Stokes snubbed on tourney honor roll But point guard's efforts prove key to Terps' title run

Maryland notebook

November 29, 1998|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

BAYAMON, Puerto Rico -- Laron Profit was named the Most Valuable Player. Teammates Steve Francis and Terence Morris joined him on the all-tournament team. So did a player from friendly, 0-3 host American University of Puerto Rico, but somehow that honor roll didn't include Terrell Stokes.

Close observers of Maryland over the last two days saw that the senior point guard was a crucial figure in the Puerto Rico Shootout. Stokes made a difference in a 16-point semifinal win over UCLA, and he kept on distributing the ball in a 35-point rout of Pittsburgh in the championship game.

Besides turning in stellar defensive work on Vonteego Cummings, who's regarded as one of the nation's best guards, Stokes had eight assists, no turnovers and two steals.

"I thought if I stopped him [Cummings], we would stop Pitt," Stokes said. "He was their driver."

Stokes, who was benched last December after some struggles, is confidently guiding the Terps.

"He's getting everyone involved," senior center Obinna Ekezie said. "Everyone is benefiting from his play."

Cummings made two of his four three-pointers, but the rest of the Panthers were 2-for-13 behind the shooting arc. Maryland coach Gary Williams said that was a key to the Terps' defensive work, which has opponents making less than 30 percent of their field-goal attempts over a 7-0 start.

"Our game plan was to give them no open threes," Williams said. "We went out hard after their shooters, with the idea that if they beat us off the drive, fine."

Sage advice

Profit got some knowledgeable advice, then went out and had his most impressive shooting game of the season. Earlier in the day, he talked to Greg Manning, the analyst on the Terps' radio coverage, who was known for his mechanics during his playing days at Maryland from 1978-81.

"When you're not shooting well, everyone has advice, but you listen to Greg," Profit said. "He just told me to relax, do what I've been doing all my career."

Profit, whose 9-for-12 shooting included his first three-pointer of the season, had predicted that he would break out of his slump when the games got more serious.

"I looked at the ocean a lot today, and that calmed me. I prayed to God, to give me peace of mind amid all the frenzy. People asked about my shooting against UCLA, but we won by 16, so I was happy."

Et cetera

The Terps didn't need a big game from Morris, as the sophomore forward out of Thomas Johnson High in Frederick took just six shots, and made four. His shooting percentage is .657. Profit got three steals, and with 201, became the 19th player in ACC history to record 200 in his career. No. 17 on that list is Duke grad Steve Wojciechowski (Cardinal Gibbons), with 203. No. 1 is former Terp Johnny Rhodes, with a distant 344. Profit doesn't lead the Terps in steals. Stokes is not only tops in assists, with 51, but also with 18 thefts. Ekezie made his 89th career start, and only Duke's Trajan Langdon has made more among current ACC players.

Pub Date: 11/29/98

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