- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Parrish Brown quietly leaned back as reporters milled about the Maryland locker room after the Terrapins’ regular season finale, furtively glancing about at times while maintaining a placid expression.

At the other end of the locker room, roommate Bambale Osby looked Brown’s way before he dispensed a message laced with hard-earned sagacity.

“Don’t get on Parrish’s bad side is all I’m saying,” Osby said.

Osby should know. He has seen — and been a victim of — several of Brown’s practical jokes. The senior guard’s penchant for dousing teammates with cold water, hiding gadgets and making snide remarks about lousy fashion sense brings a needed sense of levity to the Terrapins (24-8) as they enter tomorrow’s NCAA tournament meeting with Davidson (29-4).

Brown, a solid reserve the last two seasons, has committed only two turnovers in his last 54 minutes as a backup point guard. But his crafty off-court schemes help loosen up a team that won seven straight late in the season to earn a No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region and a trip to HSBC Arena in Buffalo, N.Y., to open the postseason.

“I just try to let guys know, ‘It’s life. You have to just live life. You can’t always be serious about certain things,’ ” Brown said. “I guess guys say I’m always playing around, but they know I’m serious when it’s time to get to the business.”

They also know not to take Brown lightly when it comes to his pranks. During a shootaround last month at Clemson, forward Dave Neal badgered Brown about something. When Neal returned from getting his ankles taped a while later, he found his shoe strings were removed from his sneakers and tied up in several knots.

The Terps aren’t permitted to carry cell phones, headphones or iPods to walkthroughs, creating another opportunity for mischief. Brown broke into a wide grin when he recounted swiping a phone from freshman Greivis Vasquez, who was understandably upset about the development.

“That’s why I don’t leave any of my stuff on the bus. P will be the first guy to grab it and put it somewhere you can’t find it, and he won’t give it back to you until after pregame meal,” guard D.J. Strawberry said. “You’ll probably have 20 missed calls. P thinks he’s funny, but that’s not funny. I want my phone. I’m trying to make calls. He does that all the time, and that’s why you have to watch him. He’s so sneaky.”

Brown is slick in other ways. He didn’t receive many college looks after switching high schools between his junior and senior years. He played two seasons at Kennedy-King Community College in Chicago before joining the Terps last season.

He has played in all but six games over the last two years and has shown off the rugged play not always typical of a 6-foot-1, 175-pounder. Few Terps seem to relish a well-timed drive into the lane as Brown, who already proved his toughness while growing up on Chicago’s South Side.

“There was a lot of stuff going around,” Brown said. “It was easy to fall into the wrong situation. I just kept my head on and I set a goal for myself. I wanted to play basketball. I just stayed focused and tried to hang with the right guys.”

Now, he has quite a bit more. He’s on track to graduate in May and proved a capable role player at Maryland. His status as a legendary jokester is secure, especially with his habit of stealing teammates’ room keys, slipping in at night and drenching them with water (“He can’t get me on that because I put the latch on my door every time,” Strawberry said ruefully.)

One thing missing from his career was the opportunity to play in a meaningful tournament. Brown didn’t play for a winning team in high school or junior college, and his first year at Maryland ended with a one-game appearance in the NIT.

That changes early tomorrow afternoon.

“I used to watch all the tournament games and see guys hit the big shots,” said Brown, who averages 3.2 points. “I was like, ‘I can’t wait until I get there. I just want to be able to play in the tournament, make it to the Final Four and win a championship.’ I’m finally going to get a chance to play in the tournament, so I’m excited about it.”

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