Debbie Lytle, Maryland's sometimes spectacular, sometimes spectacularly bad sophomore guard, admits the Terrapins' AIAW postseason tournament game with Rudgers tonight in the Palestra in Philadelphia has special significance: she's coming home.
"All my friends, my family and my people will be there," said Lytle, who received nearly 200 scholarship offers as an all-state player at Simon Gratz High School. "I'm really looking forward to this tournament to show the folks I've still got my game."
Top-seeded Cheyney State (22-2) plays fourth-seeded Penn State (18-7) in the first Region 1-B game at 7, followed by No. 2 seed Rutgers (24-4) and third-seeded Maryland (17-7) at 9. The winners will play Saturday at 9 p.m. for the championship, won last year by Maryland.Even if the Terps loss here, they could receive an atlarge berth to the AIAW's national tournament that starts Wednesday.
Lytle is averaging 14.9 points, 3.6 steals and 4.2 assists for Maryland. After missing the first seven games of the year because of academic ineligibility, Lytle has become a key figure in the Terps' fast break and in their pressure defense. She was the dominant player during the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament last month in Clemson, and got the Terrapins here by making an off-balance driving shot at the buzzer in a 69-68 victory over Seton Hall last week.
Nevertheless, Lytle has sometimes been the dispair of Maryland Coach Chris Weller, a taskmaster who has found Lytle's flashy brand of street ball less than charming.
"People think we hold a player down at Maryland," said Weller. "It's not that. It's just that this is college basketball, and here turnovers hurt much more. In street ball, a spectacular play that almost works is all right. mHere, it's just a turnover. Debbie has the potential to be as good as she wants to be."