The Maryland basketball team:
". . . Is selfish, confused, sulking, bitching (and) not even together enough to have a party," said center Mike Davis.
". . . Has not set a pick all year," said forward John Bilney.
". . . Looks at the seniors like we're fools," said forward Lawrence Boston.
". . . Should forget about trying to find who's to blame and look inside," said point guard Greg Manning.
". . . Is normal," said coach Lefty Driesell.
It is normal, Driesell points out, for members of a basketball team to snipe at each other when defeats start coming in clumps, like five in the last seven games.
This team has six high school All-Americas who have reaped rewards for taking the ball to the hoop. But this talented offensive machine has overheated.
Is the team obsessed with scoring?
"Oh my God," said Boston, shaking his head. "There aren't enough basketballs for this team. We need at least three more out there."
With frosh celebrity Albert King added this season to an already talented team, the heady Terps fired off to a 9-1 mark. As the schedule got tougher, the Terps got weaker. A typical performance was one in which Maryland went into its one-on-one pocket under pressure. The backdoor play worked easily and frequently against Maryland, and 20 turnovers a game on offense were commonplace.
Maryland, now 11-6, has won just one of six games in the Atlantic Coast Conference and plays Notre Dame on national television today (4 p.m., WRC-TV-4). Because of the team's inability to tone its talents into all phases of the game. Bilney warned, "I'll tell you - if we don't get our stuff in gear we could lose the rest of our games. I don't want to get on the tube against Notre Dame and get beat by 30. That would be disgusting."
Disgusted is another word you could use when describing the Terps. With 24 seconds left in Wednesday night's game against North Carolina State. Driesell signaled for Davis to enter the game for the first time in the second half.
After the game, Driesell suggested that Davis hand in his uniform. Preserving the pattern of the evening, Davis declined and was allowed to stay with the squad.
"I think it's all a lot of hogwash." said Driesell of the Terps' emotional strains. "When you're losing, everyone has an answer. When you lose, everyone points a finger, and it's all a lot of malarky.
"We just haven't jelled, haven't come together yet. We could win all the rest of our games, or we could lose all the rest of our games. I wouldn't be surprised either way."
In order to find a solution, each player has set about hunting the problem.
"I think most of our problems are in our own heads," said Manning, who is shooting 60 percent from the floor but has been criticized for underplaying his quarterback role. "I think everyone needs to get off by himself and think to himself, 'Do I want to be a winner or loser? What do I have to do to help the team win?'
"We have a team of all scorers. We have to become more defense-minded. Every player on this team was a great offensive player in high school. But we have to understand that defense wins games. It's a shame it's taking so long for us to get this. I just hope we realize it by the time the (ACC) Tournament comes around.
"People aren't helping out on defense. People are losing their man, not getting the boards. It's like we get in a game and have a mental lapse of everything we went over in practice.
"I feel my role is to run the team and get the ball inside. But I've always been a scorer and when I get an open shot. I'll take it. You can't pass up open shots.
"I haven't taken 10 shots outside 15 feet. I try to take charge, but I'm a freshman, and it's difficult when someone like Lawrence (Boston) has been around. I'm low key. There are words after games, if we win or lose. As a team, I think we could be a little closer. A loss should hurt until you can't stand it. I'm almost sick to my stomach."
Manning starts at point guard but shares the position with Billy Bryant. "Billy gives us nothing on defense," Boston said. Another added. "His man is scoring 20 to 30 points a game. Billy is a big boy, but his men are losing him and backdooring us and embarrassing him. If I were him, I'd (forget about) the offense and play some defense."
Bryant starts at the other guard, where JoJo Hunter comes in to relieve.
The two have been inseparable since Bryant's high school days at Archbishop Carroll and Hunter's at Mackin, two Washington, D.C., schools, and they started the season as roommates. They have been accused by teammates of separating themselves from the rest of the team.
Driesell assigned them to different dormitory rooms recently, but said the move had nothing to do with basketball.
Hunter, who was suspended for one game for missing curfew and pregame meals, has been accused of being too sensitive to criticism and unresponsive.
"I don't get offended. I just don't want them telling me something when they're doing something wrong themselves," said Hunter. "I don't say nothing to nobody. I don't feel it's my job."
Boston is frustrated by his lack of influence over the young guards. Manning is a freshman. Hunter and Bryant are sophomores. Davis and Boston are seniors.
"I feel like they're supposed to kind of look up to us," said Boston. "The guards are making young mistakes. Coach will holler at them and try to tell them to deal with this man. But Billy gets all into the mood. JoJo gets mad and won't do anything and Greg gets panicky.
"We miss a guy like Brad Davis, last year's point guard). He would pass and get the offense moving, and that's what we need.
"We just need that point guard. Billy is playing different positions, and that seems to confuse him. The problem is, a person gets hot and instead of passing to him, everyone is doing (his) own thing. Sometimes I think people are thinking of (scoring) averages more than going to the person with the hot hand. The things I see on this team, Lefty wouldn't let get away in the past. When I first came here, he wouldn't take (any) of that."
Driesell contends he isn't coaching and differently.
Bryant pleads guilty to all charges.
"Our biggest problem, and I'm guilty of it, is the coach will tell me to do something and at the time I don't think it's right," said Bryant. "I just have to concentrate more on defense. I lose contact with my man when he doesn't have the ball. If someone's hot.
Hunter says he is happy and will remain with the team, but he's weary of all the detty distractions.
"Someone might say I'm out to score points, but I take open shots, just like they do," said Hunter. "There are a lot of little things going around. We flash back on them on the court and it messes our play up."
Here, Hunter would find agreement from Boston. Last Tuesday, Boston said, Driesell told him some players had mentioned that Boston thinks too much about the pros. Boston had three rebounds and six points in his next game.
"I don't want to upset anybody like that. It took me right out of my game," said Boston.
The mystery figure in the whole thing is King, the high school superstar who was expected to lead Maryland to great heights. No one says anything bad about King, wwho possesses a rare and special talent.
King's play tends to be great in one half and not noticed the next.
"I just want to be considered another person on the team," King said. "I shy away from being a person who's out front and noticed. I try to go along like everyone else. I don't want to be on a higher level."
Davis says the team is cliquish, that everyone says hello, "but I sometimes get the feeling they don't want me in their room.
"Everybody wants to be in the spotlight. The team is selfish. No one wants to see someone else do better than him. The team just ain't together."
Driesell suggests that the lack of harmony is caused by the lack of wins. "If we were undefeated, everything would be hunky-dory," he said. "Ask North Carolina what's wrong. Ask Kentucky what happened against Alabama and they'll all say the same things about their point guards and forwards."