On the flight back to Washington Saturday night following his team's lopsided loss to North Carolina State, Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell kept writing down, then scratching out, his players' names on a sheet of paper.
Driesell was trying to figure out which combination could put up a better fight than the one the Terrapins had oncourt in the 74-53 mismatch in Raleigh, N.C.
"I may make some lineup changes," Driesell said. But figuring out the right lineup for Maryland may be more difficult than figuring out who's in the NFL playoffs.
Driesell said he wasn't particularly pleased with the play of his starting senior guards, Dutch Morley and Reggie Jackson, who totaled 25 minutes, zero points and two assists. Driesell had warned a listener earlier that if Jackson started taking jump shots, and missing them, he would be benched quickly. Morley's major contribution is playmaking, but he had only one assist in 12 minutes Saturday.
Jackson and Morley cannot be given all the blame. The Maryland offense didn't have a clue to solving State's 3-2 zone defense. "That zone bothered us a lot," Driesell said.
And it wasn't anybody's fault that State dominated so convincingly inside. Maryland, whose tallest starter is 6-foot-9 Charles Pittman, just doesn't have the bulk to hold its own against physical teams such as State (which is about half as physical as North Carolina, Wake Forest, Clemson and Georgia Tech).
The most self-critical Terrapin, 6-6 forward Herman Veal, looked at a statistic sheet and said he was embarrassed. "Five rebounds, I've got to do a whole lot better than that," said Veal, who averaged nearly 11 rebounds his first six games.
Will all of Saturday's deficiencies -- no outside shooting, no guard penetration, no muscle inside, no settling influence -- add up to a disastrous season?
"Now, you know that one game doesn't make a whole season," Driesell said. "We can certainly play better than we did in that game."
Veal confidently said, "We're going to do a lot better than that."
George Washington, on the other hand, won its Eastern Eight Conference opener, 42-40, over Duquesne.
"Our locker room after Saturday night's game was more emotional than the Indiana locker room after the NCAA championship game," said Coach Gerry Gimelstob, a former Hoosier assistant. "I was happy for the players."
But Gimelstob's celebrating will end today, when he starts preparing his team for a Wednesday encounter with Georgetown at Capital Centre. Gimelstob has used five different starting lineups in six games this season. "We'll move our lineup around, depending on what we need for Georgetown," he said.
Hoya Coach John Thompson, after not starting 7-foot freshman Patrick Ewing in his college debut, has used the same starting lineup for six straight games.
Two weeks into the season, the top three scorers in the area are District of Columbia's Earl Jones (26.8 points a game), American's Mark Nickens (21.8) and UDC's Michael Britt (21.5).