Remember the old saying about the best defense being a good offense?
"We couldn't stop them," said Georgia Tech Coach Bobby Cremins, whose team defeated Maryland, 77-70, yesterday in front of 14,500 at Cole Field House. "But we made some great shots."
Cremins' crew made nearly all of its shots in the second half: 18 of 21, to be exact. For those slow with division, that's 86 percent. The Yellow Jackets, who are fourth in the nation in field goal shooting, shot 59 percent in the first half and finished at 71.
Duane Ferrell, a 6-foot-6 sophomore from Towson, Md., was a near-perfect example of why Georgia Tech (21-4 overall, 9-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) won and Maryland (15-12, 4-8) didn't.
Ferrell's unenviable and next-to-impossible mission yesterday was to try to stop Maryland's Len Bias. He wasn't terribly successful, as Bias scored a game-high 30 points. But on the other end, Ferrell, who is the fourth-leading scorer on the team, was six for seven from the floor for 12 points. John Salley went nine for 11 from the field, Mark Price seven for 11, Bruce Dalrymple five for eight and Craig Neal three for three.
"It feels good to win in here," Ferrell said. "Last year I didn't play that much because of foul trouble, so I wanted to play well in front of my family and friends.
"I wanted to contain Lenny as much as possible. I wasn't trying to stop him because there's no way you're going to do that."
With the Maryland defense concentrating a bit more on Salley and Price, there were offensive opportunities for others.
"They were playing kind of a junk defense," Ferrell said. "They were leaving the wings open for me and Craig (Neal, three for three for six points) and Bruce. It was just a matter of concentrating and sticking them."
Said Cremins: "We had to play well; Maryland is a great team. We did what we had to do, and what we had to do was play a great game . . . Ferrell, Dalrymple and Neal made some big shots. Sometimes we don't make those shots."
Price started slow, making only one of his first four shots, but in the second half he was four for four.
The senior all-America from Enid, Okla., who turned 22 a week ago today but looks more like a high school senior, had a bit of fuzz on his baby face. "I haven't shaved in a couple days," he said with a laugh. "I would say I'll keep it until we lose, but my mom is coming to visit this week."
Salley was also smiling. There was talk in preseason that Salley might be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. But coming into yesterday's game, he was averaging just 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds a game.
Cremins said his 7-0 senior center, who has had to adjust to playing without Yvon Joseph alongside of him, is starting to live up to the billing he had at the start of the year.
"Salley's really coming on," Cremins said. "John's started to realize what he has to do. He's scoring inside for us, he's rebounding better and he's become a more consistent player."
Salley recognizes that it's almost March, and if he's ever going to show his stuff, now's the time. "There's no more time to play around," he said. "No more excuses. It's time to dig down."
"I thought I did a good job on him," Bias said, shrugging. "He's a good player, and a good player is going to get his points."
Salley returned the compliment. "Len Bias is the best player in the country. I wished they would say that about me, but then I started too late. I concentrated as hard as I could, trying to outdo Len Bias."