Coppin State has won seven straight basketball games and is once again the team to beat in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, but before penciling the Eagles into the NCAA tournament for the second straight year, remember the added little matter of the "play-in."
The number of conferences eligible to send their champion to the NCAAs ballooned to 33 this year, but the basketball committee wanted to keep the number of automatic bids at 30.
The MEAC was deemed one of the six weakest leagues in the nation at the end of last season, so its champion will have to travel to the winner of the Southland Conference March 6 for the right to enter the 64-team field. The two other play-in games will have the winner of the fledgling Patriot League at the Northeast winner, and the Southwestern champ hosting the Big South winner.
Coppin State, which has already played at Tulsa, New Mexico State, Oklahoma and New Orleans, is looming as the favorite to win the MEAC tournament in Norfolk, Va., Feb. 27 to March 2. Its reward would be another road trip, this time to Texas or Louisiana. The current Southland leaders are Texas-Arlington and defending champion Northeast Louisiana.
Looking further down the road, Coppin State will have to rebuild its inside game next season, and it took steps to do so last week when Coleman Scott enrolled for the spring semester. A 6-foot-9 graduate of Oakland Mills High, Scott went to George Washington last year and spent last semester at a junior college in Vermont.
Scott has yet to play a game in college. He'll be eligible for the second half of the 1991-92 campaign, when he'll be a sophomore.
* The Towson State women go for their fourth straight state gymnastics championship at Navy Saturday (2 p.m.). Maryland is also in the field.
The Tigers will go all season without Wendy Weaver, the state record-holder in the all-around who's recuperating from a serious shoulder injury. In her absence, Anne Sugden, a senior from Old Mill, stepped up and posted a career-best 37.60 in a dual-meet win at New Mexico last Sunday.
* Mount St. Mary's senior Peter Rono, the reigning Olympic champion in the 1,500 meters, will drop down to the 800 at the Mobil 1 Invitational Sunday at George Mason. Paul Ereng, another Olympic champion from Kenya, is the headliner in the event.
Rono qualified for the NCAA indoor championships with a second place at the USAir Invitational in Johnson City, Tenn. His 4:00.05 was the fastest by a collegian this year, but still second to Ireland's Marcus O'Sullivan.
* The spring semester at Bowie State has brought in two football prospects from junior colleges. Vinnie Lambertis is a 6-5, 240-pound linebacker from New York Tech, and Chris Banks is a defensive back who didn't play at Montgomery-Rockville. He went to Friendly High in Prince George's County.
Bulldogs coach Sanders Shiver said he isn't interested in the vacant Morgan State job, which could be filled by next week.
* Johns Hopkins' Bob Babb was honored earlier this month as the 1990 state college baseball coach of the year. His Blue Jays went 28-11 last year and won their fifth straight Middle Atlantic Conference Southeast title. Hopkins opens March 2 at home against Coppin State. The Blue Jays will be captained by Pete Kwiterovich, a senior catcher from Gilman.
* Joe Boylan will begin work as the Loyola athletic director Feb. 11. . . The Greyhounds lacrosse team opens Feb. 11at Curley Field against Rutgers . . . Distance runner James Murphy (Class of 1960), baseball outfielder Art Haddad ('72) and sprinter Jeff White ('83) enter the Mount St. Mary's Hall of Fame Saturday.