Lighter schedule, balanced team could put Coppin back in NCAAs

January 23, 1992|By Paul McMullen

Larry Stewart, a two-time Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year, has moved on to the Washington Bullets.

Larry Yarbray, the only starter still around from the team that went to the 1990 NCAA tournament, has an ankle injury that won't heal, and he might miss tonight's 7:30 game at Morgan State.

Yet despite the graduation of key players, injuries and suspensions, the Eagles could be back in the NCAAs in March.

Coppin State (10-5) goes to Hill Field House with a five-game winning streak, including a one-point win Saturday at Florida A&M, the team that knocked the Eagles out of last season's MEAC tournament. It's the biggest win of the season for a squad that has nine players who had never played in a Division I game before this season.

Coach Fang Mitchell softened the schedule considerably, and the Eagles have the second-weakest schedule among the nation's 300 Division I teams. There was a game at Oklahoma, but there have also been home-and-home arrangements with Youngstown State and Winthrop.

"Golly, to think I did that with all of these young kids," Mitchell said. "Hey, I broke them in the right way."

Coppin State has 11 players who are averaging at least 10 minutes, but that's misleading, because only five have appeared in all 15 games. A pair of transfers, junior forward Coleman Scott and freshman guard Marcus Robinson, didn't play in December, and Mitchell suddenly has his deepest Coppin State team.

* Short-handed: The Morgan State women won't be at full strength for the first half of tonight's doubleheader (5:30) at Hill Field House. Junior guard Tracy Lewis and sophomore guard LaVicki Richmond, the Bears' top two scorers, and Michelle Parker, another starter, were ejected from last Saturday's 70-61 victory at Bethune-Cookman.

Three Bethune-Cookman players were also ejected after a fight that occurred with 12 seconds remaining. Morgan State will pay for the altercation tonight, as ejected players must sit out a game.

* Record bin: Towson State guard Tara Rottet headed into last night's game at Drexel with 1,199 career points, 65 fewer than the school record set in 1988 by Ruth Ann Holter. Rottet's average is 15.3 points , and she should get the record in two weeks.

Among the Towson State men, senior forward Chuck Lightening has compiled 983 points in 2 1/2 seasons, and is due to become the 15th player in Tigers history to reach 1,000.

He's in the midst of a slump that has sent his field-goal percentage below .400, but there's good news for Lightening and his teammates: Towson State concludes a stretch of 10 straight road games Saturday at Central Connecticut. The Tigers, who last played at home Dec. 14, meet Mount St. Mary's on Monday at the Towson Center.

Salisbury State's Jamie Gosweiler (Bel Air), a senior center, had 978 career points going into last night's game against Glassboro (N.J.) State.

* Conference call: Frostburg State, a member of the Eastern States Athletic Conference since its formation in April 1985, has applied for admission to the Capital Athletic Conference. Its chief rival in the ESAC has been Salisbury State. The CAC includes Maryland schools St. Mary's and Goucher and three in the Washington area.

The ESAC will be down to four members if Frostburg State leaves, and Salisbury State is weighing its options, which include operating as an independent. The Sea Gulls have won the ESAC All-Sports Trophy every year since its inception in 1988.

* Stepping down: In another development at Frostburg State, Bob Wells has retired as baseball coach after a highly successful 27 years. Wells, 558-308-3, will trade places this coming season with assistant coach Greg Wallace, who is also on the Frostburg State football staff.

Wells' teams were ranked in the NAIA top 20 nine times between 1967 and 1976 and advanced to the NAIA College Division World Series in 1972. The Bobcats earned berths in the NCAA Division III tournament in 1984 and 1987 and won ECAC South titles the past two years.

Wells has also served Frostburg State as athletic director and basketball coach at various times.

* Pin points: Maryland, a 45-0 loser at No. 3 Penn State last weekend, figured to have an easier wrestling match at Coppin State last night. The Terps are getting solid seasons up top from Kevin Brown, a junior out of Poly who has a 9-6-1 record at 190 pounds, and Bill Ferencz, a junior heavyweight from North Carroll who's 13-6-3.

Keith Burgess, a junior out of Parkside High in Salisbury, has a 17-5 record at 118 pounds. The Terps' best record belongs to Tom Miller, a 142-pounder from Elizabethtown, Pa., who's 15-4-1. He's ranked No. 5 in the nation.

Maryland is at Navy on Feb. 5.

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