Maryland women's bench has strength in reserve

February 13, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- The bench players on the Maryland women's basketball team haven't given themselves a nickname, like the Posse or the Wrecking Crew, because their composition seems to change from game to game.

But the ever changing members of the bench for the ninth-ranked Terps have proved their mettle. "We've gotten some good production from our bench and we've needed it," said coach Chris Weller.

In the past five games, the bench has averaged 32.4 points and 15.4 rebounds, though there is a caveat.

Center Jessie Hicks, an All-America candidate and the team's leading scorer, was benched for the start of last Friday's game with Duke and scored a career-high 28 points, and guard Katrina Colleton, who leads the team in minutes, didn't start Sunday's game with Georgia Tech and scored 11.

Stints off the bench for Hicks and Colleton are hardly unusual, though the pair along with guard Malissa Boles -- the only player to start every game this season -- are as close to automatic starters as Weller has.

Weller has juggled all season. Only two players haven't started at least one game, and only Colleton averages more than 30 minutes.

Only one player, freshman Dawn Sloan, is averaging less than 10 minutes (9.4). By contrast, during the 1988-89 season, when Maryland last appeared in the Final Four, none of the five starters averaged fewer than 29 minutes.

The difference, besides a greater wealth of talent from top to bottom, is that with bigger players and trickier defenses to face, Weller has had to find combinations that will hold up in varying situations.

"Our most experienced lineup is a big lineup that doesn't work well in certain cases," said Weller. "If we're going to win the ACC tournament, we'd better be prepared to play against all kinds of defenses."

As a result, the team isn't as fluid on offense as Weller might like, but its scoring margin -- 17.4 points -- indicates that the trade-off on defense is worth the change. It is also a chance to work younger players, such as freshman point guard Lena Patterson and sophomore forward Kesha Camper, into the rotation.

"We can't expect our young players like Kesha and Lena to give us lifts in postseason play, when they haven't got the chance in the regular season," said Weller.

In the past two weeks, Weller's most substantive change has been to move Camper into the starting lineup and bring in junior Michele Andrew, who started through most of last season, when Maryland spent four weeks at No. 1.

Andrew is the more accomplished offensive player, but Camper is a better defender. Andrew, the fifth-leading scorer, at 9.4 points, says she's not worried about the change.

"I haven't gone anywhere," said Andrew, a 6-foot-2 forward from Helsinki, Finland. "Coach Weller says we have seven starters and I think she was counting me in that group."

Also in that group is junior Monica Adams, a 6-4 junior from Oklahoma City, Okla., who largely sits and waits for Hicks or forward Bonnie Rimkus to get into foul trouble. Adams averages just 3.5 points, but she is a good defender and pulls down 3.2 rebounds.

"You can't do anything but learn from an All-American, so I sit and learn things from Jessie so that next year I'll be able to contribute more," said Adams.

Senior guard Monica Bennett also has moved up into the rotation, after largely being absent in most of her first three seasons.

"You just come in and try to do your best," said Bennett, a 5-7 native of Tampa, Fla. "Sometimes, you have to wait, and at certain times, it doesn't look like it's going to happen, but things always work out."

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