Maryland continues to reel in the aftermath of its ghastly
meltdown against Duke
Maryland senior forward Terence Morris sat speechless in the
locker room for several minutes after a 96-82 loss at top-ranked
North Carolina last Saturday, the Terrapins' fourth defeat in
five games. Morris contemplated the fact that Maryland (15-8, 6-5
in the ACC), which many preseason prognosticators thought might
reach its first Final Four this year, was fighting to remain
among the top four teams in the ACC. Eventually he murmured,
"Lately we're very inconsistent with our defense and shot
selection, and that's put us in a funk. There's nothing else to
The Terps' slump began on Jan. 27 in College Park when Maryland
led Duke by 10 points with 54 seconds remaining in regulation,
only to lose 98-96 in overtime. It was a devastating defeat
because the Terps played as well as any team had this season for
39 minutes, followed by perhaps the ugliest minute of the year.
After that loss Maryland fans were chastised because a partially
filled bottle thrown from the stands had struck Duke center
Carlos Boozer's mother, Renee, on the head, but it was the Terps
who emerged from the game woozy. "That night was a bombshell in
terms of our momentum and confidence," Maryland coach Gary
Williams says. "When you have a marquee game like that won and
all of a sudden it's yanked from you, it has a hangover effect."
Four days after the Duke debacle, the Terps lost 99-78 at
Virginia, their most lopsided defeat of the season. Then after a
69-54 home victory over ACC bottom-feeder Clemson, Maryland
imploded in a 72-62 defeat at Georgia Tech, producing a season
low in points and a season-high 23 turnovers. The loss left one
Terrapins coach so frustrated that he left two holes in a wall
inside the visitors' locker room.
In troubled times, a team will turn to a senior captain or its
best player. Morris is both for Maryland, but he's also college
basketball's Garbo, one of the game's brighter stars and one of
its quieter voices. Morris has the humble attitude of a guy who
never attended the national summer basketball camps and attracted
relatively scant attention coming out of Governor Thomas Johnson
High in Frederick, Md. As a 12th-grader, Morris still rode the
bus to school. "Terence doesn't have the sense of entitlement,
the ego that a lot of other players have, and his critics see
that as a flaw," says Tom Dickman, Morris's high school coach.
"He's immensely talented, but if you're looking for a Knute
Rockne speech, you'd better find somebody else."
On the court Morris is often selfless to a fault. A 6'9"
sharpshooter who several NBA scouts predict will be a first-round
pick, Morris was averaging 16.1 points and 10.3 rebounds in
league games through Sunday, but he was attempting fewer than 13
shots per game. On Saturday three other Terps launched more shots
than Morris, who took only 11 as Maryland floundered. Williams
has given up on pushing Morris to be more selfish, accepting that
it's not in his makeup, and he acknowledges that the Terps lack a
natural leader. "We're a group of nice individuals," Williams
says. "We can't just go to a waiver wire, pick up a nasty guy and
say, 'O.K., you're our leader.'"
Williams reminds anyone who'll listen that there's no shame in
running third in the ACC standings behind North Carolina and No.
3 Duke. However, who would have thought Maryland would have been
tied with Georgia Tech, with a 6-5 league record, at week's end?
Further, there's growing anxiety among Terps fans over Maryland's
1-6 record against ranked teams this season and the lingering
trauma of the Duke collapse. "I never thought our hangover would
last this long," said junior guard Juan Dixon after the North
Carolina loss. "We badly need some wins. Wins are aspirin."
Gonzaga Keeps Going
Calvary Leading A Stampede
When Gonzaga lost All-West Coast Conference guards Richie Frahm
and Matt Santangelo to graduation and brought in eight new
players this season, most wags thought the Zags would slag to no
better than third in the league, behind Pepperdine and San Diego.
But given Gonzaga's 18-5 record and 10-0 conference mark through
Sunday, a different assessment now prevails: The school that gave
us John Stockton knows how to restock. "We may have different
faces," says senior forward Casey Calvary, a veteran of two Sweet
16 runs, "but the way we've played isn't different at all."
Gonzaga owes much of the success to Calvary, a 6'8" pogo stick
whose 20.6 points and 6.5 rebounds a game move admittedly biased
Zags coach Mark Few to pronounce him not only the best Casey on
the left coast (sorry, Mr. Jacobsen) but the best player as well.
"[Stanford's] Casey Jacobsen is having a nice year, but he
doesn't dominate the way our Casey does," says Few. "Plus
Calvary's facing double teams every night. If you put him in an
NBA game right now, he wouldn't be outclassed athletically. I
think he's a 12- to 14-year NBA guy."
One NBA scout calls Calvary "a Charlie Hustle with talent" who
could go late in the first round of this summer's draft, and
there's no question the Vanilla Gorilla (as opposing fans have
taken to calling him) has his athletic bona fides in order. With
a 400-pound bench press and a standing leap to 11'4", Calvary is
responsible for some of the most eye-popping highlights of the
past two seasons, including dunking over a stunned Kenyon Martin
against Cincinnati in December 1999 and shattering a backboard
against New Mexico last month. (Vials of the shards, complete
with a certificate of authenticity, are available for $10 a pop.)
Calvary's dunks are even more remarkable, however, for his
reactions to them. Not a peep. Not a single pointed finger.
Nothing. "I don't want to turn this into the XFL," he says. "If
we want to go back to tight shorts and hook shots, that's fine
Junior point guard Dan Dickau tells a story about the time he and
Calvary were watching a Tennessee game in which Vols forward Ron
Slay started dancing after merely drawing a foul on a layup
attempt. "I said, 'Casey, look at this guy, this is ridiculous,'"
Dickau recalls. "Casey got mad. He was, like, 'That's just
Dickau, a transfer from Washington, has contributed a surprising
16.7 points and 6.6 assists a game, which keeps defenders from
converging on Calvary. According to Few, it's no coincidence that
the Zags are 13-0 when Dickau finishes a game. (Gonzaga was
leading Arizona in November before Dickau broke a finger, causing
him to miss the next nine games, four of them losses.)
Still, it remains to be seen whether the Zags, one of five teams
(along with Duke, Florida, Michigan State and Purdue) to reach
the Sweet 16 in each of the last two seasons, can replicate their
recent accomplishments. While Gonzaga has a couple of impressive
nonconference road losses--narrow defeats by Arizona and
Florida--winning the West Coast tournament will be the only way
for the Zags to guarantee themselves an NCAA bid. "If we need it,
I hope the memory of what we've done in the tournament will
linger in the committee's mind," says Calvary, citing Gonzaga's
upsets of Stanford, Florida and St. John's in the last two years'
NCAAs. "We've proved in the past that we deserve to be
there." --Grant Wahl
Western Kentucky Sleeper
The Tallest of The Hilltoppers
Chris Marcus, Western Kentucky's 7'1", 285-pound sophomore
center, may still have a lot of growing up to do, but he's
becoming a big-time big man. In only his third year of playing
organized basketball, Marcus was third in the nation in
rebounding (11.7 per game) and 11th in blocks (3.3) through
Sunday, and he's the primary reason the Hilltoppers were atop the
Sun Belt Conference East with a 10-2 record (17-6 overall).
Moreover, this self-described "quiet giant" has generated quite a
buzz among the dozens of NBA scouts who have added the unlikely
destination of Bowling Green, Ky., to their itineraries this
winter. "He's better than Michael Olowokandi was at the same
age," says one scout, referring to the Pacific center who was the
No. 1 pick in the 1998 draft. "I don't think he's ready for the
NBA yet, but he's got an unbelievable wingspan and he gets to the
rim really quick. I'm not sure the sky's the limit, but right now
I don't see a ceiling."
That's high praise considering that Marcus's career almost never
got off the ground. He didn't decide to play basketball until
just before his senior year at Olympic High in Charlotte.
"Everybody told me to play because I was tall, but my heart
wasn't in it," he says. Even though he spent long stretches on
the bench, Marcus impressed Clemson assistant Dennis Felton, who
was recruiting two of Marcus's teammates. Felton was intrigued by
Marcus's soft hands and shooting touch, and after he was hired as
the coach at Western Kentucky in March 1998, he offered Marcus a
scholarship. "I told him that developing his personality was
going to be as important as developing his skills," Felton says.
"He had to come out of his shell."
Marcus agreed to redshirt his freshman year to help ease the
transition to college life, but he was plagued by homesickness
and several times considered dropping out of school. Marcus began
last season as a reserve, but he progressed rapidly after Felton
inserted him into the starting lineup in the Hilltoppers' fifth
game. He finished the season as the Sun Belt leader in rebounds
(9.5 per game) and was named the league's newcomer and defensive
player of the year.
Marcus has lost 30 pounds since arriving at Western Kentucky, and
after starting last season as the Hilltoppers' weakest player,
he's now their strongest. He has also evolved into an efficient
offensive player, having made 52.5% of his shots while leading
Western Kentucky in scoring (16.2). "He's still learning
something every time he steps on the court," Felton says. "He's
also changing the way everybody plays us. Nobody guards us
man-to-man anymore." --Seth Davis
For complete scores and recruiting news, plus more news from
Seth Davis and Grant Wahl, go to cnnsi.com/basketball/college.
WEEKLY SEED REPORT
Can't anyone here play this game? That's the burning question
after nine of our 16 seeded teams from last week lost, three of
them twice. Goodbye Tennessee, which fell victim to Arkansas and
Mississippi. Adios also to Georgetown, a 103-79 loser to
Providence; Wisconsin, which went down to Ohio State; and
crumbling Maryland, another two-time loser. Virginia barely held
on as a No. 4 after falling to N.C. State and Georgia Tech.
The week's winners include Illinois, now the top seed in the
Midwest thanks to its defeat of Michigan State, and Oklahoma,
UCLA, Kentucky and Ole Miss, which are seeds for the first time
1. North Carolina (21-2)
2. Arizona (17-6)
3. Boston College (18-2)
4. Kentucky (15-7)
1. Duke (22-2)
2. Kansas (19-3)
3. Syracuse (19-4)
4. Mississippi (19-4)
1. Illinois (19-5)
2. Iowa State (21-3)
3. Florida (16-5)
4. UCLA (15-6)
1. Stanford (22-1)
2. Michigan State (19-3)
3. Oklahoma (19-4)
4. Virginia (16-6)
The Joe College Report
Comeback of the week: Lafayette junior guard Brian Burke said he
felt as if he was going to die after suffering a collapsed lung
during a loss at Fordham on Dec. 11. Well, take a deep breath:
On Sunday, in his first game back, Burke scored 23 points in 15
minutes in the Leopards' 87-78 upset of Navy....
No wonder Louisville's players don't wear names on the backs of
their jerseys. You'd want to be anonymous, too, if you were 9-15
with five home losses by 20 or more points. The Louisville
women, by contrast, have been so good (12-1 in Conference USA)
that it appears coach Martin Clapp will have to honor a
preseason promise to either get his ear pierced, shave his head
or dye his black hair blond (players' choice) if the Cardinals,
who had a five-game lead as of Sunday, hold on to win the
Hey, UNLV brass, stop wooing Rick Pitino for a second and take
notice: Interim coach Max Good has the 14-9 Rebels playing good
ball. "I get the feeling that some people around here don't want
us to have a team this year," says Good, who had led UNLV to an
11-5 record through Sunday since replacing Bill Bayno on Dec.
12. "They want us to pack it in and play out the season so they
can bring in their people. But we won't stop fighting."...
Memo to Bob Knight: Based on your wacky interview in the March
Playboy, you might want to stop threatening to throw reporters
out of your car and make them hitchhike home if you really hope
to get out the story that you were unjustly fired.