1979: The Maryland Basketball Team takes on the Yugoslavian National Team

On November 2nd, 1979 in Cole Field House, the University of Maryland men’s basketball team battled the Yugoslavia national team in a preseason exhibition match up. The Terps, under Lefty Driesell, were raring for a competitive tune up, and what better way to do it then to take on the 1978 World Champion Yugoslavia team who had been a European powerhouse all throughout the 70s.

After enduring an 18 hour commute to meet the Terps in College Park, the Yugoslavians took the court just 90 minutes after landing.  Strict regulations and requirements were in order for this game due to the uniqueness of the contest. Therefore, the game was to be played under international rules, a specific basketball was to be used, there were to be special accommodations for ABA USA, and items such as a cassette player for the Yugoslavian national anthem, as well as flagpoles, were to be provided. Finally, because of the controversial political views at the time, absolutely no political speeches or exhibitions would be tolerated. The comprehensive ABA USA correspondence can be read here: 1979 MBB vs Yugoslavia–correspondence. Despite having a cassette player provided, it was reported that the Maryland band attempted to play the Yugoslavian national anthem. However, as thoughtful as that was, it turns out they played the wrong song. Not the mightiest moment from the Mighty Sound of Maryland.

Buck Williams, Albert King, and Len Elmore on the New Jersey Nets
Buck Williams, Albert King, and Len Elmore on the New Jersey Nets

As for the action of the game, all of the momentum belonged to the Terps who ended up winning the game by a score of 84-78. Buck Williams and Albert King combined to produce a whopping 53 of the Terp’s 84 points. The game was a huge coming out party for sophomore Buck Williams, who proved himself down low as a dominant big man both offensively and defensively, limiting the 6’11 Yugoslavian center Ratko Radovanovich to just 1 point in the second half. The contest was a big victory for the Terps who would go on to have a stellar season that year, going 24-7 and making it to the NCAA Sweet 16. More impressively, the Yugoslavia team would go on to win a gold medal in the 1980 Olympics.

Enjoy reading the game program: MBB vs Yugoslavia 1979 Souvenir Program

The official box score: MBB vs Yugoslavia 1979-Boxscore and PBP

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