The losing streak is 12 games and his best player's health has been a question mark for a month, so don't ask UMBC basketball coach Earl Hawkins how things are going.
UMBC takes a 1-13 record into tonight's East Coast Conference home game against Hofstra. The Retrievers defeated Howard on a last-second shot by Derrick Reid Nov. 27 but haven't won since.
Reid has missed the last six games with a possible circulatory problem that doctors and trainers haven't been able to diagnose lTC with any degree of certainty. The average margin of defeat in his absence has been 23.7 points. In a recent span of six days, UMBC lost by five at Loyola of Chicago, by 26 at Maryland and by 51 at Kansas.
Reid, a 6-foot-7 senior forward from Chicago, was averaging team-highs of 15.4 points and 6.9 rebounds before limping into ++ practice the week before Christmas. He was eventually hospitalized. Reid was discharged, but underwent further tests yesterday at Johns Hopkins to see if he has Marfan's Syndrome, a circulatory ailment that limits physical exercise.
"He had a blood clot in the leg," Hawkins said. "I'm not a doctor, but I think it was determined that he had a viral infection, and it affected his circulatory system. When the doctors and trainer say he can play, he will."
When asked if he was gun-shy regarding Reid's return in light of the deaths of seemingly invincible young players from Chris Patton to Hank Gathers, Hawkins said "of course."
Nearly everyone else on the roster has been affected by an injury of some kind. Practices will also be minus one big man: Hawkins said Mark Bogosh, a 7-foot freshman from Hereford, has withdrawn from school. He had played a total of 81 minutes in 10 games.
* UMBC and Towson State are members of the East Coast Conference, which will shrink to five schools this summer. Under current NCAA rules, the ECC champion would not receive an automatic bid to the NCAA basketball tournament after this season.
At last week's NCAA convention in Nashville, a special committee was appointed to explore the plight of the ECC, Metro and other conferences that could be under the six-team minimum next year.
ECC commissioner John Carpenter expects word March 1 as to the league's status in future tournaments and the postseason eligibility of any new members. Until that is cleared up, attempts to expand will be difficult, and ECC members themselves continue to look into other conferences.
* The 85th annual NCAA convention was the first at which students were allowed to speak on the floor. The Student-Athlete Advisory Council consists of 16 men and women, and one of the four Division III representatives is Cheryl Ish, a junior from Salisbury State.
The NCAA prefers its Student-Athlete Advisory Council members be leaders in other areas, but Ish is busy enough playing four sports and maintaining a 2.8 grade-point average, 3.3 in her psychology major.
A native of Hamburg, N.J., Ish played field hockey and lacrosse as a freshman. As a sophomore, she doubled up in the spring and returned to one of her high school sports, track and field. This winter she decided to play basketball for the first time since her senior year at Walkhill Valley High, and she's a starting guard for the Sea Gulls.
* The Towson State women's gymnastics team, ninth in the nation a year ago, opens tomorrow (7 p.m.) at the Towson Center against West Virginia.
Junior Wendy Weaver, the Tigers' best ever, could miss the entire season because of a shoulder injury, and what was supposed to be a strong freshman class also has been hurt by injuries.
The Class of 1991, however, plans to go out on an up note. High Point's Tandy Knight, Old Mill's Anne Sugden and Floridian Carri Scott are seniors who will end up as three of Towson State's all-time point scorers.
* Mount St. Mary's sophomore Rob Pendergist won the pentathlon at the Father Diamond Invitational at George Mason, posting 4,033 points, the best score by a collegian this winter. He had a personal best in the high jump, topping 7 feet.
Pendergist, of Ellsworth, Maine, scored 7,451 points in the decathlon last year, tops among NCAA freshmen.