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Maryland fans delighted with title, upset with fans' behavior

April 03, 2002|BY MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Fans said they were delighted to see the University of Maryland win the NCAA basketball championship Monday but some chastised the fans who took to the streets after the game.

"The world was watching and I was embarrassed for the state of Maryland and College Park," said Hagerstown City Police Sgt. George Knight, of fans rioting in College Park, Md., following the game. "It takes away from the enjoyment of seeing Maryland win a national championship."

Students lighted bonfires, threw bottles, climbed onto business roofs and shot off fireworks after Maryland beat Indiana 64-52 in Monday's game.

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Knight, a Maryland native and a Terps fan, said he was at work during the game but listened to it on the radio between calls.

The violence that followed the victory was "totally ridiculous," and was just an excuse for thugs to act, he said.

"There was no plausible reason for what they did," he said.

The violence detracted "from the sense of sportsmanship and students' right to enjoy their victory," said Maryland State Police 1st Sgt. Rick Naron.

"We support the student bodies there and the fans right to celebrate and enjoy their victory but when it gets to the point when there are criminal activities and destroying property, their right to celebrate has been revoked," he said.

For long-time Terps fans, the outcome of the game was a dream come true.

Washington County Circuit Judge Donald Beachley is a graduate of the University of Maryland Law School and says he considers himself to be one of Maryland's biggest fans.

"It's like I told my daughters ... I've been rooting for the Terps for 30 some years and they finally became national champs," Beachley said.

Washington County Circuit Judge Kennedy Boone said he was pleased with the outcome of the national championship game Monday night even though he isn't a Maryland graduate.

"It was a long time coming but I'm happy for Coach Gary Williams and his team and also the Maryland football team, which won the ACC title this year," Boone said.

Other fans also thought of the coach.

"I was glad they won, especially since Williams used to play there," said Paula Stokes, 28, of Frederick, Md. "I thought it was a great accomplishment for him."

Lt. Robert Hafer of the Washington County Sheriff's Department said he was pleased that the Terps won.

"It wasn't pretty but they won and that's all that matters," Hafer said.

Describing himself as a lifelong basketball fan, Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick Wright said college basketball is the most exciting sport there is. He played on the basketball team at the University of Virginia when he was a student there.

"And it's always exciting to see good basketball," Wright said, referring particularly to Monday's game.

"The team responded to adverse conditions and won," Wright said. "Sometimes the mark of a champion is being able to win ugly ... when you're not playing your best."

Courthouse security guard Joe Eichelberger hesitantly congratulated the Terps on winning their first national championship.

"They played well enough to win," Eichelberger said. "But it was a good thing they weren't playing the UConn ladies."

Connecticut won the NCAA women's basketball championship Sunday night. The Huskies, who had all five of their starters named as All-Americans, completed their season with a 39-0 record.

Beatrice Johnston of Hagerstown thinks the Terrapins win will help the university.

"I think it will bring more students in. I think everyone will be more aware of the college," she said.

Krista Hess, 29, of Hagerstown, was pleased with the Terps' performance.

"I was so happy," she said. "It's about time. They really deserved it."

The Maryland General Assembly will congratulate the newly crowned champions when they visit the State House Thursday.

Del. John P. Donoghue, D-Washington, said the victory represents a great boost for the state.

"It offers a bit of joy much needed in light of all the pain since September," Donoghue said.

"Even if it's a little on the sloppy side, in basketball a win's a win," said Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington.

Reporters Kim Yakowski and Laura Ernde and staff correspondent Erica Ensminger contributed to this story.

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