After a season of bickering and bad chemistry. Maryland's basketball team has gone to a youth movement. And so far, not a crybaby has been found.
When the season opens at Cole Field House Nov. 24, two freshmen almost definitely will be in the starting lineup: power forward Buck Williams and either Dutch Mortley or Reggie Jackson at point guard.
Sophomore quick forward Al King, feeling at home here for the first time and promising "to put it up, and I mean all the time," joins sophomore shooting guard Greg Manning and the three freshmen to form the nucleus of a young team bent on burying the problems of last season.
The key to the puzzle may be consistent play from the "old man," senior center Larry Gibson, along with the maturation of the young ones.
"One of our problems may be "youth, getting used to each other, getting the butterflies out," said Morley.
"But I don't think that will be any catastrophe.
"The team is so different from the stories I'd heard. There is no friction between anybody. I think we could go out and play right now. If we play to our capabilities, I won't be scared of anybody."
Morley and Jackson are the only players working out at point guard, a slot that the hot-shooting Manning never mastered last year.
Morley, who quarterbacked De Matha, the nation's top-ranked high school team last year, appears to be the leading candidate for the starting job, but Jackson will see a lot of playing time at both guard spots. Jackson, Morley and Manning have been playing 20 minutes each game in Coach Lefty Driesell's scrimmages.
Ernest Graham and Billy Bryant swing from the shooting guard to small forward spots. Williams can fill in at center and King has been used at Williams' spot when the latter has been rested. John Bilney and freshman Taylor Baldwin, who has a sprained ankle, also provide backup help in the front line.
Graham was one of the unhappy players last year, seeing limited action behind King and Manning.There still seems to be no place for him to play, but in practices Driesell has gone 10 deep in his roster, so players like Graham and Bryant are encouraged.
"I haven't heard any complaining," said Graham.
"We never really had somebody who was used to playing the point guard before," said King. "And whichever one of them plays (Morley or Jackson), it's going to help us.
"It feels different this year. Everybody seems to get along better, tries to help each other out."
The team and coaches are particularly pleased with the play of Morley, Jackson and Williams. Morley and Jackson are the slick-passing assertive, talkative types the Terps lacked in the back court last year, and Williams has been crashing the boards with a furor.
"Buck is the best rebounder I've ever played with," said Graham.
With improved play at point guard and Williams dishing up the outlet pass, the Terps' running game could be much improved. King, for one, was disappointed in the Terps' fast break last year.
Driesell has shown the squad films of the Brad Davis, John Lucas, Mo Howard team and the underclassmen have responded.
Running. That's all we do," said Morley. "The two things coach has stressed that he wants to improve on from last year are the transition defense, getting back, and having a better fast break, a patterned fast beak, not just 'get the ball and go.'"
Bryant is recovering from two broken feet he suffered during the summer but says he is "surprised at how well it's been coming along. I'm just a little stiff, but [WORD ILLEGIBLE] and my jumping are coming back.
"I run after every practice to try to loosen up. And I'm working like the devil on defense."
Defensive lapses virtually ruined Bryant's season last year, sentencing him to the bench for most of the later part of the schedule.
It is widely theorized that Bryant's close friendship with JoJo Hunter hurt him in some ways, keeping both of them separate from the rest of the squad. Hunter has transferred to Colorado. And Bryant seems happier.