College Basketball Preview

November 14, 1997|By Kevin Eck

Navy at a glance

Coach: Joe Sanchez (364-201), 20th season

Affiliation: Patriot League

1996-97 record: 22-6 overall, 8-4 in league

Radio: WNAV (1430 AM); schedule undecided

Arena: Alumni Hall (5,710)

Starters lost: One

Tickets: $6 single game, $8 doubleheader. Call 1-800-US-4-NAVY

Best home game: Holy Cross, Jan. 29. This will be the first of two meetings between the expected top two teams in the conference.

Best visiting player: Amy O'Brien, Holy Cross. She averaged 16.1 points, 8.9 rebounds last season and is a candidate for league Player of the Year.

Outlook: Things keep getting better and better for the Midshipmen under Sanchez. Last season, Navy set a school record for victories, breaking the mark of 19 set the prior season. What can the Mids do for an encore? Winning the Patriot League title is certainly not out of the question. "We have a deep ballclub at Navy, and I feel like this could be our year," Sanchez said. The Mids will miss the play of Adria Schneck, who led the conference in scoring last season. But Navy has plenty of returning talent. Heading the list of returnees is senior Becky Dowling, an All-Patriot League first-team selection last season and the preseason Player of the Year. Dowling will lead a strong group of forwards. There are several experienced players in the backcourt, including senior Joanne Groth.

Around the league: Navy and Holy Cross appear to be the teams to beat, but Lehigh and Lafayette are likely to contend.

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Returning players

Name, Year, Ht, Pos, Fast breaks

Laurie Coffey, Junior, 6-1, F/C, Has ability to dominate inside

Tina Dalmau, Senior, 5-3, G, Experienced reserve

Becky Dowling, Senior, 5-11, F, Preseason Patriot League Player of the Year

Holly Fryburger, Sophomore, 5-8, G, Saw limited action last season

Julie Graham, Junior, 6-0, F, Adds to depth in frontcourt

Joanne Groth, Senior, 5-7, G, Second-team All-Patriot League last season

Erica Hayes, Sophomore, 6-1, F/C, Will be counted on to help replace Schneck

Angela Marino, Sophomore, 6-0, F, Fill-in at post and forward

Vanessa Melofchik, Junior, 5-5, G, Mainstay at point guard

Beth Regoli, Junior, 5-10, F, Should contribute off bench

Kelly Smith, Senior, 5-6, G, Helps provide senior leadership in backcourt

Newcomers Jennifer Bombinski, Freshman, 5-10, F, Physical player inside

Felicia Harris, Freshman, 5-6, G, Outstanding point guard at Largo

Lauren Majchrzak, Freshman, 5-11, F, Good perimeter shooter

Mandy Stephan, Freshman, 5-10, G, Strong passer Coach: Ellen Fitzkee (106-141), 10th season

Affiliation: America East

1996-97 record: 11-17 overall, 6-12 America East

Radio: WTMD (89.7 FM)

Arena: Towson Center (5,000)

Starters lost: Two

Tickets: $8. Call 410-830-8447

Best home game: Maine, Jan. 8. The Black Bears are expected to win a fifth straight conference title.

Best visiting player: Cindy Blodgett, Maine. The 5-foot-9 senior is a two-time Division I scoring champion.

Outlook: Progress is coming in small doses for the Tigers, who won three more games last season than the year before (8-19), and moved up one spot in the league standings to finish eighth. "I know we're getting better," Fitzkee said. "This is our third year in the league and I feel that we're capable of winning 15 games and finishing in the upper half of the league." Apparently, others in the America East do not share her optimism. In both a coaches' poll and a media poll, the Tigers were picked to finish last in the 10-team conference. The Tigers will miss the offensive spark of Trinette Tucker (15.9 ppg), who finished her career as the school's eighth all-time leading scorer. The strength of the team will be in its talented and versatile backcourt. Leading the way is 5-foot-3 senior LaTonya Joyner, a three-year starter at point guard.

Around the league: Maine, the three-time defending conference champion, was a near unanimous pick in the coaches and media polls to finish first.

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Returning players

Name, Year, Ht, Pos, Fast breaks

Courtney Baugh, Senior, 5-5, G, Excellent long-range shooter

Merri Jones, Junior, 5-11, F, Solid rebounder off bench

LaTonya Joyner, Senior, 5-3, G, Has started 82 of 83 games at Towson

Sonia Keiner, Senior, 5-8, F, Streak shooter averaged 8.4 ppg

Michele Lanigan, Sophomore, 5-9, G, Averaged 5.1 ppg, 2.0 apg in 19 minutes

Shniece Perry, Sophomore, 5-11, C, Tigers were 10-9 with her, 1-8 without

Mylisa Pilione, Sophomore, 5-8, G, Outside shooting threat

Danita Smith, Senior, 5-8, F/G, Versatile player in backcourt

Catherine Speer, Sophomore, 6-1, C/F, Strong, physical player

Silesia Stevens, Junior, 6-0, C, Solid rebounder off bench

Newcomers Jess Gordon, Freshman, 6-2, F, Good shooter from 10 feet

Jill McGowan, Freshman, 6-0, G, HM USA Today All-American at Westmar

Kim Wright, Freshman, 5-1, 1 F/G, Nicknamed "Baby Barkley" at Largo

Pub Date: 11/14/97

Kevin Eck

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