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Terps expect Profit margin

July 01, 1998|By BOB PARASILITI

This year will be the University of Maryland's last chance to turn a Profit on the basketball court.

After three years of building interest, it all comes down to the senior season for Laron Profit, the Terrapins' explosive senior guard. The time is right for Profit to pay dividends.

"We have a lot of high expectations this year. We definitely have to meet the challenge," Profit said on Tuesday at the Mid-Atlantic Basketball Camp at St. Maria Goretti. "We have a lot of guys coming back and some good guys coming in. This year, we will be the hunted instead of the hunter."

--cont from sports--

It's hard not to get a good feeling about the Terps, who have a combination of experience, youth and depth combined with Profit, who can be one of the deadliest offensive weapons in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

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Add to the equation that Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Virginia are in major rebuilding processes and perennial favorite North Carolina just had three players selected in the first 30 picks of the NBA Draft. Maryland is not only in line to be one of the ACC's favorites, the Terps are counting on being considered one of the top teams in the country.

"Our toughest competition will be Duke," Profit said. "They are a good team and they will have a lot of talent back. They play good defense, too. They will be tough."

Profit has the ability to bank on his offense, but he admits that is half the story for any success. If Maryland is going to make a run in the ACC and in the national polls, the success will have to come away from the ball.

"Defense is a lot of effort and hard work but it doesn't take any skill," Profit told the group of 80 campers. "Defense is a team responsibility. It's five guys with one responsibility ... stopping the ball. When someone scores, it's everyone's fault."

Pressure defense, along with the development of Maryland's inside game, are two key factors which have worked in Profit's favor. The defense creates easy scoring opportunities while the inside game helps keep opponents from focusing on his game.

"The addition of the inside game took more of the pressure off of me," Profit said. "I had some problems during the middle of last year because teams started to guard me differently. They were sending more players at me and paying closer attention to me. Many thought they stopped me. But after the inside game got geared in, that's when my numbers started to go up."

Maryland got the attention of the college basketball world last March when it faced Arizona in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The Terps pushed the then-defending national champions to the limit with the exception of a 10-minute lapse.

"The truth is, we didn't prove anything with that game," Profit said. "We lost and we expected to win. We thought we were the better team."

But the Arizona loss gives Maryland a starting point for the 1998-99 season.

"We are looking for a lot of balance and a lot of contributions because we can go a lot farther this year," Profit said. "We just have to work hard defensively and the offense will take care of itself."

And with any luck, Profit will help Maryland score a NCAA windfall.

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