It isn't the ACC or Big Ten, but the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference has been a difficult step up for Loyola College.
Since moving from the Northeast Conference to the MAAC in 1989, the Greyhounds are 2-20 in conference games. A 23-point win at UMBC Dec. 22 made Loyola 5-4 overall, but since heading into the meat of its MAAC schedule, coach Tom Schneider's team often has been in over its head.
La Salle gained fame in recent years because of Lionel Simmons, but the MAAC also boasts some solid albeit less-recognizable outfits in Siena, St. Peter's and Iona, which travels to Reitz Arena Saturday as Loyola tries to stop a 1-6 skid.
"Last week the MAAC was rated as the 15th-best conference [of 33] in the nation," Schneider said. "We're in with some pretty good company. Almost every team in the conference has bigger people, and more of them. This is a blue-collar league, and if you can't bang inside, you'll have problems. We've got to get bigger."
There is a 6-foot-8, 190-pounder in civvies at the end of the bench who will help next year.
Michael Reese averaged 8.1 points and 3.3 rebounds for Boston College last season, but was unhappy there and transferred to Loyola. Before BC, he spent a year of prep school at Maine Central, where his teammates included former Dunbar star Sam Cassell, now at San Jacinto JC in Texas, and Morgan State's Steve Haynes.
"I try to stay away from putting pressure on Reese," Schneider said, "but he gives us something we don't have right now. He can run, jump and shoot. He could be an excellent player."
There is one other transfer on campus, and he will become eligible midway through next season. Dave Credle is a 6-7, 240-pound wide-body who was steered to a junior college by Brigham Young. Utah Valley CC wasn't to Credle's liking, and he's a full-time student at Loyola this semester.
Adding to Loyola's size will be two early signings, guard Chad Anderson and forward Brian Pendleton, both 6-6. Those two, Reese and Credle all played their high school ball in the Washington, D.C., area, as did Schneider.
* The Navy wrestling team has a big weekend, with dual meets tomorrow against Pitt and Saturday against West Virginia, which is ranked in the top 10.
Mark Smith, a 126-pounder from Holt, Mich., last week was handed his first loss of the season by Penn State's Bob Truby, who attended Sherwood High in Montgomery County. Heavyweight Brett Bourne, 177-pounder Steve Cantrell and 142-pounder Brad Gazawy are also having solid seasons for the 9-2 Midshipmen.
Navy is at Maryland Feb. 12. The Terps have three starters from the area, the most successful being Kevin Brown, a sophomore from Poly who's 10-4-2 at 190 pounds. Oakland Mills grad Jarrett Johnson, a junior transfer from Coppin State, is 9-5-1, and Bill Ferencz, a sophomore heavyweight from North Carroll, is 5-9-1.
* The Track and Field News' rankings for 1990 have two locals listed in the high jump. Tony Barton, a senior at George Mason who went to Milford Mill, and Harford Vo-Tech product Jerome Carter are ranked Nos. 3 and 8, respectively, in the United States. Both topped 7 feet 7 last year, and only six Americans went higher.
James Madison sophomore Jerry Roney, The Evening Sun Athlete of the Year for Woodlawn High in 1987-88, qualified for the NCAA indoor championships in the 55-meter hurdles when he took the event in 7.22 seconds at the Marriott Invitational at Virginia Tech.
The Maryland College Invitational will be held tomorrow at Hagerstown Junior College.
* Washington College was 13-0 in games decided by five points or less last season, when the senior-laden Shoremen capped an historic season by finishing third in the NCAA Division III tournament. Without a single senior this year, coach Tom Finnegan's team is 4-11 overall, 1-3 in the close ones.
Darren Vican, a 6-9 sophomore, is averaging 13.8 points and 6.9 rebounds for the Shoremen.