Reggie Jackson remembers . . ."In high school I remember I felt confident shooting from just about anywhere on the court. I was a good shooter. I never thought before I shot, I just put it up and most of the time it went in."
No more. Now when Reggie Jackson shoots it appears that he has one eye on the basket and one eye on the bench, because he is aware that his next miss could put him there. While Jackson has searched for his shooting touch in Maryland's first five games this season, his point guard alter ego, Dutch Morley, is playing the best basketball of his career.
Jackson is the starter. He has played 79 minutes. Morley, the sub, has played 111 minutes, including 36 to Jackson's five in the Terp's only early test, last Saturday at Syracuse.
"Reggie is struggling right now," Coach Lefty Driesell admitted."He's trying so hard to score he just can't make one. I've told him not to worry about his shooting, that it'll come, but he is worried.
"Dutch is playing pretty good," he continued. "Right now, he's playing more confident than Reggie."
So Driesell has a problem. He doesn't want to alter his starting line-up while he is winning (5-0). But he knows Morley wants to start and he knows everyone on the team, including Jackson, thinks Morley has earned the starting spot.
"Everyone wants to start," Morley said, "but, heck, the majority of the people who play don't start. I know that if I keep playing well, I'm going to get the minutes. I just try to keep myself ready because I know I'm going to be playing."
"I just have to keep working and get my confidence back," said Jackson. "I know I shouldn't be looking to the bench. I can't afford to be worrying about what coach is going to do because then my mind isn't completely on the game."
When people talk about this team, they talk about the superb players at four positions and then they talk about the point guard spot, the weak link.
"Of couse I hear that all the time," Morley said. "You hear lots of things you don't want to hear. Look, we've got four guys who can play anywhere, any time, anyplace.
"I guess if we have a slight weakness, it's us. We may be 10, 20, 30 percent weaker than the other four guys. But I don't think either one of us has ever been embarrassed by an opponent out there. We may not go out and win games for this team, but we don't lose them, either."
The Saga of Reggie Jackson and Dutch is twisted by ironies. At Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia, Jackson was a profilic scorer, one of the most highly touted guards in the country in the spring of 1978.
Morley was generally regarded as a one-dimensional player at De Matha High, a good passer but not a scorer, who lacked the quickness to play good defense in the ACC.
But Driesell, struggling through a 15-13 season, wanted a solid citizen like Morley in the program.
Almost since day one, Morley has been a pleasant surprise. He still doesn't shoot enough, but he makes up for his lack of quickness defensively with savvy. And he is the best playmaker on the team.
Jackson was tight as a freshman and often sulked when he was yanked for poor performances. Driesell kept swinging him between the point and wing guard spots and that didn't help, either.
"I wasn't as mature back then as I am now," Jackson said. "If things went wrong, I got real down, stopped trying, stopped working. Now, I can handle things better.
"Look, I want to start. But if coach makes a change, I'll be okay. I'll just keep working. In fact, it might make me work harder to try and get the job back. But I won't get down on myself."
While Morley seemed to grow as a player over the summer, Jackson appeared to retrogress. By his own admission he hasn't shot much in practice. In games, he has hit only six of 21 shots from the floor (29 percent) and has only seven assists. By contrast, Morley is seven of 12 from the floor (58 percent) and has 21 assists.
Since Morley and Jackson aren't providing an outside threat, opposing teams are sloughing off on the point guards and double-teaming Buck Williams or Albert King, daring Jackson or Morley to shoot.
"That might be why I'm forcing shots a little," Jackson said. "I know in the big games I'm going to have to make my shot to take pressure off the other guys. So, I just have to keep shooting. I need one of those nights where I start off well, hit a couple early. Whenever I've had a good game here, I've started well. When I don't start well, I start looking at the bench."