Maryland basketball coach Lefty Driesell reverted to a smaller, quicker lineup yesterday in the Terrapins' final major practice for Thursday's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament opener against North Carolina State at Greensboro, N.C. State is the ACC's quickest team.
Driesell benched 6-foot-8 Larry Boston and alternated 6-4 sophomore James (Turk) Tillman and 6-5 freshman Billy Bryant at the position yesterday.
Steve Sheppard, the regular small forward who has missed the last eight games resting tendinitis in his left Achilles tendon, suffered a setback, tripping over another player's foot midway in practice and spraining his left ankle.
He missed the remainder of practice, including a scrimmage Driesell had intended to check out the 6-foot-5 forward. Trainer Jim Weir said there was only minimal swelling and Sheppard should be ready for he tournament.
Driesell said that if Sheppard is able to play he will use his only senior as a substitute if the Terps need him.
In a surprise, Driesell gave point guard Brad Davis the day off.
If Maryland can play consistently and get to the final, Davis may have to play 120 minutes in three nights; he knows Maryland's - and State's - play and defenses well, so he should be fresh for the tournament.
Maryland has beaten State twice in a 7-5 ACC, 19-7 overall regular season. But the Terps need a quick lineup to contend with the Wolfpack, 6-6 and 16-10. In the last regular-season game Maryland fell behind by 19-2 before Sheppard hobbled off the bench and led them to a 75-73 victory in Raleigh.
The Maryland-State game will be carried by WMAL-TV-7 starting at 8 p.m. North Carolina, which drew the bye as regular-season champion, will play the winner at 7 p.m. Friday. In the other half of the draw Wake Forest plays Virginia at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, followed by Clemson-Duke.