For 11 minutes at the start of last night's Atlantic Coast Conference game against Virginia, Maryland played basketball the way it was meant to be played - almost perfect as a team.
The 31-10 surge produced left little suspense about the eventual 82-67 outcome before 13,442 at Cole Field House.
Virginia had excuses, lots of injuries and illnesses, plus a continued knack of missing open shots. But what was significant from Maryland's viewpoint was the emergence of coach Lefty Driesell's multitalented players understanding their roles.
Mike Davis, the 6-foot-10 junior-college transfer, played his best game of the season without scoring a basket; Lawrence Boston and Jo Jo Hunter, the team's best shooters, did the scoring: they got numerous open jumpers because Brad Davis controlled the offense splendidly.
The defense played as a unit as efficiently has it has this 14-5 season, 3-3 in the ACC. Davis and Larry Gibson clogged the middle, helping out repeatedly when a Cav got by a Terp teammate. Together the three Maryland big men, in the new lineup without the injured Steve Sheppard, scored 29 points, controlled 31 rebounds and blocked eight shots.
Virginia coach Terry Holland, who learned the game under Lefty Driesell at Davidson and is now suffering through a nightmarish 8-10 overall, 0-7 ACC season, was so low in manpower he gambled on Maryland showing the bad side of the inconsistency the Terps have displayed all year.
Holland's defending ACC tournament champions started the game in a two-three zone defense, a gambling move predicated not on matchups but the hope that Maryland would show little patience, stand around, miss a few early shots and then panic.
Instead, the Terps played perfectly, "as well under control as we have all season," according to Hunter, who led all scorers with 20 points.
Not that Virginia's own play didn't help Maryland. Virginia missed 16 of its first 20 shots. And, at one point shortly before Holland had enough of the zone he professes to detest as much as Driesell does, he watched Brad Davis drive around its perimeter, along the baselin and make the lay-up as three defenders stood by with a ringside view.
Maryland, meanwhile, ran its offense efficiently, with patience and as many picks for open shots as it has all season.
"I hate to take anything away from Maryland, because they played well," observed Holland. "But we weren't very pretty. It's hard to find anything positive to say; you saw the frustration of not being able to put the ball in the basket. Maryland did whatever it wanted to do."
Maryland made 14 of its first 16 shots, finished the first half with 69 per cent field-goal accuracy and the game with 63.5 per cent.
Driesell, who chose not to risk reinjuring Billy Bryant's mending left hand although he was fitted with a brace and available for duty, was pleased with his team's play. it included 12 points in 13 minutes playing time by James (Turk) Tillman, who was reinstated to the team Tuesday after four games of his supposed season-long suspension.