American University, flying high after a Saturday night upset of William and Mary, plays at 14th-ranked Georgetown tonight and Maryland searches for a victory and some confidence, hosting Atlantic Coast Conference rival North Carolina State.
In other important local games, George Mason plays at George Washington and Duke visits Virginia in an ACC game.
Georgetown and American are the area's hotest conegiate teams, although AU, in winning 10 of its last 14 games, has not gained the publicity that Georgetown has in tying a school record of 11 straight victories and gaining national ranking.
AU coach Jim Lynam promises no slowdown against the Hoyas, Navy and South Carolina used that tactic recently in almost overcoming GU at McDonough Gymnasium. AU and Georgetown play similar styles - fast break and press.
"It's very difficult in midstream to adjust to a new style or tempo of game," Lynam said yesterday. "Patience, yes, when you don't have a shot, but a slowdown, no."
Throughout most of AU's recent success on the way to an 11-7 record, Lynam has started his smaller, quicker lineup of freshman Russell (Boo) Bowers and Leon Kearney at forward, Howie Lassoff at center and Mark Garlitos and Stan Lamb at guard.
"They are certainly playing well," said Lynam about Georgetown, ranked 14th by UPI and 16th by AP this week. "What we have to do to beat them is no secret. Everybody realizes what you have to do, but saying it and doing it are two different things."
The three essentials to being position to beat Georgetown are stopping the Hoyas on the offensive boards, slowing their fast break and overcoming the full-court press.
Lynam fears the press as much as anything, because it is a major source of the Georgetown fast break.
"They take teams out of the game with an explosive stretch when they steal the ball three times in 20 seconds."
Georgetown coach John Thompson said he expects the Eagles to switch their defenses between man-to-man and zone in order to confuse the Hoyas. That is exactly what he plans to do, Lynam said.
"They can hurt you in so many different ways," Lynam said. "If you play them man-for-man and make shooting more difficult for Derrick Jackson and John Duren (the guards who are Georgetown's top scorers), the inside matchups become very difficult."
Craig Shelton, Georgetown's major inside scoring threat, is on his way back to being a twohandled player again. He suffered a broken bone in his right hand against Maryland Nov. 28 and missed five games.
Thompson said Georgetown has worked hard in recent practives on its man-to-man offense, which the Hoyas had problems with in their 70-69 triumph over Seton Hall.
Maryland has lost four of its last six games and stands 1-4 in the ACC, but coach Lefty Driesell says he will not be changing his starting lineup.
"Everyone says I'll always change my lineup after a loss. That's not really true," Driesell said yesterday. "I don't think I'll change it for the State game unless something hits me in a dream tonight.
"I don't think the lineup has anything to do with the way we've been playing."
Maryland, 11-5 overall, has had turnover problems and has been unable to hold a lead. After the loss to North Carolina Saturday Tar Heel guard Tom Zaliagiris said, "They need a leader, someone to direct to traffic. They were looking down the court," Mike O'Koren added, "It seemed like they had given up."
Driesell admitted, "We lack a little bit of leadership."
"We miss a guy like (John) Lucas or (Brad) Davis. But our guys are young. "Lawrence Boston would seem to be our most logical leader but, generally, it's a backcourt player who can run things. (Boston starts at forward).
"The season isn't over yet. If we win these two (the Terps play at Notre Dame Sunday), we'll be right back on top of things. If you lose, people start saying that your players are hard to coach, but that has nothing to do with it.
In the Terps' 88-82 defeat at the hands of State two weeks ago, Maryland was hurt by turnovers late in the game caused by State's 1-3-1 zone defense. Since then, State has lost to Virginia and North Carolina before beating Iona to boost its record to 12-3 State is 2-2 in the ACC.
The Wolfpack's leading scorer is forward Hawkeye Whitney, who was guarded by King in the first half and then by Boston. Whitney scored 18 points in the first half and was shut out in the second.
Al King has been a nonfactor late in the game in three of the Terps' four ACC losses. Against Wake Forest and North Carolina, King [WORD ILLEGIBLE] in the second halves after sizzling first periods. And he sat out the final 18 minutes of the State game after aggravating an injury sustained in the Wake game.