The Washington Times - November 14, 2008, 07:50PM

Well, the band just played for the dozens and dozens assembled at Comcast Center. Karl Hess, Ray Natili and Tim Kelly, tonight’s officials, are out looking around.

And Maryland, decked out in its new warmup duds, is working through the layup lines.

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But there’s something else really striking to me.

Quite simply: Maryland’s managers have been freed from the sweater vest. They can thank the new Under Armour contract for getting them some slick new white collared shirts to replace a highly ingrained Terrapin tradition.

If there was something I always thought that was odd, it was the year-after-year uniformity that Maryland’s students managers would be stuck wearing black sweater vests. It’s a weird thing to notice, but it’s also probably weirder for some 18-to-22-year-old guy to be stuck wearing the things in public a couple times a week.

I mean, I have nothing against sweater vests. Some people can certainly rock the sweater vest better than others. Just about everyone can rock the sweater vest better than me, which is why I probably haven’t worn one since about 1988.

But an informal sampling proved my suspicions correct: Being freed of the sweater vest is a welcome development for managers not really seeking ridicule. I mean, these guys are already stuck chasing down loose basketballs and dodging Gary Williams‘ tirades and, on occasion, helping with vomit cleanup.

So regardless of tonight’s outcome, I declare the real winners to be Maryland’s managers – now mercifully not nearly as noticeable in their polo shirts, khakis and dress shoes nor subject to nearly as much mocking from fans on the road as in the past.

Patrick Stevens