Terps, Williams lack technical skill

January 30, 1998|By John Eisenberg

DURHAM, N.C. -- If the Maryland Terrapins were going to have any chance against top-ranked Duke last night, they had to bring their best game to Cameron Indoor Stadium.

They brought their worst.

No patience, no composure, no heart.

And thus, no chance.

The modest gains they had made since their earlier, 32-point loss to the Blue Devils were quickly forgotten in a 27-point loss that resembled a tribal sacrifice.

If ever there was a game that validated the Terps' status as a second-tier national power, this was it.

A run of five wins in six games had them believing they could give Duke a game at Cameron, but they came out and melted into a puddle amid the noise, heat and pressure of college basketball's most intimidating environment.

They were completely undone within 10 minutes, as Duke built a 37-12 lead and coasted from there.

No, the Terps are far from the first team to lose in such a fashion at Cameron -- the Blue Devils haven't lost at home in more than a year -- and yes, the Blue Devils' relentless pressure defense and disciplined shot selection had a lot to do with it.

But the Terps made life easy for them.

They completely lost their cool.

Coach Gary Williams set the example with two technical fouls leading to his ejection less than six minutes into the game.

On a night when, again, the Terps needed everything to go their way if they were going to have a chance, they lost their coach almost immediately.

It wasn't exactly the high point of Williams' Maryland career.

Coaches are always arguing with the officials, sometimes heatedly -- both sides understand it's part of the game -- but Williams should have known better than to step over the line and leave his team stunned and groping for leadership at, of all

places, Cameron.

Asked after the game if he felt he had let his team down, Williams said, "Yeah, definitely. You're responsible to be with your team during the game. I didn't do that. It's a shame things happened as they did, although I'm not sure it would have made a difference if I was there."

Terps guard Sarunas Jasikevicius started the brouhaha by complaining to the officials about what he felt was a moving screen that wasn't called. Jasikevicius didn't curse, but he continued to complain after being told to stop and finally was hit with a technical.

Williams received his first technical for complaining about the technical on Jasikevicius.

The second technical on Williams was called exactly 57 seconds later, during a Duke possession.

"I said, 'That's a walk,' and that was it," Williams said, referring to another call that wasn't made. "Again, no abusive language."

Larry Rose, the official who assessed the first technical on Williams, told a pool reporter, "I warned Gary three times about cursing and he continued, so it was the result of excessive language and being out of the coaching box."

Sam Croft, the official who assessed the second technical on Williams, said, "The second technical was for language and excessive complaining."

Whatever, assistant coach Billy Hahn took over for Williams left, leaving the Terps in the hands of the coach who led them to a stunning victory here three years ago, when Williams was hospitalized with pneumonia.

But they had Joe Smith on their side that night, and he only went for 40 points, the last two coming on a tip-in at the buzzer that won the game.

Last night, the Blue Devils went on a 19-2 run after Hahn took over.

Where have you gone, Joe?

Included in the run was yet another Terps technical, this one on Laron Profit for hanging on the rim after scoring a basket.

That was the fourth technical on the Terps in a span of 95 seconds.

"I can't comment," Williams said. "But I don't think we were being chippy [overly combative]."

The technicals turned the game in Duke's direction, as guard Trajan Langdon hit all eight free throws to start the rout.

But Williams was right that the Blue Devils probably would have won just as easily if none of the technicals had been called and Williams had stayed on the bench all night.

The Blue Devils are just better than the Terps, as two wins by a combined 59 points demonstrates.

Point guard Terrell Stokes couldn't get the Terps' offense going at all against Duke's relentless defense, which contests every pass.

The Terps settled for low-percentage shots, making few, then were beaten back on defense over and over by the breaking Blue Devils.

"I'll say this: We really played well tonight," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We rebounded well, shot well, and we held our poise when all those things were going on."

Now the Terps have to pick up the pieces again after another devastating loss to Duke.

L "We have done it before. We can do it again," Williams said.

Thia time, however, they will have to do it after having lost their cool and fallen apart, giving a performance that might haunt them for the rest of the season.

Pub Date: 1/30/98

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