For Maryland, bad things kept happening in threes

January 04, 1998|By Ken Rosenthal

If ever there was a game to throw out and forget about, this was it. But that's not the way Maryland coach Gary Williams and his players reacted to last night's shocking 104-72 loss to No. 3 Duke.

Laron Profit called it "unacceptable," Matt Kovarik "inexcusable," Sarunas Jasikevicius "embarrassing." And Williams probably was even more upset than his players.

"In the nine years I've been here, that was probably the worst we were competitively," Williams said after No. 20 Maryland's worst home loss since a 101-68 defeat to South Carolina in the 1969-70 season.

Throw it out? Forget about it?

Not if Williams can help it entering Maryland's next home game, Wednesday night against No. 15 Florida State.

"We're not putting this behind us," he said. "We're going to talk about it until Wednesday."

The game film?

"I'm going to watch it more than usual. I want to memorize it," Williams said.

Whether the coach takes out his frustration on his players remains to be seen, but this defeat might actually

serve a greater purpose, if the Terps treat it as a wakeup call for the rest of the season.

Perhaps there is little a team can do when its opponent hits 10 of its first 13 three-pointers in the first half. But Williams didn't want to hear it, and neither did his players.

Kovarik: "Our defense is not where it should be. We gave 'em too many open looks. They knocked 'em down, but there was just a complete lack of intensity on the defensive end."

Jasikevicius: "We weren't emotional. We weren't playing hard. The worst thing about it is, the same thing happened in the Missouri game. Obviously, some things have got to change."

To think, Duke (12-1, 2-0 ACC) seemed ripe for an upset without freshman center Elton Brand and sophomore swingman Nate James. So much for that theory. The Blue Devils took a 26-point lead in the first half.

Williams said his biggest fear entering the game was Duke's three-point shooting. He knew what was coming. His players knew what was coming. And still, the Terps (7-5, 0-2) got hammered.

Duke hit four threes in the opening 1: 38, 11 of its first 16 and 14 of 27 overall. Steve Wojciechowski was 4-for-8, Roshown McLeod 3-for-5, Trajan Langdon 3-for-5, Mike Chappell 3-for-3.

How deflating was the experience?

After making only two shots in the first 8: 52, the Terps scored on three straight possessions -- and with Duke continuing to sink threes, their 16-point deficit went to 17.

How deflating?

Late in the half, the 5-foot-11 Wojciechowski missed a three from the left corner, grabbed his own rebound and drilled one from the right wing.

Obviously, the Blue Devils don't shoot 51.9 percent from three-point range every night -- they entered the game hitting 37.2 percent, with the Terps at 36 percent.

Still, they've got the ability to destroy an opponent from the perimeter. Their three 6-8 forwards -- McLeod, Chappell and freshman Shane Battier -- shot a combined 14-for-20, including seven three-pointers.

How deflating was it?

The previous four games between these teams at Cole had been decided by 12 points, with Maryland winning two of them.

How deflating?

By game's end, Cole Field House was a ghost town.

The Terps "closed" to within 17 early in the second half, but that was it. They missed 10 free throws and committed 20 turnovers. Worst of all, they got outhustled in their own gym.

"Anytime a team shoots 11 threes in a half, they're going to be tough to beat," Profit said. "But we have to come together as a team, take a lot more pride in how we play, especially at home."

Profit, in particular, looked out of it -- he shot 0-for-7, scoring all seven of his points on his free throws. His explanation was that the Terps went inside to Obinna Ekezie (23 points) and Rodney Elliott (22) after falling behind.

Williams, though, had other ideas.

"We do things for Laron, run plays for Laron. He's got to be able to get his shots," Williams said. "If you're a great player, you have a way of getting points. You have to find ways to score."

But this loss wasn't solely Profit's fault, just as it wasn't solely the fault of point guards Kovarik and Terrell Stokes ("That has nothing to do with anything right now that's happening to our team," Jasikevicius said).

Maryland fans can clamor all they want for Stevie Francis, a point guard from Allegheny Community College. But Francis can't help them this season. Nor can Kovarik and Stokes for that matter, if everyone else fails.

"You really have to take stock of things. I know I do," Williams said later, outside the locker room. "They shot great. They're real good and all that. But I can't buy into the fact that we can't compete with them."

Neither, of course, should his players.

They're hurt. They're angry.

On a night they hit rock bottom, it was a start.

Pub Date: 1/04/98

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