Difficult Trail For Pioneer Women

Cagers Start Schedule Against Tough Teams

November 21, 1991

Tom Smith never could be accused of being a pupil of the John Thompson school of early season scheduling.

Thompson, Georgetown University men's basketball coach, is notorious for spoiling his squad with cream-puff teams before facing a murderous Big East Conference schedule.

In contrast, Smith, the second-year Anne Arundel Community College women's basketball coach, wants his team to be more than battle-tested once the Maryland JuCo conference season rolls around in early January.

Just by checking the Pioneers' slate through the end of December -- which includes four non-league foes -- the team should know what it has to work on to finish among the conference's elite.

"They already know that I stacked the schedule early so that when we go into the conference schedule, we'll be ready," said Smith, whose teamfinished 11-15 last season after having four wins taken away due to National Junior College Athletic Association sanctions.

"I'm not worried, and I told them not to worry about if we're 6-0 or 1-5 or whatever, by the time January rolls around, we'll be going in the right direction. It doesn't matter what you do early, it's what you do at the end that counts."

Smith's charges open the season with NCAA opponents Bowie State (Division II), Washington Bible College (Division III), JuCo league opponent Dundalk, Potomac State College (W.Va.), and nationally ranked Mitchell (Conn.) College.

Mitchell led all Division II NJCAA schools in points scored (more than 100 per game) and team defense (40 points against per game).

Heading the list of returning Pioneers is shooting guard Katie Laidley, a graduate of Severna Park. The 5-foot-7 sophomore led the Pioneers in scoring last season with an 18-point average.

Five-7 Nikki Beall (Meade), 5-3 StaceyDent (South River) and 5-5 Sarah Krucoff (Arundel) all return at theguard spots, while 5-8 freshman Stephanie Sweetman (Riverdale Baptist) has caught Smith's eye with her versatility.

"Stephanie has been very impressive so far," said Smith. "She's aggressive, she can rebound, she runs the court well and plays good defense. She's going to be a big plus."

Said Laidley, "Between me and Nikki, we'll probably be taking most of the shots. But I'm sure we'll get a lot of (scoring) help from the inside.

"Our goal this year is to take each gameone by one, and not look ahead. We don't want to get caught looking ahead toward the regionals (XX). We'd rather concentrate on winning one game at a time. If we concentrate and play together as a team, we can beatjust about anyone."

Five-nine forward Rhonda DeShaw (Andover) and 5-10 forward-center Jen Rickard (Southern) are the only veteran front-court players.

Freshmen Tiffany Clayton (5-11, Arundel), Severna Park alumnus Ann Heiser (5-9) and sophomore volleyball playerMelody Miller (5-10, Arundel, who returns after a two-year break) will help in rebounding. Clayton is the team's tallest player.

Defensively, Smith looks to his backcourt to cause trouble with a mainly man-to-man, trapping style.

He stresses that all 10 players will receive playing time, and the fortunes of his team will hinge on teamwork and togetherness.

"I don't even have a starting five, but all 10 of them know thatI'm going to play them, and they all know that they're going to get playing time," he said.

"We just have to work onthe rotations on the traps; sometimes they don't fall back and help out when they're supposed to, but that'll come in time. They're all working hard in practice, and they all know that they are a vital partof the team."

Smith thinks that this year's contingent will be most successful in a transition game, citing Beall as the catalyst.

"Nikki does a great job of pushing the ball down the floor, and she'svery creative with the ball, which will help us a great deal," he said.

"Overall, I'm happy with them. We have some technical things to work on such as our half-court passing game and man-to-man defense,but they're a great group to work with. They're going to do well."


Nov. 27.. .at Bowie State.. .. .. .. .. .. 6 p.m.

Dec. 6.. ..Washington Bible.. .. .. .. .. 4 p.m.

Dec. 10.. .at Dundalk.. .. .. .. .. .. .. 4 p.m.

Dec. 14.. .Potomac State.. .. .. .. .. .. 4 p.m.

Dec. 20.. .Mitchell College.. .. .. .. .. 4 p.m.

Jan. 2.. . Frederick.. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..6 p.m.

Jan. 4.. ..at Essex.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 2 p.m.

Jan. 5.. ..Garrett.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 3 p.m.

Jan. 6.. . at Catonsville.. .. .. .. .. .. 8 p.m.

Jan. 11.. .at Montgomery-Rockville.. .. .. 5 p.m.

Jan. 14.. .Howard.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . 4 p.m.

Jan. 21.. .at Frederick.. .. .. .. .. .. . 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 24.. .Cecil.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 4 p.m.

Jan. 25.. .at Potomac State.. .. .. .. .. 4 p.m.

Jan. 27.. .Chesapeake.. .. .. .. .. .. .. 5 p.m.

Jan. 28.. .at Baltimore.. .. .. .. .... . 5:30 p.m.

Jan. 31.. .at Prince George's.. . .. .. .. 3 p.m.

Feb. 4.. ..Harford.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .4 p.m.

Feb. 6.. ..Prince George's.. .. .. .. .. . 4 p.m.

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