Dutch Morley wanted noise. Once a din of inequity in close games, Cole Field House was close to study-hall silent with about 180 seconds left and Morley backpedaling on defense after his two foul shots gave Maryland a three-point lead over Clemson.
This was time for Morley to think of yet another way to save the Terrapins yesterday, but neither the time nor the place to hear himself do it. Struggling as they are to be ordinary in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, the turtles deserved more than the apathy they were getting. Furious, Morley whirled his right fist over his head to generate some excitement.
Until Morley suddenly did more with his hands than wave them once more. From a knot of confusion in Clemson's court, Morley emerged again with the ball. And the crowd and Morley's mates sprung to life.
"Kinda dead," he said later, spanking the crowd of 10,550 and the Terrapins. "I was trying to get 'em going, with a steal, diving for a loose ball. Something different, get moving on the break." From his seat in the Maryland dressing room, he lifted his head, smiled and added:
"Everybody runs for the hole (basket) on our team (after a steal). That's for sure."
For a change, Morley's special contributions (12 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals) were so obvious even the most uneducated, stats-crazed fan could notice. It's hard to overlook a 6-2 fellow who scores the critical free throws and passes at one end of the gym and finds a way to grab the critical rebounds at the other.
There was one stretch of five Clemson possessions in the final three minutes when Morley came away with three rebounds and a steal. "Dutch Treat" is what some headline ought to read. After Maryland played splendidly for the first half and like Maryland for the second, and still won, he was razzed for being so selfish.
Morley took four shots yesterday, which is like George Gervin taking 97. Morley can shoot and drive; he just doesn't. Anybody can make baskets; few can create them. Assists thrill him, and Maryland's new slowdown offense is ideal for his cerebral instincts.
Four shots are a month's production for Morley. In jest, somebody asked the last game he hogged the ball that often.
"I've taken four shots before," he said, embarrassed. "You could look it up if you really wanted to." In 13 previous games, Morley had taken 29 shots--and made 18. He made only half his shots yesterday.
And let Lefty Driesell breathe easily a while longer. Let him smile some, joke a bit and light up a cigar. He's been a worrisome figure of late, and for the best of reasons. Against basketball's elite, his team has been dreadful. He knows why, and for several minutes earlier this week he was in a mellow enough mood to talk about it.
During an informal press conference after the formal announcement of Bobby Ross' hiring as football coach, Driesell was asked about his early recruiting experiences here. Ross clearly must try for the sort of blitz that made the 'Hander so successful so quickly.
"You gotta kinda do that wherever you are," he said. "We gotta blitz this year, too. I think that's what happens a lotta times. You get in a program, you get a little settled and then you don't blitz. And it catches up with you. So he ain't no different from what I am this year. Or anybody else, really.
"Recruiting is something you gotta do all the time. If you don't, it'll catch up with you sooner or later . . . " He was reflective for only an instant longer. Quickly, he became his blustery, charming, outrageous self again.
"If I was him, I'd hire Billy Kilmer, Diron Talbert, Sonny Jurgensen as assistants and let them recruit," said the haughty 'Hander, who in fact ran Maryland-wants-you ads in the Washington papers as one of his early recruiting stunts.
Send those guys on the road and you'd never get 'em back, UPI's Don Cronin said.
"Probably true," Lefty said. "As long as they brought the players back, that'd be the main thing."
The main thing yesterday was winning. Never mind how. A team that loses at home to Georgia Tech is more likely to blow the entire game after an 18-point lead than steady itself and win. So it's time to celebrate, not scold. Reality will come, but perhaps not soon.
Partly because of (I Can Schedule) Driesell, the Terrapins have a stretch of seven straight games they have a fine chance of winning: Notre Dame, William & Mary and Georgia Tech on the road, Canisius, Wake Forest, Duke and Hofstra at home. They can go into Chapel Hill Feb. 11 against North Carolina 16-5. And into the NIT if they don't totally melt after that, which is possible.
Can Driesell see this team coming together?
"Thought I did till halftime," he said. "I got scared with what happened the second half."
The Terrapins still are too tentative for their coach.
"We gotta learn when we get an 18-point lead to put somebody away."
Where will this team be in six weeks? a regular Baltimore straight man asked.
"Six weeks from now I might be dead," Driesell replied. He was reminded that the ACC tournament was about six weeks away.
"We make that one automatically," the wily coach said. "Don't we?