SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The University of Maryland's preparations for the first game of the Hall of Fame Classic were spoiled when the lack of heat in the Springfield Civic Center Monday afternoon forced the Terps to find another practice site.
But they could have practiced making snowmen for all it mattered in last night's first-round game with Hofstra. Led by standout freshman Joe Smith (21 points, eight rebounds), the Terps toyed with the Flying Dutchmen, 93-67.
The win set up a hotly anticipated showdown tonight with ninth-ranked University of Massachusetts, which routed Hartford, 91-62, in the opener. The tournament final will reunite former Dunbar teammates Keith Booth of the Terps (7-1) and Donta Bright of UMass (8-1).
The Maryland-Hofstra game was such a mismatch, it made the few spectators who remained for its conclusion wonder why Flying Dutchmen coach Butch Van Breda Kolff, 71, with 40 years TC of coaching in the pros and college and 765 career victories, would bother to delay his mandated retirement.
The Terps came out pressing full court from the opening tap, converting Hofstra turnovers into a 6-0 lead. Booth and Smith were doing most of the damage as the margin ballooned to 15-5 after five minutes.
The undersized Flying Dutchmen (1-7), whose tallest player was 6-foot-7 center Pat Cosgrove, had difficulty just getting a shot off against the Terps' active front line.
Smith, in particular, looked like a man among boys, rejecting shots on one end and then racing downcourt to score on dunks and layups.
With the lead 27-9, Maryland coach Gary Williams substituted freely. But he paced the sideline furiously when the Terps went through a three-minute scoring drought.
The starters were rushed back into action, but the cold shooting continued. Smith finally ended the dry spell by converting a rebound for a 29-12 cushion with five minutes left in the half.
More than half of the crowd of 8,492 -- mostly UMass supporters -- had already left the arena and missed a spectacular running dunk by Exree Hipp over a pair of Hofstra defenders for a 32-13 lead.
Hofstra, which has beaten only Yale, simply lacked the offensive weapons to make a run at the Terps.
"Tonight was a situation where we simply had the best players," Williams said. "Our main concern with Hofstra was all the back-door plays and screens they like to run. But we did a good job of forcing the tempo."
The twin blowouts set up a meeting between two of the nation's top freshmen, Smith and the more heralded Marcus Camby of UMass.
"He's an excellent player, but I'm not going to try and make it into a one-on-one situation," said Smith.
Williams seemed equally concerned with ways to neutralize UMass captain Lou Roe, who had 13 rebounds in the opening game.
"But I'm impressed by their whole team," he said. "Any time a non-ACC team beats North Carolina, it has to get your attention."
Maryland converted 58 percent of its first-half field-goal attempts (18-31) and Hofstra was limited to six baskets on 21 shots. Smith had 12 points, five blocks and five rebounds. Point guard Duane Simpkins chipped in with 10 points and five assists.
The rout continued in the second half with the spread growing to 57-28 after the first five minutes.
In the opener, Massachusetts used strong three-point shooting to overcome Hartford's sagging defense on Roe and Camby. UMass was led by Mike Williams' 21 points as it returned from a 16-day layoff.
Derek Kellogg added 14 points for UMass. The 6-7 Roe, who was averaging 24.1 points, and the 6-11 Camby added 13 each. Camby had eight blocks in 18 minutes and 7-2 Jeff Meyer had five in 14 minutes.
Hartford (1-5), whose tallest player is 6-7, was led by Mike Bond's 14 points and Gandhi Jordan's 10.
With the score 39-22, the Minutemen scored the next 15 points, including three-pointers by Roe and Williams, for a 54-22 lead with 1:17 left in the half.
Massachusetts' biggest lead was 43 points, the last time when Williams' layup made it 73-30 with 14:45 left. Hartford got the next eight points as Massachusetts coach John Calipari began clearing his bench.
As successful as his teammates were, ex-Poet Bright struggled for the Minutemen, scoring six points in 20 minutes.
"Donta was a step slow tonight, and I don't know why," said Calipari. "Obviously, we'll expect a bigger contribution from him when we play Maryland."