Maryland will play its first road basketball tonight, 97 days after practice opened.

The 7 o'clock Atlantic Coast Conference matchup at Clemson (WMAL-TV-7) will test two of Terp coach Lefty Driesell's primary beliefs: teaching fundamentals and building confidence are the keys to winning.

The only other game of note on tonight's area college schedule finds Howard traveling to Maryland-Eastern Shore for an 8 p.m. Mid-Eastern Shore has won only one game this season.

By playing 13 straight home games and finally a neutral court contest at Capital Centre, Diesell sought to build confidence in his youngest team since Tom McMillen and Len Elmore were sophomores. As far as starting forward Lawrence Boston is concerned, Diesell has succeeded following 12 wins and one-point overtime losses to Notre Dame and Wake Forest.

"I don't think they'll give us too much trouble," Boston said. "We'll win in a breeze: we've got too much at every position. Everybody will be fired up going down there. We have enough exprience to know what's happening on the road."

Publicly, Diesell is not that confident; privately, he probably fears the worst, since many ACC observers consider Littlejohn Coliseum the toughest home court in the league because of its bull-ring appearance.

Clemson is 11-3, 1-2 in the ACC after a 91-63 lashing by North Carolina and an 84-82 home court loss to Wake Forest. The Tigers' other loss was a 67-49 setback at Marquatte.

How to beat Clemson is easy: stop 7-foot center Wayne (Tree) Rollins, the nation's No. 2 rebounder, and harness Clemson's running game, which helped make the Tigers second in the country in scoring (95.4) and field-goal percentage (54.3) in last week's statistics.

Doing it is something else. Bill Foster, the Clemson coach, foresees rebounding as the game's key element, i.e., Rollins and Dave Brown against Maryland center Larry Gibson. Boston and reserve Mike Davis at the inside positions.

"The key will be stopping Tree and Stan Rome," said Boston. "Last year I had to guard Tree (Gibson was out with a knee injury) and Stan Rome was constantly going to the boads. This year we'll see if Stan Rome is Stan Rome or if Bear (Steve Sheppard) will eat him up. I don't think they'll get a lot of second and third shots this year."

Rome, the best athlete on the Clemson team, is averaging 17.6 points and shooting with 61.5 per cent accuracy.