The Maryland basketball team flew home this morning, still not quite certain what happened here Friday afternoon. The Terrapins were knocked out of the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament by Duke, 86-73, and now must sit home and wait until Sunday afternoon to find out where they will begin NCAA Tournament play later this week.
The Terrapins' entire trip to the tournament here was a disaster from the start. Their plane getting here Thursday was defective and they arrived two hours late. Friday, their basketball was defective and the defense of their 1984 championship ended early.
Then, as a topper, they couldn't even get out of town Friday night. Driesell, who doesn't like hanging around after losing, tried to get his team on a plane Friday evening, but couldn't find one with enough seats.
"The important thing is that it wasn't our last game," Len Bias insisted. "We wanted to win here but next week is what really matters. We have to figure out what went wrong here and be ready next week."
Perhaps what Driesell ought to do is calm his competitive fires a bit and show some patience with point guard Keith Gatlin. The 6-foot-5 sophomore is not the world's greatest defensive player but he is clearly the one player who can consistently keep the Maryland offense in synch.
Friday, Driesell replaced Gatlin quickly for the third time this year against Duke. The Blue Devils' quick guards, Tommy Amaker and Johnny Dawkins, give Gatlin trouble but his numbers against Duke are certainly not a reflection of the kind of player he is. In three games, Gatlin played 43 minutes and scored six points.
By contrast, Dawkins scored 84 points in three games against the Terrapins, devastating them time and again inside and outside. "Both their guards are just so quick they never give you any breathing room," Gatlin said.
The question now for the Terrapins is where they will be seeded in the NCAA Tournament. A case can be made for seeding them in the top 16. Their record is 23-11 and, according to the NCAA power ratings, they played the toughest schedule in the country.
If the Terrapins are placed in the top 16, they will be favored in the two games they would have to play the first weekend. If not, they will probably be an underdog in a second round game, assuming they win their opener.
Jeff Adkins' ankle was X-rayed late Friday and the findings were negative. He sprained the ankle landing on Terry Long's foot in the second half Friday. He should be ready to play this week . . . Maryland is now 0-7 in the state of Georgia the last four seasons: The Terrapins have lost four games at Georgia Tech, two in the first round of the ACC Tournament here and once to Georgia in Athens in the 1982 National Invitation Tournament.