COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams said yesterday that he is looking into the possibility of changing his starting lineup. Among the options Williams is considering is replacing junior Terrell Stokes at point guard and giving more playing time to freshman forward Terence Morris.
Beginning with yesterday's practice, which was closed to the media, Williams will experiment with a number of different lineups before the 19th-ranked Terrapins take the court at Cole Field House on Saturday against UMBC.
Williams could move either junior Sarunas Jasikevicius over from shooting guard to point guard, thus bringing Morris into the starting lineup, or have fifth-year senior Matt Kovarik take over at the point.
"We have won a lot of games the past couple of years with Terrell," Williams said. "It's something you want to look at, but you don't have to make a decision immediately."
There was one other move Williams was contemplating.
"Don't be surprised to see Terrell in there," he said.
Stokes has been widely criticized this season for his inconsistent lTC play at point guard, particularly in running the team's half-court offense. It has contributed to Maryland (4-3) losing leads late in each of its losses, most recently in Monday night's 70-66 defeat to George Washington in the final of the Franklin National Bank Classic in Washington.
Williams has never wavered publicly in his support of Stokes, even after last week's overtime loss at Clemson.
The upset of then-second-ranked Kansas in the first round of the tournament helped defuse the issue, but Stokes was badly outplayed by Shawnta Rogers in the final.
Jasikevicius, who has played point guard on the Lithuanian National Team, has a better assist-to-turnover ratio (29-16) than Stokes (27-19) and is considered the team's best three-point shooter. There is also a feeling that Williams needs to get Morris into the rotation with more regularity, possibly into the starting lineup.
"I feel Terence Morris deserves more minutes than [the 10] he got against George Washington, but at the same time Terence can't let people beat him off the dribble," Williams said. "Terence has gone from playing in the post to guarding guys like Paul Pierce away from the basket."
Laron Profit said that Morris has to pick up his intensity when he's on the court and that Williams has to understand that Morris might be playing hard when it looks as if he is coasting. It is much the same thing that Profit went through as a freshman before finally replacing Exree Hipp.
"This is a totally different level, and a different type of atmosphere than you're used to in high school," said Profit, a junior who struggled with his intensity for his first two years at Maryland. "With a guy like Terence, everything looks like it comes so easily."
Another possibility would be for Williams to move Profit from small forward to point guard, similar to what he did in his first year at Maryland with Walt Williams. Profit said yesterday that he is comfortable playing either small forward, shooting guard or point guard.
"That's definitely up to Coach Williams," Profit said. "Whatever is best for the team, I'll do."
Pub Date: 12/11/97