COLLEGE PARK -- For the past two years, the preseason buzz around the Maryland women's basketball team has been about its chances to reach the Final Four and possibly win the national championship.
This year, however, with four starters gone from last season's 22-8 team and three players injured during the early weeks of practice, any talk of postseason glory for 1993-94 has been scaled back.
"We're going to be a little unpredictable and reckless," said coach Chris Weller yesterday at a media briefing. "We don't care about making mistakes. We'll go and play hard and if we make mistakes, we'll make up for it. If we turn it over, we'll just go get it back."
To be certain, the Terps -- picked for fourth in an Atlantic Coast Conference preseason poll behind North Carolina, Virginia and Clemson, ranked 23rd in this week's Associated Press coaches poll and 22nd in this week's USA Today poll of writers, broadcasters and coaches -- won't exactly be hurting.
That is, unless they actually are hurting. Sophomore guard Dawn Sloan and freshman guard Jada Anderson have missed most of the first two weeks of practice because of stress fractures in their legs. With the preseason departures of guards Lena Patterson and Tammy Brown, Weller has had only eight healthy players available.
That leaves the Terps, who play the Hungarian national team tonight at 7:30 at Cole Field House, with just three guards, junior Karon Ferguson and freshmen Lillian Purvis and Kwana Williams to fill those slots in the early going.
Ferguson, who started four contests last season, but played in only 18 of 30 games, is the most experienced of the guards and will start at the point.
"Karon's supposed to the most obnoxious player in the ACC," said Weller. "She's gnat-like, a pest that you'd like to get away from."
Maryland's strength will be in the frontcourt, with three seniors at the forward and center slots.
Bonnie Rimkus, the ACC Rookie of the Year three years ago, has been an offensive spark during her career, and has developed a fairly reliable three-point shot.
She will be joined up front by 6-foot-2 forward Michele Andrew, a Finland native and two-year starter, and 6-3 center Monica Adams, the team's best interior defender.
Kesha Camper, a 6-foot junior, will be Maryland's sixth man and is expected to see time at every position except point guard.