Terps women seek to style a winning network debut CBS to carry game against Purdue

January 02, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- Jessie Hicks is not only the leading scorer and rebounder for the sixth-ranked Maryland women, but she's also the Terps' fashion maven, with different hairstyles and headbands for each game.

So for Maryland's initial appearance on network television -- in today's ACC-Big Ten Challenge against eighth-ranked Purdue in Columbus, Ohio -- Hicks has made all the necessary preparations.

"All of us want to get our hair fixed," said Hicks, the Terps' 6-foot-4 senior center. "Everyone's excited to play on national television. It's a big deal. CBS. Nationwide. Wow," said Hicks.

Wow, indeed. The women's NCAA championship game and, in the past two years, the national semifinals, have been televised by CBS. The network also carries three regular-season games, including tomorrow's doubleheader.

Maryland has never appeared nationally on one of the three major networks in the 21-year history of the program, though it has made two NCAA tournament appearances in regional finals on ESPN. The Terps' Feb. 11 home game with Miami (Fla.) will be shown on a delayed basis on the cable channel.

But there's nothing like the bright lights of free TV, and the Terps, whose game will follow the No. 5 Virginia-No. 20 Ohio State contest, are looking forward to the exposure.

"It's great for women's basketball," said forward Bonnie Rimkus. "With us being on national TV, people can see what we can do. Hopefully, it can help us out."

The Challenge series, which previously pitted two teams from the Southeastern Conference against two Big Ten teams, gives exposure to players who don't often get it women.

And with that increased exposure comes an added bit of pressure for the participants to play nearly error-free basketball to prove that women deserve more attention.

"There's a little bit of pressure, but they [CBS] help resolve that bybringing out four powerhouse teams in the top 25. The intensity level will be there," said guard Malissa Boles.

Rimkus said, "It's a big deal, but every game is a big deal. Once you're on the court, you don't know whether you're on TV or if you're just playing. It's not in your mind that 'Oh, my God. I'm on TV.' You're just working on that particular game."

The intensity of the attention and the opponent, Purdue -- which the Terps dispatched last season in the Mideast Regional semifinals -- should keep Maryland from coasting off the high of Wednesday's 77-72 upset of No. 1 Tennessee in the Maryland Invitational Tournament.

Maryland, in the midst of a five-game winning streak, sputtered last season after knocking off then top-ranked Virginia, and coach Chris Weller says the desire not to repeat last year's experience will be a bigger factor than the national television exposure.

"We've been on TV enough that it's not going to be a big deal," said Weller. "I think they're really going to want to play well and not blow this win. They've got a big win under their belt and they want to take off from here. I think they want this to be a steppingstone for themselves and I think that's how they'll approach it."

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