COLLEGE PARK -- Andy Geiger was taking exception with the National Collegiate Athletic Association; Chris Weller was preparing her women's basketball team for a fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance.
Geiger, the University of Maryland athletic director, was upset by the NCAA decision to give his women's team a sixth seed -- high enough to merit a home game -- then send it to Worcester, Mass., to face Holy Cross in a first-round game tomorrow night.
The switch was prompted because Maryland is holding first- and second-round games in the NCAA men's East regional at Cole Field House on Thursday and Saturday, with practice sessions scheduled for tomorrow.
"I felt practice schedules could have been altered, accommodations made," Geiger said. "Now, I'll think twice before we ever host another men's event. Why would I tie the building up and put my own students out? There's a principle involved here."
Weller said nothing could be done about the situation. "Right now, I'm interested in getting my team ready to play," she said. To that end, there was a 2-hour, 45-minute practice session yesterday afternoon.
Maryland (17-12) and Holy Cross (24-5) present sharply contrasting lineups, as Maryland (three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior) puts out its youngest tournament team ever -- "the youngest in tournament history, maybe," said Weller -- and Holy Cross counters with three seniors, a junior, and a sophomore.
Both feature balanced scoring and rebounding, although the Crusaders have shown a better defense, giving up 65 points a game (no team scored more than 72 in their last 19 when they went 18-1) to 70 for Maryland. Holy Cross also has a wide margin at the foul line, with per-game averages of 18-for-25 against 12-for-17 for the Terrapins.
Looking at the freshmen, Maryland junior Dafne Lee (Walbrook), a two-year starter, said, "They are a unique group because they may be freshmen in terms of age and class, but not in terms of their play. I expect more of them than what might be considered normal freshmen."
Aluma Goren has extensive international experience, 6-foot-4 Bonnie Rimkus is the Rookie of the Year in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and 6-3 Monica Adams worked her way into the starting alignment a month ago. The other starter is sophomore Katrina Colleton.
"There is, however, a tremendous difference from the Final Four team of two years ago," said Lee, who came off the bench as the first frontcourt reserve that season. "We had two seniors and two juniors and they knew what it took. Players like Vicky Bullett and Deanna Tate, they were winners.
"Now, I'm trying to follow their lead, striving for that level as a player and as a leader. At the same time, when I go on the floor, I take the spirit of my family and friends with me. I know they are rooting for us."
Rimkus is learning that the pressures are different than in high school, and, "I feel like a freshman. I'm learning a lot, but there is still a lot to learn. I don't try to put pressure on myself, so once the game starts, I go with flow, doing the best I can.
Mary Barnes, a reserve player throughout her college career, provides solid, although unsung, leadership. "At this level, where all the players are good, the play becomes more mental than physical, and you have to have that mental edge. I believe I have become mentally tough, and have tried to set a good example," she said.