Backcourts key to Green Terror seasons Terror women, terrific

the men, a turn-around?

November 24, 1996|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

At Western Maryland, all eyes rest on the backcourt.

For the women's basketball team, an NCAA tournament bid could come with an All-American performance from point guard Erin Murphey.

On the men's side, some consistency out of its guards could lift the Green Terror out of the Centennial Conference cellar.

Women's team

Murphey, a senior co-captain from Francis Scott Key, single-handedly controls the offense despite standing just 5-foot-1. Last season, she averaged 15.4 points and four assists a game.

Using her quickness, Murphey can break down defenses by slashing to the basket. Opponents tried to slow her down by fouling her, but Murphey countered by hitting a Western Maryland single-season record 125 free throws.

Murphey was named to the All-Centennial first team, the Columbus Multimedia Division III All-America Region second team and the Women's Division III News All-America honorable-mention list. She is primed to make a strong dent in the Green Terror record books, heading into the season at second in career assists (257), fifth in steals (167) and seventh in points (800).

"Erin's play sets the tone for our team," said coach Becky Martin, who has a 176-162 record in 15 seasons at Western Maryland. "Her speed getting down the court allows us to play an up-tempo game, and I am hopeful her defensive intensity rubs off."

Murphey headlines a starting lineup that returns intact after a 17-7 record and 10-4 mark in the Centennial Conference. A preseason coaches poll picks the Green Terror to finish second, behind Johns Hopkins, in the West Division.

Western Maryland, which tied for second in the West Division last year, missed its chance to the four-team conference playoffs when it lost to Dickinson in the divisional tie-breaker.

With Murphey in the backcourt is Kristin Miller, who led the Green Terror in three-point field goals with 48 and averaged 11.2 points and 4.1 rebounds last year as a freshman.

The frontcourt is solidified by junior forward Katie Haley, a second-team All-Centennial selection last year. Haley topped Western Maryland in points (17.6 ppg) and finished second in rebounding (8.8), assists (2.7) and steals (1.7).

Kathi Snyder returns at the other forward spot after a tremendous freshman season. She set new Green Terror freshman records with points (14.3) and rebounds (10.1) and led the team in field-goal percentage (.519).

The only question about the starting five is at center, where Heidi Snyder and Michele Jarman will battle for the spot again.

Heidi Snyder, Kathi's sister and at 6-4 the tallest player in school history, had the starting role two seasons ago and for eight games last year before injuring an ankle. Snyder averaged 7.6 points and five rebounds after returning from her injury and still topped Western Maryland with 38 blocks.

When Snyder was sidelined, Jarman stepped in adequately by contributing 6.5 points and 6.8 rebounds a contest.

The Green Terror also has strong depth with guards Karen Millar, Dena Morgan and Megan Linch and forwards Melanie Virts and Julie Backof. These reserves have proven so talented that Martin has hinted at replacing the whole starting lineup at times throughout a game.

"We have the depth we were lacking last year, which we will utilize in the fast-paced games" Martin said. "It is also possible we could use a platoon system, plus we can put in a group that is more suited to a half-court style of play."

Men's team

The men's team looks to rebound from a 4-20 record, the first 20-loss season in the college program's 74-year history.

Western Maryland had one of its best starts in recent years last season, winning the Tip-Off tournament and its conference opener against Ursinus for a 3-2 record. However, the Green Terror faded quickly, losing 18 of their final 19 games, including the last eight.

Though predicted to finish last in the Centennial Conference-West, the Terror has one of the league's strongest pair of forwards -- but will go only as far as its backcourt takes it.

The talented forward tandem of junior Will Marshall and senior Daeviid St. Rose return as starters for the third straight season.

Marshall, a 6-6 junior tri-captain, was Western Maryland's MVP, topping the Green Terror in six individual categories. The All-Centennial Conference second-team pick led the team in scoring (17.8), rebounding (7.5), assists (2.7), blocked shots (1.8), steals (1.3) and field-goal percentage (.548).

St. Rose was second in scoring (14.9) and added 4.9 rebounds a game. Two seasons ago, when Western Maryland made the conference playoffs, St. Rose led the team in scoring and rebounding.

"St. Rose plays close to the basket, where he uses his strength and explosive moves," said coach Nick Zoulias, who is 54-115 in seven seasons at Western Maryland. "Marshall is more of a finesse player, driving into the lane with his long strides or utilizing his good outside shooting ability."

The backcourt is not as stable. Sophomore guard Brian Tombs returns and will start with either junior reserve Mike Cummings (1.3 ppg), freshman Jeff Cree, or sophomore Paddy Taylor.

Zoulias is expecting a big year out of Tombs, the team's Rookie of the Year in 1995-96 with 4.2 points and 1.9 assists a game.

"Tombs will anchor the backcourt," Zoulias said. "He worked hard during the off-season to improve his shot, and we believe his efforts will pay off."

The men play host to St. Mary's Tuesday in their first game after this weekend's tournament. The women do not play at home until Dec. 12, when they face Messiah.

Pub Date: 11/24/96

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