With the second edition of the ACC-Big East Challenge series looming on the horizon, Maryland and Georgetown are using different means of preparation. The Terrapins travel to Morgantown today to meet West Virginia, the Hoyas play host to Southern Indiana.
In other matchups involving area schools, American faces Lehigh at Bender Arena and Virginia welcomes Winthrop to Charlottesville.
Maryland, picked to finish eighth in the ACC, will be in Richmond on Monday to play Boston College. A year ago, the Terrapins followed a tough loss to South Carolina with a 22-point defeat to Connecticut in the Challenge series.
"We're already better so far this year than we were a year ago," Williams said yesterday, alluding to victories over Towson State and Southern California. "We could play good the next two games and still not get wins, but that would be okay because I know we're working hard and are trying to get better."
The Terps have been particularly surprising under the backboards, registering a 48-39 rebounding advantage against a smaller Towson squad and a hard-fought 48-33 edge against Southern Cal.
Center Cedric Lewis has 27 rebounds, forward Garfield Smith 17, and 6-foot-3 forward Vince Broadnax has grabbed 15. Broadnax had eight of his rebounds against Southern Cal, an achievement made all the more remarkable because his defensive assignment was to stop perimeter shooter Harold Miner.
"I really thought we were going to be weak" at rebounding, Williams said. "I didn't think we were doing a good job of it during our practices but I guess we were really working hard against each other."
Maryland will get another test of muscle and mettle in Morgantown, W.Va. The smallest Mountaineers player on the front line weighs 200 pounds, and center Phil Wilson and forward Chris Brooks each weighs more than 230.
Brooks is averaging 16 points and nine rebounds per game.
Ninth-ranked Georgetown's Capital Centre matchup with Southern Indiana should provide more intrigue than the typical early season contest against a Division II opponent. That's because 7-2 Georgetown center Dikembe Mutombo will compete against his 6-10 older brother, Ilo.
The two haven't met on a basketball court since migrating to the United States from Kinshasa, Zaire; in fact, Dikembe says he has seen his brother face to face only twice in four years of college.
It was Ilo who first made Dikembe, then a soccer-loving high school sophomore, take up basketball. And as a potential NBA lottery pick next summer, the younger Mutombo remains grateful.
"If I make it to the NBA, I owe it all to them," he said. "But that doesn't mean I will let up on my brother. I will show him something."
Georgetown Coach John Thompson will keep an eye on that.
"I think it's going to be interesting watching Dikembe's reaction to playing against his brother," he said. "Emotionally, I'm going to have to watch that because I know that they are very fond of one another and very excited."
Georgetown, which faces No. 8 Duke in an ACC-Big East Challenge game Wednesday, has a collection of new players who have experienced only a pair of blowout victories over NAIA opponents Hawaii Loa and Hawaii Pacific.
But Thompson seems to have taken an instant liking to his current group of freshmen, and the Hoyas apparently have adapted to their new cast quickly.
"I think we have pretty much identified the things that we need to identify," he said. "I think it's a question now of us being able to get those things to become consistent and to become the best we can possible be as a team. How good that is I'm not quite certain of right now."