That look of disgust on Maryland Coach Charles G. Driesell's face outside the locker room Saturday was partly a result of Villanova's two-point victory. It may also have had something to do with Notre Dame, which awaits the haggard Terrapins today.
Maryland's schedule does not even give Maryland a decent interval to consider Saturday's 64-62 loss to Villanova. The Terrapins were on their way to South Bend yesterday, where they will meet the 14th-ranked Fighting Irish at the Athletic and Convocation Center tonight (7 p.m.).
Driesell's sour expression at least partially was caused by Harold Pressley's layup with nine seconds remaining that gave the Terrapins (11-9, 1-6) their seventh loss in nine games. And once again, Maryland's admittedly difficult schedule was Driesell's scapegoat.
"You watch me schedule next year," he said. "I ain't going through this anymore."
Driesell had called Villanova a "must win" game. This trip was to have given Maryland a chance at salvaging a season that is slipping slowly toward mediocrity. That would seem to make a meeting with a highly potent Notre Dame team (14-3) a make-or-break opportunity.
If the Terrapins are to even hope for a bid to the NCAA tournament, they could use an impressive road victory before returning to Atlantic Coast Conference play. The Terrapins would have to sweep their remaining nine games, starting with the Fighting Irish, to finish with 20 regular-season victories.
A glance at the remainder of their schedule indicates that is not likely: five games are on the road, including North Carolina. They also meet North Carolina State in Raleigh, and Georgia Tech in College Park, among others.
The way Maryland is playing also indicates a strong finish is unlikely. The loss to Villanova had an all-too-familiar pattern. Keith Gatlin missed a jumper with 30 seconds left, the Terrapins allowed Pressley to score his layup virtually untouched with nine seconds left, then Maryland did not call a timeout to set up a final play before freshman guard John Johnson lost the ball out of bounds on Kenny Wilson's steal.
"I can't pinpoint what's wrong," forward Derrick Lewis said. "If you look at the whole game, it's a lot of little things."
For instance, the Terrapins turned the ball over 13 times to nine for Villanova. They shot just three free throws in the second half, making one, which indicated a lack of activity inside. Villanova, meanwhile, made eight of 10 from the line in the second half.
And once again, the Terrapins did not get the ball to Len Bias when it counted. Bias had a game-high 25 points but only eight in the second half, and only four points in the last 15 minutes.
"It's silly things that add up," Gatlin said. "It's breaks that went their way, and then us not scoring when we had to."
Maryland's problems against a Villanova team that has its own troubles (15-9, 4-3 in the Big East) would indicate they are in for a fight against a physical Notre Dame team. The Fighting Irish have a typically massive front court that is outrebounding opponents by an average of 10.4 a game, 38.4 to 28.
Their only three losses have come to Brigham Young, Indiana and top-ranked North Carolina. They were one of the few teams that matched up physically with the Tar Heels, playing them to a deadlock for most of the game before letting it slip away in the final minutes and losing, 73-61.
David Rivers is considered perhaps one of the best point guards in the country, and is Notre Dame's leading scorer as well, averaging 16.2 points a game. In the front court, 6-10 forward Ken Barlow averages 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds.