1. Coppin State looks to post the state's best record again. The Eagles were the state's only Division I team that didn't have a losing record last season, going 14-14 for coach Derek Brown. The state's nine Division I schools combined to produce a 91-164 record.
2. Is the Terps' Frese a turnaround artist? Brenda Frese is the third Maryland women's basketball coach in school history, and Terps fans hope she can duplicate the feat she pulled off at Minnesota last season, transforming an 8-20 team into one that went 22-8. But, she said, "We're going to have to use this year to teach and coach fundamentals with so many young, inexperienced players."
3. Freshmen continue to make a big impact. Teams can change their fortunes almost overnight by recruiting a blue-chip player. Morgan State's Tia Henry could be one of those freshman sensations.
4. Navy seeks a way to win the close ones. The Midshipmen were 3-5 in games that went down to the final possession and 3-6 in games decided by four points or fewer. Coach Joe Sanchez says it was mostly a case "of the ball not going in the basket on clutch shots." All five starters are back this season to try to turn around those disheartening numbers.
5. Local teams test out Comcast Center.
The Greyhounds women will get to play a regular-season game at the new arena before the Maryland men do, taking on the Terps tonight at their luxurious home. UMES is one of four teams in the Terrapin Classic next week, though the Hawks aren't guaranteed a game against the Terps. UMBC and Coppin are scheduled to play Maryland next month.
6. The Mount's Foster hopes to emerge as a dominant force. Beth Foster, a 6-foot junior forward, averaged 15.8 points and 10.0 rebounds last season for Mount St. Mary's. She was No. 18 in the country among Division I rebounders and could develop into a nationally recognized player. Foster was a preseason choice for the All-Northeast Conference first team.
7. Cage tries to hit the turnaround at Loyola. Candace Cage, in her second season as Greyhounds coach, says it will take her three years to build a winner. She has developed a lot of recruiting contacts as the daughter of the late Ernie Cage, who was a basketball star at DeMatha, played at Mount St. Mary's and was an Atlantic Coast Conference basketball official.
8. Towson's Mia Chapman seeks to go out in style. It's painful to see Mia Chapman, who starred at nationally recognized Elizabeth Seton High in Bladensburg, go through a 2-26 season as she did last season with the Tigers. The senior guard can be a far better performer than the one who averaged 9.8 points in 2001-02.
9. Morgan State looks up from 1-27. New coach Angelyne Brown, always a winner at the Division II level, is prepared to face some lean years with the Bears. But maybe she'll strike lightning in a bottle the way first-year coach Donald Hill-Eley has with the long-dormant Morgan football team.
10. UMBC gets a `family' helping. It might be easier for new coach Phil Stern to sell his players on his "We Are Family" philosophy than on his deliberate Princeton-style offense. Yawn. At least Stern figures to liven up the Retriever Activities Center Arena with his sideline antics.
Coach: Derek Brown, 4th season at Coppin (35-40)
Affiliation: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
2001-02 record: 14-14 (12-6 MEAC)
Arena: Coppin Center (1,720)
Consensus MEAC favorite: Howard
Consensus Coppin prediction: 5th
Starters lost: 1
Outlook: Brown likes reminding his players how much they accomplished last season, telling them they were the state's only Division I women's team to have a .500 record. The Eagles were supposed to be an also-ran in the MEAC but rose to fifth place. LaKesha Wills, then a sophomore, was the driving force behind that surprising Coppin run, which tied school records for conference wins (12) and conference road wins (six). Wills will be out this season to improve upon her team-leading averages of 12.5 points a game and 6.3 rebounds a game.
Name Yr. Ht. Pos.
Shequra Dickerson Sr. 6-1 F-C
Leisel Harry Jr. 6-3 C
Monique Lewis So 5-7 G
Denita Plain So. 5-6 G
Antoinette Reese Jr. 5-11 G-F
Shamara Singleterry Sr. 5-8 G
Courtni Strickland So. 5-11 G
LaKesha Wills Jr. 5-11 F-C
Traci Abraham Fr. 6-2 C-F
Shaunita Middleton Fr. 5-7 G
Sherrie Tucker Fr. 5-10 F
Ashelley Wilder Fr. 6-0 F-C
Donna Williams So. 5-11 F
Coach: Candace Cage, 2nd season at Loyola (12-15)
Affiliation: Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
2001-02 record: 12-17 (5-13 MAAC)
Arena: Reitz Arena (3,000)
Consensus MAAC favorite: Siena
Consensus Loyola prediction: 5th
Starters lost: 1
Outlook: The veteran-oriented team could do a lot of damage in the MAAC if the four returning starters get help from a highly regarded freshman class. The Greyhounds, led by senior guard Jennifer Mitchell and senior center Katie Netherton, will live by the transition game. Cage will often use four guards and Netherton in an attempt to wear down taller opponents.
Name Yr. Ht. Pos.