For Odom, it could've been worse Wake coach appreciates Williams' 'understanding'

December 04, 1998|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

After watching his team get pounded by Maryland in last night's 92-69 loss, Wake Forest coach Dave Odom thanked Terps coach Gary Williams -- for what didn't happen to his team in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener.

"I thought he showed a lot of understanding," said Odom, pausing to find the right word. "They could have beaten us worse. I know that, and our team knows that.

"He did everything he could to keep his team playing hard, without making everybody else look bad. And I appreciate that."

For the Demon Deacons, it was their worst loss against Maryland since February 1994, and their second-worst loss to the Terps in a series dating back to the 1952-53 season.

Wake Forest had enjoyed recent success against Maryland, winning three straight games at Cole Field House and seven of eight overall. But the Demon Deacons were never in this game, as Maryland connected on its first 14 shots from the field. Wake Forest trailed by as many as 38 before Williams pulled his starters in the second half.

The Demon Deacons had a 6-1 record going into last night and were led by sophomore point guard Robert O'Kelley, who averaged 16.4 points going in. But O'Kelley, who established a career high of 31 points in the same building a season ago, had a night he'd soon like to forget. While going against Steve Francis and a tenacious Maryland defense, he scored just eight points while missing eight of his nine field-goal attempts.

"[Francis] did a great job, but I just didn't make the looks that I had," said O'Kelley. "They just did a great job as a team, and they helped when they had to."

Still, though Maryland came into the game ranked second in the country with an average margin of victory of 37.1 points, O'Kelley said he didn't expect the Demon Deacons to be blitzed as they were last night.

"I really thought we'd come in here and give them a game. That's how much confidence I have in our team," O'Kelley said. "[Maryland] is much better than it was last year. This team has more talent, and they're really athletic.

"We'll get them back in January. We'll be better prepared for that."

The Demon Deacons might be a better team in January, but so may the Terps. Odom said it's scary how good this team is at this point in the season.

"I don't think you'll ever get them in a Beltway traffic jam out there," Odom said. "They move too fast.

"It's hard to imagine they can get better, but I'm sure Gary is going to drive them to the point where they strive to get better. I don't know if they're the best team in the country. I don't know if they're the best team in the league or not. But I do think it is certainly the best basketball team that Gary has had since he's been here."

Pub Date: 12/04/98

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