If Towson State University's women's basketball team is going to have a big 1990-1991 season, Gina Daniel of Fallston plans to have a lot to do with it.
Daniel, a 1987 Fallston High School graduate, is the only senior on the Tigers team and has been named team captain this season.
She says this is her first exposure to leadership pressures, but she is learning to adjust to a more active role on the court, setting the tempo for the team.
"It's been really rough," said Daniel, a 5-foot-4 point guard. "We have so many young players, it's going to take a while to come around."
Last year, Daniel, 21, was a significant role player off the bench, playing every game and starting twice. The Tigers finished with an 11-16 overall record last year, while placing fifth (6-8) in the East Coast Conference.
This year, Tiger's head coach Ellen Fitzkee has started Daniel every game.
"She leads by example," said Fitzkee, in her third year. "She has a good work ethic."
Though Daniel is not as tall as most guards in the league, her speed and adept ball-handling give her an edge. She prefers to play a fast paced run-and-shoot offense.
In the first game of the season, Daniel scored a team high 11 points in the season-opening win over Loyola College, 67-54, on Nov. 23.
The win advanced the team to the finals in the Big Four Classic against Coppin State. In that game, a 76-68 loss, Daniel scored 5 points and had 5 assists and 5 rebounds.
Towson plays in the ECC, a tough NCAA league of seven teams, including Delaware and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
The Tigers are seven games into the season, and have until Jan. 16 before their first ECC match against Rider College at the Towson Center on campus.
Teammate and co-captain Tara Rottet, a sharpshooter who averaged 12.4 points per game last year, joins Daniel in the backcourt.
Daniel says her goal for the season is to form team chemistry and win the ECC.
"We'll have to stay together as a team" to be successful, said Daniel.
"(A preseason poll) picked us fourth, but I don't think that's right," said Daniel. "I think we can win."
Daniel knows what it takes to have a winning team.
As a three-sport athlete coming out of Fallston High School, Daniel went to Essex Community College for two years, before enrolling last year at Towson. She excelled in soccer, basketball and lacrosse.
As a freshman at Essex she became an All-American JuCo soccer player. As a sophomore in 1988 she traveled with her soccer team to the National Junior College Athletic Association Soccer Tournament in Trenton, N.J. Just into the winter of 1989, she helped her basketball team advance to the nationals, played in Tyler, Texas.
While at Essex, she was honored as the 1988-1989 Female Athlete of the Year by the school.
Said Carol Eustis, Daniels basketball coach at Essex: "Gina could overcome a lack of perfect skill by virtue of speed and sharpness."
Daniel is studying to become a teacher, majoring in elementary education. In the summertime, Daniel works at a day camp at the YMCA.
Daniel says "playing (basketball) for junior college, I didn't develop."
But at Towson State, a Division I program, that all changed.
"That was just a huge difference," said Daniel.
Said Tiger coach Fitzkee, "She's improved her ball handling, improved her shot. . . . She already could pass and play defense."
In the spring, Daniel will jump into lacrosse. Daniel says some friends question why she plays so many sports and keeps herself so busy.
"I'd be lost without it," she said. "Athletics help me to become a better person."