Maryland forward Herman Veal was asked to describe Ben Coleman, a 6-foot-8, 230-pound center/forward who will be eligible to play for the Terrapins next season.
"It's simple," Veal said. "Around the basket, either you get caught with an elbow, or he gets the rebound, or he scores."
Coleman, who transferred from Minnesota after two years there, is what Coach Lefty Driesell calls "a horse." That translates as a player who is strong and tough enough to dominate the area around the basket. Buck Williams, now with the New Jersey Nets, was the prototype "horse." Coleman may be as strong as Williams, and has better shooting range. He may not rebound as well, but he plays inside as well as almost anybody.
A scene from a recent Maryland intersquad scrimmage at Cole Field House:
Coleman and center Taylor Baldwin, Maryland's biggest player, are jostling for rebounding position. Baldwin can't budge Coleman, so Jeff Adkins comes in to help. Together they can't move Coleman from under the basket. Frustrated at the double-team, Coleman wheels with an elbow that catches Baldwin in the face.
Baldwin, as he recounts the story later, lands in "Row C." Driesell blows the whistle and says, "If you guys want to fight, I'll strap on the boxing gloves."
Baldwin, 6-11, 240 pounds, looks at Driesell and says, "Oh yeah, wait until I go for a stunt man. You think I'm gonna fight Ben Coleman?"
Coleman is one of three transfers who figure to make the 14-10 Terrapins a better team next season.
Andre Hines, a 6-8 forward from Camden, S.C., transferred from Furman after his freshman season and will be eligible for the second semester next season, and the following two years.
Hines was the top high school player in South Carolina two years ago. He chose Furman over Maryland and South Carolina, and was the Paladins' second-leading rebounder (seven per game) as a freshman. He He decided to transfer last fall when he became academically ineligible.
The third transfer is Ed Farmer, also 6-8, who is attending Glen Mills Prep School in suburban Philadelphia. Farmer, from Wilson, N.C., will have four years of eligibility when he arrives at Maryland next fall. Maryland also has received a verbal commitment from Reggie Meadows, a 6-8, 230-pound forward from Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College.
Hines and Farmer can add size and depth to the Maryland lineup, but Coleman is the player Driesell and the Terrapins are excited about.
"I wish we had Ben now, because he could really help us," Driesell said. "He may be the strongest kid we've ever had. I would be disappointed if he didn't have a really good season next year."
"We need him now," Baldwin said. "He could be all-Atlantic Coast Conference. Coach got a steal in him."
Being compared to Buck Williams is unfair to Coleman, but inevitable. "Ben shoots the ball better than Buck," said Pete Holbert. "There's no question he's got as much talent as any big man in the ACC. He can score any time he wants.
"I had never heard of him before," Holbert said. "I figured he'd be some average guy who was big. But we played at the playground on campus one day, and I said, 'Whoa, this guy is tough.'
"He's got to learn to play hard all the time, though. He likes to handle the ball and shoot fadeaways--stuff that he's not getting hollered at (by Driesell) for now that he'll get hollered at for doing next year."
Coleman, a highly regarded high school player in Minneapolis, started 23 games as a sophomore at Minnesota last season, averaging 8.4 points and 5.1 rebounds. He led the team in rebounding for more than a month and played well Ray Tolbert, Herb Williams, Steve Krafcisin and Landon Turner--some of the best big men in the Big Ten.
"Then I had a few bad games (during the conference season) and he (Coach Jim Dutcher) took me out," Coleman said. "I didn't get much playing time after that. It didn't seem like I was going to get another chance to prove myself, so I started making a detailed study of schools that had an opening at my position.
"I boiled it down to Maryland, Marquette or Long Beach, and finally decided to come East to the big-name school with a nationally known coach.
"I didn't come here thinking this would be your average red-shirt year of sitting around. I've worked hard to keep myself in shape, and I believe this year off has helped me mentally and physically."