So much has happened to aggravate them this season that it is a wonder Lefty Driesell, John Thompson, A.B. Williamson and Jack Kvancz can still smile at all.

Yet all four those coaches had tentative grins on their faces on the eve of a game.

Maryland's Driesell has had enough problems already: his own injured heel, the damaged achilles tendon of Steve Sheppard, the minor mutiny of suspended guard James Tillman, plus a couple of the Terps' worst ACC losses in years.

So it seems fitting that Maryland, after regaining a bit of its considerable pride by upsetting Clemson last Saturday, should have at least one breater in its next game.

Don't tell Driesell that Pittsburgh (4-17), the guest at Cole Field House tonight at 8 p.m., is a soft touch. He'd faint. "They beat Cinncinnati (two weeks ago) so you know they can beat any team in the country. We gotta lot of respect for 'em . . . Our players'll be motivated. They shoulda learned their lesson on that score," said Driesell.

After a celebrated recruiting year, Pitt has earned a reputation as a band of disorganized underachievers. Poor defense (opponents shoot 49.6 per cent) and a little rebounding, have undermined the 23-point average of 6-6 junior Larry Harris.

Maryland, on the other hand, is tickled to see frosh Jo Jo Hunter (20 points in each of three of the last four games) finally showing the free-spirited moves that earned his high school nickname "The Magician." Just as encturaging is the recent violent abandon of 6-10 Mike Davis who has stopped playing with one eye on the officials and is now wheeling to the basket, come what may.

Another Terp, Billy Bryant, has shed his wrist cast and now is ready to join the basic six.

While Maryland has had many difficulties, Georgetown has basically only had one - where is Craig Shelton?

When the 16-5 Hoyas visit St. Peter's (10-11) at Yanitelli Recreation Center tonight at 8 p.m., the 6-7 Shelton will be playing in his second game.

GU's Thompson insists that he is demanding nothing and expecting little from the freshman who is recovering from a broken kneecap 10 months ago. Nevertheless, there seems little doubt that even a coutious Shelton who is holding back his best Big Sky leaps, is GU's most rugged and instinctive rebounder.

GU officials note with amusement that after just nine minutes in his debut, Shelton's figures of eight points and six rebounds move him into fifth place among the Hoyas in points per game and make him third in average rebounds.

Howard's coach Williamson was worried last Saturday night that his team would never make it to tonight's 8 p.m. game in Baltimore against Morgan State and its 6-9 center Eric (The Pencil) Evans.

North Carolina A&T fans, incensed over a nine-point play called against their team chased the victorious Bison off the court after the game.

Williamson kept his 15-7 team in its locker room for an hour, waiting for the crowd to disperse. But when the Bison finally sprinted to their Greyhound, enough A&T fans were still around to break two bus windows with bottles.

While Driesell, Thompson and Williamson have faced normal coaching miseries this year, Catholic's Kvancz has come up with a new one. His all-America Glenn Kolonics misplaced his jump shot for the first two months of the season.

Now, with the reawakened Kolonics coming off recent 44 and 37-point games, CU should not be intimidated when it hosts tall St. Francis of Brooklyn and its pair of front-court guns - 6-8 Manny Figueroa (20.2) and 6-5 Gerard Trapp (18.5) at Brookland Gym at 8 p.m. tonight.

"If e could just beat St. Francis, it would set us up to play Mt. St. Mary's at home," said Kvancz. "If we won those two, we'd be 11-11. Lord, who ever dreamed that?