COLLEGE PARK -- You apparently don't have to spend much time around this year's Maryland men's basketball team before you start speaking the "L" word.
Not that "L" word, but "like." ESPN analyst Clark Kellogg worked Wednesday's Maryland-Clemson game here, and even though the 11th-ranked Terps dropped a 67-63 decision to the Tigers, Kellogg still, well, likes them and their chances.
"This team likes each other, and you can very easily see that. That makes them a better team than they otherwise might be. I like [Keith] Booth and his senior leadership, and [Obinna] Ekezie has made some great strides," said Kellogg, who also praised guards Terrell Stokes and Sarunas Jasikevicius and forward Laron Profit.
What Kellogg doesn't like about the Terps was the element that hurt them Wednesday, their poor outside shooting.
"When you're a little smaller as the Terps are, your quickness can serve you, especially on defense. But I also think if you've got good perimeter shooters, you can more effectively spread people out, and Maryland has struggled shooting from the perimeter," said Kellogg.
Kellogg said Maryland, which faces No. 2 Wake Forest on the road Sunday (4 p.m., Channel 54), has a shot to finish in the middle of the Atlantic Coast Conference, but with the parity in the league, it's hard to know who to, well, like.
"There's such a thin line between the teams. You look at Wake, and clearly you would put them out in front, but now Clemson's right there, so you would put those two teams together. Then you look at Maryland and Virginia, and they're right there. I would say they're right there in the middle and with a good bit of fortune, they can get into that third spot. It's too balanced a league to make a decision right now. I see Wake Forest and Clemson and after that, it's a pick 'em."
The returns are in
Sure, the professional hockey and basketball seasons have been in full bloom for a couple of months, but that matters not a whit to the broadcast networks that carry their games.
Fox, which picks up the NHL season at its All-Star break this weekend, will re-introduce FoxTrax, that darling little electronically-enhanced glowing puck at tomorrow's All-Star Game (Channel 45, 8 p.m.).
Network officials promise that, unlike last year, you'll actually be able to see the puck's glow, which will be more stable, coming from four of 13 cameras positioned around the San Jose Arena, site of the 41st annual game.
"When we introduced FoxTrax, we said it would be a work-in-progress," said Fox executive producer Ed Goren. "Because of the technical magnitude of this system, we monitored it week after week and we found that the one aspect we wanted to improve was the stability of the glow surrounding the puck. We have made that adjustment and it is a major improvement from a year ago."
ESPN will get the festivities going tonight at 9 with All-Star Friday activities, which include puck-handling and shooting competitions and the legends game, during which analyst Darren Pang will be miked while he plays goalie.
Meanwhile, the NBA comes back to NBC (Channel 11) with a Sunday doubleheader, which opens with Miami facing Orlando at noon, followed by Houston taking on Chicago.
Around the dial
TBS is trying a cute wrinkle for its coverage of tomorrow's Senior Bowl college football all-star game (2 p.m.) by turning sideline reporting duties over to Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green and Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Joe Phillips, whose respective coaches, Norv Turner and Marty Schottenheimer, will lead the North and South squads.
As if we won't be bombarded with enough football next week, Fox (Channel 45) presents the 14th annual "All-Madden Team" at 5 p.m. Sunday. John Madden freely admits that this should be the 13th annual squad, but has conveniently skipped that number and says, "When we get there, we won't have a 113th All-Madden team either."
Finally, Sun columnist Ken Rosenthal adds a 10 a.m. Sunday morning talk show to his 7 p.m. Monday program on WJFK (1300 AM).
Pub Date: 1/17/97