Albert King who had nothing to say to anyone after Maryland's 76-63 loss to North Carolina Sunday, harshly criticized Terrapin fans yesterday, saying he would not blame Lefty Driesell for leaving Maryland because the fans do not appreciate the coach.
King, who in four years at Maryland has avoided criticizing anyone, was clearly disgusted about the booing he and his teammates received at Cole Field House Sunday.
"I really didn't appreciate hearing that at all and I don't think any guy on this team appreciated it," King said."I know it wasn't all the fans but it certainly shows something about the fans here.
"I don't think something like that would happen in any other gym in the ACC. I mean when we go on the road, okay, I expect to get booed. But yesterday was unbelievable. There we are in our own gym, with our own fans, and we're getting booed.
"I'm not saying it affected the way we played, but is sure didn't help. I don't think the fans here really care that much about us. They just care about winning. If we turn around and win the (ACC) tournament or something, I really don't want to hear any of those people coming around here running their mouths, telling us we're great."
As for Driesell, King said he didn't think the coach was appreciated at Maryland. "Sometimes I think it would be better for him if he just left this place. With his record he could get a good job someplace else and maybe be appreciated a little more.
"Before he came here Maryland never won. Then he won and won and won and still it wasn't good enough. He's in a no-win situation. No matter how much he wins, people want him to win more. What does he have to do to get recognition as a good coach? At this point, I don't know anymore."
Driesell, who had stalked out of his postgame press conference Sunday, said that while the booing didn't necessarily bother him, the mounting criticism of his team and his coaching among fans and in the press did upset him.
"Sure it bothers me," he said yesterday. "No one likes to hear those things. The last 10 seasons we've been in the top 10 at one point or another during the season every year. That's because we've built a tradition here.
"Every game we fill the field house, we have the program on real solid ground in a tough league. Then we lose a few games and everyone starts complaining. I can't do anything about it except start winning again."
Driesell said he had not thought of leaving Maryland for another job, although he would consider giving up coaching if he thought he wasn't doing the job.
"I've always said that whenever I feel like I'm not doing what I'm paid to do and not doing the kids and the fans justice, I'll get out of coaching," Driesell said. "I have no desire to go somewhere else and coach.
"Right now I'm disappointed in the way we're playing. I don't think I'm getting all I can out of them. If the season were over today I might just quit. But it isn't. When it is over, if we don't get it together I'll have to sit down and think about the whole thing, figure out what went wrong.
"But I'm not at that point yet. We've got to stop things from bottoming out right now. Yesterday, I thought we were ready to play. I would have bet that we'd beat them. But we didn't. We played badly so I guess that's my fault."
Driesell will change some things this week. He is going to scrimmage his players more often to make them work harder in problem areas, specifically man-to-man defense and shot selection.And, he will probably move freshman Steve Rivers to the starting point guard spot. Rivers played well in brief stints against Clemson and North Carolina and has enough confidence to take the jump shot.
Of the defense and shot selection, Driesell said, "Our man-to-man has just not been as good this year as last. We've emphasized it in practice all year but it hasn't done any good.
"Our shot selection's been poor too. When we come down if we don't take a shot after one or two passes we get panicky and throw one up. We're not being patient. We're not poised at all. You don't win in this league without patience and poise."
One of the major problems Sunday was King's inability to guard Al Wood after being called for his second foul eight minutes into the first half. "He started posting up low and I didn't know what I should do," King said. "If he gets the ball down there he's tough to stop.
"But if I try to go around him and slap the ball away, here comes the third foul and I didn't want to go and sit on the bench. I guess, whatever I did, it wasn't the right thing."
Of his performance offensively, King said, "There's a big difference between 23 and 13."
Thursday, against Clemson, King got 23 shots, Sunday, 13 -- "and I forced some of them."
Did he want the ball as much Sunday as Thursday?
King made a circling motion with his hand. "I was following it, around and around and around. I never caught up with it."
King laughed when he learned that his postgame exit, along with Greg Manning and Ernest Graham, Sunday, had caused a stir. "Controversy," he said, "I love it."
Then seriously. "I had a lot of friends down from New York and coach said we could leave. So I left."
Driesell said the disappearance of the players was his fault. "I told them to leave," he said. "I told them if they didn't want to talk to just get out before the reporters came in. If I could have, I would have jumped out the window myself. I didn't feel much like talking."
After leaving, King said, he took his girlfriend to dinner. "I had a good time," he said, "except for wanting to jump off the bulding."
King laughed again. "You have to laugh at a time like this. We're still all together, that's the important thing. No one's complaining about anyone else. Everyone's still trying. We have to stop being hesitant out there, get our confidence back. That's going to be hard, but we have to do it." CAPTION: Picture 1, Lefty Driesell; Picture 2, Albert King