Rough roads jolt state teams' records

January 06, 1993|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

Is state basketball A.M. -- after Maryland -- as bad as th record suggests?

At first look, there isn't much encouraging news from the state's eight Division I men's teams besides the Terps. Discount four games in which they have played each other and four victories over Division II and III programs, and the state's other eight Division I teams were a combined 6-42 heading into last night.

Three of those six wins belong to UMES, where first-year coach Rob Chavez has immediately brightened what was a bleak setting. An otherwise dismal December for the state followed a shaky preseason in which the Mount St. Mary's president tried to persuade Jim Phelan to make this season his last and the top players at Loyola and UMBC were suspended for the season.

Take a closer look, however, and you can easily imagine a Baltimore college playing in the NCAA tournament in March.

"Look at who those December losses were to," Towson State coach Terry Truax said, "and look at where those games were played."

Members of minor Division I conferences have difficulty getting non-conference home games, and they also get their athletic departments some guaranteed money when they make what is usually an otherwise futile visit to the ACC, Big East and Big Eight. The most extreme example is Morgan State, which plays itsfirst game at Hill Field House on Jan. 16.

The lesser teams begin getting home games with the start of conference play this week, however. The records will improve, because the conference competition has usually struggled through a similar December.

Towson State and UMBC each has one win over a Division I

opponent, but they'll be factors in their first year in the Big South Conference. Coastal Carolina and Winthrop are the only members with winning records, but neither has played a schedule as tough as the Tigers' or Retrievers'.

No one has a winning record in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Coppin State was the league's best in 1990 and will get better with time, and upstart UMES is ready to prove wrong the preseason prediction that had the Hawks returning to the MEAC cellar. Winless Morgan State still has more talent than when it made the conference semifinals the past two years.

The Northeast Conference is also without a winning team, which should encourage Mount St. Mary's. Entering this week, Navy was one of four teams in the Patriot League with one win. Of the eight, Loyola faces the most difficult competition. It is one of only two teams in the Metro Atlantic with a losing record.

Hole to fill at Towson State

Towson State baseball lost an unsung hero Dec. 27, when Marty Smith died of cancer at age 54. A longtime leader of Reisterstown sandlot teams, Smith had been a part-time assistant with the Tigers since the fall of 1981.

"For what we paid him, you had to consider Marty a volunteer," Tigers coach Mike Gottlieb said. "Marty had great rapport with the kids. If they made a mistake, sometimes I'd be irate and it wasn't wise for me to talk to them. In those situations, Marty could get the message across better."

Gottlieb and UMBC coach John Jancuska got good news last month, when the Big South Conference was awarded an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Retrievers received an at-large bid to the NCAAs last spring, and the Tigers represented the East Coast Conference in 1988 and '91.

Towson State got help with the addition of Chris Holcombe, who has two years of eligibility remaining. He was the All-Metro Player of the Year for Calvert Hall in 1988 and '89 but had trouble finding the strike zone at Stanford.

Phipps one win away from 600

Jerry Phipps, a constant on the Baltimore basketball scene for more than three decades, can get the 600th victory of his coaching career tomorrow (4 p.m.), when his Essex Community College team is home against Baltimore City. Phipps gained 360 of his 599 wins during his 14 seasons at Baltimore City, known then as the Community College of Baltimore.

It's been a week to look back at Essex, which yesterday handed out rings commemorating its 1992 National Junior College Athletic Association baseball championship.

Basketball awards

Cornell: Zeke Marshall, a 6-4 junior forward who went to St. Paul's, was named Player of the Week in the Ivy League. He scored in double figures in all four games.

Mount St. Mary's: Chris McGuthrie, a freshman guard from Silver Spring, was named Newcomer of the Week in the Northeast Conference for the second time. He had 24 points in the Mountaineers' first win of the season, over Army.

Navy: Yolanda Ray, a junior guard from Denmark, S.C., was named Player of the Week in the Patriot League. She had a career-high 35 points in a victory over Baylor and averaged 22.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in three games.

St. Joseph's: Amy Mallon, a senior forward who went to Mount Hebron High, was named Player of the Week in the Atlantic 10. She averaged 14.3 points, 11.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists in a 2-1 week.

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