"I know what's wrong with our team," said Maryland coach Lefty Driesell. "I'm not saying what the deficiencies are, but I'm going to correct them next year."
Driesell was calm and secretive yesterday after wrapping up a 15-13 season, his poorest in seven years at Collage Park.
Maryland's future is uncertain because the Terrapins not only lose their most consistent player, senior forward Lawrence Boston, but because the future of some undergraduate Terps is in doubt.
It appears that sophomore Billy Bryant, the talented offensive player from Washington, D.C., has been extended an unwritten invitation to leave. Bryant played seven seconds in the ACC tournament games here, as Driesell used former intramural player Bob Hart ahead of Bryant.
Sources also say that sophomore Jo Jo Hunter's attitude has bothered some Maryland players. Both Hunter and Bryant, close friends, could be on the way out.
Driesell threw Mike Davis, a cocaptain, off the squad in the middle of the season after the senior center made remarks critical of the team.
Bryant says he wants to return, but Driesell, who denies knowing anything about a possible Bryant exit, says he must learn to play defense.
"Billy knows what he has to work on," said Driesell. "I'm going to sit down and talk with him all about it the first chance I get."
To complicate matters, Driesell has a promising guard in Greg Manning, the freshman who played point guard this year but progressed slowly as a ball-handler and floor leader. Like Hunter and Bryant, Manning is an cruiting prospects.
So is Ernest Graham, who had a start at guard, also. Maryland may have enough guards to scare off recruting prospects.
Driesell refuses to admit that he is heavily recruiting point guards, but he did say, "If you look at our statistics by positions, it's fairly obvious what we need to do."
Center is solid, with improving Larry Gibson returning for his senior year. Freshman Al King is beginning to feel comfortable and should have a fine, possibly even sensational year at one forward. The need to fill Boston's spot is acknowledged by the heavy recruiting of 6-foot-8 Buck Williams of Rocky Mount, N.C.
The Terps hurt themselves in steals, in assists and turnovers throughout the year, Presumably, Driesell wants to recruit a guard who can correct all this. And he is chasing an excellent one, among others, in Reggie Jackson of Philadelphia.
The pursuit of Jackson is widespread, and the fact that Maryland already has two young guards in Manning and Hunter and two swingmen in Bryant and Graham could damage its chances.
The Bryant-Hunter situation is delicate, particularly since their departure, on the heels of Davis' dismissal, would be noted with relish by other schools as an indicator of instability under Driesell.
The only thing Driesell will admit at the moment is that he did not like losing this year and does not plan on continuing the trend.
"If someone told me at the beginning of the year I was going to lose 13 games, I probably would have gone nuts," said Driesell. "This is a hard way to make a living. It's a young man's game. I never really thought about how long I'd be in it, but I've stayed because we've won."
"I don't like to lose. Maybe it happened for a season."
Driesell recapped the 15-13 season this way: "If a few small things had gone differently, we would have had our 20 (wins). Albert was hurt and didn't play in the first half of the N.C. State game, or in the Duke kame down here. Manning's been throwing up all day and he wasn't at his best. And we lost to North Carolina and Virginia by two. In Ernest hadn't been thrown out of the other Virginia game, I think we might have won that.
"But I don't want to make excuses or second-guess myself. My definition of success is to do the very best you can, and I've done my best, I don't loaf, I don't procrastinate, I spent more hours watching films than I ever did, and more hours preparing for practices. My record is among the best in the country. I built up two schools (Davidson and Maryland) that were in horrible shape and I've been in the top 10 more than any active coach except possibly Dean Smith.
"I've never won the ACC Tournament and never been to the final four (of the NCAA Tournament), but I think if you get your team in the top 10 as often as I did, that is the true measure of how you've coached.
"I'm not satisfied and I'll never be satisfied until we're undefeated. There were some times this year when we played well and some times when we played poorly.I know what our problems are. And I'll correct them."