Like its home crowds, Terps basketball is back on its feet again

All things considered, last Saturday was a good day to be a Terp.

In a very literal sense, all the Maryland men and women accomplished were wins over their North Carolina State counterparts, games that will only count singly in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings.


But the symbolism of those victories may have a lasting impact.

There was an atmosphere in the 35-year-old Cole Field House that hasn't been felt in more than a few years, as the men built a 17-point lead over the Wolfpack and held off a late charge for a 104-100 victory. Terps supporters have embraced a scrappy bunch of overachievers who, at 12-7, already have surpassed most expectations.


Saturday's near-sellout crowd, often among the most indifferent in college basketball, stayed behind the Terps, even as N.C. State made its comeback.

"That was a great setting and atmosphere at Maryland," said Les Robinson, N.C. State's first-year coach.

"That's the way it should be and that's the way it will be here," said coach Gary Williams, whose playing days at Maryland preceded the glorious period of Lefty Driesell, Tom McMillen and Len Elmore, when Terps rooters came as much to see their team as the opponents.

In the nightcap, the Maryland women, who just a month ago were reeling at .500, notched their biggest win of the year, over then third-ranked N.C. State 81-80 to move to 13-6, and a surprising 6-1 in the ACC.

A crowd of less than 1,900 saw the contest, but they saw a great game and the further development of junior forward Ana Marjanovic, coach Chris Weller's latest foreign discovery.

Marjanovic, a 6-foot-3 transfer from American University by way of New Belgrade, Yugoslavia, scored the last six points for the Terps, including a free throw with eight seconds to play that provided the margin of victory.

Marjanovic, whom Weller describes as a "utility player," missed her first foul shot and then blocked out everything to make the second.

"I heard a lot of noise and then I decided to keep focused on what I'm going to do," said Marjanovic. "If I were to answer some of the calls, I wouldn't have made the second one."


Cracked Weller: "In other words, she tuned me out."

Marjanovic had 10 points last night, but the Terps, now ranked 24th, still lost to No. 2 Penn State, 75-70.

* RESPECT, TEXAS STYLE: The Texas Longhorns are playing as well as anybody. Anybody outside of Las Vegas, anyway.

One season removed from a Final Eight berth, Texas (12-5) has won five straight, seven of their last eight and are just one game behind second-ranked Arkansas for the Southwest Conference lead.

In two games last week against Texas Tech and Texas Christian, the Longhorns held the Red Raiders and Frogs to a combined 114 points, allowing the two teams to shoot a combined 39 percent from the floor.

But they can't crack the Associated Press Top 25 poll, conducted by writers and broadcasters, and coach Tom Penders, whose last job was at the helm of Rhode Island, thinks he has an idea why.


"I know the Eastern writers," said Penders. "They have a bloc or perhaps a built-in prejudice against teams in the West.

"I mean, I think Princeton's a good team, but I wouldn't mind playing them. I don't think there's a good argument that they're a better team or have played a tougher schedule than we have.

"We're a top 25 quality team. Maybe we don't have enough voters in Texas."

* TOO GOOD TOO SOON? When Rick Pitino took over the scandal- and NCAA sanction-ridden Kentucky program last season, he and the rest of the basketball world thought it would take some time to rebuild the image and potency of one of the nation's most celebrated units.

"I told our recruits that probation's not going to hurt us because we're not going to be an NCAA tournament team for a while," Pitino said this week.

Lo and behold, the 10th-ranked Wildcats -- who are banned from tournament play this year, are 15-3 overall and 7-1 in Southeastern Conference play -- are slowly realizing how quickly the rebuilding process can go.


"Now that we're a top 10 team and we've come to the realization that we could catch lightning in a bottle and do something, it's really starts to hurt a bit," Pitino said.

* AROUND THE RIM: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, a Chicago native, says he is not interested in the Notre Dame job, despite recent speculation in a national publication.

Arkansas is 8-0 after one pass through the SWC, to bring its half-season conference record over the last four years to 30-2. The Razorbacks, who will go to the SEC next year, have won or shared three of the four titles.

The Georgia Tech-Maryland game will be played Friday night in Atlanta, rather than Saturday, because of the Terps' prohibition from appearing on live television.

As it is, the Yellow Jackets will be at home tonight against Duke, Friday against Maryland and Sunday vs. N.C. State, for three games in five days.

* PICKIN' AND GRINNIN': Your Fearless Prognosticator's record goes to 1-2 with last week's scintillating pick of Nebraska over Oklahoma in Norman.


Never one to rest on his laurels, FP says that Minnesota will send Bobby Knight tossin' them chairs with an upset over Indiana Sunday in Minneapolis.