UM having easy ride, compared with rivals Other conference teams face variety of problems, with injuries just starter

Terps/ACC notebook

December 18, 1998|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- If you want to understand how smoothly things are running for No. 5 Maryland, contrast it with the rest of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Injuries, defections and eligibility issues have affected nearly every roster, and some teams could have a rocky trip to the ACC tournament in Charlotte, N.C., March 4-7.

Using the media's preseason predicted order of finish, here's a breakdown of the adversity the Terps' conference competition has dealt with. Records do not include last night's games.

No. 2 Duke (9-1): All right, everything's just dandy with the Blue Devils, who will face Kentucky at the Meadowlands on Tuesday. Preseason All-American Elton Brand was benched at the start of the Michigan rout (108-64) because of a lack of productivity. Chris Burgess, another Parade All-American, started in his place.

No. 7 North Carolina (10-1): The Tar Heels' football program is proud to be going to its seventh straight bowl game, but coach Bill Guthridge is not thrilled that quarterback/shooting guard Ronald Curry won't practice full time until next week. Sophomore forward Vasco Evtimov, projected as a starter, has still not had his eligibility case resolved.

Wake Forest (8-2): Niki Arinze, the team's best inside player, is out for the year with a shoulder injury. When guard Robert Griffin, who started two games last season, quit the Demon Deacons after their 23-point loss at Maryland, Dave Odom was left with nine healthy scholarship players.

No. 16 Clemson (9-1): Mohammed Woni, a 6-foot-9 junior center who played in all 32 games last season, left practice Tuesday and asked for his release. First-year coach Larry Shyatt is getting great play from Terrell McIntyre. The veteran point guard has made 57.1 percent of his field-goal attempts.

N.C. State (6-2): Sophomore guard Archie Miller's back problem will not go away. Anthony Grundy, whose eligibility was delayed when he broke his commitment to Bradley, was to have made his debut last night. Sophomore forward Damon Thornton, who missed last season with a broken foot, is averaging 23 minutes.

Georgia Tech (7-1): The Yellow Jackets could become an intriguing dark horse, now that Indiana transfer Jason Collier, a 7-footer, is eligible. Freshman Tony Akins, the second-leading scorer in the conference, has filled some of the void left by the October knee injury to Dion Glover.

Florida State (3-3): There's trouble in Tallahassee, where Steve Robinson is getting out-recruited by Florida's Billy Donovan, and 7-2 sophomore center Karim Shabazz returned to his New York home to be with his ill mother. He might not be back.

Virginia (6-4): Pete Gillen's first season with the Cavaliers got off to a shaky start when forward Colin Ducharme broke a leg in an off-court injury the night after the opener. Chris Williams, a 6-6 wing, broke Ralph Sampson's freshman scoring record with 34 against Liberty.

No. 1 in something

When Oklahoma State was upset at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater Dec. 1 by Florida Atlantic, it ended the Cowboys' home nonconference winning streak at 82 games. It was the nation's longest winning streak in that category, which now shows Maryland at the top.

The Terps' 62-game nonconference winning streak at Cole should grow Dec. 23 against North Texas and Dec. 27 against South Carolina State. North Texas figures to be the weakest team Maryland will play this season. The Eagles are 0-7, with an RPI in the 300s, but they have played some decent Big 12 and WAC teams.

Maryland plays only ACC foes in January and February, so it figures to take 64 straight nonconference home wins into next season. That streak will be tested when Kentucky completes its home-and-home contract with the Terps.

Coach Gary Williams brings his team to Baltimore Arena for the seventh straight season tomorrow. The opponent is Princeton, and Maryland administrators are confident it won't be as ugly as the meeting the two universities had last Memorial Day, when the Terps lost their cool and the NCAA lacrosse final to the Tigers.

Briefly

Senior center Obinna Ekezie became the 34th player in Maryland history to score 1,000 career points when he made a short jump shot near the end of the first half at Kentucky. Walk-on Earl Badu, a guard out of St. Frances, has been approved to play by the NCAA's eligibility clearinghouse, but Williams wants to see his first-semester grades before he gives him a uniform. Maryland last lost a nonconference game in the state on Dec. 2, 1995, when the Terps were beaten by Massachusetts at what was then the USAir Arena.

Pub Date: 12/18/98

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