Whenever somebody would mention to Dean Smith yesterday how decisively his Tar Heels should whip Maryland in tonight's 7 o'clock contest at Cole Field House, the North Carolina coach would say, "Ah, but you don't remember 1959."
What happened in 1959?
"That was my first year as an assistant at North Carolina," Smith replied. "We were ranked No. 1 in the polls and came in here in February to play Maryland, which was having a so-so season. Everybody was talking about how easily we should win, and how big an underdog Maryland was.
"They blew us out. I must be the only guy in the world who remembers that game. But it should be a lesson."
Smith was trying to demonstrate that this Maryland team (7-3, 0-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference), although one of the least talented Terrapin squads in the last decade, is capable of beating the No. 1-ranked Tar Heels in tonight's game.
Maybe, but it is doubtful. Carolina (9-0, playing its first ACC game this season) does too many things too well. Maryland doesn't do anything really well. Terrapin Coach Lefty Driesell said earlier this week that his team isn't in the same class as Smith's.
The Terrapins, who lost at home to Georgia Tech and were blown out by UCLA and North Carolina State, must play exceptionally well if they are even to be competitive with the Tar Heels.
"Maryland has talent," Smith insisted, referring to such players as freshmen Adrian Branch and Jeff Adkins and sophomores Herman Veal and Steve Rivers. "It's just inexperienced talent. But that inexperience won't show up as much at home as it did at North Carolina State and UCLA. I know Georgia Tech beat them here, but I don't think any team will overwhelm Maryland here."
Driesell has installed a new offense that may slow the pace of this game. "We've faced slower tempos at Penn State and Kansas," Smith said. "It won't be new to us."
It was suggested that the best way to deal with Carolina is to play a tightly packed zone defense, slow down and be very physical inside. Driesell hates to play slowdown, usually prefers playing man-to-man defense and doesn't have the players to bang inside with Carolina, or even Georgia Tech.
The Tar Heels, with four players scoring in double figures, are shooting 55 percent.
"I think we're hard to defend," Smith said. "We don't care whether you use a zone or a man-to-man or whatever. We've seen pretty much every defense this year and we've still taken very good shots."
The Terrapins, on the other hand, are shooting 47 percent and not taking good shots. Of the seven who have played in all 10 games, only center Charles Pittman and guard Dutch Morley (who has taken just 21) are making more than 50 percent of their shots.
Even if the Terrapins' shooting is improved after a week of intense practice with Driesell's new offense, they must do more than play well offensively. They also must stop post men James Worthy (16.4 points a game) and Sam Perkins (16.1), something no one else has been able to do.
Driesell has hinted that he will start his usual lineup, which would have the 6-foot-6 Veal guarding 6-9 all-America Worthy in man-to-man defenses. But Driesell likely will have to put 6-11 Taylor Baldwin at center and move Pittman to forward or see Perkins and Worthy break the game open.
About 2,000 tickets for the contest were available last night.