Maryland's first Atlantic Coast Conference basketball victory seems to have given the Terrapins some stability. After 10 starting lineup changes, they probably will go with a set cast of characters now, and some consistency could give them a chance to turn their season around starting this weekend.
The Terrapins (11-8 overall, 1-6 in the ACC) got a day off yesterday after they broke a five-game losing streak with their 77-55 rout of Wake Forest Tuesday. They play at Villanova Saturday, followed by a trip to South Bend, Ind., to meet 16th-ranked Notre Dame on Monday. If the two-game stretch is successful, it could put them in a stronger position when they resume conference play with a schedule that eases somewhat.
"It was a good win for us," Coach Charles G. Driesell said. "We didn't have to win it because the sun would still rise if we didn't, but it was necessary to get our confidence back. I know you can make the case that we lost five straight, but we played some good clubs. We can still have a good team even though we had a difficult January because of the schedule."
Of the Terrapins' six conference losses, four came to top 5 teams -- North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Duke, which beat them twice. In the meantime they have settled on a lineup, Driesell said, adding that the shuffling of players this season might have hurt his team.
"It probably did," he said. "But when you're losing you can't just sit there. I tried big lineups, small lineups, three guards, three forwards. But I think it's pretty much set now. Unless we start losing again. Then I may change some more."
The Terrapins will start Derrick Lewis and Len Bias at forwards, the only two players who have held their positions for all 19 games. Terry Long and freshman Tony Massenburg will share time at center with no set starter, and Jeff Baxter and Keith Gatlin will start at guard. Freshman John Johnson, who scored 15 points against the Demon Deacons, will share time at shooting guard, with Tom (Speedy) Jones first off the bench at forward.
Maryland's frustration at its losing streak perhaps was reflected by Driesell after the game, when he charged into the stands to confront a heckler. Driesell exchanged heated words with the fan, a youngish, heavyset man, before he returned to the locker room.
Athletic Director Dick Dull would not comment yesterday on whether there would be any repercussions, but he demonstrated support for Driesell and called the incident "unfortunate," in criticizing the heckler.
"It's unfortunate that for the price of admission some fans feel they can so harshly criticize a coach like Lefty Driesell, who has given half his life to the game," Dull said. "It's an unfortunate incident and we intend to put it behind us, as Lefty does too, I'm sure."
The incident began as Driesell started to the dressing room. As he passed one of the seating sections the fan called out, "You might have won one game but you're still in seventh place in the ACC."
Driesell replied, "Come down here and say that."
"You come up here," the fan said. Driesell obliged.