Forty-five minutes before practice yesterday, Maryland's Lawrence Boston was on the Cole Field House floor, preparing himself for today's Atlantic Coast Conference basketball game against Clemson.
"I still have my confidence," he said, taking jumpshots and trying to forget the Terps' 97-70 embarassament Wednesday at the hands of North Carolina. "That's why I'm here early. It's more mental than anything else. To beat Clemson, we have to play aggressive defense, stop Tree Rollins and have (offensive) control, getting our poise back."
The Terrapins host Clemson, the hottest team in the league, in a 12:30 p.m. game at Cole (*WMAL-TV-7). That contest heads a buy day and night for area teams.
George Washington plays an important 2 p.m. Easter Eight game at Viillanova; 15-5 Georgetown tries to build momentum for the ECAC playoffs with an 8 p.m. home game against Southern Connecticut; American hosts St. Francis (Pa.) at Ft. Mayer, 8; Catholic continues its road trip to Assumption, 8, and Howard concludes a two-day trip with an 8 p.m. Mid-Eastern Conference game against North Carolina A&-T at Greensboro.
In two other games, Old Dominion, Georgetown's major competition in the ECAC Southern Division, plays at Virginia, 7:30, and Navy, 11-8 overall, seeks its first road victory, at Penn State, 7:30.
Twenty-one games into the season, Maryland coach Lefty Driesell is still seeking his best lineup without the services of starting forward Steve Sheppard and with Billy Bryant back from a broken left hand that he cannot use completely.
Driesell said he would start 6-foot-10 center Mike Davis, the only player he felt hustled in the Carolina game. But he said he was still uncertain whether he would use a big lineup with 6-9 Larry Gibson and the 6-8 Boston at Forward or Gibson and 6-4 James (Turk) Tillman.
Clemson walloped Maryland by 22 points six games ago, a contest in which Bryant suffered his injury in the final two minutes. How topsyturvy the ACC has been this season is shown by Clemson's results against North Carolina: the Tigers lost by 29 points, then won by 20 - a 49-point swing.
Driesell has stressed pride as the No. 1 requisite for his players against Clemson. The Tigers are 18-3 but are on probation and ineligible for postseason play.
"I think we had a bad game, and Carolina just blew us out," said reserve guard Brain Magid. "That's all there was to it. But we'll come back, if tradition holds true."
Lineup changes also are prominent at Georgetown and American.
Hoya coach John Thompson is starting a power lineup with 6-11, 250-pound sophomore Tom Scates at center and 6-9 former center Ed Hopkins at forward. It is a lineup the Hoyas need for postseason competition.
Billy Stein, Thompson's assistant, said yesterday that the Hoyas will start the big lineup and adjust if they need a quicker lineup. Without Scates or freshman Craig Shelton, who has missed the entire season with a knee injury, the Hoyas end up playing two "small" forwards with Hopkins at center.
But the key for Georgetown has been its depth, a reason they have been a good second-half club. They showed strength in a 19-point rout of Fordham on Wednesday after trailing by one at halftime.
"We wear people down with constant pressure," said Stein. "It's our overall depth and quickness. But it takes more than 20 minutes to wear them down."
Southern Connecticut, a Division II school, comes in with an 8-11 record and from all indications, will try a slowdown game.
American coach Jim Lynam will start freshman Leon Kearney at forward tonight for the first time. Lynam thinks the 6-foot-5 Kearney, who has averaged only six minutes playing time, will give the Eagles better rebounding. Lynam indicated he will bench Carroll Holmes, a big guard who had been playing the position.
Both GW and Villanova have been erratic. GW lost three straight games after beating Maryland, before ending its skid with a six-point homecourt decision over Navy on Wednesday. Villanova, buoyed by the three Herron brothers from Washington, suffered a 12-point upset to Philadelphia Textile on Tuesday.