COLLEGE PARK -- Ever since it was announced that Maryland would open the 1993-94 basketball season against Georgetown on Nov. 26 -- several days ahead of most Division I teams -- Terrapins coach Gary Williams has talked about how he wished practice could begin before the previously scheduled Nov. 1 opening date.
Williams, not to mention the rest of the nation's college basketball coaches, have gotten their wish. The NCAA quietly announced last week that the first official day of practice had been changed to Oct. 30 to accommodate those schools planning to open practice with the autumn ritual known as "Midnight Madness."
While the Terps won't duplicate last year's late-night celebration, they will have television analyst Al McGuire speak at a dinner Oct. 27.
Williams was pleased to get a couple of extra days to prepare his young team for its opener against the Hoyas. But he'd like to see the NCAA move the opening of practice closer to Oct. 15, which had been the date until last season's Nov. 1 opener.
"I'm happy about it, but I'd still like a compromise, somewhere around Oct. 25," Williams said during his team's media day at Cole Field House. "For 40 years basketball players, myself included, started playing Oct. 15 and I don't think it affected us adversely in terms of academics."
NCAA spokesman Jim Marchiony, who was on the Maryland campus yesterday speaking to athletic director Andy Geiger about future national lacrosse championships, said that the move to Oct. 30 came as a result of a request by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
"The coaches just felt that since no class schedules were affected anyway, what would be the harm of opening on Friday night [at midnight] or Saturday," said Marchiony.
Marchiony said that the old Oct. 15 date could be voted in again at next year's NCAA convention, or possibly a compromise date. For now, the rule will state that if Nov. 1 falls on a Monday, practice can be moved up to the previous weekend in order to help those who want to hold "Midnight Madness."
Starters appear set
While saying there will be competition for playing time, Williams strongly hinted that this year's starting lineup will consist of sophomores Johnny Rhodes, Exree Hipp and Duane Simpkins, as well as freshmen Keith Booth of Baltimore and Joe Smith of Norfolk, Va.
"Our team this year is probably the most interesting team I've ever coached," said Williams, who is starting his fifth year at Maryland. "This is probably the youngest starting team I've ever coached."
Assistant coach Billy Hahn and trainer J.J. Bush were overhead talking about someone named "Johnny," who had a back injury and was bent over from a possible slipped disk.
A reporter listening in assumed they were talking about Rhodes, the team's starting shooting guard who had yet to appear at media day. They went on to say that "Johnny" had undergone a magnetic resonance imaging yesterday.
"How long is he going to be out?" the reporter asked Bush.
"Why?" asked the puzzled trainer.
"Will he miss the beginning of practice?" Hahn was asked.
"Who, Johnny Holliday?" said Bush, referring to the team's veteran play-by-play announcer.