Maryland sophomore center Buck Williams, who broke the ring finger on his shooting hand during practice last month, will see his first action of the season tonight when the Terrapins (6-1) meet Miami of Ohio (1-7) in the opening game of the Maryland Invitational Tournament at 7 p.m. at Cole Field House.
Harvard (4-3) battles Temple (5-2) at 9 in the other first-round game. The winners play Saturday night at 9, following the consolation game at 7.
Although the 6-foot-8 Williams, the ACC's leading rebounder last year as a freshman, will not start, Coach Lefty Driesell said yesterday, "Buck will definitely see some playing time.
"We'll start the same lineup we used against Bucknell," said Driesell. "Buck is still favoring the hand but we'll use him as much as we can. I'd like to see him go 40 minutes, but he won't. It depends on the situation as to how long he'll play."
In Williams' absence, 6-10 Taylor Baldwin has stepped in.
"Taylor got a chance to play and has done a good job rebounding," said Driesell. "And Ernest (Graham) has gone to the borads for us. He's a good rebounder, we know that. Maybe it's a mental thing with him. He has been rebounding real well for us while Buck has been out."
Williams, who has remained in condition by running and shooting lefthanded, says he is anxious to get back onto the court.
"I've been sitting on the bench wanting to be in there, contributing, he said. "Right now, my hand feels fine. I have a litle problem gripping the ball, but that'll come. My left hand is good now.
"I shot pretty well my first time in practice with the team, so I can't wait to get out there."
Like Driesell, Williams was full of praise for Baldwin and his teammates for picking up the slack.
"Taylor is a good player. He just never got the opportunity to show people just how good he was." Williams said. "He's done a good job at center. Ernest (Graham), Al King and everyone has played real well.
"It's not that important I start tonight. If I play two minutes, fine. I could go 40, though. I don't want to come in and take over. I'll do whatever I can to help the team.
"I'm working on my shooting touch," said Williams. "But you might see a left-handed dunk."
Even with Williams in the lineup, Driesell insists he is not taking Miami of Ohio lightly. The Redskins' only victory this year was over Xavier, 106-87. Their losses were to Indiana, Dayton, Central Michigan, Wright State, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech and Alabama.
"They're much better than their record shows," said Driesel. "They've played and lost to some tough teams."
Rich Goins is Miami's leading scorer, averaging 16 points per game. Center George Sweigert is the leading rebounder (8.1) and is second in scoring (11.5).
Temple has the size and the quickness to play with Maryland if both reach the tourney final, as expected. The Owls have lost two tough games -- to Virginia, 58-52, and, last week, to Cincinnati, 68-64. One of Temple's victimes was Wake Forest (74-69).
Keith Parham and Neal Robinson are the top scorers, averaging 13.2 and 11.9 points, respectively.
Harvard, riding a three-game winning streak, relies on the scoring of guards Don Fleming (24.6) and Tom Mannix (13.7).
Other local schools playing in tournaments tonight are American versus St. Bonaventure in the Manufacturers Hanover Classic; Bowie State in the Fairmont State Tournament; Howard versus Evansville in the Evansville Tournament; UDC in the University of Maryland-Baltimore Tournament and Virgina versus Virginia Commonwealth in the Richmond Times-Dispatch Invitational. Georgetown plays Lafayette in the consolation game of the Holiday Festival.