Even though they have to travel to Athens, Ga., for their next National Invitation Tournament game, the Maryland Terrapins have two reasons to be pleased with the way the NIT's first round developed for them.
First, center Charles Pittman is almost completely recovered from the foot fracture he suffered near the end of the season. He had no trouble Friday night against Richmond.
Second, the Terrapins' Monday night opponent, Georgia, is made to order for Maryland's ball-control offense.
That's why the Georgia scout who attended the Richmond game was pulling for the Spiders; the run-and-shoot Bulldogs are not always disciplined enough to handle a patient opponent. And the Terrapins certainly are patient now, even when they would rather run, as was the case against Richmond.
Coach Lefty Driesell didn't want any part of fast breaks and helter-skelter basketball in the 66-50 victory over the outmatched Spiders. He was looking ahead to Georgia, when a fast pace likely would be the Terrapins' undoing.
Pittman's return could be a major factor Monday night. He missed the last five games of the regular season and played only eight minutes against North Carolina State in the ACC tournament. But he started against Richmond and didn't limp once in the 33 minutes he played, scoring six points and getting five rebounds.
"I thought Charles played well and that's good," Driesell said. "I really didn't know if he could play at all. I thought he was only 60 percent earlier in the week. But he looked good in warmups and he wanted to play. Maybe when you get that adreneline flowing, you forget about injuries."
Pittman said the foot never pained him. "The more I played the better it felt," he said. "I was pleased."
Pittman improves Maryland's rebounding, which will be necessary to prevent opponents from grabbing defensive rebounds and starting fast breaks.
Driesell also was pleased with his team's defense against Richmond. Maryland did a fine job of forcing the Spiders to shoot outside. Adrian Branch, who isn't noted for his defensive talent, was particularly impressive. He also had 21 points.
"We did what we needed to do to win," Driesell said. "We played smart and stayed in control. That's the only way we are going to be successful."
Other second-round games Monday night: Dayton at Illniois, Rutgers at Purdue, Cal-Irvine at Oklahoma, Texas A&M at Washington, Bradley at Syracuse, Tulane at Nevada-Las Vegas and Virginia Tech at Mississippi.