- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2001

The spectators have to be tougher than the players at Cole Field House.

They are urged to duck first, then cheer in support of the home team.

The spectators wear flak jackets, helmets and anti-projectile equipment to the games. The players leave it at jerseys, shorts and shoes.

Gary Williams goes crazy on the floor, and the spectators go crazy in the stands. One is not necessarily related to the other, although you could make the connection.

C.D. Mote Jr., the University of Maryland president, expressed concern with the rowdiness this week in a letter to the Diamondback, the campus newspaper.

"Something is very wrong," he wrote.

That is easy for him to determine.

He is not the one suffering from a mild concussion.

The latter was sustained by Renee Boozer, the mother of one of the Duke players, after she took a plastic bottle to the head and an unidentified object to the back.

That is a one-two combination, undoubtedly Maryland's version of double-team defense.

One black eye apparently deserves another, only Maryland's is figurative and Boozer's literal. She has a headache, if not a sympathetic attorney at her bedside.

This was a collective meltdown by the hosts, shared by the coach, team and fans. That is two more meltdowns than normal, taking into account Williams' consistency in this regard.

Williams has an overworked heart, incredible lung power and a puddle of sweat at his feet.

How does he respond to a traffic jam on the Beltway?

It is important to be intense. It also is important not to lose the message in the intensity.

The message is certainly lost on the referees, all too many of whom give a deaf ear to Maryland's bench and the benefit of the doubt to the opposition.

John Wooden used to appear to be asleep on the UCLA bench. He only won 10 national championships. He probably would have won 11 national championships if he had been more animated.

Maryland's supporters have strong arms, good aim and bad attitudes. They also are honest. Give them that.

"We're going to beat the hell out of you," they chant before each game.

They employ the F-word as well. That is considered colorful, if you neglect the tone it sets.

Maryland's higher-ups are spending the week apologizing to the offended parties. The apologies follow a gift, the 10-point lead that disappeared in the final minute of regulation. It is not over until it is over, and you can say that again if you're Williams and the Terps.

The Atlantic Coast Conference is investigating the incident. The investigation is intended to convey a certain seriousness.

Mike Krzyzewski already has affixed a warning label to Cole Field House, hazardous as it is to a person's health. He leaves his family in Durham, N.C., when Cole Field House is on the Duke itinerary.

Safety comes first with the Krzyzewski family. In addition to staying out of Cole Field House, they wear their seatbelts and don't play with matches.

Two years ago, fans of both schools demonstrated their loyalty with fists instead of words of encouragement. Don't just send money to your child, mom. Send headgear and a good cut man.

Believe it or not, it is just a game. Sometimes it is necessary to state the obvious. Win or lose, the sun comes up the next day, and no extra credit is granted to those students who pelt the visitors with flying objects.

Fans, not just Maryland's, sometimes overstate the thrill of victory. Yet no mortgage lender ever has evaluated a loan application on the basis of your favorite team's won-lost record. That would be especially worrisome in these parts, given the 8-8 record of the local NFL team, if the local NFL team has not been supplanted by the Ravens.

At least Mote avoided euphemisms in his letter. Being polite around the impolite can be taken as a sign of weakness. Mote has a zero-tolerance policy with "hooliganism."

Good for him.

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