Basketball practice will get under way this afternoon at Maryland but Coach Lefty Driesell, entering his 12th season with the Terps, is already in mid-season form. At least his mouth is.

Driesell spoke yesterday at Football Coach Jerry Claiborne's weekly luncheon, and stole the show.

It started when Claiborne, in rare form himself, kidded Driesell about his players practicing all year, although practice cannot start officially until today.

"They got these summer leagues and all and they're legal but if four or five football players ever get together in the summer the NCAA comes running," Claiborne said.

"Jerry, you don't understand," Driesell said, "them boys just don't like to play football except when they have me. My guys, just love to play basketball. The two sports are just different that way."

From that point on, Driesell rolled.

On junior college transfer Charles Pittman: "He always says 'Yes, sir' and 'No, sir' when you talk to him. Of course, Buck (Williams) does that, too. Then he goes out on the court andkills you. We got to get Buck to make Charles a little meaner."

On the football team's schedule: "Whoever scheduled North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Penn State in a row really messed up. You can't do that. You got to put an easy game in there between those ranked teams or you'll just get killed."

As for his own team, picked sixth in the ACC last year before it finished first in the regular season, Driesell said he prefers this year's situation, in which his team is ranked nationally in the top five in some preseason polls. i

"I like this better," he said. "I don't like anyone telling me I ain't no good."