Maryland could have four reps in NCAA fighting

March 10, 1994|By Bill Tanton

College basketball is getting better in our state.

For the first time, Maryland figures to be well represented in the upcoming NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament.

This state has sent schools in the past. The University of Maryland has been in it ten times, though not since 1988 when it was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Kentucky, 90-81, in Cincinnati.

More recently, Towson State and Coppin State have made the NCAAs a couple of times, although neither got past the first round.

When the 64-team draw is announced Sunday evening, there's a good chance there will be four teams from Maryland in the field.

* Loyola is already in it, having won the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship. Loyola's women, MAAC tournament champions, are also in it. This is the first time either of Loyola's teams has cracked the NCAA Division I field.

* Coach Gary Williams's freshman- and sophomore-dominated Maryland team is believed to be in line for a bid, regardless of the outcome of tomorrow 's noon game against Virginia in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

The only thing that can keep Maryland out of the NCAAs would be for Florida State to win the ACC tourney and squeeze out the Terps. That's not going to happen.

* Three state schools are playing in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament beginning today at Morgan State with the champion getting an automatic bid to the NCAAs. In addition to the host school are Coppin State and University of Maryland-Eastern Shore.

Coach Fang Mitchell's Coppin team, undefeated in the conference this year, figures to emerge victorious from the MEAC tourney final Sunday evening at the Arena and go back for another shot at what has come to be known as The Big Dance.

* Navy. Yes, Navy.

Navy has been to the NCAA tournament eight times, the first in 1947, the latest in 1987.

After David Robinson graduated in '87, it looked as if Navy's NCAA tournament days were over. The Middies went downhill fast. Post-David, Navy suffered six straight losing seasons. Its cumulative record was 45-123. Last year, the record was 8-19.

No one foresaw what has happened this year in Annapolis. In fact, as recently as December no one thought the Middies would be where they are today -- one win from the NCAAs.

After six games this year, Navy was 2-4. Now the team is 16-12 and has only to beat Colgate tomorrow (4.30 p.m.) in Annapolis to win the Patriot League tourney and move on to the big one.

Don DeVoe, in his second year as coach, has done a remarkable job at Navy. There's no blue chip talent on this team, but DeVoe, who has been a head college coach since 1971, juggled players and molded the group masterfully.

"Don DeVoe has done a helluva job," says Navy's athletic director, Jack Lengyel. "I'll tell you what Don's done -- he's taken this team right to that wall that separates losers from winners and he's taken them over the wall. He has these kids believing they can win.

"I think you're going to see the same thing happen in Navy football. George Chaump has taken our program to that wall. We haven't gotten over it yet but we're close. We've lost so many close football games. I believe Chaump is going to do what DeVoe has done."

Well, DeVoe had better do it tomorrow.

Next year, Colgate picks up a 6-9 freshman named Adonal Foyle, who could play anywhere in the country. In Colgate, he has chosen an unlikely place for his college career -- but for an understandable reason.

Foyle's guardian is a professor of economics at Colgate. The kid likes the place. Two nights ago he scored 38 points for Hamilton (N.Y.) High in a regional game. After this year, Colgate is likely to dominate the Patriot League through 1998.

An even greater turnaround has been accomplished at Loyola, where Skip Prosser, in his first year at the school, has taken a 2-25 team and turned it into a 17-game winner.

The success of this team has electrified the North Baltimore college. After the Greyhounds' nationally televised (ESPN) upset win over Manhattan Monday night, Loyola students were dancing in Charles Street. When the team bus arrived back at the campus at 4 a.m., 400 students were there to welcome the team back.

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