Mark West, Old Dominion's 6-foot-11 center, is relatively unknown. But he is the answer to a good trivia question: "Who led the nation in blocked shots the last two years?"
West is also a complete center. He has averaged 14 points, 11 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots per game this year. His ability to dominate a game is of primary concern to Maryland, because Old ominion will visit Maryland's Cole Field House tonight at 8 o'clock.
West will be going against Terrapin Ben Coleman, a 6-9 junior transfer who has grown into a very good low-post center the past six weeks. It is no coincidence that, as Coleman has improved, so has the team.
"Ben really didn't do much at Minnesota his first two years, and then he sat out a year," Coach Lefty Driesell said yesterday. "When he came here, he thought he was a jump-shooter. Now, he's playing inside and doing the things we want and need him to do."
Coleman is averaging 16 points and eight rebounds per game. He plays strictly inside now. The other Terrapins, including leading-scorer Adrian Branch, get the ball to Coleman as often as possible.
"I'm still learning to stop making stupid mistakes," Coleman said. "If I can stop the over-the-back and reach-in fouls and stay out of foul trouble, I'll be all right."
Coleman made 13 straight shots over three games recently and has developed a very effective jump hook for use against bigger opposing centers, like West.
Driesell isn't often given credit for teaching, but he has totally redefined Coleman's role since October.
"Everybody's role is more clearly defined," Branch said after Monday night's 25-point victory over Navy. "Ther are times now when defenses crowd around me and I know there's no need to shoot because we've developed new options. And now we've got Len Bias coming off the bench with blood in his eye."
Driesell said he has had to be patient because there are so many new players -- Coleman, Bias, Ed Farmer, Jeff Baxter -- to work into the lineup, "We're just starting to become a team, Driesell said. "You know, the kind of teamwork where you learn each other's habits and where you help each other on defense.
"We had a bunch of new players learning our system and our philosophy. It's not only Ben, but the others are learning what we want. I want to be able to go to the bench when I want, and not have to play Adrian 40 minutes."
Several of the Navy players who have watched Maryland often this season said they were surprised at how much the Terrapins have improved. "The place I can see the biggest improvement is on defense," said Bias.
Driesell isn't mentioning such things to his players. They are on a roll with five straight victories and the coach doesn't want them getting overconfident.
"I told them if they want to get nationally ranked and if they want to get into the NCAA tournament," Driesell said, "we gotta beat Old Dominion and keep improving and keep winning."