A few more games like last night's against Old Dominion, and everybody around college basketball will be raving about Len Bias. Maryland's outstanding 6-foot-8 junior forward made 12 of 14 shots for 24 points and led the Terrapins' 87-75 victory before 10,125 at Cole Field House.
Maryland (18-6) shot 64 percent, got twice as many rebounds as Old Dominion and had little trouble recovering from Saturday's loss to Georgia Tech.
"We beat them a lot easier than I anticipated," said Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell, now two victories away from 500 in his career. " . . . We probably would have worked harder than this in practice today."
Driesell wasn't attempting to knock the Monarchs or Coach Paul Webb. He also pointed out that "Old Dominion beat Alabama-Birmingham down there last week."
But there was never any real threat of an upset last night. The Monarchs (12-8), led by Kenny Gattison's 19 points, hit their first four shots to take an 8-4 lead, then watched as Maryland put on an impressive display of full-court offense.
Besides Bias' game-high 24, Adrian Branch had 15 points, five assists and no turnovers. And forward Speedy Jones made seven of 10 shots for 14 points.
Jones, normally a starter, had to get his points as a reserve last night since Driesell decided to start 6-8 sophomore center/forward Terry Long. "It's the first time we've started that team," Driesell said. "I did it to get more rebounding in there. I felt our rebounding was awful against Georgia Tech." The rebounding improved against Old Dominion, but the Monarchs are often outrebounded. Derrick Lewis led Maryland with eight rebounds as Maryland held a 39-19 advantage.
"Our defense was very poor and we had no rebounding," Webb said afterward. "And when you don't have that, you're not gonna beat good teams."
There was not much defense to be seen. Maryland made 40 of 63 shots and ODU made 33 of 61.
After falling behind, 10-6, on a driving bank shot by Keith Thomas (15 points), Maryland got a three-point play from Branch, then a Lewis hook that put the Terrapins ahead, 11-10.
The Monarchs went ahead again, 12-11, on a reverse slam by Gattison, a 6-8 forward described by Bias as having "long arms, big hands, strong. Shoots that jumper with one hand, yeah, that's right, like George McGinnis."
But Bias hit the jumper that put Maryland ahead for good, 13-12; it wasn't long thereafter that Maryland turned the game into a rout.
After ODU had pulled within 17-16, six Maryland players scored the next 16 points. Branch and Jones each had four to make it 33-16.
This time, Maryland did not give away a bunch of points near the end of the half as the Terrapins have done so regularly. Jones was terrific as Maryland held, 45-30.
And Bias was glowing before and after intermission. There was one play in the second half when Bias dribbled down the left side of the court, crossed over to the right side through traffic with a left-handed dribble, then threw a deft bank shot for the basket and 63-48 lead.
Before that, Bias had various jumpers, hook shots and power moves, everything except a monstrous dunk.
"He's one of the top players in the country," Webb said. "He certainly showed that tonight. We gave up some easy baskets and I wasn't happy with that, but I don't think our lack of intensity caused his good game. He does it pretty often."
Gatlin, asked why still so many people outside this area don't know how good Bias is, said, "It's just a matter of time before everybody's saying his name."
Bias, who has played as well as any forward in the country, isn't bothered by his relative anonymity. He rather likes it, in fact. "I prefer not to be known," he said. "When people get to know you they tend to start setting up special defenses and laying for you. Then you start seeing double and triple-teaming every night. Nooo, it's fine with me just to keep it this way."
Several Maryland players didn't mind this interruption in the ACC schedule. "I think it's good to have a game like this to get your legs stretched out and get the kinks out," Branch said.
Bias, Gatlin and Jones said that going into road games this week at Wake Forest and Duke -- Driesell could get his 500th victory at his alma mater -- they're just glad to start the trip with a victory.