Williams to Terps: get mean

Coach wants players to pick up intensity

January 02, 2000|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams has just one problem with his 14th-ranked Terrapins heading into the new year: He wishes they were meaner.

The easygoing mentality of the Terrapins translated into slow starts against George Mason and UMBC last week. Williams was forced to sit four of his starters -- including preseason All-American Terence Morris -- midway through the first half against the Retrievers on Thursday to stir up some emotion that eventually led to an 82-52 victory.

If Williams has one resolution heading into today's game against Coastal Carolina (2-8), it would be for his Terrapins (10-2) to develop a killer instinct.

Seven of Maryland's games have been determined by 11 points or fewer, and the team is four days away from opening its Atlantic Coast Conference season at N.C. State.

It appears that Maryland needs to be threatened before finding a rhythm. The Terrapins were in a daze against UMBC early, when they forced alley-oops, tried fancy passes and missed several uncontested baskets.

"They're nice guys -- I'm probably the worst guy on the team when I think about it," Williams said. "We had some guys last year that would bite your head off if they had a chance. We're not like that off the court. We're very mild gentlemen. I respect them for the way they are. But when you walk between the lines, you've got to pick that up a little bit. Hopefully, we understand that now."

On Thursday night, Maryland's personality received an enthusiastic jolt with the first minutes of Calvin McCall.

The Terrapins' starting quarterback, who has been practicing with the basketball team since Dec. 14, roamed more like a free safety. With his dreadlocks flopping, McCall dived after loose balls and sprinted all over the court in Maryland's traps. On offense, though, his teammates sometimes needed to nudge McCall into the right spots.

Nevertheless, Williams stepped around any controversy when asked if the quarterback could land a steady spot in the rotation as a small forward. McCall's appearance also coincided with starting small forward Danny Miller scoring a career-high 16 points against UMBC.

"It's just one game and we'll see how it goes," Williams said. "I thought he helped our team, no doubt about it. I told him that he'd better be careful. He's playing such good defense that they might make him a defensive back."

Williams also shrugged off the recent slump of Steve Blake. The freshman point guard has had 19 assists and 27 turnovers in his past five games and accounted for one assist in 19 minutes on Thursday. He hasn't had more assists than turnovers in a game since Dec. 7.

"He's a freshman; he'll be fine," Williams said. "He's won some big games for us already this year. I think he'll be tuned back in really quickly."

NOTES: Maryland has lost three of its past four games that have followed New Year's Day. But it's the first time since 1993 that the Terrapins haven't begun a new year against an ACC opponent. Coastal Carolina sophomore forward Torrey Butler is a Mount St. Joseph graduate. He has played in four games this season and is averaging 11 points. The Chanticleers, of the Big South Conference, are averaging 11.5 three-point shots made over their past eight games. They have attempted 240 three-pointers and taken 360 shots inside the arc.

Terps today

Opponent: Coastal Carolina

Site: Cole Field House, College Park

Time: 1 p.m.

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM)

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