Brian Magid, the sophomore guard who electrifies Maryland basketball audiences with his outside shooting, does not start for the Terrapins because freshman Billy Bryant is a better all-ground player, coach Lefty Driesell said yesterday.
"There's no doubt Billy should be starting in front of me," Magid said. "But I'm as good as any of the other (wing) guards. I have no qualms about playing behind Billy, but I feel I should be playing more."
When Driesell has used Magid in big games - Notre Dame, Princeton, Wake Forest and North Carolina state - the man they call Bionic Eye has sparked the team. He has not been a defensive liability, the general rap against him.
According to Driesell's personal statistics, compiled by team manager John Pavlos, Magid yielded only four points to the man he guarded in 54 minutes of playing time in those four games.
For the first time, Magid was the first guard off the bench against North Carolina State Sunday. The Cole Field House crowd went crazy when the Montgomery Blair High grad made his entrance. Part of the reaction was because of Magid's 30-footer that sent the Saturday Wake Forrest game into overtime.
On Sunday, it appeared that Driessel finally had confidence in Magid.
"Brian can be a specialist," said Driesell. "He can come in and spark us, give us a lift. He is awfully valuable to our team."
Magid gets letters telling him his talent is being wasted on the Maryland bench, and that he should transfer. Why he has not played more is a combination of Friesell's philosophy of judging players by their performance in preseason scrimmages and by Magid's shortcomings at a competitive position.
"When practice starts Oct. 15 every position is open," Driesell said. "I go by what happens in the eight or 10 preseason scrimmages. In those scrimmages, at the position Magid plays. Turk Tillman and Billy Bryant played best.
"Right now Bryant is a better all-around player."
Magid is not a practice player.
When you ask him about it, he smiles and says:
"My father (Joseph Magid) was a pretty good baseball player. He always told me, 'There's a 1,000.001 2 o'clock hitters. The only thing is the game starts at 3 o'clock.' "I've never seen a god practice player. I never was at Blair either. "I seem to play better in the games and better in the bigger games. I've known a lot of guys who can do it in practice. Practice is practice and the game is the game. I hustle in practice. I don't loaf . . . but I seem to do better in ghe games. Maybe if I was a grat practice player and did nothing in the games, I'd play more."
Last year the crowd would chant "Magid, Magid" until Driesell put the freshman in. Then, whenever he touched the ball, the crowd would yell, "Shoot." When he walks across campus students often yell, "Shoot."
Magid shot well as a freshman, making 29 of 46 shots, 63 per cent accuracy. Then Driesell recruited Bryant and Jo Jo Hunter, both wing guards. And Turck Tillman, also a sophomore, was superior in preseason scrimmages and earned the starting slot.
In his reserve role this season, Magid is shooting 52.5 per cent with 21-for-40 accuracy. In 103 minutes of playing time, he has scored 51 points and yielded 32. Magid lost about 10 pounds in the offseason, getting down to 171, his high school playing weight. He continues to work on his rebounding and taking the ball to the basket, his two biggest shortcomings at present.
Magid handles zone defenses easily, either opening up the inside for Maryland's big men or making the opposition abandon the defense entirely to be forced into man-to-man mismatches. And the crowd loves him.
"The crowd has an effect on the whole team," Magid said. "When the crowd is on your side, you can play better and play on your emotions. I'm proud I can make everybody else play better and perk the team up."
Magid's goal right now is more playing time. He admits that Bryant may be the most talented of all the Terps because of his 6-foot-5 size, rebounding ability and quickness. Yes, Magid has thought about the possibility of transferring, but not seriously, he said.
"Anybody who sits on the bench and says they would rather come off the bench and play as a reserve is not totally telling the truth," Magid said. "So it's only natural to think about it (transferring). I've thought about it, but I'd never think of doing it during a season. It's a passing tought, not something I get myself all worked up over.I don't harp on it.
"I think when the time comes and the season's over, I'll look back on the season. We're winning and that's all that matters. I think it's wrong to talk about transferring during a season because that can mess a team up. As far as I'm concerned, I think now I'll be here four years. Things could change, but right now I'm happy."
Magid may be one of the best pure shooters in the country. In high school, he would unlock a window on the second floor of the Blair High weight room on Friday after practice so he and a buddy could sneak in and shoot baskets on Sunday morning.
His friend, smaller than he, would climb 20 feet or so up a tree enter the window and then let Magid in through the gymnasium door. Once the door was chained, and they both climbed in through the window.
Magid scoffs at suggestions he should have gone to another school where the offense would revolve around him. He chose Maryland over Duke, because he thought he could get a quality education with less study time. He majors in radio, television and film.
"I wanted to go big time," he said, "because I'd put so much time into it. It would be a waste to go to a smaller school. I decided I would either play with the best or not play at all."