Maryland's basketball coach, Lefty Driesell, said yesterday he has a few surprises in store for Terrapin fans and Atlantic Coast Conference apponnents.
Driesell also said that reports of his and his team's demise, because he failed to recruit a player with a big high school reputation this year and lost his three assistant coaches, are premature.
He still firmly believes in man-to-man defense, but that his team, if forced to play zones next season, will be playing a lot of matchups, instead of the passive zones the 19-10 Terrapins exhibited a year ago.
Taylor Baldwin, a 6-foot-11 sophomore who played infrequently last season because of inexperience and an ankle injury, or David Henderson, a 6-11 redshirt junior with little playing time, could be the starting center. Either would give Driesell a bigger lineup than he wants, but he is hoping that one or both can blend in with the four highly touted players on the court with them.
If this alignment does not work, Diresell said, he then probably would go with a lineup that has Buck Williams, 1979 ACC rookie of the year, moving from power forward to center, with juniors Albert King and Ernest Graham likely to be the starting forwards. That lineup, Driesell said, likely would cause him to drop his familiar double post offense in order to play both King and Graham on the wings.
Driesell said he has not given up on senior forward John Bilney, a rugged defensive player, rebounder and solid passer who is a poor shooter.
"I've told him to practice his shooting two, three, four hours a day this summer," Driesell said.
After formally naming John Kochan of Davidson and Tom Abatemarco of St. John's yesterday as his new fulltime assistants, driesell said they will spend much of the summer solidifying tactics for next season. Kochan will organize recruiting and Abatemarco scouting. Neither has been designated as the top assistant.
"You can't do that (formulate strategy) until your recruiting's over with," Driesell said. "If you do, you're wasting time. So now, since recruiting's over, I can solidify what we want to do. But I don't think we'll change that much."
After striking out with 7-4 Ralph Sampson, Driesell finished recruiting season with two prospects. Only one of them - junior-college transfer Jose Sosa, a point guard "just like me, even wears No. 4," according to John Lucas, former Terrapin star and now summertime coach - is expected to play much next season.
Asked to explain the lean recruiting year, Driesell said: "We didn't need anybody. We won 19 games and beat five nationally ranked teams and got everybody coming back, right? So why do I need anybody? If I got somebody, then people will say I got too many players. So I can't win. . .The only thing we wanted that we didn't get was a center (with Larry Gibson graduating)."
How well can the Terps do?
"It's hard to tell. We'll be like we always are - exciting and have an excellent team. How good depends on how well we blend together and how we play defensively. We'll have more experience than the last two years. We should be better because everybody will have a year's more experience."
And blend may be the key word. Noted Abatemarco:
"Sometimes it's just the right blending of talent. You can have five great players and be the greatest coach in the country. But it's just not going to be the right blend. From watching a few of Maryland's teams, I think that's what happened to them - not just the right blend of talent."