Now come the questions, for Maryland's coaches and several players. And two intriguing ones from New York. Is this the year the National Invitation Tournament gets its revenge for past Terrapin snubs? Or would you believe Georgetown vs. Maryland Wednesday night in Cole Field House?
Ever since the NCAA expanded its tournament to 32 teams the NIT has lost nearly all its glitter. Maryland has treated it as such, with back-of-the-hand gestures to overtures the last two years. Now the Terrapins - and especially coach Lefty Driesell - need the NIT at least as much as the NIT needs them.
Maryland's recent attitude "could be a factor," Pete Carlesimo of the NIT selection committee said today, "although there were extenuating circumstances. It seems the timing was bad, and if we (the five-man committee) believe that, we shouldn't hold anything against them."
Also, the NIT has a new format, with its 16 teams playing first-round games at various sites about the country. The eight winners begin quarterfinal action in New York March 14.
Cole Field House is available for one of the first-round regional dates, Wednesday, but not the other two, Thursday and Friday. Could the NIT possibly avoid a Georgetown-Maryland matchup?
"Officially, for the record, I've had no direct contact with anyone about anything," said Maryland athletic director Jim Kehoe. "But I don't see any particular problem if this is a possibility."
Not that the world, or the Washington area, or perhaps even a decent portion of their own fans are breathless to watch either the Terrapins or Hoyas in action again. Maryland fans might well be reluctant after back-to-back clinkers against Virginia, in the final regular-season game, and North Carolina State, in the first round of the ACC tournament.
But Driesell wants his 20th seasonal victory in the worst way, and so he was saying after the State rout: "I don't care how they (the players) feel. I got the only vote that counts. I'd love to go to the NIT."
Against State, the Terrapins were the slow turtles, a team that would not run when its runners were in the game and never got closer than Charlotte to anyone on defense. State's 5-foot-7 Craig Davis got as many rebounds as Maryland's 6-10 Mike Davis, one.
Driesell either failed to grasp more than the legs of his assistant coaches on the bench, or failed to communicate corrections to his team or failed to recruit players who can comprehend rational thought.
By choosing to open in a zone defense instead of his lifelong staple, man-for-man, Driesell might well have had his players thinking negatively even before the opening tip. And how could Brian Magid throw in so many gorgeous bombs in practice and pass up reasonable (for him) shots when he finally got to play?
"What kind of philosophy is there?" said a rival coach. "Even when they're going good it seems like it's a couple of passes and Jo Jo (Hunter) throws one up."
At one point, late in the game, someone shouted: "Maryland doesn't even match up to foul." It was that bad.
It was State's Washington connection, Hawkeye Whitney and Kenny Carr, that helped reverse two earlier losses to Maryland in such spectacular fashion, with considerable help from two friends named Clyde Austin and Tony Warren.
State's resident genius, Norm Sloan, had said before the game that Whitney, Carr and Warren would need to combine for at least 25 rebounds for his team to win. Carr got 21 himself, and Whitney and Warren each grabbed eight.
"I don't think we were ready mentally," Driesell said and why that happened will nag at him for some time. An NIT bid would allow him to gather additional clues about his players before making hard decisions on who to bring in next season.
In some ways, Driesell is trapped. If he somehow manages to avoid giving regular status to both Hunter and Billy Bryant after denying it to James Tillman, he might not attract another superior Washington-area player for some time. And recent NCAA restrictions make regional recruiting more important than ever.
It seems as though Magid's playing time at Maryland will continue to be limited. Surely, there are gobs of schools, at a level below the ACC, who would go out of their way to recruit a few picks to accomodate his jumper for two years.
And what about Brad Davis? Why has he seemed to slide backward the last two years after a brilliant freshman season? The view here is that part of his problem is of his own making, but most of his problem is brought about by the fact there is no one else with the instincts and skill to play with him.
When Davis aches for the quick outlet pass, Maryland rebounders hold the ball. He was not put on this earth walk the ball upcourt. After three years at Maryland, and with perhaps no change from this season in sight, why doesn't he simply turn pro now?