Navy, the David which has regained its basketball respectability by slaying one local Goliath this week, this afternoon seeks another Giant's scalp - Maryland's.
The 1 p.m. game will be played at Capital Centre, the home of this intrastate rivalry because Maryland coach Lefty Driesell recognizes the dangers of playing at Annapolis, Georgetown discovered them Wednesday.
Howard and Morgan State, the only teams with winning overall records in the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference, meet in the top night attraction. They will play at D.C. Armory, another "neutral site," because of Howard's lack of fan support at its own gym.
Georgetown, 9-3 following its one-point loss to Navy, tries to regain its winning ways at home against lona at 8 p.m.: American hosts Bucknell and its flashy guard, Gerald Purnell, at Ft. Myer at 8 p.m., at North Carolina State visits Virginia for a 7:30 p.m. Atlantic Coast Conference matchup in other games involving major teams.
Navy, 8-5 under first-year coach Bob Hamilton, faces Maryland under circumstances different from those existing for the GU game. The Mids are 6-0 at Halsey Field House, that cavernous multipurpose complex where this season's victims have included Eastern power Penn as well as Georgetown.
"I don't like to play this team and I don't like to play them here," Maryland coach Lefty Driesell said at halftime of the Georgetown Navy game. "They're patient and get the good shot. "You'v either go to blow them out early or you've got yourself a close game."
Leo Latonick a hero of the Navy win over Georgetown, admitted that the Mids are most vulnerable at the start of a game. "We're always kind off tight at the beginning when we play the big power and stuff," he said. "Then we can come back".
Georgetown tried in vain to blow open Wednesday's game with fullcourt pressure from the start.The Hoyas broke to an 8-2 lead, but did not take enough inside shots or get the offensive rebounds to gain a big lead.
A year ago, Maryland swept to 23-10 and 37-16 leads on the way to an 37-69 victory over the Mids. Navy won the Georgetown game at guard its supposed weakness, with the outside men getting 15 rebounds and 24 points in a 56-55 victory.
Latonick and Bob Scott, the Navy starting guards, foresee Maryland as a stronger, more aggressive team with better size at guard with 6-foot-5 Billy Bryant and 6-3 Brad Davis.
"Heck," deadpanned Scott, "Bryant is almost as big as our starting center (6-6 Hank Kuzma).
This will be 11-2 Maryland's first game away from Cole Field House. The Terps will drive five exits around the Beltway on this trip and will play without reserve forward John Bilney, who sprained his ankle in practice Wednesday.
With important Atlantic Coast Conference games coming up at Clemson Wednesday and against North Carolina at Cole Saturday, Navy should give the Terps a good idea of how far they've progressed in the discipline department.
For Howard, tonight's game will decide the favorite in the MEAC race. Howard is 9.3 and Morgan State 8.3, each with one conference win. The other five MEAC schools have a combined record of 7-42.
The Bison's biggest problem appears to be handling the ball. They committed 20 second-half turnovers in Wednesday's Norfolk State loss.
Morgan's Eric Evans, 6-9, averages 26 points and 14 rebounds a game, ninth and eighth, respectively, among NCAA Division I players. Howard coach A. B. Williamson plans to start 6-9 John (Sullen) Mullen on Evans and come in with 6-10 Dorian Dent.
Evans recently scored 39 points against Maryland-Eastern Shore.
Georgetown will be playing an lona team that, like Navy, plays exceptionally well at home. The Gaels upset nationally ranked St. John's 68-66, this week and stand 6-1 at home. they ar winless in five road games.
The Hoyas were burned by Navy's offensive rebounding, an d Thompson has reiterated to his guards in practice that blocking out on the backboards comes before releasing fot the fast break.