Duke keeps Maryland honest in ACC Terps No. 5 nationally, but still second to Devils

October 26, 1998|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Maryland will go into the basketball season with plenty of national recognition, but the Terps are still playing second banana in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

According to preseason publications, the Terps are a consensus No. 5 nationally. That would be good enough to make them the favorite in nearly all of the 30 Division I leagues, but life isn't that easy in the Atlantic Coast Conference, where preseason choice Duke will get plenty of No. 1 votes when the first national poll appears next month.

"This team was No. 1 last year for six or seven weeks," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We'd be chased even if we were ranked 20th. Certain programs, it's always going to be a great win when you beat them. There are some programs like that in our conference. We're one of them."

Krzyzewski spoke during the ACC's Operation Basketball yesterday, and over the last 18 seasons, his teams have committed surgery on Maryland. Last year, the Blue Devils ripped the Terps by 32 and 27 points, and they've got eight of their top 11 players back.

One order of business for Duke will be replacing the intangibles that were supplied by Steve Wojciechowski, who went from Cardinal Gibbons School to the Blue Devils backcourt to a pro team in Poland. Sophomore William Avery will be the new starter at the point, but the job description has changed.

"With Wojo gone, you lose a lot of energy and emotion," said Trajan Langdon, the Blue Devils' senior guard. "William [Avery] is quicker. He can break down a defense. He'll be able to push the ball as well as anyone in the nation."

Langdon is the only first-team all-ACC player back. North Carolina point guard Ed Cota is the only second-teamer returning, and Maryland's Laron Profit and Clemson's Terrell McIntyre are the only third-teamers. When Georgia Tech gunner Dion Glover tore an anterior cruciate ligament on the first day of practice Oct. 17, it meant the conference would be without 11 of last season's top 13 scorers.

The ACC media cast Maryland No. 2 on the basis of what a strong recruiting class will bring to a program that was already in solid shape thanks to seniors like Profit, Obinna Ekezie and Terrell Stokes. Coach Gary Williams toiled 10 years to get Maryland in this position, and he welcomes the expectations.

"If we want to be thought of on that level, we have to get used to it," Williams said. "This is not pressure. Pressure was my first year, when we took Duke into overtime. They had Christian Laettner on the floor, we had two walk-ons."

Despite the loss of national Player of the Year Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter, two of the top five picks in last June's NBA draft, North Carolina was still picked to finish third.

"No matter who North Carolina has," Profit said, "they're going to win games."

The Tar Heels could be without one of their prize freshman recruits until Christmas. North Carolina fans want their football team to keep winning, but not so much that it goes to a bowl game, which would keep quarterback Ronald Curry from learning his way around the ACC.

While the all-star team will have many new names, there also has been plenty of turnover in the coaching ranks. North Carolina's Bill Guthridge and Florida State's Steve Robinson are in their second seasons, and Clemson's Larry Shyatt and Virginia's Pete Gillen are first-year bosses.

The good news for Gillen is that he's putting together a fine recruiting class. The bad news is that Jeff Jones left behind a mess when he was forced out. There are only seven scholarship players, none too talented, and Gillen was forced to hold an open tryout to fill out his roster.

"There was a lot of blood," Gillen said. "There were emergency units on hand. It was intense. It was like dinner time when I was young."

NOTES: The Maryland women were picked to finish seventh in the conference. A rebuilding job wasn't helped when Kelley Gibson, a senior from Easton, underwent off-season knee surgery. "Branka Bogunovic [a 6-8 junior] is the only person I can unequivocally tell you will start," coach Chris Weller said. North Carolina's Nikki Teasley (St. John's at Prospect Hall) and Chanel Wright (Western) were named to the preseason women's first team.

ACC predictions

Media predictions for ACC basketball. First-place votes in parentheses.

Men

1. Duke (79) .. .. .. .. .. 767

2. Maryland (6) .. .. .. .. 687

North Carolina (1) .. .. 576

4. Wake Forest .. .. .. ... 442

Clemson .. .. .. .. .. . 433

6. N.C. State .. .. .. .. . 409

7. Georgia Tech .. .. .. .. 265

Florida State .. .. .. . 196

Virginia .. .. .. .. .. . 97

Women

1. Duke (17) .. .. .. .. .. 207

2. Virginia (4) .. .. .. .. 182

North Carolina (1) .. .. 175

4. N.C. State (1) .. .. ... 140

Clemson (1) .. .. .. ... 136

Florida State .. .. .. .. 79

Maryland .. .. .. .. .. . 76

8. Georgia Tech .. .. .. ... 53

Wake Forest .. .. .. .. . 32

Pub Date: 10/26/98

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