Maryland coach Lefty Driesell, who says his team's recent loss to George Washington "looked worse every time I saw it (on film)," is reacting as usual - by fiddling with the starting lineup.

When the 5-1 Terps take the court at Cole Field House tonight against 2-3 Long Island, Driesell said yesterday, he will start Mike Davis at center and probably open with Lawrence Boston at forward and Greg Manning at point guard.

Driesell would not specify who would sit down, but forward John Bilney, center Larry Gibson and guard JoJo Hunter are the logical candidates.

If Manning plays, he would take over much of the task of bringing the ball up court, the job usually done by Bill Bryant. Bryant is the leading scorer (16.3 average) and thought to be untouchable, at least for the moment.

"I wanted to experiment with a bigger lineup," said Driesell, "for rebounding and defense."

Manning would not exactly fit those specifications. But the Terps's lack of cohesion became glaringly apparent in the 101-90 loss to GW, which controlled that game.

Driesell may have decided to hone Manning for the role of quarterback since he seems best suited for it, even though, so far, his forte has been shooting - hitting 33 of 44 shots.

Prior to yesterday afternoons' practice, the other freshman - Albert King and Ernest Graham - found themselves reassuring people they would play tonight.

King bruised a bone bumping his right hand against the backboard and practiced for the first time. King said he feels fine.

Graham was rumored to be unhappy with school and with his limited playing time behind King. Driesell was asked at his press conference if Graham would show up at the game. "I can tell he's unhappy by the way he looks and acts," Driesell said.

Graham, informed of that statement and asked if he was unhappy, replied "Not enough to speak about it."

"I'm just a freshman and I have to wait my turn. I just feel like it's time for me to learn. Everything is fine."

Everything was not fine with Driesell, whose team has been slacking off on defense and playing confused, streaky offense.

"I've always said you can tell how good a team you are by now you play on the road," said Driesell, recalling the game at GW. "If that game was any indication, we're going to be pretty bad."

In other games tonight, Howard, which has won four straight since dropping its opener to Catholic, hosts Virginia State at 8. The Bison are getting consistant scoring from 6 foot 7 forward Gerald Glover, who is averaging 15.7 points per game.

Virginia State, now 6-1, won six straight before bowing to Virginia Union in its last contest.

American hopes to scratch its way back to a .500 record after being blown out Wednesday by Syracuse, and East's top team.

The Eagles, now 4-5, host Rider at Ft. Myer at 8. Rider, now 2-2, is led by slick senior guard Bob Prybylowski, averaging 21.3 points and shooting 58.6 per cent. Wayne Spells, a 6-7 forward, averages 15.5 points and 10.8 rebounds.

Southeastern plays Washington Bible College at Anacostia High at 7 p.m. and Prince George's Community College and Montgomery-Rockville are in the four-team Catonsville Christmas Tournament this afternoon with games at 2 and 4.

At Maryland, Driesell is blessed tonight with an opponent that has never beaten the Terps in five tries, using both the run-and-gun and slowdowns.

Two years ago, Long Island ran with the Terps and lost, 111-88. Last year the Blackbirds held the ball and lost, 49-45.

"Right now, I don't think we have the personnel to hold the ball," said LIU coach Paul Lizzo. "So I don't know what we'll do."

LIU has good offensive capabilities in the backcourt, where its top two scorers, Steve Lewis and Kim Malcolm, average 18.8 and 15.4 points, respectively.

Six-9 center Nelson Baiely is a sophomore and lacks experience, while the forwards are unsettled with 6-8 sophomore Chris McMahon, leading in rebounds, the only sure starters.

Fewer than 11 points have decided each of LIU's verdicts, with two games going to overtime. But the Blackbirds' previous opponents, City College of New York, Drexel, Hofstra, Siena and St. Peter's, are not of the same caliber as Maryland, the overwhelming favorite.

After days of searching for the films of the Georgetown game, Maryland officials finally confirmed that Manning has tied a school record for consecutive field goals without a miss, 12. He sank his last four shots against Georgetown and his first eight against Penn State the following game. He tied former All-America point guard John Lucas, who made 12 straight shots his first two game as a freshman.