Maryland's other point guard finally will get a chance to show off her abilities on television today. And when Tara Heiss is finished, her fans are convinced she will have proved that she, not Brad Davis, is the most versatile playmaker on the College Park campus.
Heiss shrugs off such talk with a hearty laugh, but anyone tuning in the 4 p.m. game (WTOP-TV 9) between the women's teams from Maryland and North Carolina will notice a remarkable similarity between the ways Davis and Heiss play basketball.
Davis loves to toss flashy passes, dribble behind his back and pull up for quick jumpers. So does Heiss, a third-twam all-American last year as a sophomore. She specializes in no-look tosses to teammate at the end of fast breaks.
"People think I play wild," she conceded, echoing what Davis has heard before. "But it's really under control. I've always played that way. I feel I know what I'm doing."
So does coach Chris Weller, who puts few restraints on her team leader. The 5-foot-6 Heiss leads the nationally ranked Terrapins in scoring, assists and fancy plays. In the process, she has become the major link between Maryland's former, low-emphasis approach and its current scholarship program.
"You aren't going to find many guards any better in women's basketball," said Virginia coach Dan Bonner. "Tara is capable of dominating a game because she can do so much. She controls things out there."
Heiss was good enough to earn a tryout for the American Olympic team. She was among the last cuts, although Weller is convinced only her unusual style [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] kept her from making the squad.
Inevitably, Heiss is asked whether helter-skelter approach to the game is a result of watching Davis, who came to Maryland the same season three years ago.
Heiss said she learned most of her skills on her own.
"I was mostly a shooter when I came to Maryland," said Heiss, who averaged 28 points a game her senior year at Walter Johnson High. "Then I started working on my passing. I'd just try things out and if they worked, I'd keep doing them.
"The only reason I didn't show some of them off earlier was because I didn't know how my coaches would like them."
Heiss spent part of her freshman season playing on Maryland's tournament-caliber volleyball team, but joined the basketball squad just in time for its poor showing against immaculata on local television.
"Miss Weller has talked to me about possibly coaching here after I graduate next year," Heiss said. "Or maybe they'll have a women's pro league by then. Everything is happening so fast, I'm not sure what I should do.
"But I know I'd like to help here some more. We can become a real power, I'> sure of it. It would be nice to be a part of that when it happens."