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Loyola's problem: Terps look better in person


COLLEGE PARK -- Skip Prosser's first trip to Cole Field House came earlier this week, when the first-year Loyola College basketball coach had to scout the University of Maryland.

Prosser was impressed with the atmosphere that surrounded the Terrapins during their 81-58 blowout victory over Wake Forest. And he was even more impressed with the Terps themselves.

"They're even better in person than they are on tape," Prosser said the following day.

Prosser's second trip will come tonight, when his Greyhounds (12-10) play Maryland (14-7) in a nonconference game. It marks the first meeting between the schools in six years.

"We told our kids at practice, 'It's never when you're playing a team or where you're playing a team, it's how you play,' " Prosser said. "We just want to make sure that we play hard. If we do, that's all you can ask."

As a longtime assistant under Pete Gillen at Xavier, Prosser has been part of several notable David-over-Goliath upsets. But none would be bigger than if Loyola were to shock the Terps on their home court.

Considering the similar styles both teams play, that seems unlikely. Maryland is just a bigger, faster and more athletic version of Loyola,with a full-court press that has sliced up many teams a lot better than the Greyhounds.

"It's getting put in the crucible," Prosser said. "You learn a lot about yourself in those situations."

Maryland coach Gary Williams is concerned about the way his young team will react to its first non-league game since %o December, but seems confident that the Terps won't let down with so much at stake.

And the two-game Atlantic Coast Conference winning streak that followed a four-game losing streak has seemingly given Maryland its second wind for the season. Tonight's game is an interlude before the Terps jump back into the league, with road games next week against North Carolina State and Clemson.

"You get tired during the year," said Williams, whose Terps are perhaps one ACC win away from locking up an NCAA bid. "The games are pressure situations, and pressure has a way to tire you out."

If there's an individual matchup that should set the tone for tonight's game, it's the battle at point guard between Loyola's Tracy Bergan, a 6-foot-1 senior, and Maryland's Duane Simpkins, a 6-foot sophomore.

As a senior five years ago at DeMatha High School, Bergan was the starter and Simpkins, then a freshman, was his backup. The two guards have often worked out together during the summer.

"He's a very intense competitor," Simpkins said of Bergan. "You can see that without even knowing him, by just looking at a tape. But I'm not concerned about that. I just want to go out and get the win."

Bergan said: "It's going to be fun. When I was at DeMatha, I sort of took Duane under my wing and our families were close."

As for his team's chances of pulling off an upset, Bergan said it will have to do more with the way Loyola plays than the way Maryland plays. He is hoping the Terps are not ready, but knows that's about as big a long shot as the Greyhounds will be tonight.

"Maybe they will be looking past us, maybe we'll catch them napping," he said. "But I'm sure Coach Williams will tell them that they shouldn't take us lightly. I think no matter what happens, it'll be a good experience for our team. The big crowd will be similar to the conference tournament. The level of talent will be higher."

And if the Terps play as well as they did Wednesday night, it should be over quickly.

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