Trying to rebound for exams at UM

Terps: Students at College Park are juggling studying for midterms and celebrating the basketball team's success.

March 18, 2004|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Students at the University of Maryland's flagship campus at College Park are doing a lot of cramming these days in microbiology, macroeconomics and statistics - shooting and rebounding statistics, that is.

The Terrapins, who beat Duke in overtime Sunday for their first Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title in 20 years, are set to play the University of Texas, El Paso today in Denver in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The timing of the basketball madness couldn't have come at a less convenient time academically - in the midst of midterm exams.

"It's the worst week I've had," said senior John Patti IV, 21, of Ellicott City, referring to the stress of trying to cram for exams in consumer behavior and electronic media while doing his own pregame stats.

"I'm trying to do my homework and NCAA brackets," added Patti, who wore a leather jacket with "Terrapins" stitched across the back.

Many students said they have felt distracted this week. 2002 NCAA championship T-shirts have come out of the closet and Terrapin baseball caps, sweat shirts, shorts and jackets are showing up on students across this rolling campus - even on "bandwagon hoppers," people who never rooted for the basketball team before but are suddenly very interested.

Still, students said they are determined to excel in academic subjects, not just basketball boosterism.

"It's an exciting time on the campus, but you still have to get your work done," said freshman Steven Millman, 18, of Wilmington, Del., who was studying with two friends at the McKeldin Library on Tuesday night. "You do what you have to do."

Millman and his pals, Michael Stromberg, 19, and David Friedman, 18, said that the win against Duke put them behind schedule on their studying. Instead of poring over texts on post-Civil War history and environmental law, they ended up watching the game.

"All through the game, I kept thinking, `I have this to do and that to do,'" said Millman. "The Duke game did push everything back."

As for the game against UTEP, Stromberg said that anticipation - and study breaks with ESPN and ESPN2 - have helped him make it through a stressful week.

"It's been a welcome distraction," he said.

University of Maryland professors - many of whom are also Terp fans - have also gotten caught up in basketball frenzy.

Susan C. Schwab, a professor of public policy, said she had a hard time preparing Sunday for an exam for graduate students.

"I certainly couldn't work during the second half of the game," said Schwab, who apologized to students Monday for the "unfortunate" timing of the exam. Schwab said she was halfway through grading yesterday, and students had done well.

Maybe it was the surprise win Sunday and chalkboard slogan that greeted test-takers Monday, Schwab said. Someone had written: "Fear the turtle. The turtle growled."

"Everyone got a chuckle out of that," she said.

Management and organization lecturer Don Knight - who also gave an exam Monday - did Terps damage control Sunday. He sent an e-mail to students reminding them of their academic responsibilities.

"Hi everyone, ... I just want to emphasize that [the win against Duke] will not affect in any way the administration of the exam tomorrow," the e-mail read. "I am sorry if this puts a damper on your celebration plans tonight but we have to go forward tomorrow as scheduled."

Lawrence Mintz, a professor of American studies, said he has heard lots of excuses over the years from students who missed an exam or deadline - a sick granny or dog top the list - but never, "I was watching the game."

"That would have been a good one," he said. "But it wouldn't have been legitimate. ... Hey, I'm a fan, too, and I still did my work."

Although some professors said they would let classes out early today for the game, no one admitted to postponing a midterm exam or paper due-date.

"The faculty would be outraged if they thought they had to make special arrangements," said Jackson Bryer, a professor of English.

Likewise, Cassandra Robinson, a spokeswoman for the university, was serious when she said: "Sunday was fun. Now it's back to business."

No one knows that better than students - who are two agonizing days away from spring break. Said Millman: "They really know how to lay it on strong here."

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