Maryland defeated Maryland-Eastern Shore, 91-70, last night in Cole Field House. But the game had a more long-range significance for the Terrapins than winning to even their record at 1-1.
They may have found their point guard in junior Steve Rivers.
Throughout the preseason, and in an embarrassing opening loss to Penn State, the Terrapins had no one in particular directing their offense. Rivers started at the point last night and at least looked like a major college playmaker.
"It felt really good to finally get a chance to play," Rivers said. "It was one of the first times I've gotten a continuous span of playing time. I tried hard to get the ball inside."
In addition to running the offense, he scored 15 points, making two three-point field goals and six of seven shots. He also pushed the ball inside enough for center Ben Coleman to score 20 points and forward Adrian Branch to score 20.
It should be noted, however, that the blowout came at the expense of UMES, which lost to Navy by 10 points Tuesday night.
This game was never really close. Maryland increased a 12-6 lead to 24-6 and led, 38-21, at halftime. Branch and Coleman quickly scored eight points to start the second half and their team moved ahead, 54-28.
Coach Lefty Driesell was pleased with Rivers' play, but guarded his optimism.
"Steve, by far, did the best job of any of our point guards," Driesell said. "But we didn't play a nationally ranked team or anything. It's hard to truly evaluate his play against a team when you win by 20 points. I'll get a better picture in a tougher game, like Saturday at Canisius or next Wednesday against St. Joe's. Then, I'll be able to tell more."
Freshman Jeff Baxter, Maryland's point guard of the future, said he learned a lot watching the way Rivers ran the offense.
"Steve ran the whole thing really smoothly," said Baxter, from Carroll High. "I tend to go faster than the rest of the team sometimes. Steve is more controlled, medium range. The last two days of practice we've seen that. He's been pretty poised."
Besides Rivers, Driesell also complimented the play of Coleman and Len Bias. Bias, who says he has almost recovered from a twisted ankle, got 10 rebounds and 13 points in only 21 minutes, coming in as a reserve.
Coleman, the junior transfer from Minnesota, made seven of 10 shots, had 12 rebounds and committed only two fouls.
"He played much better tonight," Driesell said, referring to Coleman's season-opening performance in Maryland's 18-point loss to Penn State.
The tallest starter for UMES (1-2) was 6 feet 6, and the Hawks were obviously at a disadvantage from the opening tipoff. They were led by guard Gerald Best, who scored 21 points. But no other player scored in double figures, and the starting front line had only 13 points. The Hawks shot 27 percent in the first half and 35 percent for the game.