COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams continues to tinker with his lineup, but he keeps reaching the same conclusion: the Terrapins seem to play their best when Sarunas Jasikevicius is on the court.
After starting at shooting guard for Laron Profit in the team's first exhibition game last week, the junior guard from Lithuania started for Terrell Stokes at the point against Court Authority last night at Cole Field House.
Jasikevicius, a spotty player his first two seasons, continued to make his points for Williams to find him time this season. He scored 14 of them to go along with seven assists and six rebounds in helping Maryland to a 93-69 victory.
In dominating a team that had played close games against ACC favorites Wake Forest and North Carolina, as well as Atlantic 10 favorite George Washington, the Terps placed all five starters in double figures.
Senior forward Keith Booth led Maryland with 17 points, and sophomores Profit and Obinna Ekezie had 16 apiece. Junior forward Rodney Elliott contributed 11.
"What we're trying to do at this time of year is develop a way to play," said Williams, whose team will open the 1996-97 regular season Tuesday against Howard. "We hope that we are seeing signs that we can be a very good team."
The signs are pointing toward Williams going to a smaller, quicker lineup that will move Booth back to his natural position as an undersized power forward, use Ekezie at center and have three guards in Profit, Stokes and Jasikevicius.
The improvement of Jasikevicius has been the biggest surprise of the preseason, and could figure mightily if Maryland is to exceed the predictions by most that say the Terps will finish in the bottom third of the ACC.
"I've told Coach since I've been here that I could play point guard," said Jasikevicius, who was recruited as a three-point specialist. "I kind of knew Coach had to play me at some point this year. It was up to me to keep working hard."
Said Williams: "I kind of blame myself that he didn't play more. But we had Johnny [Rhodes], Ex [Exree Hipp] and Duane [Simpkins] and they had helped us to two straight Sweet 16s. But [Jasikevicius is] a lot better this year, even defensively."
Williams had planned to go with his three-guard lineup to start last night, but Stokes arrived only 15 minutes before tip-off after attending the funeral of his grandmother in Philadelphia.
Maryland could wind up using as many as four players at the point this season, with Profit also seeing time along with junior Matt Kovarik. Asked if it's a nice problem to have, Williams said, "It's just good. Both these guys [Jasikevicius and Profit] are playing great. They'll be on the court."
Pub Date: 11/20/96