Seniors Johnny Rhodes, Mario Lucas, Duane Simpkins and Exree
Hipp don't get much garbage time on the basketball court, having
been key members of the Maryland team for three years now. But
they get plenty of it at home: Each week it's a different
roommate's turn to take out the trash in the four-bedroom
apartment they share in College Park, Md. "We keep it pretty
clean," Rhodes says. "If we'd lived there when we were freshmen,
it probably would have been a little junky, but now we're more
That's the situation in the gym, too. Their freshman year was
mostly junk, with a 2-14 record in ACC games. Last season, when
they were juniors, the Terps tied for the conference title with
a 12-4 record, finishing 26-8 overall. "They've turned the
program around," coach Gary Williams says. Even without center
Joe Smith, the first pick in the 1995 NBA draft, this Maryland
team could sparkle as brightly as the seniors' kitchen floor.
"There is life after Joe," says junior forward Keith Booth.
"Everyone asks the same question: Are we going to be good
without Joe?" Lucas says. "But all of us can get an extra
rebound or add three points."
Lucas has already added an inch and 20 pounds, and at 6'9" and
240 pounds, he is the primary candidate to fill Smith's spot.
Behind Lucas, and looking for playing time, is Obinna Ekezie, a
6'10", 250-pound freshman who came to the U.S. from Nigeria in
Otherwise the lineup looks the same as it did the last two
seasons, with 6'4" steals specialist Rhodes at shooting guard
and 6-foot Simpkins at point guard. At forward, it's 6'5" Booth
and 6'8" Hipp, who has started 92 straight games (call him
Hipp-ken)--every game since he arrived on campus in the fall of
1992. There have been times when Hipp felt as if he might not be
able to walk, much less play. Last season he pulled muscles in
his lower back while jumping over the scorer's table in pursuit
of a loose ball. Before the following game he received heat
treatments right up until tip-off but still made it onto the
court. "I just wanted to show my toughness," says Hipp, and he
thinks the younger players took note. "They've played through
some things that maybe they wouldn't have otherwise."
It's understandable that Hipp would want to come through for his
teammates. He, Simpkins and Rhodes grew up together in
Washington, D.C., and were close friends by the time they
arrived at Maryland. "Duane already knew where I liked the ball,
and I knew where Johnny liked to spot up for threes," Hipp says.
Lucas, who went to Fairley High in Memphis, had met his future
classmates at high school tournaments around the country. And
Booth, even though he's a year behind the others in school, had
played against Hipp, Simpkins and Rhodes in high school and AAU
games. "We're a close-knit team," says Booth, including himself
in the group even though he doesn't get to hang out at the
seniors' apartment--enjoying their Sega and cable TV--as often as
he would like. "They live about 10 miles from campus," he
explains, "and I only have a bike."
COLOR PHOTO: MANNY MILLAN Without Smith, Booth has to step up. [Keith Booth]
THE DATA BOX
Coach: Gary Williams
Career record: 312-205 (17 seasons)
Record at Maryland: 105-77 (6 seasons)
1994-95 record: 26-8 (final ranking: 11th)
ACC record: 12-4 (tied for first)
SF *Exree Hipp, 6'8", Sr.
Shoots 56.5% inside arc, 31.9% behind it
PF *Keith Booth, 6'5", Jr.
Leading returning rebounder: 7.3 per game
C Mario Lucas, 6'9", Sr.
ACC's top sixth man replaces Smith
SG *Johnny Rhodes, 6'4", Sr.
Defensive stopper turned offensive threat
PG *Duane Simpkins, 6'0", Sr.
Averaging 12.7 points, 5.7 assists in NCAAs
Nov. 24 vs. Kentucky
Tipoff Classic: not wasting time on lightweights
Dec. 2 vs. UMass
Minutemen won 85-74 last year; series now 2-2
Dec. 9 vs. UCLA
At Pond in Anaheim; Bruins hold 3-1 series edge
Feb. 18 vs. Missouri
This is a relaxing break from the ACC?
March 2 vs. Virginia
Cavs spoiled Terps' ACC title hopes in '95, 82-67