I'm starting to wonder whether Tom Balistrere, the athletic director at Mount St. Mary's, suffers from delusions of grandeur or just plain hates his coaches. He could hardly have arranged more difficult opening games for a couple of his men's coaches.
Saturday night his men's basketball coach, the legendary Mr. Bow Tie, Basketball Hall of Fame nominee Jim Phelan, takes his team to College Park to open against Maryland.
Phelan's Mountaineers, picked fifth and seventh in preseason polls in the relatively lightweight Northeast Conference, will be going against a member of the mighty Atlantic Coast Conference.
Maryland is picked seventh in the ACC, but it's one thing to be picked that low in a league with Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, and quite another to be picked there behind the likes of St. Francis of Pa., Robert Morris and Monmouth.
Balistrere was even rougher on his second-year lacrosse coach, A.J. Russo. Russo's team will open next spring with North Carolina, the defending NCAA Division I champion. At least Russo gets to play that ACC school at Emmitsburg.
Mount St. Mary's was 8-19 last year in basketball and finished sixth in its conference. That's not going to scare anybody at College Park.
Last season was a disaster at the Mount. The point guard, Kevin Booth, went down with a knee injury at Navy in the first five minutes of the second game and was out for the rest of the year. He's back now.
Phelan has been around too long to make foolish predictions.
"I came to the Mount in 1954," says the 62-year-old Phelan, "the same year the Orioles came to Memorial Stadium. So I've outlastedthe stadium. As teams go, our team this year is a pretty good one. Kevin is back and looks good. We've got some new kids who should help.
"Joe Gower [6-8, 245, from Lehighton, Pa.] is a scoring machine. He averaged 30 points a game in high school. I don't know whether he'll start, but he'll play. Michael Watson, from Roman Catholic, in Philadelphia, and Phil Galvin [sophomore guard from Santa Rosa Junior College] are going to help us."
Mount St. Mary's hasn't played at Cole Field House since Phelan's second year. At that time Maryland was coached by Frank Fellows, who had three assistants who would go on to become highly successful head coaches -- Tom Davis, Tom Young, and Maryland's present head coach, Gary Williams.
* As the pulsebeat quickens at College Park with the arrival of basketball season, football has one remaining question: the future of coach Joe Krivak. On that score, I'm disappointed in Andy Geiger, Maryland's A.D.
It was Geiger who gave Krivak the four-year contract a year ago, and now Andy is saying he's "95 percent sure" he'll retain his coach for '92.
Geiger should be standing by his guy. The 5 percent uncertainty he has publicly admitted has fueled a lot of fires, as Andy, an old pro in this business, surely knew it would.
Until it's time to do something, Geiger should be saying: "Joe's our coach." It makes me wonder if Andy likes getting his name in the paper.
* If you saw the photo of Vice President Dan Quayle golfing at the new Caves Valley Club here Sunday, you may be interested to know that two of the caddies on Quayle's right are Orioles farmhands.
Second from the left is Mike Wiley, a lefthanded pitcher; third is Mike Hebb, a righthander. Both will play for Frederick next year. Hebb is from Glen Burnie and pitched for Anne Arundel Community College.
* Western Maryland tailback Eric Frees well deserved the Centennial Conference Most Valuable Player Award he won yesterday. Stu Markley, a hard-hitting junior linebacker who played at Columbia before transferring to Johns Hopkins, was named all-conference and said this of Frees:
"He's the best I've seen. Several times Saturday [Western Maryland 24, Hopkins 21] I thought I had his leg and suddenly the leg was gone. He's hard to tackle. He's very strong, too. Eric Frees has a lot of talent."
* A word of caution to 15-year-old tennis sensation Jennifer Capriati, who will play in the First National Bank Tennis Festival at the Arena Nov. 26 with Pam Shriver and Martina Navratilova: Shriver's father, Sam, was in Philly Sunday when Capriati suffered an injury while losing to Monica Seles in the finals of the WTA Virginia Slims of Philadelphia. Says Dad Shriver:
"Jennifer had better watch herself. Pam hurt herself [shoulder] when she was going to school [McDonogh] and playing the tour. Jennifer is doing both now. It's easier to get hurt when you're doing that. It's just different from being full time on the tour."