To say that yesterday was a long day for the national basketball team of Yugoslavia is an understatement. The Yugoslavs flew for a total of 18 hours, first from Belgrade to New York, then from New York to Baltimore. They walked into Cole Field House 90 minutes after landing.
Waiting was the Maryland basketball team -- and the Maryland band. First, the band played what was ostensibly the Yugoslavian national anthem.
It wasn't. They played the wrong song.
Then the Terrapin basketball team played and they didn't make the visitors any happier, beating them, 84-78, in a game as ragged as you might expect between a team with three weeks practice behind it and an opponent with 18 hours of flying behind it.
The Yugoslavs, current world champions, didn't have the physical strength or the quickness to keep up with the Terps. But they kept the game close enough so that most of the 4,311 spectators stayed to the finish.
There were encouraging signs for Maryland. First, Coach Lefty Driesell seems to have reverted to his old foot-stomping, referee-baiting self after a year of playing laid-back to the hilt.
Second, Buck Williams seems to be ready to move into the role of center and enforcer. Despite the size and muscle of the Yugoslav front line the 6-foot-8 sophomore scored 27 points and pulled down 16 rebounds.
Third, Albert King, in spite of a less than great (10 for 24) shooting night -- 26 points -- played hard and aggressively and even spent some of his time encouraging teammates. He was not the quiet, withdrawn, occasionally invisible King of his first two years. He also had 11 rebounds, several of them on the offensive board.
Fourth, Dutch Morley, ran the offense superbly, handing off eight assists.
Finally, Maryland played good defense, forcing the Yugoslavs into 22 turnovers, and pleasing Driesell so much that he mentioned the defense at least six times after the game.
"I was really pleased with our defense tonight," Driesell said. "I thought that was the difference. I also thought that Buck was great inside.
"People have wondered, who our center is. I think Buck showed tonight he can go in there with big guys and knock their heads off if necessary."