COLLEGE PARK - John Bowie seems to know everybody. Like a politician greeting constituents, he sits outside Comcast Center on a sunny day exchanging pleasantries with passersby.
"JB, what's up?" he says to Maryland forward Jerome Burney jogging by. Moments later, he hops up and hugs Byron Mouton, a member of Maryland's 2002 national championship team who retains ties with the program.
Bowie, 55, is the father of Adrian Bowie, the Terrapins' sophomore guard. He is also a Maryland fixture. Once a ballboy at Cole Field House when Lefty Driesell was coach, Bowie has been a Maryland equipment manager for more than 20 years.
His memories provide a link between today's players and the school's basketball past.
"I knew [John] Lucas, [Len] Elmore, [Tom] McMillen - all those guys were good to me," said Bowie, who grew up in Prince George's County and starred at Bowie State. "Basketball is a way of life for me. I'm an equipment manager, I'm a fan, I'm a dad."
These days, he's an especially proud dad. Adrian, a 6-foot-2 guard, has started the past 16 games and is one of three Terps averaging in double figures at 10.4 points.
"That was my dream. That was my wife's dream," the elder Bowie said of his son's playing for Maryland.
Adrian played in high school with fellow Terrapin Greivis Vasquez at Montrose Christian. He was ranked among the nation's top 30 shooting guards by Rivals.com and Scout.com. When it came time to select a college, his father said he didn't want to push.
Not surprisingly, Adrian chose Maryland. He had been a ballboy for the team as his father had and was steeped in all things Terrapins.
"As a ballboy, Adrian used to challenge anybody who came through the tunnel to play, and then he'd rebound for them," the father said.
Growing up surrounded by the game aided his confidence. Adrian Bowie is not showy, but he is rarely hampered by self-doubt.
"I know not many people can stay in front of me. At any time, I can go by anybody," Adrian said.
The speedy Bowie averaged 3.7 points as a freshman but occasionally struggled with turnovers.
"I looked at a lot of film on my turnovers, and I worked on my ball-handling all summer," he said. "I worked on trying to keep my head up because I had a problem last year with keeping my head down and not seeing open people."
This season, Bowie had a career-high 23 points at Miami, followed by 14 at Florida State and 17 against Virginia.
His scoring has since tailed off as teams have scouted Bowie and Maryland has played against tougher opponents Duke and North Carolina.
"Teams adjust," Maryland coach Gary Williams said yesterday before the Terps (14-8, 3-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) watched film for their game tonight at Georgia Tech (10-11, 1-7) . Williams said the challenge for Bowie "is to continue to improve [his] game."
The elder Bowie doesn't seem concerned. He was once equipment manager for men's basketball and now handles baseball, men's lacrosse and other sports. But he always finds times for his son's games. He logs countless hours driving to road games with his wife, Marsha.
Adrian "has passion. He always had passion," John Bowie said. "I used to bring home game tapes [when Adrian was young] and he would watch with me. At practice, I told him Gary [Williams] would kick him out if he made noise. He never made a peep."
What to look for
Maryland must keep Georgia Tech from dominating the boards. Alade Aminu had 17 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets in Maryland's 68-61 win Jan. 10, and Gani Lawal had 10.
Can the undersized Terps pack in on Lawal and prevent him scoring in the post?
What it means
Maryland must capture all its winnable games - and this is one - to keep alive its dwindling hopes for an NCAA tournament bid.
MARYLAND (14-8, 3-5) @GA. TECH (10-11, 1-7)
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: 1300 AM, 105.7 FM
Line: Tech by 1