Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Mike Davis, Maryland's 6-foot-10 rookie center, dominated a basketball game late night the way Terrapin coach Lefty Driesell always knew he could. Davis was so dominant the Terps had an 88-77 victory over pitiful Pitt under control before the first television time-out of Cole Field House.
Afterward, Davis explained why it took him 20 games to get untracked: He had been having personal problems, including a dispute with his father that lasted three years, and it had been adversely affecting his basketball this season. He settled them 10 days ago.
Last night his numbers were impressive for the third straight game: 21 rebounds, 14 points, two assists, two blocked shots, zero turnovers.
Now, against ACC biggies North Carolina and Clemson, and against a 4-18 Pitt team that did knock off tough Cincinnati, he has averaged 15 points and 14 rebounds a game. And he brands his play as average.
"I can do things that much better," said Davis. "I'm not being modest. I know my capabilities. I can do things better. I don't mean to brag."
That Davis could be in position to even think of bragging resulted from giving in to his pride - and heeding the advice of the Maryland coaching staff - to work things out with his father.
"He didn't want me to go away from home," said Davis, whose three-year basketball odyseey took him from his hometown of Jacksonville, Fla., to Shaw College in Detroit, to Mercer County (N.J.) Community and finally to College Park.
Throughout that period, Davis said, he and his father had what Davis called "a communication problem."
"I finally sat down and looked at everything that was bothering me," Davis said. "I got together with my old man this week before the North Carolina game. I worked some things out with him. Right now everything looks like it is falling in place."
Indeed, on a night Driesell admitted he wasn't sure the Terps would be ready to play, the players were. "We're going to play just like we did against Clemson Saturday," forward Lawrence Boston predicted.
They did, setting the pace to which Cole Field House fans have become so accustomed in the five previous season: plenty of offensive rebounding and a lot of fast-breaking.
As Maryland took a 17-4 lead, every Terrapin point was produced by either offensive rebounding or fast breaks. At this point, Mike Davis had contributed six points, eight rebounds and a nifty assist to Larry Gibson on a jump ball.
THe rest of the game a chance for Driesell who used only six players against Clemson, to test different lineups before the Terps take a 17-6 overall, 5-4 ACC record into Saturday's final home game against Duke.
Larry Harris, Pitt's 6-toot-6 stalwart, scored 38 points. All but two came after Maryland had the game well in hand with that 17-4 burst. But Harris' performance, on the heels of a 25-point production by Carolina's Walter Davis, pointed out how badly the Terps miss forward Steve Sheppard.
Sheppard is Maryland's best defensive forward. He has missed five games with tendinitis in his left Achilles tendon. Jim Weir, team trainer, said the cast will be removed from Sheppard's leg today, permitting therapy to commence. But Weir said the March 3-5 tournament is the target date for the 6-5 senior's return to action.
"We had three or four people on Harris and we couldn't stop him," said Driesell. "He reminds you of Walter Davis, and we didn't do a very good job of stopping either of them."
Besides getting Sheppard back for the tournament, the Terps know they must start playing more consistently to be contenders for the CC tournament title and automatic berth in the NCAA Eastern Regional playoffs.
Mike Davis is the rebounder the Terps haven't had since the days of Tom Roy and Len Elmore.
"The team's going to have to depend on me to do it," he said. "I'm looking forward to the ACC tourney to prove it. I have to play good there. I want to have a big name like some other people."
Pitt played without freshman guard Sonny Lewis, a high-school all-America and the team's second-leading scorer. Coach Tim Grgurich said he was disciplining Lewis for missing a team meeting on Monday.