When Lefty Driesell came to the University of Maryland a decade ago and announced he would make the school's basketball team "the UCLA of the East," his major aim was to promote his program quickly. It helped him recruit, but it put unneeded pressure on the coach and his players.
Although Driesell received almost all the backlash, his was not the only area school guilty of such excesses. At George Washington, the Athletic department excessively promoted its freshman recruits -- even transfers such as Brian Magid -- especially after the Colonials began playing in the new Smith Center and tried to line up television contracts.
The colonials are off to a surprising 5-2 start this season, yet the publicity mill hardly cranked out a word about GW's six new players this season, two of whom -- guard Randy Davis and forward Oscar Wilmington -- have contributed heavily to the success.The silence was ordered by Coach Bob Tallent.
"We've been putting too much pressure on the kids when they come in and people are expecting too much," Tallent said. "I've never done it myself. But I've let the athletic department (do it) for promotions. But it puts pressure on them. If a freshman plays well, great. But he shouldn't have to feel he has to."
GW, meanwhile, gets two good road tests this week -- at Pittsburgh Wednesday night and at Rutgers Satruday afternoon in the Eastern Eight television game of the week.
What's in a game?
Plenty, says American University point guard Robin Hoey, about why the 6-5 Eagles fell behind Wake Forest and St. Bonaventure by large margins before rallying and almost winning.
"We had to forget the cautious stuff and just play," Hoey said, recalling those December games. "A lot of teams beat us on their name alone."
Georgetown and Maryland, impressive winners Saturday afternoon, face significant road games in their next appearances.
Georgetown (9-3) must overcome St. Joseph's slowdown tactics in a 7 p.m. game Tuesday at Philadelphia's Palestra. St. Joe is coming off a 54-51 upset of Old Dominion on the road Saturday night. Maryland (10-1 and 3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) plays at N.C. State Thursday night.
Big East update: Sources within the league say Villanova, over objections from its basketball coach, Rollie Massimino, is ready to jump from the Eastern Eight to become the eighth member of the new east coast "super-conference."
Since the Eastern College Athletic Conference has tossed out Eastern Eight teams for implementing a television package competing with the ECACs on Saturday afternoon, Villanova is more worried about the consequences to its nationally renowned track program than about its basketball team playing tougher overall opposition.
If Villanova moves to the Big East, there are reports in Philadelphia that St. Joseph's would replace the Wildcats in the Eastern Eight.
The Navy basketball team is 6-2 and living up to the prediction that Mid Coach Bob Hamilton made prior to the season: that the team's success will depend on its ability to shoot from the perimeter.
However, the player expected to supply the most outside punch, junior guard Chuck Greene, is not the man doing it. Second-leading scorer to Kevin Sinnett a year ago, Greene has been hampered by personal problems, lost his starting job and is averaging only seven points per game.
David Brooks, a plebe from Lawrenceville, Ill., is responsible. His long-range shots and quick release already have Mid watchers comparing his shooting ability to that of Rick Mount. He leads the team in scoring (13.4) with 56 percent shooting accuracy.
He was named ECAC-South rookie of the week for leading the Mids to the championship of the Hatter Classic last week at Deland, Fla. It was Navy's first tournament championship since the 1970 Palmetto.
How good the Mids really are may be determined by two road games this week -- Wednesday at Virginia Commonwealth and Saturday at Old Dominion.
Larry Spriggs' 26-point performance in Howard's 87-73 victory over Delaware for third place in the Siena Tournament Saturday night shows that the 6-foot-7 Bison forward is rounding into top form after missing most of preseason practice and some early games with a leg injury.
Nevertheless, Coach A.B. Williams says Spriggs is "still 2 1/2-3 weeks from being his old self." The success over Delaware broke a three-game losing streak for the 7-4 Bison. But, in Williamson's words, "I'm not at all discouraged."
The coach added: "People were expecting too much too early from us. There's not a starter on this team, or the sixth man, who played together last season. The kids are accepting it hard when they lose, but working on correcting their mistakes.
"We're improving. We will be a good team by the end of January or mid-February. Then, for the next two years, people can expect better . . . We've got to go to Dayton Wednesday. We will have to play a super game to win there. After that, everybody else on our schedule is on a par with us . . . I can't see anything but positive vibes from the Bison."
Boston College, the team that starts three guards 6 feet or shorter yet took top-ranked Duke to overtime and toppled Georgetown in an extra period, was blown out by Villanova by 19 points last week.
Explained BC Coach Tom Daivs: "I've tried to recruit good kids. Attitudewise, we're as good as we ever can get. But we're two good players away from being able to play people like that every night."
It's home sweet home and patsy time for the Catholic U. basketball team this week. It's about time. The Cardinals have been playing a schedule above their heads and mainly on the road, where they are winless in seven games.
They are 2-0 at home and this week play a pair of Division III teams at Brookland Gym -- tonight against Staten Island and Wednesday night against St. Anselm's. Donnie Farrell, CU's senior point guard, has 41 assists in his last five games.
This is John Linn's 10th season as basketball coach at George Mason and the first in which he entered the new year without a victory. Prospects for one soon are not bright for the 0-6 Patriots, who continue a four-game road trip tonight at Campbell.
Major reason for Mason's troubles are injuries. Center Andre Gaddy missed much of practices with a cut tendon on a finger on his shooting hand, point guard Terry Henderson hurt a knee in warmups before the Howard game and his backup, Kevin Jackson, was involved in an automobile accident Christmas Eve, suffering a concussion and lacerations. He is not on the current trip.