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New Bog Fave: Boom Osby

After the past few years, Maryland hoops fans need someone to love. Nothing against the John Gilchrists and Travis Garrisons of the world, but they didn't always seem lovable. Bambale Osby is lovable. The fans already chant for him. His teammates seem quite fond of him. At one point last night, Gary Williams strode over to Osby, sitting on the bench and, out of nowhere, reached down to slap his hand. I mean, how do you not love a 6-7 dude with bulging arms and a 'fro who is often mistaken for Ben Wallace, drives a '62 Cadillac, is nicknamed "Boom," laughs every time you ask him a question and goes 8-for-10 from the field with 20 points and six rebounds in his first 25 minutes as a Terp? Plus, this was part of an old Q&A he did while at New Mexico.

Q: What is your Christmas wish?

BO: "To have my Cadillac run, so I can drive it."

Anyhow, I haven't been around the Terps that much in recent years, but every time I've been there things have seemed very tense. Severe almost. (Can't imagine where they get that from.) Players have given off a reserved and distant vibe. Haven't been a lot of smiles.

Boom smiles. He laughs. Things like that matter. His teammates use words like "a funny character" to describe him. "Just a special person, in his own way," Parrish Brown said. Last night, there must have been 10 or 12 media people crowded around Boom in the locker room as he held court.

He got his name from a high school teammate, who thought Bambale was pronounced "Boom-bale" instead of "Bum-bale." He says he's been a fan favorite since he was in high school: at the University New Mexico, at Paris (Tex.) Junior College and now at Maryland. He says he can't explain why; maybe because of the 'fro, or maybe because of the fact that he mashes people. He also isn't sure why he loves old Cadillacs, but he's got four of 'em: a '59, a '60, a '62 and a '68. Two are in Virginia, one's in New Mexico and one--a white '62 Cadillac DeVille with "430 pounds of torque"--is sitting in the loading dock at the Comcast Center.

Boom told us all we should go out and look at it. I did. This is the general idea, except on Boom's version, there are generous amounts of rust. There are also all sorts of bungee cords and ropes holding various things in place. The antique license plate is in the back window, propped up with a windbreaker. There's a ripped Terps sticker on right rear fin. I was staring at the car in amazement when fellow Terp Dave Neal came out into the parking lot.

"You like it?" Neal asked. "It doesn't really work right now. It's been sitting there for a couple days."

We asked Boom if students recognized his car around campus; "they hear it coming, man," he said. Boom also told us that the windshield wipers don't work, so he rides around with a squeegee that he uses when it rains. He told us his teammates won't ride with him, out of fear.

"They say it's gonna break down," he explained. "They don't want to be stranded on the side of the road."

But freshman guard Eric Hayes admitted to having accepted a ride once.

"I felt safe," he said. "For the most part. I didn't even know [cars like that] were still around. I didn't know they still existed."

"That's his style, though," D.J. Strawberry said. "It fits Boom."

As for his play, it's exactly what you'd expect from someone who goes up against Ben Wallace in the offseason and uses him as a role model. (Boom is from Richmond, and Wallace played at Virginia Union.) Boom sort of flies about the court, bulldozing whatever's in his path. He shows a decent touch around the rim, but he's not known for his touch around the rim.

"He's just a beast down low, real aggressive, strong, goes after every rebound, throws people out of the way," Strawberry said. "He does whatever he has to do to get the ball. That's what I like about him....We played pickup games, and I didn't even go down in the paint when Boom was down there, because I knew I was gonna get an elbow or get hit or something. You don't want to deal with that."

We asked Boom about his line last night: 4-for-4 from the field, with 11 points in 11 minutes.

"Tonight I just saw an opening and I just took it," he said. "Coach always says, 'Boom, run the floor, post up hard, get it in there, go right up and score.' We work on that in practice, we drill it and I just got my opportunity to do it, so I went out and did it. [Bench production] is invaluable, man. Anywhere you go you need role players, people that's gonna come off the bench, you know, the sixth man that's gonna be out there and provide that spark."

(Speaking of spark, how 'bout Gary going after the fans in his post-game remarks to the fairly small crowd? "I'd like them here no matter who we play," he said of Terps fans. "There are places where that happens.")

Finally, Boom's hair. James Gist has longish braids, but he doesn't let them out during games. Ekene Ibekwe said he used to have a small 'fro in high school, but he prefers to "keep it simple." Gist said "any guy with an Afro looks good." Hayes said he was thinking about growing his hair out and "going with the Dirk look, but I just can't." Some Terps actually asked Boom to cut his hair before the season started. After the image problems of the past few years, they thought it might be better if he were clean and neat-looking. Boom refused--"they were trying, but it wasn't working," he said.

"He won't cut his hair for some reason, I don't why," Parrish Brown said. "I mean, that's fine. As long as he keeps playing the way he's playing, I got no problem with it."

By Dan Steinberg  |  November 9, 2006; 5:22 PM ET
Categories:  College Basketball , Terps  
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