland's season-opening loss to South Carolina was a major disappointment, as the Terrapins narrowly missed an opportunity to defeat a Top 10 team. Coach Gary Williams likes to look at it from another angle, which is just how little separates the unranked Terrapins from a team that's now ranked sixth in the country.

"Hopefully, our players proved that with a little more effort they can win those types of games," Williams said of the 76-72 overtime loss on Friday at the Black Coaches Association Classic in Minneapolis. "It hurts because we didn't win. At the same time, they should feel like we can play at this level."

In just over two weeks, the Terrapins (0-1) get another chance at a team on that "level," when they travel to No. 5 Clemson on Dec. 4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams. Three days later, Maryland will play No. 2 Kansas at the MCI Center in Washington.

What Maryland is hoping to do until then is to address some of its problem areas, which the Terrapins will try to work out in their home opener tonight at 7: 30 against Fairleigh Dickinson at Cole Field House.

"My first response to Terrell [Stokes, after the South Carolina loss] was, 'I wish we could play Kansas right now,' " said junior forward Laron Profit, who had 24 points and 10 rebounds in the opener. "But to be a great team, we have to play these games against the Fairleigh Dickinsons and the Mount St. Mary's."

You can look at this game as a tuneup, with Maryland taking on a Fairleigh Dickinson team that plays in the Northeast Conference, which is not highly rated. However, the point that nothing can be taken for granted hit home Sunday, when Virginia lost in double overtime to Richmond.

What was distracting to Williams as he watched the South Carolina loss from the sideline: players at times taking quick, sometimes tough shots instead of working for better scoring opportunities. Another problem area was Maryland players not aggressively chasing and diving for loose balls, which proved costly late in the second half, when South Carolina forced overtime with a three-pointer in the final seconds.

"We had problems with our patience on offense -- we took some bad shots in situations," Williams said. "And I think we can play harder than we did. If you play at this level, you can't play 80 percent of what you can do. You have to put it all out there."

Williams is anticipating that, in reaching that 100 percent level, the Terps don't put themselves in foul trouble as they did Friday night, when Obinna Ekezie and Rodney Elliott fouled out, and Profit and Stokes played a considerable amount of time with four fouls. That hindered the team's ability to apply more intense defensive pressure over the course of the game.

"I've never played that much zone as a coach," Williams said.

Tonight's game against the Knights might give Williams an opportunity to get longer looks at his freshmen. Center Mike Mardesich (five points in 19 minutes) and forward Terence Morris (three points, three blocks in 22 minutes) showed some first-game jitters -- as well as promise.

"The freshmen made some mistakes," Williams said. "But Terence Morris and Mike Mardesich competed."

And the Terrapins competed against one of the nation's top teams, in a game that Williams wants to translate into a learning experience.

"There were some things we did that would catch us sooner or later, and we have time to work on some things," Williams said. "It's one game and whether you win or lose, you go from there."

Pub Date: 11/18/97

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