Two nearly totally revamped teams, Maryland and George Washington, open their college basketball seasons tonight, each with at least four new players who should have immediate impact on their teams.
Maryland plays Penn State at 8 in the Baltimore Civic Center and George Washington faces Towson State at 8 in the Smith Center.
The Terrapins still will be led by sophomore Adrian Branch, but Coach Lefty Driesell will start two new players in the front court.
Ben Coleman, a 6-foot-9 junior transfer from Minnesota, will start at center, and 6-7 Len Bias, a freshman from Northwestern High, will start at forward. Two other freshmen, guard Jeff Baxter from Caroll High and forward Ed Farmer from Wilson, N.C., probably will play a lot. The teams will play with a 35-second shot clock and 19-foot three-point field goal arc.
At George Washington, Coach Gerry Gimelstob will start at least one freshman, 6-4 Troy Webster at point guard. Of his 13 players, 10 are freshmen or sophomores.
As of yesterday, Gimelstob had decided on four of his five starters: Webster, 6-6 Darryl Webster of Coolidge High, 6-2 guard Dave Hobel and 6-9 sophomore center Mike Brown. Two of the four other freshmen, 6-5 Chester Wood from Caroll High and 6-6 Craig Helms of Yorktown, Va., at least may play a lot.
Still, Gimelstob doesn't want to rush the freshmen.
"Actually, I think the freshmen have been overemphasized," Gimelstob said. "One thing we've been happy about is how the older players have improved."
He was referring to Joe Wassel, a 6-4 swing man; Hobel; 6-7 forward and captain Dan Sullivan and 6-8 center/forward Doug Vander Wal.
The Tigers graduated last year's best player, forward Tony Odrick, and could be a more guard-oriented team offensively, with a solid playmaker in Rica Page and a good outside shooter in Donal Leslie.
Driesell isn't sure what to expect from his team, which lost an exhibition to Athletes In Action two weeks ago. Coleman is a natural power forward who will be playing the pivot. And Bias, who played power forward in high school, will play small forward tonight with Herman Veal at the other forward.
Driesell is rightfully worried about the point guard situation. Sophomore Jeff Adkins will start at the point, but he was recruited as a shooting guard.