Two years removed from a disbanded program, the College of Notre Dame is not only winning, but also gaining national recognition in the process. The school, without a winning basketball record since 1984, is represented in the latest Division III statistics for women's basketball.
This is a far cry from a year ago, when Tim Engle was hired as head coach at the end of August. He had to go into the classrooms, find some players and work with the available talent. The result was a record of 7-18, reasonable considering the circumstances.
"Now, we have four back from last year -- a senior and three sophomores -- and seven freshmen," Engle said Monday. Notre Dame (4-4) was going through a practice session in preparation for resuming its schedule at home against Johns Hopkins tonight.
"We're building around the freshmen. Toyah Houck is ranked nationally with her 20.1 scoring average and 15.1 rebounds. Karyn Murphy is our second-leading rebounder and Debbi Pearson our third-leading scorer.
"And the team is nationally ranked in three-point field-goal percentage [.423, 22-for-52]."
Houck is from Westminster and Murphy from the Institute of Notre Dame. Pearson is from Maple Shade, N.J., one of only two squad members from outside the Baltimore area, as Engle, a former Catholic League coach, is emphasizing area players in his recruiting efforts.
The lone senior is 5-foot-3 point guard Beth Beall (Jarrettsville), the leading scorer of a year ago, who is up from 15.4 to 16.6.
Another who has played well of late is sophomore Lynn Matczuk (Catholic High), who had career highs of 18 points and 12 rebounds in the last game.
Two recent games indicate how far the program has come. Last season, Western Maryland defeated Notre Dame, 75-38; this season, the losing margin was 74-70. Against Shenandoah, the Gators went from an 87-31 loss to a 73-71 victory.
"Houck has done a very good job of making the adjustment from high school to college," Engle said. "In our first game, we lost a 10-point lead, but came out of a late timeout wanting to get the ball to her. The players responded, and we outscored the other team, 11-2, to win by nine.
"Right now, our goal is to create a positive experience, letting our freshmen draw on their past successes [high school] to believe they can do it at this level," Engle added. "At least they have not been intimidated."
Engle, a Loyola College graduate, has been coaching for 10 years, sandwiching two years as a Loyola women's team assistant coach between two stints at Catholic High School.
* Johns Hopkins, led by senior Juliane Rolapp, will take a 5-4 record into tonight's game at Notre Dame.
* Others among the Division III statistical leaders are Debbie Shockley of Western Maryland, a 5-foot-7 junior with a 21.2 scoring average, and Eleanor Davis, a St. Mary's senior with a 17.1 rebound average. . . . Shockley, a transfer from American University, also leads her team in assists (6.5 a game) and has set single-game and single-season school records for three-point goals made and attempted. She went 6-for-12 in one game and is 19-for-55 overall.
* Salisbury State, a winner in five of its past seven games, is 2-0 in the Eastern States Athletic Conference heading into tonight's game at Allentown.