Think about it: Had anyone suggested before the season that this Maryland men's basketball team would win 21 games, finish in a tie for fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference, advance to the semifinals of the ACC tournament, get a player on the All-America third team and draw a fifth seed in any region in the NCAA tournament, well, just say that serious counseling would have been in order.
All of that did happen, yet nearly everyone who was on the Terps' bandwagon in those heady January days is running for cover as Maryland prepares to play the College of Charleston in tonight's first round of the NCAA tournament (Channel 13, 7: 50).
Why has picking the Cougars, the 12th seed in the Southeast, in the office pool become the chic thing to do? Well, Maryland's end-of-season tailspin (eight losses in their last 12 games) and Charleston's dazzling 28-2 record, including 22 straight wins, provide the two-part answer.
"This is a team that starts four seniors and two of them are five-year players. I think this is a very dangerous game for Maryland," said CBS analyst George Raveling of College of Charleston.
Said Billy Packer: "I think that Gary Williams' team is struggling a little bit right now. I think that probably their seeding has a lot to do with how they finished up the year. I agree with George. I think the College of Charleston has proven in the last three years, not just this year, that they can play against quality teams and beat them. So I don't think they're going to be in awe of Maryland or the ACC at all. I think that's a very, very tough matchup."
Besides the obvious local interest, there's another reason to tune into the Terps-Cougars game: Tim Ryan and Al McGuire will call the action, and it's going to be worth it just to hear the colorful McGuire have a go with names like Obinna Ekezie and Sarunas Jasikevicius for a couple of hours.
The Maryland game is in the middle of a four-pack of tournament contests available locally, on channels 13 and 9, starting at 12: 15 with Princeton-California, followed by Long Island-Villanova around 2: 45. You'll have a chance for dinner between games, then the Maryland contest and finally Virginia-Iowa around 10 p.m.
An eye adjustment
On the eve of the NCAA tournament, its biggest annual event, CBS Sports and its new president, Sean McManus, have made a key hire to run the division's production wing.
Terry Ewert, who was head of production of Atlanta Olympic Broadcasting 1996 after 18 years as a producer at NBC, where he worked on such projects as "SportsWorld" and the 1988 Seoul Olympics, was named executive producer earlier this week.
Ewert will succeed Rick Gentile, longtime head of production at CBS Sports, who will supervise coverage of the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. Gentile's post-Olympic future with CBS has not been determined.
Naming the newcomer
Sports Illustrated has given the not-so-imaginative name Sports Illustrated Women/Sport and an April 21 launch date to its new sports magazine devoted to women.
The first issue of the magazine, targeted to reach women age 18-34, will feature contributions from such luminaries as Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Anna Quindlen, Olympic gold medal softball player Dot Richardson, and SI regulars Johnette Howard and Alexander Wolff.
A second issue of the new magazine will be published later in the year, with the frequency of future issues left up in the air.
Meeting the masses
For whatever reason, Channel 13's John Buren has been reluctant to do radio talk shows, particularly those where other local anchors were present.
In that vein, it was refreshing to hear Buren take part in a snappy give-and-take with Scott Garceau of Channel 2 last week on Greg Sher's "SportsLine" on WBAL (1090 AM). Buren possesses a quick wit, and it's interesting to hear it in a spontaneous forum like talk radio.
Pub Date: 3/13/97